Monday, December 8, 2014

"Okay, Okay, Carol, I Get Your Drift... Let's Get To It"...

Big Branch Marsh...
Well, it all didn't start out all that great a few mornings ago. I knocked over the coffee grounds that were set up for a new brew. I couldn't have just spilled it atop the kitchen counter. No, that would have made too much sense. Coffee grounds all over me, the counter top and the floor. Okay, it was no big deal. It's something can occur to anyone at anytime. The worse that could happen was that my first cup of CDM coffee would be delayed.

Later that morning, knowing I was gonna have to use my sunglasses, which kept sliding off my face, I grabbed two needle-nosed pliers and started to make the necessary adjustments when the left lense on my regular glasses fell out of the frame. Oh boy, this isn't looking good.

Of course, nothing looks good through one lens. So...

After pouring myself another cup of coffee, I went to my top dresser drawer where I have always stored that plastic case of six little screwdrivers for just such an occasion, but it wasn't there. Spending the next twenty minutes looking for that set of screwdrivers and then wasting another thirty  minutes finding another pair of reading glasses so I could fix my original glasses so I could finish adjusting my sunglasses before they fall off my head and end up in the lake, was gonna make me late for my appointment with the dermatologist.

I was a half an hour late, but the doctor managed to sneak me by the front desk and check me out. He seemed really happy with his efforts to do some minor surgery on a melanoma I had on my left forearm. He asked me if there was anything else he needed to check. I complained about a patch of seborrhea on my face and a swollen red patch on my left calve.

"Didn't we give Mr. Ben some topical medication for those concerns?" he asked the nurse. She nodded in the affirmative.

"Well, the doc asked, "Did you use those meds?"

"Uh... I didn't know that that was what it was for," I replied, feeling like a total idiot!

"It won't work, if you don't use it," he said with a rather sarcastic giggle.

Feeling like a complete idiot and not sure I wanted to inflict myself or anyone else with my discombobulated day, I called my friend Carol Hallock and attempted to cancel our afternoon painting date. The weather was foggy and cloudy most of the morning and Carol was hedging against  going at all. We had been planning this trip in a rather informal way back in early October, and it didn't seem like it was gonna happen at all. So, I called her.

"Hey Carol", I said,  I'm thinking about bowing out of this thing. My whole morning was a mess and it is still overcast here... What'dya think?"

"Well, I got the boat all packed and ready to go, so let's do it, she replied.

By the time I got to LaCombe, where Carol lives, the weather was nicer and really warm for a boat trip in December. For those who are unfamiliar with Carol's work here locally, most know that occasionally she takes her paints out to the bayou in a kayak to capture the moment from a different point of view.

Baby steps...

For now, we loaded my easel and paints in the boat and shoved off for the "high seas" and some vitamin D. About halfway to the point, where the river meets up with Lake Ponchartrain, Carol started having problems with the outboard motor. Naturally, the first thing I thought was my rotten morning luck was rubbing off on Carol. We drifted with a stalled engine for about five minutes until Carol figured out the problem and got that engine running smoothly again... Something about this switch she said as I breathed a big sigh of relief.

We landed on a small beach that separated the lake from the expansive marsh grass, and sat on our lounge chairs talking art, music, life and making a living as artists for about an hour while waiting for the clouds to clear out. Being the impatient kind, she pops up out of her chair, (and our conversation!) and declares that times a-wastin' and quips...

"A lot of people don't like cloudy days to paint, but I don't mind. I kinda like the moodiness!"

Reluctantly, I arise...
A head start...
"Okay, okay, Carol, I get your drift... Let's get to it."

I set up about forty yards south of Carol and when I returned to take a few photos to capture the sunlight that bounced in and out of the clouds, Carol had already set up her palette for the day and was painting. I took a few pics and she took one of me and then we went about our separate ways interpreting the light, the clouds, the water and the marsh grass.

From where I painted...
I must have changed the sky four or five times by the end of the day. We started our paintings around 1:30 and called it a day around 4:30. I must admit that after three hours I had very little accomplished to my satisfaction. Carol had two 8"x 10"s completed. We packed up the plantation, and headed back home, and as the sunset illuminated the entire sky and bayou, we lamented not being with our easels capturing the moment. We arrived at Carol's dock almost at dusk, unloaded the plantation, and decided to celebrate the end of the day Mexican style at a local LaCombe restaurant.

Before we did that, Carol pulled out her paints and, in the kitchen, she started adding, smearing, pushing and cajoling the oil paint around to her liking. I am always flattered when she asked for my opinion, as she often does when we work together. And, though we both took our paintings home, we each put in a bit more work, just refining what was already there. Of course, I'm sure I spent more time noodling my refinements over the past weekend than Carol did.

Chowing down our Mexican feast, smelling of oil paint, sea salt and suntan lotion, I hoisted my second margarita and toasted to our success saying...

"I'm glad we finally got to do this!" I've enjoyed every drop of these two margaritas and every moment painting with you!"

Copyright 2014/Ben Bensen III

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