Hunting Great Egret, Maumee Bay
- Painted en plein air on 4/6/21 at Cullen Park
- The Nature Conservancy Erie Marsh Preserve
- Great Egret
- DTE Energy Monroe Power Plant
I was driving south on the highway, looking for somewhere to paint. My right palm was pressed against the steering wheel and my left hand held the phone to my ear as I received the news and tried to respond with equanimity. In a way, it wasn't news. It was the inevitible disassembly of an untruth I've known for most of my life. Somehow, over the years, I had pushed it to the background and fooled myself into believing the façade which cast the truth into shadow. Or, was it kept from me? In any case, the news changed me or was indifferent to me; I couldn't quite make it out yet but things looked vaguely estranged: The big sky ahead, my sweaty palm pressed against the wheel, my memories turned three quarters and unrecognizable. I pulled off the highway, hit the coastline, and followed it on an unfamiliar road. I wasn't angry or sad, just disassociated and peculiarly light. I thought, "just keep driving - somewhere different. I'm bound to end up someplace." I found a park and marina just over the state line. I pulled into the lot and walked to the trail. The footpath threaded boulders, gnarled tree roots, and scraggly undergrowth as it winded its way along the spine of a seemingly natural pier. I found a cove out near the tip. There were the remnants of a snuffed out fire by the water and some rusty beer cans. I took my shoes off, dug my toes into the wet sand, and sat down on a boulder. I looked out at the bay and back at the industrial docks, fingering the worn out mermaid's tears and opalescent shells scattered around my feet. It was an unseasonably warm day. I couldn't paint, but I was happy to be 'out there' in a place where no one I knew could find me. It gave me space and it gave me time. My inner monologue became a dialogue as one of the many Vincent Van Gogh quotables ran through my head, "If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." I thought, "fuck it. I'll give it a go and whatever comes out, comes out." In an attempt to capture my nonplused state of mind, I kept the color palette to a bare minimum and instead focused on creating textures with my brushtrokes, without varying the color or tone to describe form. As if I were imitating the technique of blind embossing, I let the shadows and highlights cast by natural light play off of the ridges of paint left behind by my patterned brushstrokes. Within the figure of the hunting Great Egret is the recollection of my phone call, the talk of mental illness. The bay is solid green with the sickness of cyanobacteria blooms and visually impermeable under the high noon light. The isolated figure stands totally still, searching for signs of life under the water's surface which only it has the ability to perceive. But, the signs are becoming more visible as suggested by the subtle shadow which swims almost within striking distance.