Sunday, July 24, 2011

Steamy Weather - A Day at the Waters Edge

Thursday July 21, 2011
Another hot and humid day. My poor air conditioner can barely keep up. I live in a mid-rise building and we have what are essentially window AC units but built into our walls. Mine is old and still puts out some cool air, but is a bit noisy and we are now into day five of this hot spell and the poor thing is exhausted and dripping water. I just cannot run it all day and night so my strategy is to save it for sleep and when I need to be working in my condo during the daytime. So one of my thoughts was to spend the afternoons at the lake where, if we are lucky there will be a bit of a 'lake breeze' and I can always jump in the water if necessary. I brought along a few art supplies including my watercolor set thinking I might revisit a series of drawings I created three years ago. I like to go swimming at a spot behind a nearby public golf course. The infrastructure at the waters edge is still the old stepped rocks that made up the Chicago Lakefront since at least the 1950's. Most of these rocks have been replaced now with new, cold, unfriendly concrete steps that not only do not appeal esthetically but also are very difficult to swim from. There are only a couple place in Chicago where these old rocks remain for the most part they are in ramshackle condition. This spot is no exception. Rocks have shifted much over the years and most of the retaining wall has been worn away. Over the past winter much of the gravel road that runs between the golf course the water was eroded away and access has been restricted. You can still walk or ride your bike in but I fear that this area will be closed off completely soon.

I pull out my watercolors and sketchbook, randomly put out a color, and of course, first thing proceed to knock the paint on to the sketchbook and a little bit soaks into the edge of every page. I’m fustrated, it's hot, my sweat is mixed with sunscreen, and there is no breeze. The water is so cold that I can only jump in and get out immediately without my feet becoming numb. This does not put me in the best mood and I do not really have paper or paint to waste. But I persevere thinking it will be a good exercise. I don't really know color, I don't use it much, and have to rely on the color on the labels, which aren't particularly accurate, to indicate which colors and shades I might use. But I can see the color of the water and I can see what is on my makeshift palette and do the best I can. As the afternoon goes on, and the shadows get longer, the air cools a bit, and I become used to the chilly water. I swim between each sketch, and end up making three. This was the best one and I was able to trim the spilled paint off the edge. Maybe this spot has some potential, and next time I'll be better prepared.

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