Reaching the top of the third hill on county line road CC, I find stretched out before me a Grant Wood painting. Gentle rolling fields of green and gold, a ribbon of blue water winding through the scene wrapping it like a gift for anyone venturing onto the single lane road. Patches of black top and loose gravel keep the weeds at bay and add to the entrance of this dream like scene.
Treasures are found on such roads , rainbows begin and end on such roads. The bright red barn with a pinto pony standing in it's doorway, the little white farm house nestled under majestic elms, even an outhouse at the end of a wash line. My childhood came to mind, my grandmother laughing at me as I force myself to enter the outhouse on Auntie Marie's farm. Grandma picking apples from the ground holding them in the cradle of her apron for making fresh apple sauce. Memories mix with scenes I find on my painting trips. Thomas Hart Benton taps me on the should telling me to get to painting, the scene before me isn't going to paint itself.
I am never alone on painting trips, friends like Maynard Dixon ride alone, conversations with great painters on art guide my hand at times. One rainy day I got to know Edward Hopper in the Quincy, IL library, on another rainy day I met Maynard Dixon. So setting up on the side of road I got help from friends riding along, not carrying things or unfolding the legs of my french easel, just help with where to place my easel. A dozen strokes down I lean back to see where I am, Benton thinks I should have done a drawing first, Richard encourages me to keep going with straight color. David lays down in the van muttering something about Rembrandt, he usually hangs out in the studio pushing still-lifes. He may not realize it but my hand still listens to him.
A mix of drawing with paint and painting like a painterly painter gets me closer to my vision of the scene before me. My painting's voice quiets those of the artists accompanying me on my trips. All my paintings become solely mine when finished, but the artists I love help me with finding myself. Though I never met many of those accompanying me on these trips or those speaking to me in the studio, all help me find myself as an artist. I do not believe in self-taught artists. Every artist learns from those who went before us. Correction - the artist who created those wonderful cave paintings planted the first seeds from which we grow.