Sometimes ideas and inspiration find me: a stunning sunset, a spectacular cloud formation, raking gold light on rolling fields. That this often happens at inopportune times only proves to me that the Muse has a sense of humor. Even so, breathtaking beauty viewed through the windshield in the middle of heavy traffic is still a gift and I’m grateful. (I am not, however, so naive as to believe that the driver riding hard on my bumper and gesticulating vigorously is trying to tell me how much he shares my moment of joy.)
Sometimes, however, a painting germinates from within: an idea, a yearning, a message I want to express. My Chesapeake Bay painting falls into this category. Being a Maryland native, the Chesapeake watershed is an integral part of my being. From childhood days spent bobbing like a sunburned cork in the Magothy River and filling the family’s bathtub with crayfish out of Herbert Run, to later years of sailing off Kent Island and kayaking on the placid Pocomoke, this “land of pleasant living” is my personal heritage. I cannot hope to express a lifetime of memories and feelings in one painting, so I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what to say with paint and canvas.
My thoughts circle like birds assessing a night’s roost. Always they come back to those wonderful and rare moments when I’ve been all but alone in one of the Chesapeake’s most precious (and endangered) ecological places: the salt marsh. In fall and winter, especially, it is possible to find a sublime solitude in that sea of grasses, with only the birds and the wind for company. In a world that presses so closely and hard against every last wild place, the remaining salt marshes of the Chesapeake evoke something of the abundant and fertile wilderness that once was here.
There is a universe of painting subjects provided by the Chesapeake Bay, but it is the salt marsh that compels me. With binoculars and sketchbook, I set out.