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Weekend thaw

The third week in March for the past four years has taken me to New York City for the Architectural Digest Design Show, where my latest work in product design with Rutt HandCrafted Cabinetry has been shown. As a benchmark of more than a year of intense collaborative work, the positive response of the design community matters a lot, and we pull out all the stops to make it happen. It's satisfying to see the work and enjoy the feedback, and it leaves me and my colleagues wrung out from the sustained effort.

Fatigued from a particularly harried show complicated by last week's snowfall, it was Sunday before I recovered enough energy to feel like holding a paintbrush. A portable easel and paintbox I'd bought more than two years ago had yet to see first use. I figured it was long past time. I filled a couple of jars with fresh water, loaded the box with a couple of old dessert plates smeared with unused watercolor paint, and lugged them into the woods along the river. Found the spot I'd sketched the previous week and set up in the melting snow.

I am a perfectionist, and that sometimes interferes with my enjoyment of doing art. The kind of work I like to do, energetic and immediate, takes a lot of practice and requires a set of skills I've yet to acquire with watercolors. Standing behind the easel, I struggled with dissatisfaction, frustrated with myself.

Then I noticed what had really pulled me out there in the first place, the quiet reflection of the bluff on the river's surface. The loveliness of late winter's morning sunlight and the cool blue shadows on the melting snow. The softness of a faint breeze in the thawing woods. I remembered that most of the reason I do art is to connect with my surroundings. I relaxed and let myself be grateful just to be out there.

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