A little over three years ago, Cindy and I were going through some high levels of stress while dealing with her elderly mother and the house in Annapolis, Maryland, that she had lived in since 1960 or so. At age 94 – some 8 months prior to the images on this page – her mother had finally gotten senior dementia bad enough that she could no longer safely remain in her home on her own, and she needed to be transferred to an adult assisted-living facility. Everything was a challenge during that time. After we finally got her mom successfully out of the house, we were faced with the onerous task of cleaning it out prior to putting it on the market for sale.
Why was the task so difficult? Because the house was literally crammed with the results of nearly 60-years of hoarding, with some items dating back all the way to the early 1930s. So Cindy and I began emptying the house one room at a time, filling up more than 12 huge dumpsters with junk over the course of 9 months – and that still didn’t finish emptying the property. We finally admitted defeat and called in the experts to complete the job, which took many more dumpsters yet after our initial efforts.
At one point in June 2019, after many hours of exhausting work filling up one of the seemingly endless dumpsters, I finally called for a rest break and decided that I needed to de-stress. And for me, that entailed getting some iced tea, breaking out my plein air watercoloring kit, grabbing a chair, and sitting in the shade of some trees in the backyard. The image above was where I found myself, and I decided to just go ahead and paint that. First I used my dip pen and ink to create a rough sketch, which you can see below.
Then I pre-dampened the watercolor paints and began to mix some colors, and applied them in approximate places on the paper, which you can see below.
Everything goes quickly on a painting like this. For one, even though I was seated in the shade, it was quite hot outside, and the paints dried almost as fast as they were applied to the paper. Two, even though I was taking a break, we still had a virtual mountain of junk remaining to be transferred to the dumpster for pickup early the next morning – so it wasn’t as if I could take all afternoon to complete this artwork.
Nearing the end of the time I had available, the painting looked pretty good to my eyes. Was it perfect? No, but then nothing ever is. Was it successful as a piece of art? Well, I was certainly pleased with it. And I had achieved my goal, which was to do something that I enjoyed immensely to lower my stress levels from the task at hand. The final result is as you see it below.
I later mounted this little painting to a blank greeting card, and sent it to my best friend for his birthday.
Bucolic backyard scene
Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors
Schmincke Horadam Aquarell watercolors
Fluid 100 100% cotton 140 lb cold press paper