BEST OF SHOW
This spring has been a busy one…. I was blessed to paint in Marble Falls and a couple of “garden tours” in Southlake and Fort Worth, and then there was the Paint Historic Waxahachie Plein Air Event in Waxahachie, Texas. This year was the 12th Annual… I think the first one I painted in was 2006. The last couple of years the event has expanded the days artists are permitted to paint, as wall as the physical boundaries.
Near the end of the final week of the competition, I set up at the old sandstone courthouse, across the street from the Gallery of the Ellis County Art Association – Art on the Square. I have painted this many times, and was actually a bit weary of it, but decided to paint a small section of the beautiful architecture, which included a column, porch and window, all part of one of the entrances to the old building. To say I was surprised when that particular piece won “Best of Show” in the competition would be an understatement. I am grateful, blessed and honored to have won, and… did I mention I was surprised?
For a month before the actual 10 day event, the entire area of Ellis County is available for artists to create their masterpieces of color and composition, of coarse as well as the city of Waxahachie.
For the past two years I have enjoyed painting in Italy, Texas, which is in the south end of the county. This year I returned to the same place I painted last year, and actually painted the same subject a couple of days. I told an artist friend, Pete Quaid, about the spot and we painted at that location a couple of days.
One subject we both painted was an old 49 truck – sitting in all it’s “classic” glory under an old tin covered roof of what must have been a business in better, more prosperous years.It was rusty and showing the wear of over 60 years on a sometime hostile earth, but a thing of beauty nevertheless. Pete and I both entered our work in the Paint Historic Waxahachie Plein Air competition.
One of the unique things about painting in some little out of the way town is the beautiful people who come up and talk while you are working. I talked to a photographer who, like me, was always on the prowl for those unique images tucked away off the endless back roads of Texas.
I talked to Sandy, a lady who had seen 80 springs and summers, most of them in Ellis county. A man named Wendell, who had seen many years roll by like the cars on the nearby highway, kept me company for an hour and a half, leaving and returning several times, telling me of the events that had transpired in Italy since the 1920’s. I learned of boxing matches held every Saturday night on the street in front of the blacksmith’s shop, not far from where I was standing painting. I learned that Dale Evans mother (remember Roy Rogers and Trigger?) was from Italy, Texas. I discovered an old bell tower who’s owner rang it’s bell every year until the last Civil War Veteran died, I believe in the 50’s.
Wendell even took me into his old building and showed me an old faded sign on the wall advertising buggy tackle and rigging. He told me of his artist son, his aunt who painted and showed me some of their work. I enjoyed talking with all the folks in Italy, and learning a bit of history that no doubt will soon fall into the dust of the ages and be forgotten.
From almost the exact spot where I set up to paint the old truck, I turned my easel 360 degrees and painted an old “stoop” overhang that was originally built to protect the back entrance to the 100 year old building from the elements. The building was empty, the once prosperous business gone. I think this place and painting was my favorite of the entire plein air event.
The old overhang, steps and weathered door have an old story that they whisper as the sun rises and sets, and the years pass. The door, as are all doors, was built to keep out an enemy, resist a danger that may wonder the streets. The tin covering of the stoop, the overhang that protects against the onslaught of rain, sun and adverse elements is a refuge. A little “mini” sanctuary, if you will. Because sometimes the world is not a friendly place.
Embedded deep within this little scene is Psalm 18, the first three verses in particular. They remind us that there is danger in the streets, an enemy on the prowl, and a place of protection is needed, a place of refuge. Verses 1, 2 and 3 say this:
“I love You, O LORD, my strength.” The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies.
Ultimately, that refuge, that rest, that peace is Jesus.