I sat and stared. I remembered every location as if I’d just been there: the heat, the wind, my fatigue or elation. I remembered where I had stayed, how well I’d slept, how afraid or lonely I’d been. Each painting connected me in an intimate way to the state in which it was born. I knew the mountainous forests in Northern California; I understood that the rocky coasts of Maine and Oregon and Minnesota were sisters in their similarity. Vast plains, burbling rivers and secret spots wove into my history. I was in love!
Yes, I will miss this project. I was a free agent on the road. The anonymity was refreshing and the opportunity for adventure – exhilarating. Conquering the challenges of traveling alone empowered me. The format of a three-year plan was a very welcome structure in my life. On the road my purpose was clear: drive, paint, write. My days were focused and production was completely interlaced with the rhythm of living. Nothing is better than that!
And, this quest has had positive effects on my art. Aside from the many hours spent solving the problems of rendering an unfamiliar landscape, working on the run taught me a lot. I did not have time to dilly-dally, especially when it was cold or hot or uncomfortable. There was absolutely no agonizing over choices or fussing with detail; I simply put brush to canvas. I have brought that sense of urgency back into the studio. I have a greater trust of my skills in color-mixing and mark-making. It is clear that painting is about connecting to the process without thought.
Lastly, I gained a full appreciation of the quality of my life. The road was exhausting. Part of what took extra energy was being hyper aware of my surroundings at all times. This was like a tiny current, continuously buzzing in my ear. Each time I reentered home’s familiarity, relief flooded me. I recognized the good fortune of a comfortable place to live and a functional studio. I understood the importance of my family and friends. I fell into the arms of a man who respected my independence and loved me the more for it. Returning was the best part of every trip.
And now, at last, I am home for good (at least until I invent another quest!), feeling a little like a pioneer after endless exploration. I have achieved what I’ve been striving for my whole life: painting is my number one priority. It is my job, and the most important work that I do. Here are the final three.