Wednesday, April 9, 2014

MICRO PAINTINGS on Daily Paint Works

The Back Bay © Barry Howard

With this post I am announcing my return to the wonderful daily painting gallery and website, Daily Paint Works. I had an online gallery there last year and ended up closing it down for awhile because I wasn't painting quite daily enough. Lately though, I am cranking out paintings by the bushel....well, maybe not quite by the bushel, but I am painting a lot. I've mostly been doing very small ones, like 6"x6" or so, and painting two or three a day. This has been a really good way for me to explore a lot of different methods and ideas in a short amount of time. I feel that I am growing as a painter as a result, because I don't have a lot of time invested in each one, and it's making my brushwork a bit freer and allowing me to experiment more. At the end of a week of painting, I look over what I've done and see what has worked and what hasn't. It's been like a crash course in a way....anyhow, it feels exhilarating. Please click the Daily Paint Works widget in the right hand corner of the blog and check out my gallery there. Some of them I am putting in the auctions they run, so it's a chance to get some nice artwork at pretty good prices. Thank you for taking the time to look at my work.

BEACH BREAK © Barry Howard

 

Friday, December 13, 2013

WINTER COMES TO SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

It's 2 AM...what am I doing up writing this blog? I shall get to that in a minute, but first I must apologize for being a bit lax in my blog posts lately...it's the cold...I may have mentioned this before but I really don't like the cold...I am a Sun Worshipper. Cold weather makes my circulation slow to a crawl, my nose runs, my eyes water and my fingers curl up into pathetic claw-like appendages that seem to be grasping desperately for warmth. Winter has hit Southern California like the Grim Reaper, sweeping over the beaches and covering all forms of life in ice....well, OK, maybe not ice..there is no actual ice, but it IS cold with daytime temperatures barely getting out of the low 60's sometimes with a windchill and nighttime temps plunging into the 40's, or as they would say in Seattle, beautiful balmy weather. But as I may have mentioned before, Seattle-ites are all crazy and the proof of that is that they live up there in the frozen tundra where people have to hack through the frozen ice to hunt for seals and then use clamshell scraping tools to carve out the seal blubber to put in their latte's. I know this because my friend Ethan told me all about it and he lives up there...well, he told me about the Latte's anyway...he didn't mention the seal blubber and stuff but I think he was just trying to put a good face on things. So putting the warped perspective of Washington residents aside, it's freakin cold. People here are wrapping scarves around their necks and wearing coats!...AND hats! Which brings me to why I am up at 2AM writing this blog. We are fast approaching the shortest day of the year, which is one of those things that people here in Southern California often point out. It is a way of being optimistic about the brutal conditions we are trying to endure here. Soon the days will begin to lengthen and Spring will be in sight. It's how we hang on through the cold, dark days of the season. We know there will be an end to it. But the night comes on early...like by 4:30 in the afternoon the light of the day is starting to fade and my life here in the caravan, without electricity has adjusted to the cycles of dark and light rather than the artificial rhythms that electric light allow. After my work day ends I usually hang out at the local coffee house until dark and then, braving the biting chill of the night, I pedal off to my parking spot. I turn on my burner and warm the place up and then usually climb into bed by 8 o'clock. Six hours later it's 2AM and I'm awake. I recently read how they have uncovered some old writings from the nineteenth century that refer to a "first sleep" and a "second sleep". Apparently, back then before electricity, when people had to watch TV by candlelight and laptops ran on kerosene, people slept twice in one night. That was the common thing. They would go to sleep with the sun, sleep 6 hours or so, then wake up and do stuff for a couple of hours, and then go back for their "second sleep". There are a lot of hours of darkness to fill when you run by the sun and stars. So that seems to be what my body has naturally adapted to. So here I am, writing this blog.

I've made a number of changes in the caravan since I first headed out on the road about 4 months ago, when it was warm, (sniff, sniff). When I sensed the coming winter I set about doing a few things to make it more cozy. Firstly, I got rid of the little pump up white gas stove that had to be used outdoors and installed a propane burner inside. This has been AWESOME! It allows me to sit up in bed and make coffee without the hassle of getting dressed and going outside and setting up the side table and pumping up the stove, etc. Plus it uses way less fuel than the white gas stove did and burns a lot cleaner. Another improvement I made was adding a pull out awning to the Starboard side and a storm cover for the windows on the Port side. The awning has been also awesome as it keeps the rain and dew well away from the little roll down shade that serves as my door.

 

So when it rains I can actually have the shade rolled up, stay inside and make soup and watch the rain drip off the end of the awning. My most recent addition has been the flower pot heater. I saw this online and decided it was the perfect heating solution for my tiny space. The way it works is you take a small bread pan, put four or five of those little tea-lite candles in it, and invert a 6 inch clay flower pot over the candles, resting on the edges of the bread pan. It will burn for about 4 or 5 hours and does a great job taking the chill out of the air, and you can simply light it and go to bed without worrying about it. I decided to build it into the galley counter so it would take less space. When it's not in use I put a cutting board over it. It would work even better if my caravan wasn't so open air, but at the moment there is no shortage of ventilation. When I want to really heat it up quickly I put the flower pot on the propane burner and turn it on as low as it will go...the flower pot heats up and radiates a lot of heat, even after the burner is turned off. It's made life much more comfortable now that the Winter weather has arrived. We are finally getting a break though. This week is promising temps up into the 70's, and, while it's not the 80's, I can deal with it. Well, I think it's time for my "second sleep" now. It's 3:36 and time for bed.

 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

THE DRUNK EVERGLADES COWBOYS

Quite a few of my wanderings have been on two wheels...sometimes by motorcycle and sometimes by bicycle. This story is about one of those bicycle trips. I had been living in Key West at the time and decided to head toward the California Coast by way of bicycle. I scrounged up some old bike parts and assembled a three speed bike that only had one working speed. I didn't think that was too critical because I was traveling through Florida at the time, and Florida is flat. It was not a modern light weight touring bike by any means...I had a rack on the back and mounted an old wooden coca-cola box back there to make a sort of pickup bed where I could keep my food. I put a little herb and spice rack in it, upright against the back of my seat...that's where I kept my various herbs and spices and my bead stash. Then I lashed my bedroll onto one side of the rack and and hung a bag made from an old persian rug on the other side for my clothes. Over the front wheel I mounted a wooden box that carried my art supplies. It had a picture of Ganesh the elephant god, Hindu patron saint of travelers. Mounted on the lower frame I placed a Galliano bottle wrapped in woven palm leaves to carry water in....so yeh, not super light weight. My first challenge was making it up the 131 miles of bridges that connect the Florida Keys. In those days, (this is the early 70's) the bridges were very narrow, just a lane wide enough for a car and then a little curb with a railing. The longest bridge was seven miles, and that one I decided to cross in the middle of the night when traffic would be lightest. It was terrifying. I started over it at 2AM and could watch the headlights from an approaching truck coming up behind me from a long way back. When it got fairly close, I would lift the bike up onto the curb, which wasn't really wide enough to stand the bike straight up on, then i would straddle the railing, leaning out over the abyss and the ocean below and hold onto the handlebars with one hand, trying to get as much room between me and the semi-truck bearing down on me as I could. The lights on the bike worked by one of those little generator things that rub against the wheel, so they only work when the bike is moving...which meant I was pretty much invisible to the truck. Just about the time the truck's headlights hit me, and the driver realized I was there with my bike kind of leaning into the lane, he would try to swerve but by then there wasn't really time and he would thunder by, shaking the bridge, me hanging on for dear life out over the water. So this was how the whole trip over the seven mile bridge went....pedal, pedal, pedal...put the bike up on the curb, straddle the railing, lean out, and FA-WHOOM! The truck thunders by inches away. By the time I got to the other side I was exhausted and put down my bedroll and fell asleep right next to highway one.

But as it turned out, that wasn't the most dangerous part of the trip. When I got to Alligator Alley, the narrow highway that runs through the Everglades I was literally getting blown off the road by the slipstream from the huge trucks that were roaring up through there. I rode on and on into the night and it was hot and humid and I couldn't stop and rest because when I did the mosquitos would have me for a late night snack. As long as I kept moving the breeze kept them off of me. Somewhere around 2AM the next morning I came upon a little bar out in the middle of nowhere. It was open and there were three pick-up trucks parked outside. The idea of getting out of the bugs and taking a break seemed great and besides, I was pretty exhausted. I pushed open the door and found myself looking at a long bar occupied by three cowboys. I could tell they were cowboys because they wore cowboy hats and cowboy boots and cowboy shirts. I wasn't wearing any of those things.

I had a Stetson Open Road hat (kind of a Clyde Barrow sort of style) with my paintbrushes stuffed into the macrame hatband. My hair was to my shoulders, my jeans had been patched with the skin from a roadkill rattlesnake I had found and skinned in the desert, plus other patches of velvet, satin, leather and various other bright colorful fabrics. I wore a necklace I had made from bones and beads that had some sort of small animal skull I had found, hanging from the middle of it. Various pouches hung from my belt. I stood in the doorway and the three cowboy hats turned and looked at me...then the bartender, wiping a beer mug with a rag, turned and looked at me....then he looked at the three cowboys and then he looked at me. The cowboys had been there drinking for hours and were obviously pretty drunk. All sorts of thoughts flooded my mind at that moment...the first was, "TURN AROUND AND RUN FOR IT!" But I immediately realized this would be folly. I was way out in the middle of nowhere, there was only one road through it, I was on a bicycle and the cowboys had pick-up trucks. There would be no escape. So...I walked up to the bar and sat down next to one of the cowboys. Immediately the other two slid off their barstools and one stood behind me and the other moved up next to me on the other side. I was surrounded.

"Howdy..." I said, trying to sound nonchalant.

"Well whadda we got here?" slurred one of the cowboys.

"What I can't figure out, "began the other," is, is it a boy or a girl?"...he punctuated his query with a loud belch.

"What the hell are you anyway?" said the third, rhetorically I assumed. I decided to answer anyway. I figured that they must have somehow found me threatening to their way of life and to the very fabric of society because I looked so unfamiliar to them. My task was to convince them otherwise.

"After a few more slurred slurs aimed at me I decided that I better try to engage them in conversation, and maybe, if I was lucky I could get out of this alive.

"I know I must look pretty strange to you guys," I said, "But that's because I'm not from around here. I come from the west coast and most people where I am from look a lot like me, because that's normal there. We have different customs and different styles of dress out there. In fact" I said, "if you were to go there, people might think you looked strange to them, because they wouldn't be use to seeing people like you. But even though I may look odd to you," I continued" I'm probably not all that different in most ways. I believe in being a good person, and being honest and working hard. I love my country and my family and I am thankful that I live in a free country." OK, I was laying it on a bit thick here, but the occasion seemed to call for it. Well from there we all four got involved in a long conversation...I, playing the part of the visitor from another planet and they were just drunk enough that they were willing to listen to what I had to say, swaying and swigging beer as I talked. Somehow, I guess I said all the right things because within the hour I was their buddy. They were slapping me on the back and insisting on buying me beers. We had a pretty good time together. After a couple of hours I bid them farewell, shaking hands all around and stumbled out the door and got back on my bicycle. The cowboys all got in their pick up trucks and roared off, waving and wishing me safe travels. I pedaled off up Alligator Alley, feeling refreshed after my rest stop, smiling with the warmth of newfound friendship and a good beer buzz.

 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER; part two

The sun charged over the hill like Genghis Khan's army, overwhelming everything in it's path. Blues and purples transformed into gold and ochre...a flock of birds exploded from the trees, fleeing, (or celebrating?) the sudden appearance of the burning orb. Even the shadows seemed to be caught by surprise as they tumbled from the treeline and stretched their fingers down the hill. The stranger had been up for over an hour and sat in the red and gold caravan, drinking dark roasted coffee and watching the world's improvised response to the rising of the sun. He was glad to see it, feel it's warm rays and let it's golden light wash through the caravan.
The previous night had been drippy wet and cold. Mist snaked it's way through the trees and collected on the eucalyptus leaves over the caravan. It gathered into large drops and fell loudly onto the roof. The stranger stayed dry inside his tiny gypsy wagon, and reasonably warm, wrapped in his bedding. At 4 AM he sat up and turned on the light over the galley. He lit the burner of the stove and put on water for coffee. The interior of the caravan warmed up almost instantly. He scooped coffee into the filter and set it on top of the cup, then settled back against the pillows and waited for the water to boil. At this early hour when the world was still wrapped in it's indigo cloak, the caravan dweller felt a deep peace, the nightsounds softly accompanying the mystic quality that permeated everything. Although he had chosen a spot for the night that was only a short ride from the cacophany of the city, here all was quiet. The dark, pre-morning hours held the landscape in an eerie mist-world. He stepped out of the caravan into a soft, diaphanous half-light. He wiped down the bike and silently rode toward Venice Beach.
Once he reached the beach he guided his bicycle-caravan along the beach walk, the thick mist still softening edges, blurring the harshness of the reality faced by the people who lived on the streets. As he pedaled through the quiet, still-sleeping town, images appeared like smokey projections and then disappeared again, receding into the blue-grey shadows. Motionless forms wrapped in blankets lay scattered along the beachwalk, down the side streets, and along the sand. An elaborate improvised home made of appliance boxes and a broken umbrella occupied an alleyway...next to it, a large tent-like structure put haphazardly together from old blankets.
Carts piled high with the belongings of the street people, that were pulled from the trash that had been discarded by the better off. Bicycle dwellers, some with overloaded trailers, some weighed down with the castoffs of others lashed to their bikes...shopping carts with mountains of the broken flotsam and jetsom that represents a poor man's wealth. Venice Beach is a study of unintended consequences...a Jackson pollack painting of Mardi Gras...one part One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and one part Post-apocalyptic wasteland. A beach town with an attached outdoor insane asylum. Up ahead a lone figure sits hunched over in the cold mist. His clothes are filthy and in tatters and although it's cold and wet, he wears no shoes on his feet. His face is mostly hidden by the ratty hoodie that covers his head. As he sits there, dirty, wet, cold and unimaginably alone, he rocks back and forth, mumbling softly to some imaginary entity. The gypsy caravan rolls to a stop in front of the figure on the bench. The mysterious stranger can tell this person is lost in a maze of madness and delusion...he wonders when the tragic creature last had anything to eat. He has to be hungry. "I have food in the caravan," thinks the stranger..."more than I need." He dismounts from the bicycle and approaches the lonely figure, thinking to offer him some bread and cheese, and maybe a beer. "How ya doin, man?" The figure turns his eyes to meet the stranger's and rage flashes from them like a taser. He grits his rotting teeth and hisses like a cat that's been cornered by a Pit Bull. The stranger takes a step back toward his bike...this hopeless creature doesn't want his help...doesn't want anyone's help. He just wants to be left alone in his madness. The Hell that this tragic soul occupies is his home. It's Hell, but it's his alone. It's all that he has left. People sometimes say that God never gives you more than you can handle, but it isn't true. It's just one of those things that people say because it sounds nice. This person has been broken. He will die this way...out here in the cold, alone in his madness.
He rides on further down the beachwalk. The fog seems to be getting thicker...making it hard to see, driving mist into his eyes, filling them until they overflow, leaving wet tracks running down his face. He passes more sidewalk sleepers...nightwalkers, carrying their few possessions in old packs and plastic bags. They've walked all night, too wet and cold to sleep, or unable to find a safe place where they won't be rousted or robbed of what little they have...so they walk until daybreak when they can sleep on the beach.
Finally the stranger comes to a remote stretch of beach and parks the caravan. By now the last traces of night have been consumed by the dawn, and he watches as the sun charges over the hills like Genghis Khan's army, overwhelming everything in it's path. A flock of birds explodes from out of the trees, and the stranger wonders if they are fleeing from the sudden appearance of the burning orb or if they are celebrating the dawning of a new day.




Tuesday, October 22, 2013

SOMETIMES THE MUSE CAN BE A CRUEL MISTRESS

Yesterday I was working on a new painting station that attaches to the front of the caravan. I had some paintings stacked inside and was just rummaging around when a woman approached suddenly and asked if I would resolve an argument she was having with her husband. I haven't usually been known for my marriage counseling skills but still, I wanted to be helpful...like when you ask someone for directions and they don't really know but will try anyway..."Well, I think you go down this way and take the fourth or fifth street and go left, or maybe right, yeh, I think go right and then it's maybe a mile or so, I think, no, wait, don't do that, go down here about six blocks and take a right where the flashing yellow light use to be, then..."

You know, they just want to be helpful...so I said, "sure, be glad to..."

"Do you think," she asked, "that there are some people who get bitten by a Muse?" I thought about that and wasn't sure what she meant. Did she really want to know if I believed there was some kind of little fairy-person who could bite you, vampire like, and then you would forever be driven by an insatiable lust for art and creative expression?

"What do you mean by that?" I asked.

"I mean, do you think that some people just have to make art or sing or dance in order to be happy in life?" she explained.

"Oh," I replied, "sure, in my own case, definitely. I don't feel I really ever had any other choice but to do what I'm doing...." The husband had been hanging back, standing off a ways, clearly not wanting any of this conversation or at all interested in my take on it. It turns out that the question concerned their 18 year old daughter who was a singer. Mom, obviously, was siding with the daughter's desire to pursue singing as a career, whereas Dad thought this was foolish and irresponsible.

"I remember very clearly standing next to my friend on the first day of kindergarten and saying, as they passed out the Crayons and paper, "This is what I love to do!" I already knew then what my passion was. I've never had any doubt that pursuing an art career was what I would do...often to my own disadvantage..."

"See?" the woman said to her husband..."often to his own disadvantage..."she repeated, nodding her head up and down. Now the husband edged closer, feeling emboldened to make his argument. "I don't see why you can't have both." he said. I knew what he meant by this....I've heard this argument many times. When people say this they usually mean that they don't see why a person can't just go for a "safe" career path with some security, and do their art, or singing in this case, in their spare time.

"Because," I replied to the dad, "If you have a very strong passion for something, it's what you want to devote most of your time and energy to. If you do it in your spare time, it's a hobby, not a career. And to get very good at anything takes a great deal of time and devotion. And besides, when you choose something else to make your living at, it's giving up before you have really tried. I have always been ruled," I went on, "by the terrifying fear of getting to the other end of my life and saying to myself, "I wish I had gone for it....really pursued my dreams instead of hanging back in fear of failure." That, to me, is the worst thing I can imagine, because by then it's too late. You've spent your life doing something you don't really love, maybe don't even care very much about. You've spent your life putting your energy into making someone else's dream come true. Your employer's. Now, if you love your job, really love what you do, then that's great, you get the best of both worlds. Some people don't have a built in passion for one thing that obliterates everything else, and those people are lucky in a way. There have been many times when, exhausted by the effort it can take to keep trying to figure out how to make it work, I've wished I was the sort of person who could just work in a little hardware store or something and be happy with that. Yunno, just enjoy my coworkers, go home, go bowling on the weekends or whatever and be content. That is a gift, but it's not a gift I have. I seem to have been born with this monkey on my back...this non-negotiable drive to create as much art as well as I can before I leave this life. It is certainly not an easy path, and it's cost me much....security, a stable relationship, and certain freedoms that come with choosing a more predictable path. It's never been straightforward and clear, I am always having to figure out how to proceed and hope it all works. And here's the thing," I went on, "maybe your daughter will suceed wildly and maybe she will fail, but if she tries and fails, and then chooses to change course and do something else it will be because she went for it and came to her own decision...but if you advise her to take a path she really isn't passionate about in order to be safe, she may one day look back and regret having made that choice...she will always wonder what would have happened if she went for it...and she may resent you for steering her away from what was most important to her. But maybe she won't fail...I always think of what John Lennon's aunt said to him when he was a kid. She said, "The guitar is fine, John, but you'll never make a living at it."

The Dad seemed to really listen to what I said, and I don't know what he felt about it...I don't know what happened after that...they drifted off and I went back to my work. There are so many different paths and ways to go about life and it's all a trade off. Maybe nothing is perfect. But I know that much of the incredible and wonderful art, and music and literature and science out there would never exist if the people that brought those creations into being had chosen a more conservative path. The very nature of art and science is exploring the edges of the boundaries of what's known or familiar...of putting oneself out on the edge...and it's not necessarily a safe place out there. It's not necessarily a comfortable life all the time. But I think the ones who put themselves out there beyond the boundaries add the bold accents to the fabric of our lives. Some people see artists as self indulgent and irresponsible, but those of us who occupy the fringes to do what we do, sacrifice a lot....and really, I don't think we have any real choice to do otherwise.

 

 

Monday, October 21, 2013

A DAY IN VENICE

Awoke this morning to a thick, wet, grey sky. Everything was drippy wet and visibility about 10 feet. I climbed out of the caravan and began wiping down the bike seat, handlebars, and the awning before i rolled it up for travel. Then I pedaled over to my spot at the Lagoon. Definitely the wettest, foggiest morning I have seen here so far. I parked the caravan, climbed in, pulled down the shade and lit the stove. The place warms up in about 15 seconds or less with the stove going. Made some more coffee and English muffins. It's so thick outside I can't see the Lagoon, which is about 20 feet away. I won't be going outside to paint until things change and the sun comes out. My friend Ethan would. He'd be out in it. He would be out there painting even if it was raining, or snowing, or there was a blizzard. Hell, he'd probably paint underwater. But he's from Seattle and doesn't know any better. Here in Southern California, people start complaining about the bitter cold when they have to put on a light sweater and change outta their flip-flops. I feel absolutely no shame in admitting that I am a weather weenie. If it's not sunny outside I am quite content to stay inside by some heat source and drink coffee and wait for the sun to shine. You can't really do that in Seattle. You probably have to wait until the Earth tilts on it's axis for a nice day there. I dunno, I've never really been there....too cold. Sitting inside my little caravan, dry and warm, makes me think of the homeless people who are sleeping outside, and who woke up, probably while it was still dark, wet and cold to the bone. I feel great compassion for them and very grateful that I have this dry, warm cozy space.

Suzanne in front of her gypsy camper

Yesterday was quite a day. I rode to Venice Beach to do laundry and stopped to meet Suzanne, who I had been told about before. She lives in a very beautiful gypsy-style camper...all wood and scalloped shingles, with her six rescue cats. She is the Suzanne who inspired the Leonard Cohen song. I pulled up with the caravan and we became instant friends. She didn't feed me tea and oranges that come all the way from China, but she did offer me brandy which I gratefully accepted. While there, I met several other interesting people who are friends of hers...some Italian girls, a woman who makes films, and a retired sea captain who is 83. He is a clear-eyed, dapper fellow and another person who had many stories and adventures, but not the sort that reveals them without being asked. Earlier that day, as I was parked by the beach and making oatmeal, I met another 83 year old man. I nearly fell over when he told me his age. I never would have guessed him to be that old. He is a silk screen artist who lives up in a little artist community in Oregon and was down here visiting his daughter. I asked him how he likes being 83 and his immediate reply was, "I love it." Made me smile and gives me a glimpse of what life can be like for a man in his 80's. It was a day that was filled with people and conversation. As I started to head back to Playa del Rey, and my parking spot for the night, the caravan blew a tire...the second one this week. Both of them were old and had many miles on them so I guess it was just their time. I unhitched the bike and rode down to Manny's bike shop, getting there just before he closed. Got a new tire, and a spare to carry, and rode back and changed the blown tire. It was dark by the time I arrived back at my parking spot, but I felt full from the day. Venice Beach is a town full of interesting characters living unusual lives. It's enriching and inspiring to meet folks who have not just followed the beat of a different drummer, but who have created their own beat to dance to. I feel that, individual by individual, i am finding my tribe here.

To read more about the amazing Suzanne, follow this link: http://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/verdal.html

 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER

The lone figure emerges from the pre-dawn mist, apparition-like, rolling on silent wire spoke wheels. A strange red caravan painted like a circus wagon trails behind. It's still dark, and the only sound is the gentle splash of oars as the rowers glide in long canoes up Balona Creek, their single light glowing like an oil lamp through the fog. The stranger is usually up early, before the first signs of morning begin to compromise the dark. It's a magical time when the quiet is so rich and total that it fills up all his senses. He feels as though he has the whole planet to himself at this hour, shared only by a few other souls who pass in the darkness, wordless, on bicycle or on foot....a few other souls who know and share this secret hour. The bicycle with the painted wagon winds it's way along the bike path that meanders through the empty beach. Sounds are amplified in the stillness...the nightwind, not quite wind so much as air that creeps along over the sand and feels new and fresh as though it is being breathed in for the first time. Waves build and crash onto the beach and suffuse the air with salt spray and ocean smells. The mysterious stranger pedals slowly through the alien beach-scape, senses wide open to this nocturnal wonderland. In an hour it will be gone, the night world crowded out by the awakening of the sun. Spontaneously, he turns off the bike path and makes his way to the lagoon, finds his favorite tree and pulls the caravan under it's canopy.

The morning has broken and the sunlight reflects off the lagoon and fills the caravan with golden light. The stranger lights his stove and brews coffee, watching a small white egret patrolling the shallows. Ducks cruise by sending patterns of ripples through the mirrored surface of the water. Two pigeons walk along the sand finding morsels of breakfast at the water's edge. The small town is waking up now, dog walkers, joggers, bike riders....locals head for the cafe for breakfast and conversation over the morning paper. A squirrel comes up to beg for food while the stranger sips his coffee. It lives here in this tree that shelters the caravan...it always comes by when the caravan is parked here. The stranger says "good morning," but offers it no food. The squirrel seems to accept this and scampers off to look for his own breakfast. The day, at this point, is a blank canvas. The man in the caravan views each day much as he views the abstract paintings he creates...without a preconceived plan, at least not a fixed one, except for the coffee. Coffee is always part of the plan. He approaches the promise of the day with openness, but soon, a definite direction will take over, as it does on canvas, and the day will unfold. The parallels between life and art seem very close together...inseparable, actually. Life is an art project waiting to be created...each day an empty canvas with endless possibilities.