The Painter

imagePainter, Dorset, Vermont © Steven Willard

I was walking down the road in Dorset, Vermont looking for possible images (see the post “A Bit too Much”), when I encountered this gentleman working on this painting. We talked for a little; he was in no hurry to get back to his paints, and after wishing me good luck, we parted. I continued down the road, but found myself walking back on the other side of the litle pond. I was thinking that there might be a photograph here. I slowly worked my way around to a position where I could watch him, thinking that I’d wait to see what happened.

Well, I watched him, and waited, but I was at first disappointed. He sat in his chair looking at what he already had on his canvas, seemingly lost in thought. I continued to wait, and finally he got up and stepped forward. At last some action, I thought. He stooped and looked a little closer then carefully put a few small dabs of paint on the canvas, and sat down again. What the hell! It’s going to take him forever to finish that painting, I thought. I watched him for almost an hour to see if something was going to change, if there would be a moment of frenzied work, but no. He was the slowest painter I’d ever seen, and slowly it dawned on me. He was working to a different clock than I. He was enjoying the act of painting, being outdoors, enjoying the sun, and in no hurry to finish his painting. I began to admire this stranger. His method was so different from mine, and most photographers. Here was a traveler who enjoyed the journey as much as the destination.

We are so often in a hurry to make some photographs; sometimes not even getting out of the car. It’s stop, make a couple of exposures, and move on. What do we miss by not spending a little longer to experience the place, the moment? To feel the wind, and not curse it for blurring our subject. To feel the sun on our face, and not worry about how it might blow out the highlights. Just because our cameras can record an image in a split second we are tricked into thinking that is how long we should give to a photograph. It was another lesson in slowing down, to enjoy not just the final destination, but the journey as well.

Pentax K10D with 35mm macro lens processed in Photoshop CS4.

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