Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Case of Mistaken Identity

It was a startlingly bright afternoon last November, when I gave in to my longing to leave my work and head outdoors to do a little sketching. After several cold, drizzly days, the warm afternoon and deep blue sky were calling me. I grabbed the backpack that I keep stocked with sketching supplies, hopped in the van, and drove a few miles down the road to where I saw these cute little calves sunning themselves.

Watercolor, pen & ink, 9" x 12"

I pulled off on the side of the road and started my pencil sketch. Before long, an old pick-up truck pulled up alongside me. The driver, an older man in his 70s, just smiled and gave me a quizzical look. I finally held up my sketchbook and said, "I'm a sketcher -- an artist." He nodded and said, "Oh, okay, we saw you down here and just wondered what was up. Thought you might need some help." "No, I'm okay," I replied, "just sketching the cows and barn." Curiosity satisfied, he nodded, smiled, and headed down the road.

I used masking fluid to save the whites of the fence wire, and added texture to the grassy foreground by spattering paint through a piece of screen.

Back to my sketching ... finishing the rough pencil sketch ... doing the ink drawing...

Fifteen minutes later, a big tractor came down the road and stopped next to me. A younger guy this time, but with that same smile and puzzled look on his face. I once again held up  my sketchbook to show him what I was doing. "Ohhhhhh! You're an artist! My dad said you were an assessor!"

Some of the tree branches were drawn with masking fluid before the background washes were painted. A long, fine rigger brush works well for painting twigs and branches.

That's me, the Sketcher/Assessor! No wonder they were puzzled! They thought I was a tax assessor, come to look over their property, but instead of walking around measuring and jotting down notes (so I could raise their taxes), I just sat in my vehicle, staring at their barn and cows. We had a good laugh over that one, and after talking a bit, realized that we had met before. This was the wonderful guy who had plowed our driveway after the blizzard of February 2010. After being snowbound and without power for 6 days, I had been so-o-o-o glad to see him. My hero! But now, without all those layers of winter snowsuits, coats, hats, and gloves, we hadn't recognized each other.

The Door Barn

He went on to tell me that they call the little barn up in the field "The Door Barn", because it was constructed out of old wooden doors. Now, that's recycling in a big way! Hmmm, when you have an entire building made of doors, how do you know which barn door to open?

Taking a break, stepping out, and looking at familiar scenes with new eyes - it's a great way to spend an hour. And you never know whom you might meet. Adventure waits around every corner, and sometimes, just down the road. 


  1. Beautiful. Makes me smile and enjoy that November day.

  2. Glad to hear you enjoyed my story, Irina. I appreciate your comments.

  3. Really cute story and a lovely painting to boot! I'm glad you got out to do this.

  4. One way to make new friends. :) A great painting.

  5. Wonderful colorful image. I love the 'whites' on the fence and filtered in the trees.


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