I lucked out
"I have an idea," I started. "Let's each do a painting. But you get to pick the theme!"
He thought about it for awhile and said finally said "mountains". He immediately began to sketch out and paint his idea on the canvas while I prepared dinner that night.
"Hey Ben," I called, after the meal was done and the dishes were cleaned and put away, staring at my computer monitor and the picture I had taken earlier that afternoon on my BlackBerry. "I think this is what I want to paint."
It was a glorious afternoon and something about the composition, colours and direction of the clouds really grabbed me. And while there weren't mountains per se, there was a hill off in the distance. Ben didn't balk at my choice and I was off.
With Ben's assistance - I didn't know where any of the materials were kept - I laid down the background colours using leftover kids acrylic paints and a wide brush. We had a few basic colours - yellow, orange, red, green, brown, blue, black, and while - but they were enough to do the trick.
Honestly, the painting was looking pretty dismal as I stroked in the tree trunks and started adding foliage. It looked more like a train wreck than a landscape.
It was when I started on the shadow of the trees on the water that I began to "find my voice", a style that made sense and started to bring the piece together. I added that flavour to the trees and bushes before adding in the clouds. The final touches were some minute flourishes, small details to draw in the eye.
As I added my initials and year to the bottom right, I realized that my first painting in probably a decade (guessing on the time span) turned out pretty good.
I brought the big camera back to that spot on the river the next day, right at the confluence of the Syne and Clearwater River looking out at MacDonald Island. Every time the sun emerged from the scattered clouds, I snapped a few shots of the stunning scene.
I sucked in my breath at the lines, the cloud formations and the late fall colours. Then I turned back to my left as a gull came sweeping by, much closer this time.