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Time to Take a Breath

Why do we so love to sit and watch a sunset? What is it about the pinks and oranges sinking into a blue ocean that especially inspire us to find a place to sit and watch it and to gasp at the beauty? I have watched thousands of sunsets and I never tire of it; every time I am in awe. Each one is slightly different than any other one in its splendor. Each sunset marks the end of a day, and we know that a sunrise - the beginning of a new day will be coming soon. Could it be that as well as appreciating the beauty of a sunset, we also feel a sense of rest from the day ending and hope for the new day coming? I suppose it’s this thought that caused me to use this painting as the image for January on my calendar this year. I hope that every time it is viewed, it will inspire a sense of awe at the beauty of a sunset, a sense

of rest at the end of a day, and a sense of hope for things ahead.

While it looks like a summer scene, this particular sunset was viewed in December on a beach in Key West Florida, so it’s appropriate for a winter calendar month, right? Who doesn’t think of kicking back on a beach in the middle of winter? Then, there’s the idea of bare feet. There is something freeing about having bare feet, feeling the grass or sand beneath your feet, nothing binding you in. So, there you go. Kick back, relax, imagine for a moment you’re barefoot on a beach with a special someone, or just relax where you are; look out your window, maybe even take off your shoes, and enjoy the sunset.

If you’d like to know a little background of this painting, continue reading. . . .

Ray and I were married in December of 2011 but work and timing didn’t allow us to take a long honeymoon so we put it off for a couple of years. In 2013, we decided to get away in the sun for our anniversary and have our belated honeymoon. While searching for places, we decided that Key West would be perfect and found that tourist rates for everything – lodging, attractions, airfare were all very reduced between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and they practically doubled around Christmas which was the actual time of our anniversary. So, we took advantage of the great rates and headed south in early December. It was very fun and a bit surreal for us northerners to see Christmas decorations everywhere in the hot sun! It was also pretty fun that we happened to have timed our trip with a bad cold snap in the whole country except the Florida Keys. We kind of enjoyed seeing the weather forecast every morning: 0 degrees - everywhere in the county, 80 degrees - Key West.

We had a great time hoofing it around the historic district for a week. One of those days we spent at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. We love history and had a great time wandering around the pre-civil war fort as well as hanging out at the beach and hiking the trails there. Just before sunset, we popped back to our room and grabbed our chilled bottle of Barefoot Chardonnay and headed back to the park since our pass was good for the whole day. Every other tourist on the island swarms the pier a few miles away hoping to catch a glimpse of the sunset behind the heads of all the other people. (I know – I had done that a few years previously – most stressful sunset viewing ever.) Ray and I had this little spot on the beach all to ourselves. We kicked off our sandals, found a spot to relax, sipped our wine and watched the sun create beautiful colors on the water. Several feet away, a couple was getting married and their happy celebration with their small party made us smile – pretty appropriate since we were celebrating our marriage too.

The artist in me wanted to see the sun shine through the glass and condensation droplets of the chilled, green bottle, so I sat it on some rocks and took some pictures. That is probably not something that everyone would do, but I get sort of excited about how the sun reflects on and through things. I thought it might make an interesting and fun painting. A while later, I thought it would be nice to have a painting memorializing that fun day and beautiful moment so I worked up a composition. You can read the notes about that by the photos of my process.

Even though this trip was several years ago, it took me a while to do the painting. I am usually working on paintings for specific exhibits or commissions and that leaves no time to do paintings that don’t serve one of those purposes. Tamarack: The Best of WV’s art gallery, of which I’m juried into, has themed exhibits which the artists submit work for throughout the year. It just so happened that one of their themes for 2019 was “Surf and Turf” so the light went on in my head. I now had a “reason” to do that painting I’d been putting off. I completed it for the exhibit and it was there for a few weeks. After being away from it for a while and then seeing it again, I realized I wanted it to look more dramatic, so I made some changes and finished those in 2020. I hope you’ll enjoy seeing the process and progress in the photos I’ve included here. I hope this painting will bring a peaceful smile to your face and that you'll find time to relax and take a breath as we begin this new year.


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