the tired truck
Yesterday, I packed my paintbrushes, field easel, and palette and headed out. I don’t consider myself to be a plein air painter, but on occasion I need to clear my head, breathe fresh air, and get a sunburn on my pasty Irish neck.
I’m never attracted to traditional plein air subjects. I am thoroughly bored by the act of painting rolling green fields, cumulonimbus skies, a broad expanse of water. And yet, I do appreciate a well painted landscape, provided it was not painted by me. I am, however, drawn to portraits of man made things in dialogue with the wasting effects of nature. I am equally as moved by a proud Roman column being eroded by centuries of wind and rain, as I am by a tired old truck, living out its last days after a life of hard work, contentedly succumbing to nature’s bleaching and rusting.
Like the truck, I found myself exhausted by politics, by people. And like the truck, I sought a quiet oasis. And so, nestled away in a quiet corner of Islip, with a canalside community of contented trailer homes on my left, with disinterested, dilapidated commercial fishing boats baking in green, brackish canals on my right, I had my communion with a tired truck.
Poussin was a classical painter who painted for the French court. One day, after a day of wandering the halls of the royal palace, in which the women would come and go and talk of Michelangelo, Poussin said (and I quote) “Man, ‘nuf a dis crap. Peace out.” So, he done gone packed his bags and moved to Rome, a decaying, crumbling city of savages. He continued to sell his paintings to the French court, and continued his dialogue with the court from a distance. Poussin painted in peace, in the quiet ruins of Rome, until his death in 1665. He is now buried in San Lorenzo in Lucia, in Rome.
I love Islip.