If you’ve ever been to the coast of Maine (where I live), or Lake Michigan shores (where I once lived), or wide beaches along the Irish Sea near Ireland’s Ring of Kerry (where I painted), you know that when a blustery wind comes up you’re in for an abundant bout with nature. Exhilarating and captivating, wind has a way of dominating. It says nature is bigger than you and proves it.
I like to feel nature–take it inside me–whether on a walk in a nearby preserve with Bill and our dog, Beacon, or with my kids when we visit them out West and hike Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic Park or explore Dungeness Spit. Roaming alone on an endless beach, wind blowing my hair, seagulls soaring overhead, waves lapping at my feet, sun in my face, I have sought the elysian realm of nature often, especially oceans.
Enjoying such beauty, I have not always been awake to the pathetic fact that our beautiful Atlantic Ocean is home to 220.4 million tons of plastic waste and our Pacific Ocean harbors 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in what is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. And those graceful seabirds flying overhead? Ninety percent of them have consumed plastic. In fact, all sea creatures have unknowingly incorporated microscopic poisoning plastic flakes into their diet.
Along with senseless mass shootings, wars and worries of all sorts, are we to add plastic to the list? We must. All the beauty and immense contributions of our natural environment is fading fast. We are murderers without pulling a trigger. Our weapon is a carelessly tossed straw, wrapper, baggie, rope, beverage container, discarded fishing gear or the tiniest bit of plastic. With it we are killing creatures great and small and destroying water–the one essential for life on this planet.
We might wish some magical blustery wind could blow all our plastic–and problems–away. No such wind exists. It falls to each of us to do the work and change our habits. Only then can we walk the shores in true peace.
Artwork: Windblown, framed watercolor, 32″ x 24,” $975. Since age 16 I’ve been doing portraits and figures, later teaching portraiture and nude figure classes. Working on my Masters at RISD, I incorporated portrait and figure work into many projects. After 9/11 I did thirty-some pastel portraits of the victims, gifts for their families. I especially love doing watercolor figures and this particular piece with this posting is among my favorites. I like the looseness attained by allowing the watercolor to be the boss more than me. There’s an energy in this piece, shown in part in the bits of light in the hair flecked out by fingernail. I no longer recall who my model was. I’ve had some good ones over the years. This piece is powerful because of the paint’s breezy flow as well as the determinant character expressed by the model which I was able to capture. Capturing character is my goal in portraiture; capturing composition and mood in figure.