My nemesis, the rain, continues to reign supreme (pun intended). Hot shower yesterday morning and an hour later I am drenched, cold and wet once again. I break camp early in the rain and get on my way, heading to next destination: Williamstown and Clarksburg, passing briefly through North Adams. At Williamstown, raining cats and dogs, no, not about to paint in this, I shall take good advantage of a visit to the Clark Museum. Holy Toledo, what a collection! I am not a dozen pieces in and fairly blown away, a Goya next to a Fragonard, a David, and a Gainsborough. And the museum is home to one of the foremost collections of Winslow Homer in the upstairs gallery.
Also, I get completely blown away by ten magnificent paintings by the American George Inness. He combines a concentration on light and mood, with a unique spirituality and sacredness in its treatment. I do not often use the audio tour, but this day I opt for it and get some knowledge dropped about the provenance of the works as well as history of the artists. There are many several Sargents, one of my favorite American artists.
Decide to pop in to the local Public House and try a local beer. Conversation with some mates also sitting at the bar, we begin chatting about the area. They suggest where I might consider painting, one place for sunrise, and another for sunset. They also invite me to a party on Saturday but I may need to be on the road by then. Too, I would like to visit with John Bamberry, one of four of the charming “fellows” from the Shakespeare Theater in DC – he is reporting for duty at the Williamstown Theater Festival, due on the 12th there.
The Festival was always significant for me because I once was very influenced by a book called “The Actor’s Chekhov” that chronicles the history and love-affair with the works of Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov between the theater company, its inimitable artistic leader, Nikos Psacharopolous, whom Peter Brook once referred to as “that Greek chap,” and a stellar company of artists that included over the years, Blythe Danner, Olympia Dukakis, Louis Zorich, Kate Burton, Christopher Reeves, Frank Langella, Austin Pendleton, and Mr Quirky Himself, Chris Walken.
For me it seemed, at Williamstown they had figured it out, how to play Chekhov with great humor, absurdity, and profound poignancy without the usual sturm and drang that so often weighs American productions like a pregnant zeppelin. "To Moscow, to Moscow, to Moscow..." Good god, someone please shoot these sisters for me, all three of them. And shoot that Solyony, too, while you're at it. Dead for a ducat, dead. They might as well be, their acting most certainly is, having arrived for first curtain cold as a fish. Okay, I'm over it, I'm done. For now :)
This morning, with a bit of blue peeking at me from the sky, I painted not a hundred yards from my campsite at a beautiful pond tucked into the lovely Berkshires. With headset on, I am listening to Peter Gabriel's New Blood. Only a little over an hour later a mystical little piece emerged. I remember from the audio headset yesterday that Fragonard claimed to knock out some amazing portraits in just an hour. Not unlike Sargent, his style is of the bravura school. Sweeping and dexterous single bold brushstrokes. Perhaps I have an influence this morning. Perhaps with an eye to Inness as well.
Soon as I sign it, I feel drops, huge drops. I look up to see one cloud overhead. One cloud. As Bailey exclaims in WALLENSTEIN, "Mocking me?!" Knowing there isn't another soul anywhere near me, I simply yell to the heavens, pelting me in the face, "You have got to be freaking kidding me!! How can you rain on me when there AREN'T ANY CLOUDS IN THE SKY!!!" Then, of course, it cracks me up and I just sit on the picnic table near my gear, eating a protein bar, and with closed eyes I look up to feel the rain on my face, I just smile.