I awake with the sunrise, a walk around the little lake, all the while checking in for rattlesnakes; begin painting so as to finish early; do not want to belabor this one. It gets a signature at about 9:30am. I am hungry and ready for a big breakfast, knowing there will be a stipend by day’s end. I shall do my morning ablutions at the breakfast place of choice; on Friday night when I arrived, I did my nightly toilette at the Shell station when I got petrol, taking out my contacts, trading them out for my glasses, brushing teeth, changing into sleeping sweats etc. On Saturday night after 10pm, I went to Wendy’s, just down the street, without benefit of a purchase. Same m.o. - contacts out, teeth brushed, sweats to sleep in...
So I decide to drive into Pinetop-Lakeside and find a café. Do so, have a terrific b'fast, country skillet, lots of local flavor, is that chorizo amidst the eggs? - I am good with that in a big way. When I arrive at Picassol's Olive Oil store, I am early of noon, so I hang out, go through a locally-owned marketplace across the street, check out the fresh vegetables etc. Get to Olive store and unload paintings so as to show the charity folk some options; I will be happy to donate a small piece, as long as I am certain that my new painting has a satisfied owner. I show it, it seems to be met with approval. Always the insecurity creeps ‘round the corner, “What if….”
I meet a bunch of people, nice people – again with the NICE in this town– and I set up to paint. Love the fact that a small, hay-strewn pen near me contains three of the cutest alpacas you ever did want to see. Cannot find any of my photo references so as to kick-start a warm up session; Sonja, as per my request, prints a hard copy of a couple of photo perspectives of the cathedral in Santa Fe – I figure I can do some sketches so as to ready myself to paint from life when I get to Santa Fe in a couple of days.
I donate the 11x14” painting of the Carmel Mission, CA, and it receives a warm reception. Fast-forward to the auction: Sonja has sent one of her employees to ask that I stop painting and be present when they begin to auction my painting. She grabs the microphone from the auctioneer and introduces me, suggesting we are in the presence of ‘world-renowned Chicago artist, Jeffrey Baumgartner.’ A lightening bolt of trepidation strikes me, and I come forward saying, “I don’t know about ‘world-renowned,’ though I am fairly well-known in a certain part of Indiana, very small town.” I am laughing. I think the growing crowd appreciates this gesture, they laugh with me. Forsaking the microphone in this fairly intimate venue, I give some context to the trip and the painting and then fade back into shadows and watch as the piece sells successfully. I am happy to march up to and say hello, shake hands with the new owner.
The event winds down, I finish up the quick-study of the cathedral, and off I go, newly flush with the sale of artwork. Getting to New Mexico now will not be an issue.
Okay, time for “follow the bouncing ball” for those of you tracking this blog (or “riding along with you in the passenger seat”, as my mother refers to it), I have sold a painting – it is time for a wee celebration. I deftly do a budget review: need $250 for lodging five days in Albuquerque, two tanks of gas, at say, $45 each, breakfast at $10 plus tip, that leaves a whopping $50 or so on which to celebrate tonight. I am thinking dinner and a movie (steakhouse & “Avengers”); bottle of red wine for camp, maybe $9.99; small bottle of tequila for medicinal purposes (remember, it is cold nights); and … did I figure in popcorn? Okay, $10 popcorn etc, and yep, over-budget. Again. Need to re-define ‘wee celebration,’ will work on that tomorrow or when I arrive Santa Fe. Paint-the-town-red (or for painters, ferric oxide). What?! That makes no sense.
Oh, and when I buy the wine at the little marketplace I had visited earlier, cashier says to me, “oh, has the Renaissance Festival started already? I thought it was next weekend.” She indicates my wide-sleeved white cotton shirt and ascot. “No,” I say very simply, “that’ll be it tonight, just the wine, thanks.” I thought it was fairly funny. Remembering where I was, I was very nice about it.
Arrive back at campground after a return toilette at the Shell station and look forward to a good night’s sleep. By most measures, save for the over-budget part, a good day. A good night. And a big ol’ Devil Moon above.