“Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.”
~ Edgar Degas
When the girls and I were in Los Cabos, Maddie kept looking for a watercolor painting of El Arco, the famous and beautiful, natural rock formation in Cabo San Lucas (the area’s also known as Land’s end, because it is at the southernmost tip of Baja California). She told me she was looking for one because she had started collecting 5×7 watercolors of the places she’s visited (Maddie loves to travel!). She found one painting of a cactus, but she wasn’t in love with it, so she didn’t get it. She was a little disappointed, but I think after our trip, I was even more disappointed than she was! It had been our first vacation all together, and we had such a great time, in a place we had all never been to before! And Maddie didn’t have her customary souvenir to remember our special trip!
I went online to try to find a watercolor painting of El Arco for Maddie, but all I could find was one done by a student (it was just a display on her website and I wasn’t even sure it was the exact image of the arch that Maddie had in mind). I sent her a link to a picture of it, and she seemed like she’d even want that, but then she said, “Do you think it counts if I didn’t get it in Mexico? Because it’s supposed to be a souvenir, you know?” The painting wasn’t even for sale – it was just a part of the student’s portfolio – if it were for sale, I’m sure it would have been too expensive, and I could tell it wasn’t really what Maddie wanted anyway. Lots more searching left me empty-handed.
Well, tonight is our Tuesday night dinner, and Maddie’s birthday is next week. After I painted-by-number for the first time a few weeks ago, I was pretty happy with the results I got, and I also had a lot of paint left. I thought, since Maddie hadn’t gotten her customary souvenir from Los Cabos, what if I tried to paint her a customIZED souvenir? Yes, she wouldn’t have gotten it in Los Cabos, but it would have been done by someone who was with her in Los Cabos, right?
I ran out to Michael’s this morning and picked up a 5×7 canvas (okay, two – what if I mess up?!). I had a moment of uncertainty – I know Maddie said 5×7, but was she just estimating? What if my painting was too small/large? Oh well, I had to act quickly and I went with the 5×7. Mom was with me and asked if I thought I should get some additional supplies (a different brush, more paint, etc.). I thought for a second about it, and then I realized that I kind of felt like the whole thing would actually be more special this way. I had the paint I’d used in my very first paint-by-numbers, and the same brush, and I’d use the things I’d learned from that experience to try to create something unique and special (woohoo, one of a kind!) for my friend.
I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to paint a picture of the arch for Maddie, just like the one Joanna had taken for me when we rode the WaveRunners?
And actually, since I’d FAILED at getting a picture of Maddie flying along the water on her WaveRunner, wouldn’t it be cool if I could paint her in the picture? Yikes. Tall orders for myself, especially since I had never done this before. But I had already decided. I wanted to make this happen. So … I just jumped in.
Here’s a time-lapse video of the process (sorry I don’t have that many pictures – it was actually really hard for me to tell when I’d made progress):
When Maddie got here for dinner, I was pretty much done, although I’m not really happy with the detail, especially on the mountains. The shading and stuff is pretty crappy. I think the left side is okay, but the right (the rocks where the actual arch are!) leaves much to be desired. I told Maddie I’d probably ask to borrow the painting again sometime soon so that I could fix it up … but I was really happy to be able to give this to her. Maddie does so much for other people – not least of which is planning vacations for her friends! If it weren’t for Maddie’s awesome planning skills, we wouldn’t have had the awesome time we all had together. The absolute least I could do is make a little something for her to help her remember our awesome Los Cabos vacation! Happy Birthday, Maddie!