Pasadena City Hall
Preparation is a key to any successful endeavor. The lack of it can also be a key to some undesirable results as you’ll see later. Sufficient preparation might be as extensive as many years of study to be licensed as a medical doctor. Or, it could be as simple as preparing your evening meal; the wrong ingredients could produce some distasteful results.
Before I talk about how I was ill-prepared I was to greet two people who stopped to watch me paint, I’ll tell you about this painting.
I’ve painted Pasadena City Hall numerous times from the streets. It’s an imposing structure that attracts many visitors and tourists. It’s also a popular site for weddings and photo shoots. I finally decided it was time to paint it’s beautiful courtyard, which is surrounded by buildings and domes on three sides and an elevated walkway on the fourth. This day I watched as a photographer herded wistful bridesmaids and reluctant groomsmen into position. Visitors and tourists strolled casually along the dirt paths. With all the activity, the atmosphere remained calm and serene.
This painting was challenge, but a fun one to capture the lights and shadows that raced across the City Hall ornate structure. The shadows seemed to be coming from every direction and going in every directions from numerous shapes, angles and protrusions. Since I was there late in the afternoon, I could actually see them creep across the cream-colored facade.
On rare occasions, I’ll rush out of my studio without going through my kit to see if all of my supplies were accounted for. I recently went and forgot to take the tripod mount for my easel. I had to cradle the easel in my arm while I worked. I didn’t make that type of mistake this time. In fact, the mistake I made seemed so insignificant before it arose that I wouldn’t have thought would make a difference. However, that still, small Voice warned me. So, what was it…
If you’ve read my blog more than once, you’re likely to have noticed Talent Search mentioned. Talent Search is a Bible tract I designed and have handed out to people who stop to watch me paint. I always keep a stash in my kit. Before I begin a painting en plein air, I’ll usually stick a few of them on my pallet, leaving a corner sticking out from under the watercolor paper. Or, I’ll have a few in the palm of my left hand. This way, I can easily hand them to my onlookers. This day, I had the tracts in my left-side jacket pocket. So, what difference does that make?
While I was painting, two young ladies came over to see what I was doing. As usual, the conversation started out about art, but I turned it to their talents. Then, as I steered the conversation toward Jesus, they were very eager to hear about Him. I decided it was time to give them a Talent Search, which had the plan of salvation printed in the back.
I had my paint pallet in my left hand, which meant that I had to twist around with my right hand (which held a paint brush) in order to retrieve the tract from my left pocket. The paintbrush got stuck in my pocket and I began to loose my grip on my paint pallet. As I tried to free my hand and steady my pallet, I found myself going around a circle trying to get the tract and keep my balance.
When I finally got this comedy of errors corrected, I saw the young ladies walking away and chuckling. I did manage to get a tract to them as I thought to myself, ‘I hope they don’t think all Christians are this clumsy.’ It turned out that they too were Christians, so I had some relief that my odd behavior wouldn’t keep them out of heaven. But I learned my lesson; preparation is important, even in the seemingly small things.