Almost as soon as I had that thought, as if the gods were mocking me, the heavens opened up. Somehow there was enough rain to beat the paints into running like watercolors. I tried to persevere but I looked down on the ground at my painting- which is where I had to work on it because my easel would have made it a sail, and I was full of disappointment. For as much effort as I had put in to this piece it should have been at a certain point where the composition and colors where clearly defined and I could start punching up highlights and really digging in to the "fun stuff" that happens once the composition and drawing have been taken care of. What I saw was a runny mess.
I thought about crying. Sometimes the tears just come when I am angry and upset but I think I was just feeling too disappointed and defeated to cry. Maybe I was just too tired and dehydrated. I'd gotten up at 6:30 am (ridiculously early for this night owl) and had a white knuckle car ride down to Annapolis from Baltimore because of the weather and my general distaste for driving. It was probably about 10:30 at this point and it was raining hard. I decided to throw in the towel. Lorraine, a print-maker, went off to retrieve her car so she could pull some prints in it- it was absolutely impossible to print outdoors in that kind of weather. I packed up my stuff and moved it to the curb on State Circle so I could go get my car and load it in. Everything I had was getting drenched and soaked but my car was parked about a quarter mile away in a parking garage. There was no way that I could carry it all.
I drove back to the site where I had left all my stuff while stress-eating a Pro-Bar that tasted sickeningly sweet. A couple of thoughts crossed my mind as I was driving the short distance back. The "Baltimore girl" in me mused that someone had probably stolen some of my stuff by now or that maybe there would be a cop waiting for me for leaving an unattended bag in front of the State House. I wondered about the other painters' paintings and how they may be handling their challenges. I contemplated the beautiful painting I could have made if the conditions had been better. My hopes of an award were washed away with the deluge of rain. I double parked and shivering and cold, heaved my sopping wet painting supplies into the back of the car- while doing so smearing paint all over everything. Climbing into the driver's seat once again, I sighed a very long sigh. I sat there and turned the heat on to try to get warm. This was JUNE for crying out loud, how was it so cold and nasty? I glanced to the passenger side and saw my palette. I thought back to earlier that morning-- mere hours ago and how I had joked with the woman who checked me in that I was "in it to win it". I looked at the time and absently started driving back to the Circle Gallery not quite ready to go home.
I found a spot and pulled over. It was about 10 minutes before 11. I grabbed the wet-with-water unfinished painting from the back seat and rummaged blindly for some paper towels. Miraculously they were only damp, not wet, and had a little absorbency left in them. I turned my front vents on full blast and full heat and determinedly tried my best to dry the surface of the painting. When it got to the point where I thought that it would accept paint again, I began frantically smearing and dabbing trying my best to remember the scene. I had a not-so-great photo reference I had taken with my iPhone. Thankfully I usually instinctively do that for my own reference later and sometimes for social media. I dabbed away at the painting and looked up at the clock. It was 11:10 and I still had to frame it and make it back to the gallery space for the jurying process at 11:30! I fumbled with one of the new open-back ready-made frames that I had gotten from Artist & Craftsmen Supply and raced to get there before jurying began at 11:30am. Now it was raining hard again. It had actually never stopped, I had just been in my car. I got to the gallery. But it was the wrong place. I stood confused holding my painting that was being rained on again. I looked around and then I followed another woman who had also gone to the wrong place down to a storefront on Main Street where I reunited with Lorraine who was already there.