Saturday, March 21, 2015

Plein Air Oil Sketch: Latino's Saturday Picnic (11 x 14)

As I was driving on Joel Blvd., thinking where I was going to paint this morning, I passed by the Christian Missionary Church on the roadside. In the opening next to the church, I noticed tents had been set up with beautiful decorations of palm tree leaves and a number of flags, some countries of which I was unable to name. People were busy spreading out BBQ things including stoves and folding tables. I heard from the speakers upbeat Latin music was playing. I felt so happy about it that I made two immediately right turn and went back to the site on Edward Road.

I was told it was the church's picnic activity. With permission, I set up nearby and began to paint. I barely had time to think since people kept coming and going. Only the two ladies who were cooking papasa, a kind of Latin American pancake under the tent were comparatively stable. I had to compose my picture in a wheel-dealing way. Mainly I simply blocked in color to fill the form of people or things. I was in such a rush that I even forgot the legs of the table. Before I almost finished the sketch, a lady came to me with a bottle of iced water and a paper plate with a papasa in it. She said to me smilingly, "Why don't you just take a break and have this papasa?" It  was very touching, so, with a "thank you," I took off my vinyl gloves and accepted the food. The papasa was very tasty.

The experience reminded me of another one, many years ago when we still had our home in Valdosta, GA. There was not much going on in the small college town of Valdosta on weekend. When I found out there was going to be a Jazz festival in Jacksonville, FL the next weekend, my wife and I decided to go there. At that time, there was no GPS, I found the location online before we hit the road. When we got to Jacksonville, I felt I was driving on the wrong road and ended up lost in an unfamiliar place. As I was deciding which direction I should take, my wife said to me, "Have you heard the music? It must not be very far." I was thinking the same thing so we simply follow the music and arrived at a park with tents, bands, and tables full of food. Certainly there was a large crowd.

I never doubted the Latin music we were hearing was not part of the Jazz Festival. Shortly after we arrived, there was a break, someone on the stage urged us to get food. So I followed the crowd to get food booths. After I got the food, I asked a guy where I should pay for it. He said, "you don't have to pay." I asked whether it was Jazz Festival.  "No. This is our Latino gathering, but you and your family are our guests now. Enjoy it." he said with a smile. I felt a kind of heart-warming happiness by the surprise, not because of the free food, of course, but because I always considered it a noble sign to show hospitality or assistance to strangers. When I was a poor college student and if my car died on highway, a total stranger would often stop to assist me. Do we still do that?

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