May 30, 2023

I’ve sat next to all manner of waterfalls. The kind you unexpectedly come upon on a hike and need to figure out how to get over; the little creek cascades that trip pool to pool and disappear under deep forest growth; and the grander ones you seek out deliberately from maps, following signs through parking lots and down wooden walkways. Big or small they impart sensations of awesome power and hypnotic serenity. Even the behemoth Niagara Falls, with all its well-worn commercialism and history delivers.

Falling water turned mills across our developing country. Falling water generates hydroelectric power. Controversies notwithstanding, the dams built in the early 20th century turned desert hospitable and made the great cities of the western states possible.

And falling water inspired Frank Lloyd Wright to define a home in southwest Pennsylvania.

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As I was creating the composition of this painting I plucked the tulips out of the bucket they’d been plopped into. Strewing some, carefully placing others. I snapped some shots, rearranged, and took some more. It wasn’t until I was deciding which to keep and which to delete did I notice the water droplets that sprinkled about. I loved the freshness they brought and splashed a bit more here and there.

Those droplets were the last things I did. The painting is large and it had taken a while to complete so I was kind of getting weary…until I started in on the water, that is. Even just that little teensy bit of moisture was like a deep drink at an oasis. The fallen water droplets breathed life into my painting experience.

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It’s past Memorial Day now and days are getting warmer. The past few years summer here in New England have seemed dryer and hotter than in the past. I’ve planted my garden and will tend to it until I begin to lose my battle against weed and beetle.

And I’ll water.

The pump will pull water from my well and it will spray out of my hose. I’ll dodge sprinklers now and bathe in their welcome coolness come August. It will fall like a gift onto my lettuce and lilacs. It will nourish root and soul.

Painting: Waterfall © Lissa Banks 2023