On this second day of our June Art Challenge we have a prompt of “gardens” that would most likely bring to mind the idea of flowers or fresh vegetables. Why I ended up with a bug’s eye view of a lawn mower is anyone’s guess really. I think I just always tend to associate the two, because when I’m outside enjoying a garden this time of year, it’s often accompanied by the roaring sound of one of these contraptions, either in the distance or less fortunately, close by. I once lived in a neighborhood where it seemed people mowed in perfectly timed shifts that kept the sound rumbling from sunup to sundown. When they finally stopped the sudden silence was almost deafening. And, sure, some days I just wanted to be outside and hear nature, not the roar of man’s machines, but I grew used to it and there was something rather nice about it. It’s always been a signal that the season has well and truly changed and a signature sound that one typically only hears on a bright and sunny day that invites people outdoors. So that, at least, is a wonderful thing indeed.
As an adult I’ve lived in the city with no lawns to mow, but as a kid, I used to mow the neighbor’s lawns for a bit of extra cash. This was not a job that I was meant to excel at in any way. The goal, apparently, isn’t simply to make the grass short, which was my only approach. The wheels of the lawn mower create little lines and these lines are apparently considered by many to be more aesthetically pleasing when in a roughly uniform pattern. As it turns out, marching around in a perfectly uniform pattern simply wasn’t my style. I never set out to break “the rules,” I guess I just wasn’t paying attention when they were ever discussed. Or perhaps, I was distracted by a squirrel, or another lawn mower. After pushing the mower in a roughly direct path once or twice the boredom set in immediately, and I veered off course. The lawns would end up well and truly cut down to size, but the resulting effect created a wildly jagged pattern that could be seen blocks away. My clients were always gracious, as that’s just how you respond when you assume this strange little challenged kid is simply trying his hardest.
One day, I got extra bored and moved about in a circular pattern just to see what might happen. Mrs. Smith reluctantly paid me for my efforts, but thinking back now to her terse expression, I think she maybe wasn’t thrilled to be the only neighbor on the block with a bullseye on her front lawn. As I think back upon it now, I realize that given any type of brush and a blank palette, I’ve always enjoyed letting the lines take me wherever I feel they wanted to go. And I’ve learned over the years, that precision and exactness is simply not my thing. I just like the general concept of things, the idea of them. I’m far more interested in the feeling of a moment and though I’m quick to spot the details, I don’t worry over them. As I paint each day, I’m still just practicing and trying different things. One day, I’ll figure out how exactly I’ll choose to “art,” but in the meantime I’ll just keep showing up to sketch and learn. And I’m most thankful for the memories that each little sketch evokes. When thinking of gardens can lead me to suddenly travel back in time to enjoy the sound of a lawn mower.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Quinacridone Red, Leaf Green, Cobalt Turquoise, Terra Cotta and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!