Back when I was a small boy and before I became a small man, my Mother would say, “Why don’t you go outside and get some fresh air?” This was Mom code for, “You are driving me nuts, and if you don’t leave soon, I can’t be held accountable for a spanking that will come your way even while I know that the Department of Family Services will deem this punishment inappropriate.” Catching her breath, Mom continued, “While my actions will appear premeditated, I will tell a jury of my peers that I can’t remember anything about the incident because of the red mist of rage that I was feeling at the time. The jury will find me not guilty and direct you to pay the court costs out of your allowance.” Fresh air sounded like a good idea. I went to get some.
I wasn’t a bad child. For the most part I stayed within the lines. Even when I colored in drawing books, I stayed within the lines. I was just a regular kid compared to my classmates who had to get crayons removed from their noses on a regular basis. For a short time, I gave up coloring because I couldn’t get my hands around the idea that the school nurse put the crayons back in the box. This was one reason why I became a plein air artist. No one could borrow my crayons, if they didn’t know where I was outside. But it was not the main reason.
The main reason’s name was Cathy. I had a kindergarten crush. Cathy lived in the house opposite to mine. Because I was spending so much time outside waiting for the red mist to pass, I would try for hours to get Cathy’s attention by showing her my etchings. Unlucky for me, my friend Donny had a crush on Cathy, too. I wasn’t too worried because Donny was a lousy artist, who drew consistently outside the lines and talked in a nasally voice due to a crayon that the nurse was unable to extract. One day in front of are mutual love interest, Donny and I got into a shouting match. I declared that Cathy was my girlfriend. Donny shouted back that Cathy liked him and not me. Cathy didn’t get a say. In the end, I told Donny that he could be her boyfriend because my Mom won’t allow me to cross the street. I was devastated. Donny was happy. And Cathy ended up marrying a rich and successful doctor, who years later got the purple crayon out of Donny’s nose.
Not since my puppy love crush, have I been as excited about this year’s plein air event. For the last 14 years, the Laguna Art Museum co-hosted this event that drew artists from all over the world. This year was different. The museum bowed out and Aliso Creek Inn picked up the co-sponsorship. This change created a new venue for the artists to roam in. Two Thursdays ago, the golf course was closed to golfers and opened up to plein air artists to draw inspiration from the new surrounding. For readers who have not had the pleasure to golf a round, it is a gem of a place. Some residents refer to it as Laguna’s Yosemite. I can vouch with this wilderness comparison because after many rounds of golf, I have not hit the narrow fairways yet. Hopefully, the paintings will reveal in plain sight where hundreds of my lost golf balls have landed. You’ll know that they’re mine because I have personalized them with a message to subsequent finders. It reads ‘Pet Peeves: Golf.’
Mark is a transplant to Laguna from Chicago. He occasionally writes the guest column “Pet Peeves.” His recently deceased Border Collie, Pokey, is his muse and ghostwriter.