Monday, January 2, 2012

On the Road

Kelly Medford was visiting Orlando from Rome, Italy. She decided she wanted to do a plein air painting of the Kerouac House. Kelly does a plein air painting every day which is astounding and ambitious. The last time I had sketched the house, I sat on a small patch of grass between a chain link fence and the street. The home owner walked her dog while I was working and when she returned, she yelled at me. I was certain the old lady would call the police. I of course told Kelly the horror story. She decided to set her easel up on the road. Traffic was light on Clouser Avenue but I had to admire her chutzpa. A garbage truck roared by and Kelly waved to the driver. I sat "On the Road" a few yards away from her and started blocking in my own sketch.

The yard around the Kerouac House had experienced a major overhaul. Palmettos and other dense foliage had been removed leaving the side of the building looking naked and exposed. I respected the buildings modesty and didn't sketch its newly exposed flank. The house to me, had a sad worn look to it. Roof lines sagged inward and the tired beams struggled to support the weight of the tin roof. A giant live oak towered over the house, letting in only thin beams of sunlight. What a gorgeous day. I don't sketch outside much since I'm usually sketching indoor events. This was a nice change of pace. Kelly moved the garbage can and recycling bins so they weren't in her picture. I rather liked them, since they show that the place is and always will be occupied and alive, full of creative energy and the buzz of independent minds sharing thoughts and experiences.

A women power walked past us saying, "Hello, how nice to see artists in the neighborhood!" Kelly laughed afterwards saying, "Why doesn't SHE live across the street from the Kerouac House?" As if on cue, the old lady came out with her bloodhound on a leash. I sucked in my breath. She disappeared around the corner, past the STOP sign, without incident. She returned and re-entered her home quietly as well. When my sketch was finished, I walked up to Kelly to see her progress. Her oil painting was completely blocked in and she was refining the details. She extended an open invitation for Terry and I to visit Rome to paint and explore. That is a very tempting invitation. A private Prix de Rome, learning about that ancient city from a resident artist. Jack Kerouac would have certainly jumped at the chance to leap over that vast expanse of the Atlantic and soak in the ancient ruins.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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