Rolling Hills of Tuscany

I woke up to the sound of rain pattering on the roof, and vaguely wondered if I had left anything outside. A visual memory flickered before vanishing: ochre, burgundy, pine green, turpentine, several paint brushes scattered on the glass tabletop under the canopy, caught unawares beneath abnormally large drops of rain. Next to the paints: an unfinished canvas in oils, impermeable to the water. But then I knew that there were no paints and no canvas. I hadn’t lived here for several years, and, arriving late last night, had no time to pull out the paints and spread out on the table in the backyard.

But by reflex I thought that I might have left something. Because in San Diego rain is so rare. People live out of doors, leaving unfinished meals, papers, shoes, toys, out day after day, knowing that it won’t rain. And probably there won’t be any wind either. Chances are, it will be another still, sunny day.

When we first moved here, we joked that any minute now a lamp will fall onto the driveway from the sky, the way it did in the Truman Show, tipping off the main character to the possibility that he was living in a controlled environment. It’s quite strange in the beginning, but you get used to it. And then you feel unsettled and vulnerable when the wind blows, or the temperature changes, or water begins falling out of the sky.

The way it did last night.

I did this painting several months ago, when I was visiting the parents over the summer. Mom wanted a Tuscany theme, and so I tried to deliver. This is the last is a series of paintings I created at the ‘rents house, which used to be my own not so long ago. There’s the huge painting of five turtles crawling nonchalantly into the sunset in a surreal Spanish stuccoed archway. Mom says the walkway reminds her of one of the metro stations in St.Petersburg. There’s also a set of reproductions, one of Dali’s Christ of St.John of the Cross , one of Picasso’s Woman with Dog, and of course a close-up of Boticcelli’s Primavera. Heck, there are many paintings, that’s not really the point.

The point is that when I come here I feel motivated to paint. With a change in your surroundings, your mood and inclination changes as well. Suddenly you feel capable of doing things that seem out of reach at home. And I am reminded of this again, here this first day of a week spent in San Diego.