By day two at Quinns Hotsprings in Paradice Montana, I had already made myself accidently quite known to the tourists also staying there. The concerned eyes were far fewer and “So how’s it coming?!” became the words I enjoyed hearing. I found as I would swim the day before that people would sneak up to my easel to see what I was doing, so I saved them a few steps and purposefully pointed my painting towards the pool so everyone could get a glimpse. It was very affirming to see people go over to their friends, whisper in their ear, and point to my painting with smiles. As far as I could tell they seemed very affirming and not, “what a hack job!”

I walked in with a slight air of certainty on the second day that I was ok with continuing my painting beside the pool, but there were new attendants running around, and once again, new confused eyes peering at the large box and video tripod. Would day two be the end? Well one of the attendants walked up. Young, dark thick hair that made me beyond jealous considering my lack of follicles, and a large smile. He instructed me as I set up my tripod that the best place to get a picture was at a different angle of the pool, a place I would suggest most tourists would assume was “off limits” for staff only. I thanked him quickly and grabbed the plein air box to mount it on the tripod. He suddenly had a look of surprise. “OH! I see you prefer to shoot pictures the old way with a box camera!” I admit that made me chuckle inside as I looked down at the box and realized it certainly could be mistaken for that. I quickly opened it up and displayed the paints and brushes and thanked him for his advice and I would be sure to grab my phone and snap some pictures of the angle he suggested.

The angle suggested by the kind attendant at Quinns Hotsprings in Paradice Montana

With more certainty that everyone was on my side, and ready to change my target to a new canvas and scene. I moved us over to a fire pit as soon as it became available with my wife pleased with the proposition of staying into the evening and enjoying the fire together. On that side, my attention quickly became the main rock in the center of the pool and the lovely water feature behind it with cascading waterfalls falling down natural rock and into the pool below. The engineering of the feature was exquisite and truly felt as if it wasn’t designed but simply used from nature to supply the pools with its sulphur crystal clear blessings.

At that point I also decided not to shy away from the attention and instead welcome it by wearing my signature hat my wife and I bought at a local shop on the way in that I was certain would quickly set me apart from the rest of the tourists there. I found very quickly people walking up and talking to me even when I was away from the painting, most likely due to the obvious hat that did serve its purpose incredibly well of keeping the sun off my face. Magically no sunburns were the result of this trip. That I was very thankful of.

My wife also surprised me as I would walk back to the bar to grab us extra drinks and come back to her saying several folks had stopped by and she told them she was proud of me. She honestly has no idea how deeply that touches my heart. Earning that pride from her is easily one of my highest achievements. She also would jump into the pool to read a book on her phone in the comfort of the warm water and I would find random texts from her with pictures of me painting from different parts of the pool. Even asking me at one point “Did you get a picture of your painting from this end of the pool yet?” Then moments later another text with the need promptly met.

It isn’t hard to find targets to paint in this lovely area. I wish I had brought some even smaller canvases to capture even more and work on my overall speed which is my greatest frustration at this point in my journey. Second to that getting colors to properly show the beauty of a blinding sun and the cool of a resulting deep shadow.

Day two felt like a true success, painting into the dark of the night and even running back to the room to grab a light and several extra blank canvases in case I wanted to target something else. That still wasn’t the best part of this little painting journey. But, that is a story for another time. God bless!