Morning light creeps through the curtains around 5:30, and what’s new is birdsong.

There is still a crust of snow on the fields, but patches of grass are making a comeback—albeit matted, brown and littered with twigs, and less savory piles revealed after the winter months.

Who can blame me for browsing pictures of past Junes and Julys?

Progress continues on my summer pathway painting, inspired by a memory and photo taken on a high summer afternoon several years ago. I can picture the girls wrapped in towels walking up the path to the house after a swim in the pond just down the hill. In the shade, the farmhouse promised a cool respite and harbor from the hot sun. I’m savoring this painting like I savor the memory of that day. I still plan to add depth and details to the grassy meadow edges of the path, and maybe a little more work on the distant trees. We’ll see.

Last summer I painted by Silver Lake, nearby in Barnard.

Next to me, Rae Newell was working in oil. I love the scent of oil paint, but it gives me a headache and I gave it up over 10 years ago. Instead, I persist in trying to simulate the buttery strokes of oils with acrylics. I end up with an amalgam of oil, acrylic and watercolor, depending on the day and the weather. Raindrops can polka dot an acrylic painting. And that can be nice.

Back to Rae.

Her canvas was under-painted in an intense pink.

Bolder than Pepto Bismol.

Something hinting at an Indian sari, bordering on magenta.


As she worked, the pink stayed visible at edges of her shapes and gave warmth under the colors she layered on top. The effect was dazzling. Like all of the painters in my plein air group, Rae is warm and forthcoming about her technique and suggestions. I admired the pink and she said, “Try it! You’ll love it!” I asked if I could take a picture of her painting, and she warmly replied, “Of course.” So here it is:

The next week I hand-mixed a pink hue for underpainting. The color wasn’t as vivid as what Rae had used, but I was pleased with the result and excited to keep at it.

Fall came. The days got cold and I moved my painting indoors. I forgot to under-paint in pink and went back to my habit of starting with golden yellow or raw sienna. A few weeks ago I was looking through a jumble of paint tubes at work and a Holbein tube appeared, glowing bright.

The name on the swash of bright pink was Luminous Opera.

The hue does suggest a night out in a Parisian salon curtained in velvet.

This color was the bold, magenta pink I remembered Rae using. And this particular tube was acrylic paint.

Luminous Opera is a pink to rival any peony or geranium petal. I now own my very own tube of this glorious stuff! It’s a little smelly. It’s semi-transparent. The color is so vibrant that it reflects pink onto walls and paper on the table. I painted it over two failed landscapes (this is what we painters do). The landscapes showed through a little, still trying to exert themselves. Onto the first, I drew out the rough plan for that summer path from my friend’s pond to her 1800s farmhouse outside of South Royalton.

I can’t believe I haven’t painted this sooner. But I guess I wasn’t ready. The day itself was suffused with pink. Do you see it?