For years I have started my spring painting on this old road. I set up my easel and tie a half-gallon jug of water to hold it tight as the wind can come up suddenly. This also provides me with drinking water and water to paint with. I stay close to the edge of the road and feel so happy to be in this special place. I am far enough from the cottages to be alone.
The tide patterns change constantly. I need to paint fast to paint the cobalt blue that mingles with the pinks and yellows and reflects into the wetlands that touch the spring greens. The morning sun shines on the east side of the cottage casting perfect shadows. It is so quiet I can hear the sea grasses touching each other with a distant gull breaking into the perfect setting.
A woman from the red cottage rides down on her bike to welcome and offers to hang clothes on her clothesline as she always does. She hurries along to add a touch of blowing shirts and sheets to add to my painting.
I become aware of movement on the edge of the road as the tide moves out. I need to pause long enough to let my sky dry a little. I slowly turn to the right without moving my feet, and what a treat to see the busy fiddler crabs coming out of their muddy holes! The males have a pincher claw on the right side, if they should get in a fight and lose their claw . they will grow a left one. However the poor girls do not have any and the boys will jump all over them.
Blessed by the visit of the crabs I return to paint the wetlands and the patterns that grave over the morning scene.
At noon my students join me for an afternoon class. A new quick demo will become a bit of a roadmap. The afternoon shadows are great and the class seems to feel the spirit of this magic place.
I put the morning painting in a mat and begin the cleanup. Most of the class returns to the Inn to prepare for the day’s critique. I could hear sniffling to my left side and glanced down to the left and noticed high-heeled shoes, legs, a suit, and a tear-stained face.
Without looking away from the painting she remarked that she had always wanted a painting of Benny’s Landing. She had vacationed here many times as a child with her cousin. Today she was returning from her cousin’s funeral in Philadelphia and stopped by Benny’s Landing to recall those childhood memories. Still looking at the painting she asked, “Is it for sale? How much? Do you take Visa?” I explained that I did not take Visa, but she could take it home and mail me the check.
I put the painting in a plastic bag, gave her the painting and my card. The remaining students looked shocked as the lady drove off with my painting. “You didn’t even get her name!”
Driving up the Parkway at the end of the week, I have a good feeling. Great people, warm weather, and good paintings for the class to take home. And in my mail is a lovely letter from the lady who took my painting and a check to make it hers.
A West Windsor resident, Cox enjoys the inspirational scenery found in the New Jersey coastline and farmlands as the motivation for most of her paintings. She has had over 20 solo shows and has paintings hanging in private and corporate collections. Her greatest joy as a professional artist is to teach others. Her painting of a house on the shore at Cape May served as the cover illustration of last year’s U.S. 1 Summer Fiction issue.