I had a funny way of thinking about painting once I realized how much I needed to be outside in front of the canvas. I was conflicted. On the one hand, it felt so good to be out there. I was euphoric after only a few hours in the field, and peaceful, content, and smiling on the inside. It felt decadent. So like any over indulgence it also felt wrong. I needed to find a way to give myself permission to have this much fun.
As things happen sometimes, a tiny magazine article appeared that gave me a way to solve my dilemma. A group of outdoor painters in California were donating the funds from the sale of their paintings to groups protecting the land they loved to paint. I had been a tree hugger as long as I can remember, but had not found a tangible way to contribute to the conservation efforts I believed in, other than by writing checks to folks at the The Nature Conservancy.
In what now seems like a divine moment, I found my real vocation in this world. Half my lifetime had passed. But in that moment, I snagged onto that idea. I searched for a few others who shared my passion for attempting to paint the vast outdoors, and, wanted to save a bit of it at the same time. The rest is history as they say. The Chestnut Group has raised somewhere around $100,000 for some of the most effective conservation groups in the state. Not so grand maybe, but worthy enough I hope. So now I go outside and am overcome by painting and helping. It is a beautiful way to live.