An artist reflects on what was and what is, and share the touching story behind his plein air painting, “Enjoy the View.”

Enjoy the View (Isolated in a Crowd)

I miss people. I miss donuts and coffee after church…greeting my gym buddies with a high five-if at all…freely engaging my neighbors and cohorts at the store…Drop-by “I was just in the neighborhood” visits with friends and family…hugging and smothering my grandchildren with kisses…I miss bumping into strangers. Darn it – I even miss strangers. Darned COVID!

The sages of old knew that we are healthier together as opposed to being isolated. “No man is an island”…right? Scriptures of old teach us that we are all part of one body…an entire corps of people with different gifts – spiritual and physical, temporal and corporeal. Whether you are religious or not, this concept of togetherness is what so many of us miss. We all know now that it indeed takes a village. I miss the village.

But I am not a cynic. I am not a pessimist. I am an artist. I must take the lemons thrown at me, try to make a meringue pie, and share it. It is how I stay sane.

Painting en Plein Air Together, at a Distance

This fall I was invited and honored to paint en plein air in the Paint Annapolis event. A group of artists gathered “distantly” there to paint the many vistas of this historic Chesapeake community: the harbor, boats, buildings, people (at a distance), communities.

One day I chose to paint at the end of a dead-end road in the village of Eastport, looking out to the bay. It was a hot day, so I used my open hatchback as shade. I set up my easel, canvas, brushes, and paints, and proceeded to paint the viewscape laid out before me, by myself.

Local townsfolk ambled by walking their dogs, or they were simply curious. They asked questions, but stayed distant. Normally when I am painting in public, onlookers huddle over my shoulder – engaging, and at times even intimately involve themselves. Art invites that.

Sometime during my painting, I noticed a solo man sitting on the bench quietly taking in the sites of what would probably be a crowded neighborhood park. I imagined him at peace and quiet but missing something. He misses his Village…like I do.

John Eiseman, Enjoy The View, 24 x 24, oil on canvas
John Eiseman, Enjoy The View, 24 x 24, oil on canvas

Additional Plein Air Paintings by John Eiseman

Plein air painting of boats
John Eiseman, “Pretty Maids All In A Row,” oil on canvas, 24 x 20 in., plein air
Plein air painting of a farm
John Eiseman, “Harford Hills at Eaton Farms,” oil on canvas, plein air
Plein air painting of a farm
John Eiseman, “Flew the Coop,” oil on canvas, 20 x 24 in., plein air

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