There were no signs indicating that I was trespassing.

Pickle Road Tree Project, Tewksbury, NJ

I had passed the nursery twice yesterday and decided to make it my first stop today.  The gate was open, one car in the parking lot, but no one was around for me to ask permission to paint.  I parked and pulled out sketchbook and paints.  About fifteen minutes later a truck pulled through the gate.  A man approached the car, wearing a curious scowl.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

I showed him my painting.  “Is is okay if I paint the cherry trees?”

“No, it is NOT okay.”

“Is there someone I could speak with to ask permission to paint here?”


“May I paint the trees, please?”

Long, long pause …………….

“You can stay, but you really should take the equipment out of your painting.  If you leave that  messy stuff in, your painting will be ugly.”

I smiled.  “Thanks for letting me paint.”

He turned and returned to his truck.  Five minutes later I was, once again, alone in the parking lot.

I think the messy stuff makes the color in the painting work perfectly.  Without the bright, intense yellow of the Eager Beaver trailer, the blossoming cherry trees might have looked washed out instead of delicately spring-like.  The truth is, I love heavy equipment and enjoy drawing and painting it.  I would love to be at the controls of a steam shovel.  Trailers aren’t nearly so dramatic.

I’m not sure how he thought I might take the equipment out of the painting even if I wanted to.  He probably doesn’t paint with watercolors during his time off from the Pickle Road Tree Project.

The light started to change and I moved on.

Sketchbook en plein air painting: drawn loosely with pencil before applying wet washes of watercolor allowing them to mix with one another, keeping harder edges for the blossoming trees.  The blocky shapes in the lower left are stacked timbers from an old timber frame barn.  I left them undefined when I realized I lost track of what I was doing.