Paintings of Summer – 함덕

I’ve been looking at my very clean-looking (that’s a bad sign) watercolor palette, thinking about how little painting I’ve been doing lately. Jeju Island is so picturesque, I’d always pictured myself spending days at a time sitting on top of 오름s painting landscapes and abandoned farmhouses. Instead, I’ve been spending my days glued to my computers on some 3d project or another, or sitting at a coffee shop (like I am now) drawing. Guess that’s the way it works, though: no matter what you do, there’s always something else you’re not doing enough of.

 

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I remember back in the summer, I would go out in the evenings to Hamdeok Beach and wade out to this rock that jutted out in the middle of the water; from that rock I had a prime view of the beach, the Oreum, the resort, and Halla Mountain. I would unpack my sketchbook and paints, a bottle of beer and a takeout box of steamed dumplings, and just start laying brush to paper.

 

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The rock afforded a perfect spot to watch and sketch the beachgoers (without looking creepy — the curse of candid sketching), while also being free from the prying, leaning-over-your-shoulder stares of curious and conversant passers-by.

 

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Not that I’m anti-social or anything. I happen to like having generous amounts of time to myself.

 

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Of course, all good things must come to an end, and when tourist season stopped abruptly at the end of August, the lifeguards cut us all back to within a few yards of the shore. Even though — as one lifeguard put it — “people with blue eyes are good swimmers”, you could barely get your knees wet without getting whistled at. And if getting harassed by the Fun Police wasn’t enough, the owner of the beachside restaurant that overlooked my rock insisted on constantly standing on the deck and shouting warnings to me in broken English that the tide was coming in (even when it was, in fact, clearly going out), despite my little fortress of solitude being so close to shore that you could throw a puppy at it.

 

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But, as they say, you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone. I’d go a step further and say, if good things never came to an end, you would never have the hindsight to appreciate them as the blessings they were.

 

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