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  • Writer's pictureandrew jeter

What Do You See When You Paint?

>Thank you, James ( for the inspiration and the art. You help us all to define "Saugatuck."

I know a guy

who paints the world around him,

a chronicler for the spaces

where we live.

He captures landscapes in heavy dollops

and swoops of oil on canvas—

reds, blues, river greens

and beachy tans—

laid on thick

and dripping from the image

to the easel

to the dune grass

under a pine tree

above the Delft blue waters

of Lake Michigan.

He’s known for having hillocks

and mountains of paint

piled up and streaked,

brushed hard on canvas

or sometimes plywood,

curlicues of coloured oil

making tugboats and tulips

and town parks

into valleys, fens,

and rising dunes

of paint.

You see his stuff all over town,

at Phil’s Bar & Grill

and in the window

of his gallery

just across the street and

in friends’ guest bedrooms

or on their mantles.

He’s painted famous beaches,

buildings, budding poppies

like flotsam at sea in a green pasture,

and even the SS Keewatin in all

her faded glory.

I wonder what he thinks,

what he sees,

when he is looking at the river,

the beach, the poppies, or

the bayou just down

my road.

Does he see the world in

swirls and mounds,

streaks and corkscrew


When I need to paint,

I see the wall that is scuffed

or a pale colour that reminds

me of all the time

gone by and the forgottenness

of so many of my life’s moments—

painting our first accent wall

in our first city apartment or

picking out the paint

for the new kitchen

or master bedroom

or cottage in the woods—

and when I just can’t stand it


I sit down to type.

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