Following a Lady with an Umbrella in the Rain

LadyWithUmbrella_5015, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Now, I know many of you will not like this image. I know that, how should I say this, “it’s not your cup of tea.” And, that’s fine, it’s great, it’s all good. This is one of my more self indulgent images. I like it. I’m posting it because I like it and, today of all days, I feel like posting it. The reason I like it is not because of the story behind it, although there is kind of an interesting story behind it (I must admit.) No, I like it for other reasons instead (more about that later.)

On my last day of shooting in Reykjavik, after my flight had been delayed and I was stuck in downtown with nothing to do and it was raining very hard so I could not really take photos very easily, I happened upon this woman walking around the city. She wasn’t the usual sight-seeing type of tourist, she walked pretty quickly and moved around like she knew where she was going. She also had an umbrella and stayed under it almost the entire time. I thought she looked interesting, that she would make for an interesting subject, so I followed her. I followed her and her umbrella and her coat for quite a ways, stopping to take several shots of her when I could.

I must admit, the thing that drew me to her first was the umbrella. I thought it might be a good idea to get a shot of a lady walking around with an umbrella. I had been doing these blurry out of focus type shots a bit that day and I knew what I wanted to get. A blurry out of focus shot, taken in the rain in Reykjavik, with an umbrella in it.

It’s kind of odd to me, because some of you just won’t get this. Some of you will maybe even write in to me and complain (I can almost hear it now, “it’s way too out of focus!” or “you need new glasses!” Maybe I do but I actually intended it to be this way.) Some others of you, probably mostly my painter friends, will say something different (“It’s a cliche!” “What are you doing?!?” “A lady walking downtown in the rain with an umbrella? Really?”)

But, me? Not me. I look at it and I think, “I wish I could paint more like this.” I wish I could make my paintings look more like this. This is sort of my ideal as a painter. I really want to do soft urban scenes that are quite abstract but render just enough information for you to maybe “get it” if you look closely enough. I would love to be able to do this with encaustics, really I would. Heck, I can’t even make faces yet (really) with encaustics but this? Now this I would so LOVE to be able to do in wax. The best I could probably do is to hack something that looks a bit like this out with a palette knife and some oils and even that would not come out quite looking like this blurry out of focus taken in the rain image from my camera.

And that, yeah, THAT’S why I love this image and I’m posting it today. This is what I want to do, what I really want to do. Ok, so maybe I did it with a camera and now I’ve got to paint it (oh joy!) but I did it and I like it and I’m posting it. Honestly, I hope you get it too. I hope you understand that this is where I want to go, this is the direction I’m pointing in, even if my technique as a painter is not quite there yet.

The story behind this photo? Yeah, I really had some fun following the lady with the umbrella around downtown. It was kind of fun to do and she kept walking towards the middle of the streets and sidewalks, which (I must admit) really helped me compose her nicely. But that’s not at all why I like this image and why I’m posting it today. Does it work by itself, as “only” a photograph? I don’t know about that, but I like it. I really kind of do, in a blurry out of focus kind of way. It’s soft and it looks rainy, I think it’s got the mood down, I just wish I could add more texture to it, to make it look more painterly and less “flat” the way photos always do. But the story behind it? Yeah, it’s not a narrative image for me. Even though I was there and I knew what was happening, this just isn’t all about storytelling for me at all.

So, if you or someone you know happens to be the lady with the umbrella in downtown Reykjavik, why I thank you. Thanks very much for making an otherwise boring, dark, rainy day seem a bit more….well, fun and exciting are not exactly the right words, but you get the idea. Lady with umbrella, wherever you are, I followed you and you made my day. You let me take a photo that looks like the kind of paintings I want to paint, should I happen to get good enough painting with a blow torch and some melted wax. Someday, maybe, you’ll see yourself in wax. As for the rest of you, yes, I know it’s out of focus and yes, I know it’s a bit of a cliche but I like it. Sorry, but this is one fish I’m not going to throw back anytime soon.

Can’t I have a little bit of fun on an otherwise dark and rainy day when I’m stuck far from home in some lost forgotten place? Please?

Until next time…


  1. Great Grandma Lin
    September 25, 2011 / 5:09 pm

    can't wait to see your painting…you can also play around with photoshop with your shots-interesting results that look very artsy!

  2. Carol
    September 27, 2011 / 11:58 am

    Thanks, Lin. Unfortunately, I don't know how much of these type of paintings I'll be able to do. I've got a big show coming up in November so I have to start getting ready for that, plus I'm teaching a bit so need to do that.

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