“The Devil at My Heels”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2019

Considering the miracle of his survival and his boldness to share his faith in God, one could make an argument in favor of nominating Louis Zamperini (the author of book The Devil at my Heels) for sainthood, or at least make him a bishop or something. It’s quite a story and well worth reading, but aside from some overt wordplay subterfuge, it’s not the story of this painting. The devil that was at my heels this day, wasn’t a devil at all. But he worked for one, or at least a nuclear power plant that has taken the devil for its name. I’d hiked the 3 or 4 miles out on this windy day to see the furthest reach of this coast that I could legally access. It’s not public land, but is open during limited hours for public use with strict regulations about staying on the trail. These situations can make my work difficult. The best views are often a bit off the beaten path. I’d have to settle for a trailside setup today and was fortunate to find a spot that featured both the only view of the power plant itself from the legal trail system, and a nice windblock from the hill behind it. Painting here was a no brainer. After completing this, I hiked the rest of the allowable distance on the trail to it’s end, always followed by a white truck. I’d walk around a bend, and he’d pull up to a lookout on the road above the trail. Everywhere I went. For the next 2 hours. There were points where the road was right beside the trail, but he’d never stop there to chat. He’d go on a head to another lookout and wait for me to pass. His watchful eyes and lack of interaction had me wanting to mess with him and wait for him to go just out of view, then turnaround and backtrack and wait for him to follow, then do it again and again until he gave up or finally approached me. But I was tired (my outdoor studio travels well, but it’s not the lightest pack in the world), and if I hurried at a good clip I’d have time to paint another little painting before being locked behind the closed gate. I’d already scoped a perfect patch of poppies over a beach with a flowing creek, so there would be no fun and games today, just a mad hike into the howling wind with the devil at my heels.

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