Summertime is in full swing but painting outside?

This is my old family friend. It appears in several of my paintings. I will miss its presence. It has greeted me every morning and framed many beautiful sunsets. I will take part of this tree and carve something beautiful from it and pass it along to my children and maybe even to their children.

It has not been all that great for painting outside. Even on the nice days without rain it has been too windy to do any serious painting without chasing your easel and canvas across the land.

The ground has been very soggy and the mosquitoes ravenous. Without bug repellent it would be downright intolerable. Even getting into the garden has been a fight. Rows of mud and weeds are greeting you.

This year we have lost a lot of trees everywhere. In my front yard the big old tree that has shaded my children and grandchildren will be cut down by the electric company. Having mostly died, it presents a danger to the electric lines along with some other trees on my property. They have marked them with a big red X and will soon be down.

The tree in front of our bay window has been a member of our family ever since we arrived almost 37 years ago. I have used it as a painting subject several times and even photographed it for use in some of my articles. I will use it as my subject one more time then it will be gone.

I hope to get in a few more years of painting and teaching but I really don’t know. Life has been good for my wife and me but lately it has also been a challenge. Chemo treatments, then tests, then more tests and more chemo.

For the last two years this has been a very dominant feature of our lives. It has also taught us a lot about prayer and hope. It seems that more people than I ever imagined are dealing with similar circumstances. We pray for them all. It’s not an easy road. But it’s not a hopeless road as many may think.

There are things we can physically do to help in this situation. Make sure that we are eating the right foods and also cut down on stress in our lives. One of the best ways to do this is watch a lot less news. See your children as much as you can. That includes grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. Get close to the earth. Plant and take care of flowers and possibly a food garden no matter how small. Make the absolute best time of your time.

Without the constraints on time and energy brought on by the realization of living with cancer, maybe we would never really face our priorities with the stark understanding that we are not going to be here forever. The realization that this body is not our forever body, that it is very much on loan to us, is very severe, but it’s no reason to be melancholy. It gives us a chance to correct things, say things that need to be said and do things while we can.

This reality can be a good reality especially if you have had several close calls during your lifetime and you are still here. Yes, we get more tired quicker and more naps become an important part of our lives; but I ask, is that so bad? Yes, I often wake up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep so I write.

So again, I ask is that so bad? Inconvenient yes but bad no, it’s just the way things are. When my feet hit the floor and I can still feel them, I know I am alive and that’s not bad at all.

Harry Croghan is an artist, photographer, writer and teacher. He can be reached at 740-852-4906 or by e-mail at