Jim Modiano. Bueno, 1992. Oil on canvas, 60" x 36."


“Bueno” Painting in King’s Canyon

The air is crisp and the earth is still. It is 7 am and the sun has not yet climbed over the rim of the canyon. The King’s River gurgles and churns nearby. I am working on a solid wall of rock thousands of feet high across the canyon from where I stand.

It is my third session on this painting – the third morning I have risen early and arrived here before the world has woken up completely. The silence and calm are overwhelming; the sheer power of this place coming to life can make your head spin.

I am working quickly, preparing my paints so I will be ready when the show begins. There'll be no time for mixing then. The light, you see, comes on quickly and for a brief time the world is all reflectance and color, rapidly changing, glittering, spectral magic.

And then it is day. I’ll be ready.

I have been at work for some time – I could not tell you for certain how long – when my attention is drawn to the sound of a man clearing his

throat; gently clearing, so as not to shatter the stillness. I look up to see an elderly man with white hair standing about twenty feet off. I had not heard him approach. He is deeply tanned and wrinkled, wearing an old straw hat and holding a large white walking stick with a blue cross on the top.

He signals to approach. I nod agreement. He speaks in Spanish as he explains that he has just come down from the canyon rim that I am working on. He speaks of fire on the mountain. “Yes,” I nod. He is here for the magic show too, I think to myself.

Coming around now to face the canvas which is superimposed before the vastness of the canyon wall – so that you see the painting almost as part of the landscape it captures – he smiles and looking at me he says “bueno.”


© copyright 2017, Jim Modiano