A Magazine about the Hudson Valley’s local economy, published by Hudson Valley Current.

Daddy Debrief: Art Hike

By David DeWitt

It was the night before Erin was going to be teaching a number of voice lessons back to back at home and Finn and I needed to make ourselves scarce for most of the day.

“Where are you going tomorrow?” Erin asked, probably knowing I hadn’t thought of anything yet.

Finn looked at me.

“We are going…on a…hike. On an art hike,” I said trying to come up with something original for him.

“What’s an art hike?” Finn asked.

“We’re going to hike and paint.” I said.

“Where?” Finn asked.

“We’ll figure that out tomorrow” I said, having no idea.

I didn’t really think it would be an art hike. I really thought that we would hike somewhere and Finn would get distracted looking for rocks or collecting sticks and I would carry the art bags and maybe get half an hour of sketching in while we ate lunch.

The next morning we packed lunches and snacks into our already full bags alongside what we had packed the night before: watercolor paints and plenty of paper.

We hiked a familiar trail. Eventually we came to a nice place to rest beside a stream.

“This is it!” Finn said.

“You want to paint here?” I asked

“Yep!” he said, claiming the perfect little spot under a tree.

After sitting for a while just observing the brook and a tiny waterfall for several minutes, he spread out all his art materials and got to work painting right away.

I was a little in disbelief. I had come up with the idea as something to get us out of the house. I didn’t really expect it to hold his attention very long.

But he was ‘in-it-to-win-it’ as Erin and I like to say when he’s in the zone.

We were all alone. Then an hour or so later in an elderly couple wandered by and sat for a while chatting and dipping their feet in the stream.

I noticed them observing Finn as they chatted. The sound of the water masked their conversation.

After some time they got up to leave and the woman said:

“My father was a painter and I have many fond memories of painting watercolors alongside him. This is a joy to see. Thank you!”

I got a little lump in my throat at her reaction, fumbling with my words saying something like:

“Oh I’m so glad.”

Then I saw Finn gathering up his things. But he wasn’t done. He moved to another rock and started another series of paintings.

A little while later we had our lunch. He talked about his paintings and what a good idea this was, painting outside.

He ended up with nine little masterpieces. Some realist, some expressionistic, one rainbow and one map showing where we were in relation to Mommy. My favorite was a little sketch of me sitting under a tree sketching him.

“We should do this every week, right?” he said.

“Absolutely” I answered.