What makes travel interesting is the people I meet along the way, the locals who bring to life the area I am traveling through.
Friday I finally got on my bike and went for a ride
. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon. Camp had been set up. I decided to ride to the small fishing town of Westport, check it out and return to the camp later in the day. The best part of this ride was finding the path that followed the Pacific coast into town.
After settling over a cup of tea and reading I started the return ride. It is always nice to have the wind at my back on the way home.
On my way into town I noticed an interesting vehicle, so to speak, on the right side of the road. I promised myself, when I returned I would stop there and take a few photos. On the return trip I did just that, stopped to take a photo or two.
Just as I pulled off the road, a man came out to say hello. Meet Christopher Bollen. He is an artist. He has been practicing art since he was young. He started as a pen and ink artist and then progressed his way to watercolors. I could stop here and you would know him as an artist, yet there was much more to this man.
When he first came out and spoke with me, he recited a poem.
He has been an artist most of his life. After returning from Vietnam, art helped him conquer PTSD. When he decided to attempt to become a working artist, he chose a neighborhood Seattle and knocked on doors offering to depict homes in framed drawings for $100 each. He had seven commissions the first week.
Christopher told me he took an art class at a community college. He went to one class and never went back and still passed the course.
His traveling art studio was designed and built by him. His home was simple and plain but inviting and well laid out. He raised two children as a single parent. His son now runs his own business on the same property, Barrett’s Gym. He is a personal trainer. He and his father built the gym. It is private and not open to the public.
At one point in his prolific career he owned nine galleries. He was well known in the Seattle area for his pen and ink drawings of local scenes. He opened up his traveling art studio and would travel and paint. Everyone was welcome into his studio.
Now he paints for himself, focusing on miniature watercolors. None are for sale. His goal is to paint a thousand paintings for his children’s legacy. He knows what his paintings are worth. What a creative idea.
When I finally made it into his studio I was taken. His art is beautiful and varied. He worked exclusively for eight years in pen and ink before branching out into watercolor art.
When I told him I was a watercolor artist who has not painted since Jim died, he told me this is the time I need to paint, not for others but for myself. Painting is lonely and grief is a great time to start. He asked me if I felt guilty for Jim’s death. When I said emphatically, no, his response was “good”. He told me to pick up a brush and start. Record my history.
He decided that Cat and I are on a pilgrimage, each one different yet one with a common goal. It is not always an easy one, yet at the end of the day we need to lay down our differences and recognized we are in this together.
I stopped by this morning to thank him for his time and to give him one of my cards. I left with two watercolor prints.
A most amazing man, indeed. I am glad I stopped. I am glad I stayed. I am glad to have met him and maybe not today but soon, I will pick up a brush and begin.