According to a 2007 New York Times review of an Edward Hopper retrospective at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, “Hopper once said that, as an artist, the only thing he ever aspired to do was to paint ‘sunlight on the side of a house.’ “
I’m thinking of Hopper this morning, having just returned from six days in the high desert town of Joshua Tree. I read, I napped, I did errands, I drove to the Yucca Valley Starbucks to get online. Every night around five I walked up Covington Flats Road and watched the colors and clouds and shadows over the mountains as the sun set. I wrote, I pondered, I prayed. But I’ve been worried about a lot of things lately. I feel tired and old. So a lot of time I simply sat and looked out the window.
At the behest of my teacher friend Alan Pulner, I once gave a little talk to a class of third-graders at the Hobart Middle School here in L.A. I couldn’t believe how smart these kids were. “What’s your genre?” they asked, and “Does it take you a long time to revise?” and “How do you know when you’re done?”
But the question of the day came from a small Asian girl in a green cardigan sweater who, after sitting quietly the whole hour, finally raised her hand. “Do you…” she began shyly, then stopped to gather herself before continuing. “Do you find it helps when you write to look out the window?”
Sometimes we look out the window (or a door). And if we wait a really long time, no matter how discouraged or tired or hopeless we get, sometimes what’s out there begins to look back.