My alarm was set for 3:45 am for the Windsor Hot Air Balloon Classic, but I awoke on my own, one hour earlier, bright eyed and ready to go. After making a cup of coffee and gathering my art supplies to paint while there, I was out the door. I wanted to arrive for Dawn Patrol, which begins promptly at 5:00. At that time, the balloons are lit up like lanterns as they ascend into the morning sunrise.
As I drove down the freeway, I was glad to see clear skies, a good sign that the balloons would be able to launch. At this time of year, coastal fog can unexpectedly roll in and keep the balloons grounded, but for the moment, the weather looked promising.
After entering the gates of Keiser Park, I passed through the concession tents, the aromas of coffee and grilling pancakes warming the cool morning air. Itâ€™s hard for me to resist pancakes, especially blueberry, but I told myself it would still be early enough for breakfast when I got home.
When I walked onto the field, several trucks pulled into position and with a flurry of activity, unloaded balloons from trailers, unravelling them across the grass. Compressors then filled the balloons until they rose up like sleeping giants. With four balloons now standing side by side, Dawn Patrol began, hissing flames lighting the brightly colored fabrics in a spectacular array of colors and wild applause eruptedÂ from the audience.
A couple of hours went by, as I sat on the grass painting the still grounded balloons. With the light of the day starting to creep in, several other balloons wobbled upright and into position, but unfortunately, morning fog had rolled in, canopying the area in a layer of gray. At 8:30 the announcer told the disappointed crowd that the balloons would not be able to fly. Well, thereâ€™s always tomorrow, and the weather looks more promising than it did for today.
Now, about those pancakes . . .
Compressors filled the balloons until they rose up like sleeping giants.Â I created this painting in near darkness using a small night light clipped to my drawing board. A three quarter moon from above helped light my subject.
A couple of hours went by while I sat on the grass and painted the grounded balloons.