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Saturday, March 21, 2009

You Call This Spring!

To a scientist (i.e., meteorologist) spring comes down to the position of the Sun in relationship to the earth, alignment of heavenly bodies and the length of a day. It’s about celestial coordinates, the affect of classical orbital elements, some inclination of orbital stuff and when we switch from one equinox to another. My head hurts thinking about it!

When I was a youngster knowing when it was spring was pretty much a physical thing. If I wore shorts and my knees didn’t turn blue, it must be spring. If the front yard was green instead of brown, it must be spring. If the class got to go outside without a coat, gloves and a hat, it must be spring. Speaking of coats, when it was spring we all shed our coats and other winter gear and suddenly you could tell the boys from the girls! When spring actually arrives really depends on where you live. I rarely looked at the thermometer when I was a kid. I knew without looking that if was a warm and sunny day, it must be spring. However, when you live in the Appalachian Mountains you learn not to believe anything anyone tells you about the weather, the seasons or how to dress before you leave the house for work or school. Up our way springs arrives when she arrives and not a day sooner.

You would think I would be used to it by now, but a shivering crisp 28 degrees just has no relationship to spring whatsoever. I’m ready to paint flowers, budding trees, blue skies and lots of spring colors. However, all I see around me is pale green stubs of grass and gray brown twigs. It is hardly conducive to getting into the “spring” mood.

I’m ready for spring. I’m ready to till the soil. I’m ready to step out into the warmth of spring. After all, isn’t the Spring Equinox, March 20th this year? You know because astronomically the sun is supposed to be directly above the Equator and the Earth has begun to tilt pointing the northern hemisphere towards the sun. Well maybe somewhere, but this morning the old thermometer says it is 28 degrees and I’m staying pretty close to the fireplace for a while longer. You know, until spring really comes to the High Country sometime in early May or maybe by June.

I hope it is warm and sunny wherever you are.



Friday, March 13, 2009

Fall into Spring

About a month before we left on our Winter Vacation I painted what turns out to be my last watercolor of 2008.

I finished it at the end of S
eptember just before we embarked on our travels in October (see “Our Winter Trip” in my archive dated, February 21, 2009 thru March 4, 2009. I call the painting, “It Rained Some Tuesday a Week.” It is about a typical spring rainy day that puts an end to all outdoor work and play because of the torrents that have a will of their own. But, although I normally witness most of these gully washers from my window, this painting takes place from the perspective of the painter standing next to a soggy cornfield near the barn yard. The title offers up some dialogue one might overhear at the Mast Store from a hand full of farmers gathered around the old pot belly stove playing checkers.

Although done mostly in watercolor, this was a unique painting for me. When trying to decide how to depict the feel and sight of the downpour, I opted to use colored pencils. It was important that the rain fall straight down, creating a screen-like filter over the barnyard scene. My skill with a brush just wasn’t up to that kind of even, thin, straight line work. Here is a detail of the painting that shows the pencil over watercolor technique I used.

So, the end product was really a mixed media painting that combined both watercolor and mostly white and blue waxed pencil. I felt that the painting conveyed my intentions and actually came out well.

Unfortunately, the judge did not share my opinion. The painting was not selected for this year’s show.

So far my rain-soaked barnyard is also the last painting that I have finished, framed and shown in 5 months! Not much productivity for a professional artist; actually pathetic if you ask me. I could blame it on my illness and long convalescence, but that wouldn’t explain why I haven’t found my way back into the studio since I have actually become well again. So, there must be something else at work here, or should I say not at work here.

It just may be a case of losing my way temporarily or perhaps a clogged inspiration pore. I’ve been turned down by other judges and survived, so it isn’t that. I think that I’m just in a funk after being ill and experiencing a very cold few weeks of winter that doesn’t seem to want to let go its grip! All of which should go away as we get closer to the Vernal Equinox next week. Check back on March 20 and I should be back in the saddle again, I hope!



Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Best Laid Plans Go Awry

It had continued to drizzle right up until we packed the car and headed further north on Saturday, January 31st. Our next stay would be at Fairview resorts in New Bern, NC. They put us up at in the Sandcastle village, but the place had way too many staircases for our comfort. So, at our request they put us up in a unit where we had stayed before – The Windjammer (#8203). I might add that we had some fantastic weather in New Bern. It was pretty cold, but the sun was out nearly the whole week.

February rolled in the next day but my cold hung on. Although my heart wasn’t in it, we went to some of our restaurant favorites. We became pretty much a couple of shut-ins the rest of the week. Like Punxsutawney Phil we stayed hunkered in when we saw our shadow! My cold wasn’t actually worse; it just wasn’t much better.

We grabbed lunch on Thursday, February 5th, and then popped into the local New Bern Medical Clinic for yet another opinion. The doctor prescribed an antibiotic and lots of liquids, etc., etc. On our way back to the Windjammer we decided that enough was enough. It was time to chuck the rest of our travels and head home to the mountains.

That meant canceling our next week in Williamsburg, VA and our last week up in Northern Virginia.

On Saturday, February 7th, we packed up and headed up I-70, then west on I-40 to Kernersville, NC for one more night on the road before heading home to Blowing Rock. We were both happy to be home; although it was beastly cold and snowy. I was especially glade to check-in with my doctors the following week. However, it was not until February 25th that I really started feeling myself again. The weather took a few more days. It was in the 70’s today! Yahoo 8-)

Thanks to all my friends and family on Facebook for your encouragement and prayers.



Santee and Beyond

We left Florida on a very pretty morning under bright skies and 73 degree temperatures. However, by the time we rolled past Jacksonville, Florida the dark thick clouds greeted us. What a Bummer! Not only had the weather been down the toilet this past week, but now it was raining and quite cold, too. To borrow a line from Snoopy, “ was a dark and stormy night...” As if to punctuate the damp and chilly week, I could not seem to ditch my nasty cold!

Up until now we have actually been too busy to sit down and do some painting with the all supplies we had brought along on our trip. Now, despite having some indoor time to paint, I have had absolutely no energy or desire to even look at my brushes and paints. Barb hasn’t felt like painting either.

On the second day, January 27th, of our stay in Santee, I finally broke down and went to the local clinic to see if I could get some help with my cold. I was encouraged to learn that my cold had not turned into anything really nasty like bronchitis or pneumonia.

With encouragement from my doctor-fix, we continued on to our next stop in Myrtle Beach, North Carolina on Wednesday, January 28th. Ever optimistic, I was certain that I would soon be rid of the thing; little did I know.

We were not prepared for the beautiful view we were so fortunate to enjoy at the Marriott Myrtle Beach Resort at Grande Dunes.