Today I visited the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk Virginia. It is a great museum. Small enough to not be daunting, but large enough to have a comprehensive and high quality collection. First, I went back to see the glass collection. It is well curated collection that will give you an overlook of glass through the ages.
I blogged about the glass before click here if you want to see that post and a whole lot of pictures.
Sometimes, at a museum, I want to visit the "old friends" but other times I search out areas with which I am unfamiliar. That was today. These three gentleman were three of the "new friends" I made. I love these three completely different takes on the human form. Artists from a thousand years apart, taking inspiration from the same form.
Down another hallway was a captivating new piece; Daniel Rozin's "Mirror No. 10 (Sketch Mirror). As I walked into the room this framed image changed and redrew me with a zillion lines of shapes and colors. For those of us who don't spend a lot of time in front of Nintendo or other dance programs, seeing yourself on screen is oddly compelling. Renee, who was with me, and I spent way too much time goofing off in front of this!
To see a video of the fun we had, go HERE
All and all a fun day in a great little museum. Great Collection, Free Admission, and a working glass studio with demonstrations (and comfortable bleachers!)
Last week I attended a symposium put on by the PA group of SAQA (Studio Art Quilters Association). It was a well-attended and lively event! It coincided with the opening of the Elements Quilt show at the Wayne Art Center. I was one of the four speakers at the event; here is a synopsis synopsis of my talk .
We moved to Charlottesville about three years ago. When we moved, I left the communities I had built back in Wisconsin. It has been an adventure developing new communities of friends and support here in C'ville! The talk I gave at the symposium was about that search, the many places I have found community, and the different benefits of each of them. The four communities I addressed were the "Remote Communities" I have plugged into through social media or mass communication, the "Community of Self" which I found during my stint as an artist in residence at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the "Community of (non-fiber) Artists" which I have found at McGuffey Art Center, and the "Community of (local) Fiber Artists".
These are the communities that I first sought out after relocating. They are on the web, in Facebook Groups, on the magazine rack at Barnes and Noble, and in national and international organizations. I found information about shows and exhibits both to enter and to attend in many of the magazines, and artist call websites.
Groups like SAQA and Quilts.com were great places to see names, learn news and generally plug in.
The exhibit entries I first made were to the monthly calls in Quilting Arts magazine. As a graphic designer, I had a forty year history of meeting deadlines and being give a design problem to solve, so this was familiar territory to me. I have entered many of the IQF and SAQA shows because they gave me a stepping off place for a project. It was looking at these artist calls, that I found the art residency that formed my the next community.
Community of Self (or learning to commune with oneself)
During my adult life I have lived alone almost never. So finding myself accepted (very unexpectedly) to a 30 day residency in a national park was both a surprise, and a totally new experience for me.
This experience was valuable on many levels. Obviously it was beautiful - there is nothing quite like the Smokys in October! (and for day-by-day reporting on that experience just click on "Local: Smoky Mountain Residency" on the right of this page), but beyond that, it pushed me to think without structure. It set the foundation for my first work done as a series instead of one off. This is something that I now regularly do. It put me in an unfamiliar situation of total freedom and self reliance. And once you have experienced that, it is hard to put the genie back in the bottle! For a view of the work that came out of this experience click here.
Then it was back home to join my third community. That of a general art community.
As a resident member of MAC I am always under the influence of other artists. We talk about techniques, I see their subject matter, we have group shows and there is that general energy from the camaraderie of fellow creatives!
This past year, I and two other artists put on a collaborative show... not a show where we each showed out individual work, but a true collaboration of ideas and work on each project. The show was success and the experience an one that has expanded my thinking and will affect my work for sometimes. To see more of the work from this show click here.
This community has helped me to keep me going and strengthened my general artistic muscles, while the fourth community has helped me hone my fiber skills!
Community of Fiber Artists
This last group is my sisterhood! This is a group of six of us fiber artist who gather monthly for general check-in and also show together as a group or as parts of the group. We each have out own styles that are very different from each other, but because of that, we learn a lot from each other. We are all serious about our work, and some teach workshops, we all show regularly on our own, and some also work with other media. One is primarily an eco-dyer who then incorporates her dyed piece into wall and book art, one is a printmaker who incorporates her prints into her fiber art, and one is presently doing 3-d fiber sculptures. But we all use needle and thread and fabric. to see some of our work and bios, click here.
A couple of months ago, we spent a week together in a house on the beaches of North Carolina. It was so good to learn more about each other both personally and artistically. And of course, eat and drink together!
Here is hoping you can find your communities. Step outside your media, Take some time for self reflection. Peruse the magazine sections, and on-line groups, join some organizations, and and find local groups. Grow, interact. have fun!
Wow I haven't contributed to this blog for about two years Lots of reasons. Working very hard. Using Facebook to post most everything. Politics have distracted me. Not taking as many photos. Lots of stuff.
But being a frustrated writer, I kind of missed posting here, so I will try again! Actually, the other reason is that while Facebook is great for immediate posting, it isn't a good "journal" for when I want to refer someone to something, or when I want to reminisce .
I recently joined a (private) Facebook group that has some very thoughtful people in it. One of the activities there is the posting of occasional writing prompts. It was one of those that really made me think about writing here again. The prompt was "what is your comfort food?". The idea is to then respond for 5 minutes to the prompt... no planning, thinking or edits. This was my response.
It got me thinking about sharing, and what an important part of our life it is. How our sharing of information helps intellectual advances happen. Sharing sources and techniques can increase efficiency. Our sharing of thoughts can expand our ideas.
And sharing our hatred can erode our community and humanity.
I love Facebook. Without it I would not have the intimate knowledge of my far-flung family's lives, I would not see artwork from all over the world. I would not have the gaggle of 'friends' who I know but have never met. But sometimes it is just too easy to post and run, There is quite a bit of TMI, knee-jerk sharing, and it can quickly perpetuate misunderstanding and give credence to things that do not deserve it.
So I decided I would go back to this as a primary forum for sharing my thoughts (and just post the links on FB) Sure I may still post my photos and some of Jon's beautiful meals, and even an opinion now and then, but on here I hope to be more thoughtful and share in a way that will be welcome by some and can be easily ignored by others! And posting here makes me think a bit more about what is important to say... or not.
P.S. I have updated most of my pages on this site, so take a walk around!
One of the great things about having my studio at McGuffey, is the chance to meet so many new people. Our studios are open to the public, so people wander in fairly frequently. I have met many other fiber artist from the area. I have met art supporters, and the curious. Meeting the public at my art shows, was one of my favorite things about doing art fairs, so I welcome the personal contact and chance to talk art with both those who are knowledgeable and those who are seeking knowledge.
And of course there are my fellow artists. The sculpture pictured here is by Jim Respess, my studio neighbor. It is a monumental scale public art sculpture in Charlottesville. Jim is both a philosopher and an artist, and we share a love of mid-afternoon tea with a dash of discussion! Another artist and I are talking about offering 'open studio' or 'fiber funday' classes next fall. Michelle is a mixed media and book artist, with a background in printing, so it could be a fun partnership.
Then there are tours!
Last week I had three groups of third graders come tour my studio. They were wonderful! The first group was so attentive and asked great questions. The second was a challenge; all over the studio but enthusiastic. The third group was right in between. A little girl stopped on her way out and said "will you please teach me?" So I said maybe in a few years, but she could come visit anytime, and she immediately looked at me and said "FRIDAY??!!" I really expected her to pull out a Blackberry to book a time!
One of the things the kids wanted to do is touch... I totally get that...it is why I have textured textiles instead of flat photos. So I told them, to never touch in a gallery or a museum, but it was MY studio and MY rules, so go ahead and touch. They did! And really got into the textures. One little guy wanted to know how many beads were on one piece and, when I said I didn't know, so he spent 10 minutes counting them and announced "153"!!
The following day, the touching got better.
Sarah, a confident and out-going young woman came into the studio Thursday. She was looking for part time work or even to volunteer to help in the studios. This is not remarkable in itself, but she was blind so it was pretty remarkable! She was asking many questions about my work, so I invited her to see/feel for herself. Her fingers traveled from stitch to stitch, and found the frayed parts and the smooth parts. She wanted to know the origins of the textures. As an artist, it was wonderful to see my work appreciated on a totally new level.
What are we missing by instituting a "no touch rule"?
The kids and Sarah really made me think about a feeling I have long held about art. I think we make it too precious. Would Rodin or Michelangelo really never have wanted the surfaces of their work to be enjoyed? Didn't they choose their materials for the feel as much as the look? Would we have even more admiration of Amsel Kieffer if we could experience the sharp and rough with our fingers as well as our eyes. Textile art is, in its very essence tactile, so why can we only touch with white gloves? As an artist, I find the term "visual art" a limiting misnomer. Art might be a far deeper experience if enjoyed with as many sense as required.
Okay, I get it, we are preserving our art for the ages. What if we didn't care about that. What if we feel that a few generations ability to experience 100% was better than eons experiencing only a portion? Should artists be able to tell museums and galleries, that [respectful] "hands on" is okay for their art? Almost every artist I know (including myself!) has been chided by guards for getting our noses too close as we struggle to see brush strokes and textures. I bet if you actually touched a Van Gogh, there would be some powerful vibes still in those strokes!
On Monday, in the Shenandoah Skyline Drive, we stuck around until the sky rewarded us! The clear winter sky and the lack of foliage, make the mountains appear even bluer than the Blue Ridge normal look.
The blue just got more and more intense as the sun started to set. Click on any photo to see it larger.
And we saw a couple of animals too!
The deer were out in full force, finding the food, and then we saw the owl.
So, I am still talking about the day trip to the Shenandoah Skyline Drive (if you missed yesterday's post about ice, check it out!). It might be winter, the trees may be bare, the temperature below freezing, but some green things are thriving! Under, in, and around the icy rocks were so many mosses taking advantage of the lack of competition and canopy.
Any spot that gets sunlight and melting ice was covered with the most Kelly of greens.
These little habitats are so hidden and overpowered during the warmer months, but are the stars of the show now. The shapes are amazing, and so very sculptural. These photos show the mosses, but the lichens were equally prolific, if not as showy and photogenic.
Also enjoying their time in the spotlight are the pines. They are especially bright set against the grays of the bare trees and brush surrounding them. The last time I photo'ed these mountains, they were sporting the hot colors of fall, now they have let those leaves drop and the green pines bask in the sun.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the sky in all its glory! (here is a taste of things to come!)
A year and a half ago, we left the beauty of the driftless area of Wisconsin and moved to the mountain area of Virginia. It has been a wonderful move, and the beauty that surrounds us in Virginia is amazing. But the winters are different; No shoveling, less precarious ice, my nostrils no longer freeze shut, scarves are more decorative than necessary, and fingerless gloves almost make sense. On the other hand, it has been a long time since I have seen a lavender-blue shadow on powdered snow, heard the silence of a winter morning or the crunch of frozen tundra under my feet, I no longer can tell who visited during the night by the tracks in the morning. But yesterday I found some real beauty in the Virginia Winter... the ice.
Yesterday my "photo and phiber phriend", Susan, and I took a drive up into the mountains to explore. We have done this during the height of trillium season, during the bursting beauty of the Mountain Laurel season and other more hospitable times. Neither one of us was terribly hopeful about finding anything interesting, much less beautiful in the snowless, 30 degree, winter gray, but I am happy to report we were very wrong.
As the day progressed, the temperatures didn't rise much, but the sun was bright. By afternoon, some melting had begun, and the ice in the sun began to crumble noisily as the drips dropped and chunks fell off.
The most interesting ice of the day was the smallest. We didn't even notice it at first. We were hiking down a path, and while looking at the mosses and lichen, noticed some strange formations in the looser soil around us.
I have no idea what these crystal-like formations are formed, but it seems they grew up from the ground. Perhaps something about the water freezing and the ground contracting? If you know anything about it let me know! they we only about one inch long at the most, and often had a stone or pebble at the top of them.
So what we thought would be a mundane day, turned quite magical (I think that happens a lot if you let it!) and I haven't even told you about the deer, the owl, the waterfall, the sunset or the moon.... stay tuned more tomorrow.
Like I mentioned yesterday, my work has become more and more intricate and detailed. I needed a bit of a respite from that, so I took a "walkabout" in downtown Charlottesville. There is a building that has been left in a half-built state for about 5 years now. I am not sure of the story, but watching it degrade and change slowly over time is very interesting. I photo it often.
I was looking for quiet details. The light was soft, due to clouds and mist. So the colors, if there at all, were soft and muted too. The contrast of the worn or torn with the expanses of flat are very interesting. I am pretty sure that after my work on the lush and colorful nature of Smokey Mountain Park is finished, something like the simplicity found in these photos will be the basis of my next series.
The pieces I am working on now for my February show are getting pretty intricate. There is stitching, cutting, couching, beading, and more stitching. I have been thrilled with the pieces so far, but yesterday something started to tickle my brain.... When exactly does intricacy turn into obsession? When will I know if have crossed that line? Well after few hours of pondering and I came to a conclusion, or test:
If the ART WORK NEEDS
the element or treatment to complete the composition or statement,
then it is intricacy.
If I HAVE A NEED
to do the treatment or put on another element to support some inner itch,
then it is obsession!
I am not sure I will always be able to tell the difference (after all, that creative itch is awful close to the obsessive itch!) but this does remind me to stop frequently and take serious stock in what is going on as I work.
Working in my studio at the Art Center, has been so good for this type of reflection. There is art work - finished and in progress - everywhere. I stop. I look. I silently critique... and then I am set to critique my own work. There are artists everywhere. I have discussions about color or style, or other "artsy" things that may have been back-shelved in my brain for a while. They get dusted off and reexamined. There is time and space. My work can sit out over night while I ponder. My ideas can be posted on the walls for slow infusion into my brain. My previous work is at hand to pull out and remind me of things that were (or weren't) successful in the past.
Am I making this sound idyllic? Well it is. So far so good. I can already see the effect having the art, the artists, and the time and space is having on my work. I am grateful and excited.
For the month of February, 2016, I will be having a show at the McGuffey Art Center in Charlottesville VA. The show will be mostly the work inspired by my Smoky Mountain National Park artist residency this past October (to see all my posts about that experience click "Locale: Smoky Mountain Residency" in the Categories)
The above photo show the start of some of the larger pieces. I have had my photos printed on fabric, then I start "auditioning" additional fabrics, fleece, and embellishments to go with each one. I am hoping to have about a dozen pieces finished for the show, as well as also showing some of the photography on its own. The pieces will range in sizes from small, 10x12, to 50+ inches. I have a few of them done, but it will be a very busy January for me!
One of the benefits of my new studio is the number of people with whom I get to talk about art each day. Some are the other artists, some are visitors, and even a few patron customers! For some this might be an interruption, but for me it is invigorating. I am not a good self-reflecting ponderer. I do much better thinking out loud while discussing and explaining. As I have these discussions, I think more deeply about my motives and process. They are helping me realize more and more about 'why photo?' and 'why fiber?' (I will try to blog about that sometime soon)
I will try to keep you updated on the progress, but if you don't hear from me it is because I am under a pile of thread and fabric!
Jill Jensen will be showing at the same time, so it is a "twofer" for fiber art! I am so excited to show along side of her. She is one of the wonderful fiber artists whom I have met since moving to Virginia, and who have made this move so inspiring.
There has been a lot of chatter on the internet about Pantone's announcement of the new colors for 2016; "Rose Quartz" and "Serenity".
To me and many others those colors hearken back to either baby shower wrapping papers or the geese, hearts, and ribbon decor of the eighties. Neither of which do I need to re-experience!
In one day there were several posting of sun sets or rises similar to this one that I took. Each poster noted the similarity of the colors to the ones that were forecast... maybe it was late in the day, the Pantone folks were tire and wanted to move on to cocktail hour, so they choose what they saw out the window!
The discussion reminds me of a conference I went to years ago, and I thought you might be interested in an insiders look at how some of this forecasting happens. The group I belonged to was the Color Marketing Group. This is an international group that is made up of creatives and product developers from many industries including auto, fashion, home decor, paint, flooring, etc.
If you think about it when you go to remodel your house, you want to know that there will be paints that will match your sofa and carpeting and window coverings (the industry I was involved with) . When you go purchase your car, it is nice if the seat upholstery color is in the same family as the carpet and the exterior. But all of these are made by different manufacturers so how does that happen?
At this annual meeting, we all brought three groups of information. First was the sales history, broken down many ways, of the colors that were selling now. Secondly, we brought information and samples of items that we were looking to release in the next season or two. Thirdly, we brought information and supportive evidence about colors and ideas we were just starting to look at now for use in few years hence.
We then got into groups of related industries to go over this information. The discussion were not just about color. They also took into account finishes (shiny, matte, metallic, etc), materials (natural vs. plastics, new technologies, etc) and processes. It was so very interesting AND I could see where this coordination is also necessary. If the lighting industry started focusing on bright blue metals, while the carpet industry was doing something totally out of sync with that, neither would sell much. Cohesively designing a car with parts from so many industries would be impossible.
After days of discussions, opinions, facts, looking at the economy and trends, we developed color boards using the results of these discussions.
The CMG committees would then compile this information, organize it and disseminate it to their membership. This information was just that; informative. It was not dictate of what any industry should or shouldn't do, but instead was cross-industry information that they could choose to apply as much or as little to their own product design as they felt was appropriate. Many just used it as a check and balance system against their own conclusions.
It was an interesting process, and on many levels an extremely productive one. The final color recommendations were certainly not always on target but they did suggest directions.
Next time you go into a store and can not longer find that royal blue you loved three years age, or suddenly the store seems awash in an orange you never thought you would wear or see again.... this is why! But if you can't find that royal blue, just go to Goodwill, and you will probably find loads of the colors that were popular a few years ago!
First of all, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all have much to be personally grateful for, even in this time of world confusion and conflict. May we remember we are each part of a much greater whole, and help each other to find comfort and compassion when ever we can.
But now, about the studio; I have moved in and started working! The space is terrific, and the lighting is absolutely lovely. The above picture is me working in the morning sun. I have a great studio mate in the room next door. Jim make huge sculptures and I think owns every tool know to mankind! He and I share musical tastes, and so the studios are usually rocking away. Here are a couple of more photos of the space.
Before I get rocking on the pieces inspired by the Smokey Mountain Park, I decided to do a few "warm-ups" from some other Charlottesville photos. After Thanksgiving is over and "normal" returns, I will get down to business on the park pieces in anticipation of my February show at the McGuffey. Here are a couple shots of the work in progress:
If you want to see this piece FINISHED!! Click HERE!
Yesterday we drove across Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia to get back home to C'ville! I must say we live in a beautiful country. The fields, the trees, the hills, and even the flatlands are all amazing!
Our trip was great, good times and good people. Our butts are sore from sitting, and our own bed felt pretty darn good last night!
Today will start organizing my new studio space at the McGuffey Art Center. So very excited to get it up and going. Feels like I have been off the machine for weeks.... oh ya... I HAVE!!!
So, while I am organizing, you can see more of my "Intentional Blur Photo Paintings"
We are on the road for about 2000 miles! As I watch the world go by I see the textures, that happen with my stitching, in the blur of the speed of the countryside going by. Last year, on a similar road trip I first tried this, you can see those on Facebook here. This year, after a lot of experimentation and testing, I finally have found a few combinations of f-stops, ISO, and shutter speeds, that replicated the look I was looking for. These blurs are pretty much as taken, with a little color editing, and I love the painterly look achieved, and am now ready for the ride home to try some more!
This is the week. The International Quilt Festival is on in Houston Texas. is in full swing and I was so wanting to attend for the first time. However, after a month in the Smoky Mountains, I really wanted to get home, so the visit will have to wait for another year. In the meantime, I will have to hear all about it from others and from my quilts that are there. They are in the exhibits noted in the captions below.
If you are attending the show, please say "hi" to them. Click on the images to see them larger.
It would be easy to get melancholy about leaving behind the mosses and vistas and streams of the Smoky Mountains. It was Technicolor and Giant Screen, and the beauty is in your face gorgeous. Back home in the familiar, in the city, it is easier to forget. But it is here too. Walking home from the gym (3 miles on the treadmill, not the mountain trail!) I noticed some of the unique nature that occurs only in the presence of concrete, metal, drains and man-made structures. Nature doesn't allow us to shut her out.
My sewing is on pause while I wait to move into my new studio, so I headed out with my camera to remind myself of these natural compositions and echoes right here on 4th St.
The sidewalks are tannin dyed
from the falling leaves. What I ,and others, struggled to do with cloth and formulas at Arrowmont, the rain and sun had done effortlessly.
Other leaves left their mark in the sand. The fallen pine needles curved into a mat of beautiful texture, like a richly stitched tapestry. The geometric sidewalk seams and railroad tracks play nicely with the organic shapes of the moss and leaves. The drainage ditch collected a bouquet of Gingko leaves.
vWhile I was clicking away in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, so were many others. Now going through my photos I realize how many of them I couldn't resist taking a shot of while they were in action. The selfie and phone snappers were too numerous to even think about, but there was one group that I did have to immortalize. They were out so early and having such fun so the above photo is the one selfie-taking pic I couldn't resist! Below is a series of some of the other photographers that I caught in action:
After being gone for the month, there was quite a pile of mail waiting my return. Snuggled in the midst of the pile of junk mail were two wonderful publications!
The first was the 'International Quilt festival Quilt Scene' A special annual publication put out to celebrate the work at the Houston International Quilt Festival. (publication available here) There on page 51 was 'Fishy Fishy' and a write up about it. It was the sole representative of Jane Dunnewold's sponsored Digital Alchemy show that was taking place at the Festival. If that wasn't heady enough, a close-up of the fish was used on the title page of the article.
The second publication was SAQA's book "Wild". It is the showcase publication for the Wild Fabrications show of work also debuting at the Houston show. (publication available here) . My piece "Murder of Crows" appears on page 39. The other good news is this exhibit will be traveling to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wisconsin next year. This is a gem of a museum, and I am thrilled that one of my pieces will be visiting my home state!
Also while I was gone, my Sticks and Stripes quilt won a Juror's award in the Liberty Town Fiber Show in Fredericksburg, VA.
For the last hike I headed out early to go to Tremont Road and Trail. it was somewhere I had been meaning to go to, and I talked to a hiker on Thursday, who said it was a "must". I packed both a breakfast and a lunch, donned my boots, extended my sticks, and headed out. The road goes from paved, to gravel, then to trail, and is for both humans and horses. The hiking part was about five miles round trip, but it was pretty flat and well groomed. But (as you can see in the slide show) the stops for photo ops was frequent, so while it filled my heart, it was probably not a cardio workout!
The temperature was perfect - cool enough to keep you moving. The moss was phenomenal. The sun was golden. The stream was a series of large cascades. And, the Horsey vapors were wonderful! Enough people around to get and give smiles and greetings, but alone for long stretches, too.
It really was the perfect hike to end the month on. Thank you Smoky Mountains. On the drive back, I stopped long enough for one last sunset and the darkening blue sky. Maybe there was a tear or two. It was a long day, and deserved a longer than usual slideshow... so here it is.
I hit the road early. I am ready to go home. I won't really be leaving the mountains, as the spine of the Blue Ridge goes from the park right up to C'ville, so visiting will be frequent! It is time to apply all the inspiration. The park personnel were happy with what they saw, but it was just the tip of what I hope will be an iceberg. I will be having a show of the park inspired work at the McGuffey Art Center in C'ville in February. Lots of work to do in the meantime! But - did I mention I am getting a studio at the Art Center starting November 1! I am very excited about the thought of spreading out and working hard on these. I will keep you posted on the progress...
Hope you enjoyed sharing my adventure as much as I did sharing it with you all. Thanks for all the comments both here and on Facebook.
In case you missed my Facebook post last week, it is still very relevant:
I have to say I feel wonderfully out-of-touch with the "real world". For 3 weeks now, I have heard nothing of Trump. I have not seen a minute of TV. In the car I have caught snippets of NPR, but not much. I have connected on-line only periodically, and when I did, I selfishly posted more out than took in! Phone calls have been few and far between. Hours of silence have been frequent.
I have hiked many miles, and listened to some total silence. I have listened to music CDs that have been untouched for years. I have talked to artists about art. I have seen the art of nature in its many forms and moods. I am experiencing a very unique and cherished opportunity. Soon it will be back to reality, but I think my heart will not forget.
Today was a social day for me! I had lunch with Carolyn Jourdan. She was initially a customer of my sweaters, and has become a facebook friend, and now we have met! I now know her lilting smooth Tennessee accent! She used to work for the Park system, and is a life-long Tennessee resident. She has written great (#1 selling) books about both. Include one which you will see proved helpful! It was a joy to meet her!
Then I spent the day cleaning up the studio and saying good bye to Arrowmont, before meeting Sheridan and Steve for dinner. Sheridan coordinates the Artist in Residence program, and Steve is a retired Park Ranger. They previously worked together as Rangers in New York City. We had a delicious dinner of local Rainbow trout, and great conversations.
Only two more days so I made this one count. I found a great loop path where the first mile was a great warm-up, the next 2.5 was a deeply forested, steep up and down section and the final 2.5 just an easy, sunny, trail next to the beautiful Little River.
At the top of the steep leg, the sun was in my eyes as I looked up the trail. I thought there was a big black boulder next to the tree that was about 15 yards ahead, and 6 feet to the right of the path. But once I shaded my eyes, I was looking straight at a Black Bear! He was looking directly at me, but with more curiosity then menace. In Carolyn's book (see above photo) I had read a lot about what to do if you meet a bear, so taking that advice I raised my walking poles over my head hit them together while shouting “go away” at him.
Well evidently he hadn’t read her book, because he looked at me with the perfect
“what is wrong with you, Lady?” look.
So I quietly backtracked to where I was out of sight.I had a big bright yellow poncho in my backpack so I took that out and started swinging it over my head making as much noise and visual motion as possible. He was no longer there when I got up the trail again, so I guess he was done being entertained by the crazed tourist! But once again, my lack of ability as a wildlife photog showed; I never even thought to snap a photo of him, until my heart stopped racing and he was long gone!
A short way down the path there was a pile of very fresh bear “scat”. I figure he was walking up the trail towards me, enjoying his morning, and heard me coming. So, he nicely walked off the path to check out who was coming and let me pass. He is probably at his den right now, blogging about the strange lady on the trail!
The rest of the walk was relatively uneventful, but beautiful. I am especially taken with the yellow reflections on the blue running water in the streams. I am sure there is a quilt there somewhere, so I spent a long time playing with exposures and softening the water, as well as fast shots that shows the sharpness of the ripples and runs. There were a lot of Fishermen there, so I had to get a shot of them too!
People having been expressing dismay at the “lack of color” – evidently the trees are not on the correct tourist schedule, but I think it is beautiful anyway. It is hard to argue with crisp air, blue sky and bright yellows and greens, and touched of orange. I (car) wandered through the park for the rest of the day.
Here are some shots of the day - sans bear :-( .
This was the day for my demo at The Oconaluftee Visitor’s Center. It is a long and beautiful drive to get over there, so I decided to leave immediately when I woke up. It was still dark, so I got to see the stars, and find a good place to watch the sunrise…well, me and about a half dozen other photogs! Every outlook had someone camped out waiting for dawn!
The morning was crisp enough that there was a frost during the night, and so a few more trees changed, and the frost edged the leaves. That golden sun that comes right after the dawn, the frost, and the mist rising from the streams, made the world both magical and saturated with color.
I got to ‘Luftee (don’t I sound like an insider!) with plenty of time so I went on a homestead tour with Ranger Michael Smith. He was so full of both knowledge and humor, and made the perfect guide for both the world of the past homesteaders and those who presently work to preserve homestead.
I met a busload of people from the upper Midwest, including a pair of guys who went to school in Phillips and Tripoli, my Dad’s hometown area. They didn’t have to tell me where they were from; the melody of their accent immediately gave them away! The temperature was perfect for sitting in the sun working all day, and I made great progress and had many interesting conversations. I will finish up the stitching on the piece when I get home.
After sitting all day, I decided to take the trail to the Cherokee Museum and back to stretch my legs. That plan didn’t last long.
As I headed down the path that ran alongside the stream, I came upon a herd of Elk moseying through the stream to get to the meadow by the visitor center. This is when I, again, realized I will never be a wildlife photographer! I swiftly backed up about 20 yards and my heart was pounding.
I picked a few huge trees that I could hide behind, and slowly worked my way down to the edge of the stream to watch the parade. I did manage to get it together enough to take a few shots, and then went back to watch from the safe viewing area. They are majestic and the Big-Daddy was HUGE.
I watched them for a long time. The Big-Daddy kept all the women and children herded together. And the four or five younger antlered bulls stood on the sidelines. Occasionally one of the young bulls, would start to approach the herd, but Big-Daddy just put his head down and let out a very convincing stay-away sound, and the young one became far less brazen. A couple of the 'boys' did some mock fighting just to test out there moves.
Finally it was time to head back across the Park to home. I had packed enough sandwiches and apples to get me through the day, so I stopped to eat and watch the sunset on the way home. It was another great day, and I think I was fast asleep by 9:00.
Here is the visual diary of my day!
The other day when I made the “plein air” piece at Cades Cove, I never got the shadows correct. People converged too quickly and too frequently for me to get them down before they changed again! Consequently the whole thing is very flat. I will be doing another one at Oconaluftee tomorrow, but I have an advantage this time. I got to take the earlier pictures of the place at about the time I will be arriving on Tuesday to do my work. So today I “cheated” and used one of those photos to block out the large areas of the composition, so I can just get down to the magic of details tomorrow. I am already seeing a great improvement with this one.
For the rest of the day, I went to explore another area of the park; the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. I didn’t have big expectations for this. The road to it leads out of the middle of Gatlinburg, and with a name like “motor nature trail” ... BUT let that be a lesson; It was fantastic! People, yes, but n ot too many. Fantastic waterfalls to reward you for a long and winding multi-mile hike, several old homesteads where you can wander as you wish, and a tiny old mill by ‘the old mill stream’. The Roaring Fork stream winds with the one-way, one-lane road and the speed limit is 10mph, but usually slower.
The trail was not so steep, but, as you can see in the photos, the roots were amazing and treacherous.
It inspired me to compose the lyrics for a new country western song:
"When you're hiking through life,
and the hand you hold isn't with you,
it is good to have a walking stick"
I hope these pictures just give you a taste of another little piece of paradise!
It was a beautiful day to do leaf printing outside at Sugarland Visitors center. I had my pile of precut fabric ready to go, so with the help of Brad Free, I got set up outside. We printed at a table and examples of my work were on display behind me. I had so many interested kids that half way through my allotted time, I ran out of fabric. Brad came to the rescue with a ream of copier paper, so we switched to paper for our printing.
It was so fun to see the kids’ eyes when they pulled off the leaf and saw the resulting images.
Nothing to report… just stitched on the “Plein Air” mill.
Then came... Day 20.
It all started when I woke up. I am a morning person, so much so that my eyes open and my feet hit the floor pretty much simultaneously. Friday night, I stayed up later than usual (reading, appropriately, Carolyn Jourdan’s book “Bear in the Backseat”), so I was a bit concerned about getting the early start I wanted in the studio Saturday, but not enough to set an alarm.
When I woke up I looked at my watch, and read 8:13. That was about an hour later than I had planned, so I jumped out of bed, washed up, got dressed, and sat down for a piece of toast and tea. Then I looked at the clock radio. It said 3:03. I figured the power had gone off, so I decided to reset it. When I looked at my watch, I realized it REALLY WAS 3:03AM. Evidently 8:13 and 2:40, look a lot alike when you can’t tell the big hand from the little one.
So I went back to bed with my clothes on to catch another couple hours!
Once awake for good, I spent the day having fun with leaves. I am doing a demo at Sugarland Visitors Center Sunday, and there are not any fun old buildings to model for me, so I thought I would try to come up with an interactive idea. I had brought a bunch of fabric paints, but hadn’t got around to using them yet. I gathered some leaves brushed on the paint, and printed it onto fabric. Fun times! I decided to whip up a piece using the idea, and also cut up about 50 small pieces of fabric for the public to try it. So I am set for Day 21 activities.
Then came Jill’s taxi service for the day.
On the way home I noticed two Appalachian Trail through-hikers thumbing a ride from town back to the trail. The mom in me couldn’t resist, and without a TV, internet or even good radio reception, I could use the entertainment! They said they had been waiting over 45 minutes for someone to stop. A fact I found astounding considering the weekend park traffic. They had been hiking north to south (not the usual direction they informed me) since June, and were looking to finish the end of this month. The usual chit chat ensued for the next 15 miles as we drove to the trailhead, during which one of the guys said he was from Massachusetts. I told him my daughter-in-law was also from there. Long story short, it turns out they are both from the same small town in Western Mass, and he had actually worked in her parent’s coffee shop several years ago! Small world.
After I dropped them off and turned around to head back the 15 miles to ‘home’ I noticed the tourists were now bumper to bumper and crawling along. Knowing well my shortcomings, I stopped at the first turn-off that offered facilities I could use, so I could then sit in traffic in comfort.
As I waited to rejoin the parade, I noticed two young women crawling around their car, and trying every door. So they looked up, spotted me, and came and tapped on my window.
They had lost their keys while hiking. Well this is a problem our family is intimately familiar with, so I said “get in”. There is no phone service up there, and the Visitor Centers were now closed, so, unless a Ranger happened along, we figured I would take them into Gatlinburg so they could get help or AAA. Once in the car, one of them told me that her mom had told her that if she was ever in trouble to look for a mom-like person to help them. I guess I fit the bill. About half way down the mountain and after searching several times, the keys showed up in the bottom of a backpack. So we turned around and I saw them safely back to their car.
It was now dusk and EVERYONE was leaving the park, so I decided to enjoy the evening at the top. I took some pictures of yet another sunset, a pic of the way the streams turn gold at dusk, and looked for a good place to shoot a picture of the moon. Found it. Click on them to see pictures larger.
If you are really into history, click here for blog posts prior to 2014 !