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:
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.
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.
Day 17 and 18
On Wednesday, Jon and I decided to explore an area of the park I had not yet seen; Oconaluftee. It is the spot I will be working on site for most of the day next Tuesday, so I wanted to go and check it out in advance.
It was a lovely drive with short walks to a couple of streams, great vistas and turning trees along the way. It is up and over the mountain, so also a lot of turning roads!
The site is a historic settlers’ homestead complete with working garden, and piggies. The buildings are fascinating; the ingenuity to construct and survive is reflected in the workmanship and the creativity. There are barns and outbuildings homes and (on the way there) a turbine grist mill that is still working. And I never tire of the split rail zig zag fences so prevalent here. I am looking forward to going back on next Tuesday for a little “Plein Air” quilting! Checck out these photos of the place, and don't miss the kissing pigs!
Thursday, Day 18, was a “work day” for me! I donned my official volunteer hat and park shirt, and gathered my materials and headed to Cade Cove. We left early in hopes of avoiding the crowds, but I am not sure that is ever possible! The word is out that the best viewing of wildlife (Other than the tourist on the streets of Gatlinburg) is early AM at Cades Cove, so there they were – both the visitors and the wildlife.
Driving in was a slow stroll in your car, with total stoppage when an animal was sighted. Even with all the warnings, people jumped out of their cars and ran to take pics of the mama bear and her cubs. It was a fantastic sight though. The dew was heavy and the fog was light, and the morning light glowed on the fields and through the trees. I am so glad people could enjoy this beauty.
Once we arrived at the visitor center, where another crowd was gathered to watch an elk graze behind the restrooms, I found the park personnel who would help me know the ropes for my gig. They were a welcoming and warm group, and had a sign already for me! I found a great bench to set up my materials, a fence on which to hang examples of my work, and a lovely view of the water powered grist mill. Like Oconaluftee, Cades Cove is also a setting showing how the early settlers of the area lived and worked. While I worked, Jon tried (very successfully) his hand at photography – both of me doing my thing and of the site.
According to park personnel it was a very busy day, and I had many people who came to chat with me, ask questions about my art and the park’s artist in residency program, and tell me about their art adventures. My favorite quote of the day, “next to the bear I saw this morning, you are my favorite part of the park!”
Click on the below pictures to see them larger.
The weather was perfect, the people all pleasant, and a great experience. The artwork I did was a bit more traditional and unlike my usual, but it was fun, and it did the job of linking art to the park setting and providing interest and information for the crowd. I did a “Plein Air” depiction of the mill using small bits and pieces of fabrics, temporarily held down with glue. Then I took it back to the studio to add the stitching, texture and more details. Here is the result. Left; before stitching - done on site. Middle; after stitching. Right; finished.
NOTE: to see all posts from my Smoky Mountain Adventure, click on the category “Locale:Smoky Mountain Residency” on the right
Days 15 and 16
When I left you last, it was with a beautiful sunset on Day 14, so it is only right I start here with a sunrise for Day 15. The sunrises I have seen in the Smokys have not been as colorful as they have been an act of slowly seeing the valleys remove their nighttime coverlets of fog and mist to welcome the sun’s warmth. I have listened to Grieg’s Peer Gynt “Morning” so many times these past weeks because it is the musical equivalent of the visual display seen here (and it is one of the few CDs I brought!). Here is a short slideshow of my morning….
The rest of Day 15 and most of Day 16 were spent in the studio, working, planning, and experimenting… and waiting for Jon to show up for a visit. He got here Tuesday night and we headed off to explore the park I got to see some new places, and showed him some of my favorite places. Of course, he had to check out the “runs” “riffs” “ripples” and “pools” of the streams in the area. We had a great picnic lunch in one of the park’s “Quiet Walkways” – little gems of short walks that are very secluded and quiet. Here are a few shots of our adventures.
NOTE: to see all posts from my Smoky Mountain Adventure, click on the category “Locale:Smoky Mountain Residency” on the right
Day 14, continued
After the Conference closed, I couldn't wait to get back to the nature of The Great Smoky Mountain Park. I decide that even though it was tourist-peak Sunday, I would go to one of the most popular places in the park; Clingman's Dome.
I had started the day down at the bottom in the fog, but by the sunset, it was crisp and clear up on top and, as it got cooler, the clouds formed an ocean of waves below us. So here are pictures of the ride up, the top, and the sunset on the way down.
And one panorama for you, too!
These were the days of the Surface Design Association Conference, "Made/Aware". It was three solid days and evenings of great speakers, fantastic inspiration and really good people. The days were interspersed with workshops - mostly hands-on - and presentations. The presentations ran the gamut from very short talks by artists about their recent activities, to hour+ long presentations and discussion with key note speakers or panels. The subject matter dealt with examples, ideas and supply chains through which we could be more socially conscience while both doing our work and living our lives.
Three speakers of note were, Laura Sansone, Carole Lung, and Roland Ricketts. Laura Sansone is an educator and fiber artist who is working to promote the reuse and repair of clothing through street clothing labs at the farmer's markets in NYC. and linking in fiber artist and suppliers within her local Hudson Valley area. At the farmer's markets she dyes used clothing at the market using dye made from the available produce. She teaches people how to do this as well as how to remake the clothing they though they would have to throw away, or clothing they have purchased second hand.
Rowland Ricketts (pictured above) has spent his entire life studying and making blue. He is an indigo farmer. dyer and artist. He trained for many years in Japan, where his training started with working the fields and the daily stirring of the compost. He is now a world-renown artist who is presently in a show at the Boston Museum of Fine arts.
He was both passionate about what he does with Natural dying, but also realistic in his views about if they could ever replace the now prominent synthetics.
Beyond the Workshops and lectures, was an impressive show of fiber work in the hallway galleries of Arrowmont. Below is a slide show of some of my favorites from the show. I was impressive in both the craft and the content. Many of the pieces reiterated the social conscience theme of the conference. I have tried to include not only some of my favorites, but artwork that shows the diverse use of fiberous materials. From Susan Cavanough's Sheets, shirts, drapes and other textiles in her work "Ori-Kume", to the cyanotype imape on the strings of a mop in Howard Ptaszek's "Self Portrait". The effect of the fishing line and maps used in Mary Babcock's piece was outstanding. While Joyce Leatherwood and Molly Koehn used more traditional materials, their work was non-traditional in its subject and presentation.
Below are a few more pics of the park for you to enjoy... take a walk with me!
It was the final class day and our class merged with another for an hour so both classes could hear about Catharine Ellis's innovative shibori weaving. Shibori is usually done by taking a length of fabric and sewing small tucks and folds into it before dyeing to get very intricate designs. Catharine is a weaver, and so she has developed a way to weave 'pulling threads' into her woven fabrics, so that by pulling them the shibori designs are created without the need for the hand sewing step.
Catharine also collaborates with a small mill to have her patterns produced into blanks for dyers to purchase and dye in their own color ways. The pulling threads are woven into the patterns by the mill.
The instructor for the second class is Yoshiko Wada. She is an amazing fount of information - and as her website says:
"Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada is an artist, author, exhibition curator, textile researcher, and film producer and has long been an exponent of traditional and sustainable practices in fashion and textile production."
My friend Lotta Helleberg was in Yoshiko's class and the intricate work they did was incredible.
Tomorrow starts the Surface Design Conference, so more excitement to come... but one special excitement for today: a trio of bears! Outside of my studio, a mother bear and her two cubs were exploring the hillside. Evidently they are "regulars" to the area, and just mosey along at their own pace.
More rain today and I needed a studio break, so I decided to head to one of the outlying areas of the park (Greenbriar), and check it out. I figure, when it is wet, go to the wet parts! It was a great decision, enough people to not feel totally out of touch, but far from the madding crowds. I drove to the end of the road, and planned on hiking a bit into the area, but after seeing the signage about bears, decided that might not be a good idea on my own. In bear country it is imperative that you are with someone you can outrun! So I just drove abut 5 MPH and got out a lot!
Sat and watched some kayakers for a while... again, when it is raining, get wet I guess! I had gotten there early, and it was just misting at that time, and it was raining harder and I was getting hungry, so headed fr the exit. I met the ranger who was putting out "Road Closed" signs and turning away more kayakers. I guess the forecast wasn't looking good, so they decided to shut down for the rest of the day. Glad I got in and out when I did.
On the way back into town I stopped at the grocery store (yes "the" not "an") to return my Red Box movie and ran into the Park volunteer coordinator, who was returning hers also... small town when you can run into the one person you know!
Here are the pics I took today... hope you enjoy them.
Day 4 and 5
The rain continues to pour, so no silly hiking distractions to take me away from the studio! Started the day with that angst that is brought on by the [always happens] "this is crap" phase that every piece must go through just before you turn the bend! Compound this with the rain, missing home a smidgen and my initial adrenaline having been used up, and it took a while to find the groove. But thanks to cranking up some Bette Midler, Willie Nelson and Edvard Grieg, soon I was on a roll.
I got stitching well under way on the Green Lichen one I started the other day, and got two others laid out and auditioning for whether they will get a part or not. I noticed a lot of well soaked small branches outside my studio door, so inspired by the basket makers I saw the other day, I did a little weaving with them and some paper yarns. I think this will now be joined by some photos and lots of stitching!
I also pounded some leaves to see about using those images. Didn't get them quite right, but all that pounding certainly was a mood enhanced!!
Here are some of the works in progress... I will keep you posted on their progress!
Today I got to move into a studio on the Arrowmont Campus. What a joy and privilege. Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts was founded originally as a general school, and later, morphed into what it is today.
It hold advanced level workshops for all types of craft: wood turning, textiles, ceramics, etc. You feel the energy just walking the grounds. There are several Artist-in Residences here - all staying for about eleven months, then there is the rotating calendar of classes that draw artists and instructors from around the world. Last month was the first month they provided a studio for the GSMNP arts, so my timing was pretty perfect!
I got the place all settled yesterday, and a piece cut and ready to sew. Today the gods have provided a day of heavy rain, so I will not even be tempted to go sight seeing instead of working, so enough said... I am off to work while you take a look here at the grounds.
If you are really into history, click here for blog posts prior to 2014 !