But of course I did take my camera. It helps me meander. Photography stops me in my tracks to notice. Here are some of the things I noticed.
I do not read much poetry. I remember virtually none. But somewhere in my head there is one poem, heard in my teenage years, that is always with me. Back then, I found it touched my soul, and I still find that "oft, when on my couch I lie, In vacant or in pensive mood" this poem and days like today come to mind.
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
BY WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
Before moving to C’ville, my subject matter was mostly barns, cows, birds, flowers, snow, and sunsets. They were in abundance around our home in Wisconsin. Since moving to Charlottesville my surroundings have become urban and human! We live a block off the downtown pedestrian mall, and prior to Covid, it was a happening place; and the shops, restaurants, bars, coffee shops and many outdoor concerts and buskers were my muses.
This past week our photo class assignment was street photography. I haven’t done much in the last year, because of distancing, closed businesses, cancelled entertainment, and masks. Things are loosening up and with the coming of spring came the people. So yesterday I went out and stretched my street muscles.
Many people question the legality and validity of street photography. Here is a link that explains some of the issues, but I also use my own rules when photographing people. I am hoping to celebrate the human condition. I am not a journalist who is trying to make a statement about policy or plight, but rather a mirror to catch glimpses of the wonderments around us. So I try to be kind with my photography. The captions I have included with these photos further explain my thoughts. Enjoy, and click on any photo to see a larger version.
The photo on the left is more about the bricks and the smoke than the person. I love the way he is almost a silouette against the bricks.
I took these two photos to show that "street" isn't always "faces". I shoot people from the back often. These two young women were just delightful, and this shot portrayed their movement and closeness much better than the one I took from the front. On the right photo, I was watching the humans interact, when I finally noticed how the canines were interacting. Their "conversation" was more interesting than the human one!
I took about 25 pictures of this couple. I couldn't hear a word they were saying, but it was evident they were totally enthralled with each other and in their own world. If I were a writer I would have written a short story about them. These photos are almost more portrait than "street". I really lucked out on the lighting and with the dark bar behind her face that really added contrast. I am including more of these shots below because they are just too fun. The center one is when a little girl outside the coffee shop also spied them and knocked on the window to wave!
This last photo is also at the coffee shop; And while the couple was animated, this person was serene and solo.
This week the photo challenge dealt with using an editing trick...to use the mirror image in editing to create a new symmetrical photo. It was an interesting way to look around; to judge how something would look as or with a mirror image of itself.
Of course that sent my mind wandering and wondering about mirrors in general. We really don’t see ourselves in the same way others do. We see ourselves flipped horizontally the majority of time, while others see us the other way around.
Here I am as the way you see me, the way I see me, two of one side merged, and the other side duplicated and merged!
As a kid I often looked into the mirror and really wondered what I saw. I had the distinct feeling that I was an entity inside this body and not the body itself. I would look at others and wonder what it would be like to inhabit that body instead of mine.
And now as I age, that disconnect becomes stronger. It is ever more evident, with each year, that the mind and body do not age at the same rate. Most of my friends readily admit to being a 30-40 year old housed in their 60-70 year old body.
Body dysphoria is a real thing. I have seen it and heard about it first-hand from my daughter. Assigned male at birth, and later realizing that there was an incongruity with the body she inhabited and the gender she felt, she has claimed her real self as a transgender woman. I can’t begin to understand the confusion, anxiety and every other emotion that one would experience in that situation; looking in the mirror and seeing a stranger. Or the relief and joy of being able to align your mind/gender and body/appearance in whatever way you can.
People who lose weight, lose a limb, are scarred, or altered in any other “disfigured” way must feel this disconnection between self and body, too. To realize that our bodies can morph or change, while our minds may stay the same. With some changes we get further from our mental self, with other changes we may come closer to familiar territory. The reverse can also be true; when the mind changes but the body does not, as with dementia or mental illness, but that is a whole different musing.
This reminds me of a surprise birthday party we once attended. It was being held in a farmhouse in a very rural area which meant the host and the ‘birthday girl’, could tell from a distance that there were people in their house if any lights were on. Consequently, all of us attendees, most of whom didn’t know each other, spent about an hour in darkness before the guest of honor arrived. We laughed and joked and conversed freely. But once they arrived and the lights went on and we could see clearly, the demeanor changed. It became instantly more stilted and self-conscious. We were all trying to align the people we met with the people we now saw. It was a very interesting experience.
Anyhow, this is just a recognition of how important it is to recognize the whole person at all times. How visual representation is an easy way to judge and be judged, but it is only half (or less!) of the story.
Okay enough digression. Here are some more of the mirrored images I had fun editing.
here are a few of my older photos that I also think portray "abandon" well.
This week I looked at the world in black and white. But it occurs to me that is exactly what we have been doing too much lately. Every artist knows that contrast is important; shadows and highlights are what give the image depth and edge and impact, but it is the gray areas that can provide the detail and connections.
While in politics or mask-wearing, or climate change there will always be the presence, and maybe the need for, the black and white extremes, the answers are usually in the grey areas. The areas of nuance. The areas of softness. The connective areas.
In editing these photos (which was our challenge this week), it was tempting to go for the high contrast. Maybe that is a throwback to my roots in relief printmaking. But as I worked on them, I realized how important the gray areas were. By subtly making the grays darker or lighter, it would change the focus to a whole different area. They could calm down either of the extremes of black or white. They could add a softness and stillness to the subject.
I have included this “before and two afters” of one of the photos so show you how the entire focus of the photo, the woman in foreground, changed to the people in the background with the edits and crop. (click on them to see them larger)
Perhaps that is how the news and commentary we hear these days gets edited.
They leave most of the blatant black and whites, but change the focus, nuance or slant by just shifting the gray areas of the story to change the picture to meet their purpose. Both of my pictures above are truthful. Both show a moment in time that actually existed, but the read, the inference and the narrative has changed. So neither is “fake news” but each tells a different story.
So what is my point? I guess just the old saying Caveat Emptor - Buyer Beware! In art we accept the use of artistic license; it is what gives artists their voice and expression. When it starts to enter journalism or science, when those gray areas get shifted towards supporting either the black or white, then we must recognize it and be aware that it is happening. If we limit ourselves to seeing only the whites and blacks of an issue, we will miss the gray areas of the picture that include both some black and some white.
In the meantime, here are more of this week's photos for you.
We finally did it! Jon and I got our first vaccinations. It took more than an hour on the CVS website, with a map of Virginia close at hand, but I managed to schedule us both. Last Friday we drove 50 miles to the Northeast to get mine, and today we drove 50 miles to the Northwest to get his.
This morning was gloomy and cold and we "had to" go for Jon's shot. I wasn't looking forward to the drive which included a bit of highway over the mountains. As always, though, I took my camera. It was absolutely beautiful. The snow and ice had covered the trees, but the roads were fine. The frosted trees stood like lace against the hillsides. Luckily Jon was driving, so I could roll down my window and snap away.
Snow in Virginia is a gift. Unlike in Wisconsin where it is a way of life, in Virginia it is a celebrated event. Here, without snow plows and snow blowers with which to remove it, it is accepted that you just enjoy it while it lasts because it will be gone soon. The difference is the light. In the north there are those glorious days of blinding-white snow, purple-blue shadows, and snot-freezing temperatures. We don’t usually get those in Virginia. When the sun comes out here, the snow will probably melt so our snow days are usually foggy, milder, and soft. So while things were melting in the city, it was beautiful in the mountains, and my “had to” day changed to a “thank you” day.
Here are some of the pictures:
One of the first things one does in drawing class is draw shapes; the cube, the cone, the sphere. Shape is also one of the fundamental elements for design and art. This week, in my photo group, we also addressed it as an element of photography: How to pull out a singular shape from your surroundings and photo it.
Again, reflecting life. Are we in good shape? Are you out of shape? Shipshape. Shapeshifting. What shape is the world in? We are all squared up. Round and round she goes. Lovers’ triangle. And so many more idioms about shape.
I found it much easier to see round shapes than the more angular varieties.
Maybe that is my visual preference, maybe it is something more primitive inside. We relate to the round of the moon, the sun, the earth. Roundness is soothing. The circle is never-ending.
While shooting this week's shots, I loved the way I was looking at the details of the world. I was also taking things out of context and celebrating them for their own character. Sometimes it was about the presence of the shape. Sometimes it was about the absence of the shape. Sometimes the shape was merely implied.
Anyhoo… enough musing and here are the photos:
I don't get too many days to wander in the snow here in C'ville... but today was one of them, check these out!!
Though I thought my on-line photography class was going to be about photography, I’m finding it to be so much more. This week we are challenged with “long focus” photography - a technique that keeps all areas of the photo in focus, regardless of their proximity to the photographer.
Long focus has never been my “thing”!
In life or in photography, I have lived my days very open to the immediately accessible and enjoyable. I have written before about finding inspiration within an eight-foot radius of where I am at any given time.
I’ve rarely planned for events in my life; things have happened and I have embraced, accepted, or wondered at most of them. It has been satisfying and rarely disappointing. The counterpart, and perhaps safety net, to all this has been my husband and partner in life. He does the long-term planning while I (hopefully) make our days interesting. I thank him for our retirement and security.
This week I took pictures of railroad tracks, cemeteries, and cityscapes. Though it was hard for me,I tried to compose each using something other than close focus. I realized so many of my previous shots were done with zooming in on a detail or object, with a depth of field that lets most all else dissolve. The first challenge was on using “selective focus” which was a piece of cake but this one, not so much.
During my hiatus, I’m also hoping to add more “long focus” to my life. Age has a lot to do with this. When I was young, time was very abstract. There was almost too much of it to comprehend. But as I get older, I realize that the future is finite! This is also true for my physical self. My young body responded, rebounded, recovered, but now the warranty is ending for some parts.
The idea that the future may be becoming one with the present is something that is dawning on me. Perhaps a bit of planning may be in order. I guess I could skip that cake/cocktail/chips for the possibility of more future. I guess walking a couple miles today, might up the odds for my being able to still walk a few years from now.
Like they say “aging is not for sissies” and I have never been called a sissy!
Here are some long focus shots for you:
I have always loved driving or walking at night and seeing frames vignettes formed by light and window panes. There is a serenity in those light portals, bright against the dark of the night. Often the hues emanating give me a hint of the activity within; The cold blue light of a computer screen, the fast flicker of the TV, maybe twinkles of some Christmas lights someone couldn’t put away yet. No, I am not a peeping tom, just an admirer of the human condition!
Being in the heart of the city, I have found it so easy to go out and explore under the golden glow of whatever lights illuminate the streets. The contrast of that warmth and the neon or fluorescent lights of the businesses are a play of color that never ceases to entertain me. It is also the chance to see much of the “back of the house” work that I don’t see in the daylight. The kitchens of the restaurants become visible at night.
The other thing about windows is I see three dimensions at once: what is inside the portal; the window glass itself; and then what is outside the window in the reflection or environment. The view changes when I change my focus or that of my camera.
So it is much the same as the multi dimensions of my fiber art.
I expose the hidden layer of fabric through slashing, I have the base layer and then layer with fabric or stitch over that. Some of my work is about the previously hidden layer, some about the photo layer, and some about those layers of transparency with stitch added on top.
This week, my photo class assignment is “windows”. So I dutifully have been haunting the streets - day and night - to fulfill this assignment. Here is a slide show of some of my favorites:
And then today, there were the windows at the car wash!!
"A line in the sand."
"The line starts/ends here."
"Stay in line"
"Don't cross that line"
"Read between the lines"
"The shortest distance between two points is a straight line"
Lines are an integral part of our visual and verbal languages; they are everywhere. They are also the subject of last week's challenge in my photography class. This challenge sent me on a quest to see and record the lines around me; nature lines: man-made lines; perceived lines; lines made from light; lines made from groupings.
Thematic quests have always been a kick for me, just like I love thematic art shows. To take a subject - the more mundane the better - and make it a focus is a great way to see the variety that exists in existence, expression and perception. I would love to tell every artist in the world to make an apple and see the myriad of creations that would inspire. One of my favorite museum shows was that of the paintings done by VanGogh and Gaugin when they lived together. To see the same model or landscape painted by each at the same time, in the same place, was just wonderful. I am so enjoying my life drawing sessions now for the same reason. The uniqueness of each person's art is just fascinating to me.
I have always loved creativity with limits. In Graphic Design, my life for 40 some years, limitations were the norm. I always had limits of time, budget, production, and message. I loved pushing creativity as far as I could within those parameters. The lack of those requirements was one of the hardest things for me to get used to when I moved into fine art. Creating limits for myself was one of the reasons that I started entering shows. There I found size limits, construction requirements, and often a required theme. That was comfortable territory.
It is interesting now to look back on five years of making fiber art, and seeing what I have done. I am starting to recognize a voice of my own. In creating my own boundaries I am also defining myself and my art. I am sure many people find self and then make, but for me, it has worked in reverse. I let the make come out and then, in retrospect, I recognize an internal familiarity. Perhaps that is what ‘voice’ is; just how we each approach and record this universal subject called "life"!
I look at work that I did many years ago - paintings, prints, drawings, and even design - and see a direct line to what I am doing now. I notice a repetitive use of a preferred color way. I recognize my joy of details and texture. The compositions then and now have a similar resonance. Even the subject matter is often consistent. This retrospective recognition of voice is an unanticipated benefit of age.
But, enough of this tangent (see what I did there), back to my photo class… Here is a slide show of some of the lines I found this week.
As I mentioned the other day, my piece "6' of Chaos" was just invited to show in Quilt National 2021. Here is some info about how it was created. There are three main stages, with many small stages in between.
First there is the photography. I take photos a lot. I have thousands in my computer. Only a few of these will become fiber works. If the photo speaks on its own, it doesn't need more, but some photos are just a recording of WHAT I saw, and not really HOW I saw it. Those photos need the textures and layer of fiber to complete their story.
Secondly is photo manipulation. Sometimes a photo just needs some edits of contrast, or cropping or some minor color adjustments, but sometimes, like in this case, many images are merged together to form a new image. Each is manipulated with my editing program, then merged into one image. The finished file is then sent to be printed on fabric. The photo becomes the starting point; sometimes just an underlying sketch for my finished piece. It is an important step because it is where I make my base color, contrast, and composition decisions.
Finally is the layered construction of the process. This can include layers of additional fabrics either above or below the photo fabric, hand and machine stitching, couching of yarns, fabric paint, or whatever it takes to create the colors or textures that I need for the piece. On some pieces non-fiber items like found objects or produce netting is added.
Together these stages create a unique image and surface for my work;
one that neither photography or fiber could create on their own.
The photo manipulation
After the fabric is returned with the photo printed on it, I start to add the layers of additional colors and textures. I have used some of the same techniques I show on the DEMONSTRATION page, but also some additional ones that are unique to this piece. Below are some detail shots and information about the process(es) used in that area.
I have written before and often pontificated about how we need only to look around for ideas. We do not have to go to exotic places, or view wide vistas; I spent a month photographing only thing on my block ( for more about that CLICK HERE , or HERE). my search continues, and is probably even more focused since none of us are wondering far these days.
There is a quote from Mary Oliver that addresses this: "Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." I love that and if I have a mantra in life, that is it. Today after that debacle of a debate last night, we must continue to be vigilant and proactive, but maybe today, you need a little "pay attention and be astonished" to remember the beauty that is still all around us even in these times of pandemic and politics.
I thought I would just post a lot of my latest "details of life". Some from walks around the 'hood, some from a boring ride in the car, etc...
I just spent two wonderful days seeing, talking about, and walking through art! I went to several museums with two of my fiber buddies, and we then talked art over good food, and while sitting in various transportation vehicles!
Monday we went to Washington DC. We decided to try out two of the smaller museums, the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Renwick Gallery, before we hit the National Gallery.
The National Museum of Women in the Arts
As is often the case, we were too optimistic about how much time we would have, so it was a quick visit to the National Gallery. I decided to head over to the East Wing, and just say "hi" to the I.M.Pei building, and not worry about deciding what art to savor in only an hour. My next post will be about our next day at the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.... stay tuned.
in the meantime, here is a slide show are some of my shots from the national gallery, the Metro, and one from the wonderful deli/restaurant we stopped at for lunch.
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.
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!
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!
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
If you are really into history, click here for blog posts prior to 2014 !