One of my favorite parts about traveling is seeing new vistas. Visiting the mountains, the parks, the ocean, historical sites. It’s all good. I always take my art equipment and capture the areas on canvas. Parking my easel on the edge of the Grand Canyon and painting for a couple of hours is my bliss.
But one of the best parts about traveling is returning home and seeing your own world through new eyes. Noticing that which you may pass every day but in a new way. You can look at your own home town as a tourist.
Spring here in Southern Indiana was so beautiful this year. Often we’ll receive a late frost or freeze which pretty much ruins everything, but this year was spectacular. The wild flowers in the forests and fields put on a show to remember. I captured the spring greens of the fields and byways for several weeks, and even had my husband drive while I was shouting, stop here! to take photographs.
The results have been paintings of spring fields and crossroads, little villages, gentle vistas of all types. Not my usual big, bold colors but a much more gentle palette. Often painted in the style of Pissarro or Monet but not actually deliberately. I just want to bring to the viewer’s attention and appreciation the overlooked landscapes of our everyday world.
Take a look around your own world, your home town, the back allies. I’m sure you can find some wonderful vistas, too, which you may have overlooked a hundred times. They’re out there, I promise.
View more about these paintings online at this link.
I wasn’t sure if spring would ever arrive this year. We’ve had weather ranging from sleet and snow and ice, to upper 70s and 80s two days later. Very unpredictable.
But I love the spring greens this time of year. It only lasts a few weeks before the heavy greens roll in, but that bright yellow-green just perks me up. Didn’t we used to have a crayon called “spring green?”
I have been driving around just gathering photos for future reference. One day, I even had my husband drive the little country roads while I took pictures. Have to capture the scenery while it’s here.
However, the beauty just in my own yard has been refreshing also. A cacophony of whites and yellows, blues and purples. The really exciting thing about the spring flowers is that they’re so fugitive. They don’t last for long and I know that I won’t see them for another year. And in most cases, they are pretty much maintenance-free.
Now the real work begins. Planting the garden, preparing flower beds, trimming the lane, picking up winter debris. It’s always something here on the farm. But I love it.
This past Friday we were assaulted by Mother Nature with freezing rain, hail, sleet. Just wave after wave, all day long.
But SPRING will arrive eventually. Forsythias are in full bloom, the daffodils are nearly past, the crocuses that I planted last fall finally came up although I think the chipmunks and squirrels got most of them. The yard is a carpet of spring beauties and the redbud is ready to pop. The bluebells are out. Blue and yellow.
Even my largest crabapple is late. This time a few years ago, it was in full bloom. A week of warm weather will surely see it out.
Although we lament the weather as Mother Nature doesn’t always follow our wishes, we know spring will eventually get here. The swift who makes a nest on the porch of my studio is already nesting. The mourning doves are pairing up. And I’d better get the rest of the birdhouses up real soon. Like today, maybe.
As I drove down the driveway late Friday afternoon, I stopped at the creek (which our drive crosses), just to see what I could see. And I saw this beautiful wood duck paddling around. This is the first one that I’ve seen in over thirty-five years! The plummage was beyond words. So colorful and distinctive. I hope that the wood duck family starts a family nearby but the creek with its after-storm gully washers is not the best place for a nest. Maybe up the hill a bit.
Anyway, all this is a reminder that even if you live in the same place and don’t go anywhere, surprises can find you. Keep your eyes open.
If you happen to get to the post office or a farm supply store this time of year, you will hear the peeping sound of baby chicks. They are SO cute! And it takes all kinds of willpower to NOT buy a bunch of each.
There are many varieties, but I particularly like the speckled ones and the ones with feathered feet. They look so fancy. We’ve had many kinds over the years. I also loved the bantams, the females, not the males which tend to be aggressive for their size. One year, one of my favorite dun-colored females disappeared. I was certain that she was the victim of a raccoon or hawk. But after about three weeks, she reappeared with about eighteen little bantam peeps following her. They were so tiny and cute. I don’t know where she hid but apparently it was a good hiding place.
This antique sponge bowl holds five fresh brown eggs. Do they taste different? That’s hard to tell but they sure are deep yellow when cracked open. Probably from all the extras that the hens get in their diet than those that are confined to chicken factory farms.
We’ve also had blue and green eggs, too. It is rumored that they are lower in cholesterol but I don’t know if that is true. They’re just so beautiful to look at.
The sponge bowl, by the way, gets its name from the decoration. The glaze was applied with a sea sponge. I have only seen these in blue. These stoneware bowls are very heavy for their size. I bought this at auction many many years ago and still use it for fruit and whatnot.
Although spring officially began a little over a week ago, the season has been sneaking up on us for a while. The grass is greening with that lovely shade of spring green. The trees are sporting a haze of pinky-red buds or some with more greenish buds.
The daffodils and crocuses are out. The yard if full of spring beauties, a tiny white flower with a pink stripe. It looks like snow in some areas. And the forsythias in the yard and out by the road where I had my son transplant shoots over fifteen years ago. I think it adds a little colorful surprise for passersby.
I’ve been so busy with other activities but have been able to sneak out to catch a painting or two. These are some of my favorite recent ones. One depicts our house sitting on the little hill with the morning sunlight catching the fronts of the buildings. The middle building behind the big house is my studio.
The second larger painting is of our North field looking west. You can see the farm rows from last year’s crops. The white dogwood, some redbud, and the various spring colors on the big trees. Such a pretty time of year.
Leo the Cat has been featured in several previous posts. He’s not quite two and already rules the roost. Cats just seem to have that way about them. A little aloof, except around dinner time. Then it’s all affection, rubbing around the ankles, sweet little meows.
So manipulative. And it works for them.
Unlike the dog who is always happy for the tiniest bit of attention. Please rub my belly.
This is a quick sketch of Leo sleeping in his favorite chair. He looks so uncomfortable but can stay in that chair for hours. And does.
Like most of our pets, cars, trucks, etc., everything around here has a nickname. Leo is frequently called Fur Boy, as in, Have you seen Fur Boy lately? Or Did anyone feed Fur Boy today? Well, the latter never comes up as he has a built in clock and will come and give you the Look until his food bowl is attended.
Interestingly, I recently came across the novel The Fur Person by May Sarton. I had never heard of it before. It is a short treatise about her cat. Written from the point of view of the cat. And illustrated by a friend.
I did not have a hard copy but was able to use the library’s electronic lending program to borrow it. Very amusing. By the way, if you have not checked out your own library’s electronic lending system, I heartily encourage you to do so. It’s amazing what they have available to rent….for FREE!
I was trying out some new pastels this week and decided to really juice up the color. A little fauvism. It was fun. Not my usual style but that’s OK, sometimes it’s nice to try a new style or color scheme.
The past two weeks have been filled with activities and I’ve been a little under the weather. Some bug that I probably caught from my husband. Feel great sometimes, then a few hours later, totally exhausted. So…I just take a nap. But that isn’t helping me make much headway for spring tasks.
A couple of weeks ago, temps were definitely chilly with snow and freezing rain. Then suddenly….the sun is out, so are the daffodils. My favorite thing to do every day is to take a walk and see what is new around the property. Buds swelling, new bulbs emerging, birds starting to stake out their spring homes.
I picked up my show from the Harrison County Arts in Corydon. A couple of commission pieces. And am working on some classes for spring break, AND…have company coming! Yay. But that means a little (a lot) of extra care for cleaning and tidying.
Oh, well, it will either get done or it won’t. But I fully intend to take time to enjoy the spring emergence.
My last post earlier this month was about Snomagedden. The weather in the midwest has been all over the place – ice, sleet, fog, freezing rain. Later this week we are expecting temps up to the 60s. I’ll be watching for spring flowers as the daffodils are already up several inches.
My show at the Harrison County Arts in Corydon has been very successful. Last week I gave a gallery talk which was well-received. The reporter Judy Cato came out twice. Once to interview me and another time to bring her friend Lorraine, the photographer. And then this coming week I get to pick it up the show.
But I am already on to the next thing. I’ve decided to paint some bridges and started with some train trestles and tunnel bridges, graffiti and all. It’s been fun so far. I’ll let you know how that goes.
Stay tuned for the next thing. Happy spring until we meet again.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave or on a remote island this week, you’ve heard about the huge snowstorm that swept the nation. News stories abounded, showing endless reels of people who were worse off than you. Ice, snow, trees crashing, roads impassable.
Well, this was our reality this week.
Fortunately we had plenty of warning as we watched the storm roll up from Texas through the Ohio River Valley. Watching hours of local weather predictors guess whether the front would stay upstate or come down our way. Where is the snow line? Who will see sleet and ice? It’s tiresome after awhile.
But we were a little nervous. Ice on trees, add some wind, pop, there goes your electric for a few days.
My husband gets in pioneer mode. Park the newer car in the garage. Park the other vehicles away from the trees. Make sure we have supplies in – milk, bread (I live with a guy who bakes), wine. Check the oil lamps, the kerosene heater, the electronics are charged up as is the backup. I spoke about this before in a previous blog. We have a gas (propane) stove and hot water so no problem. Can’t use the gas furnace or the wood furnace because there would be no electric to run the blowers. But we do keep the wood fired up low to keep the pipes from freezing.
We were lucky this time. First the ice, then some sleet, then some snow. No wind. No loss of power. Just enjoy the peace inside with some books and the TV.
My husband and the neighbor got outside to grade the drive with their tractors. I took a few walks with the dog. The glittering ice on the trees was so beautiful, tinkling a bit with a little breeze. Kept the birdfeeder filled. We buy sunflower seeds in forty-pound bags. Now we’re listening to the giant thumps as the ice melts and slides off the roof. The grandkids are over, taking more cooking lessons and playing with the toys that they don’t see every day. Stomping and sliding outside with the dog.
I hope you were able to find some good in the storm, even if it was just a little peaceful time to count your blessings.
I like that quote above. There is something about being tested that makes me dig in deeper, like these gnarly tree roots. Yes, I feel the normal frustrations as everybody else, but when faced with a difficult challenge, I am not usually one to throw up my hands and give up. I’ll grouse and curse, take a break, but I always come back to a difficult problem and then figure out a way through, around, over, under.
I’ve always appreciated the Horatio Alger-type stories. Someone who overcomes the odds to end up on top. I guess I’m the eternal optimist. If so and so could do this, then I can, too. Obviously within reason and physical limitations. I will never be a center on a basketball team. Nor dead lift 300 pounds. But most problems have solutions.
This week I had my credit card hacked. A fixable problem but just an annoyance. And I’ve been dealing with the changes that Facebook made to the operations of some of my pages. I watched numerous videos, consulted a helpful friend, and decided to set the problem aside for awhile. Sometimes a fresh outlook works best. And the weather is still too dang cold to spend much time outside. The temperature was three degrees (F) this morning.
There were a few other things but they all run together after awhile.
Fortunately, I was able to spend a little time in the studio this week – keeping in mind my description of how cold it can be from last week’s post. I didn’t feel like painting so I grabbed some charcoal and began another tree study. This one is of some very interesting roots on a large tree in front of the house. I love the shadows. And the quote to match settled my attitude.
I guess we all have ways of dealing with adversity. Mine is to dig in deeper. Or sometimes step back and take a break, then find a new approach. What is yours?
I'm a professional artist, retired director of a performing arts center, bona fide book addict, and enjoy the quiet life...most of the time. I'd love to hear from you or get your ideas for future posts. Come back soon!