Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Place Away

This is our week to pack up and move out to our little house for Campmeeting. Our family has been part of this annual spiritual event at various times for over a hundred years, but without fail since the 1950s. A United Methodist Campground, it brings together an odd mixture of religion and family reunion where two services a day are held under the roof of the open air tabernacle and old friends gather for long visits on porch swings, around dinner tables or in the pews.

The week is an odd mixtures of long time traditions and modern innovations and, sometimes, a surprise or two:
The folks who stay in the barn-like houses are called 'tenters,' the mobile home area is for 'campers' and the campsites are for 'campers' who stay in campers or RVs.
Vinyl tablecloths and antique dishes share the table with no excuses and even special guests are urged to 'help yourself.'
The kitchen has a stove, refrigerator and microwave, but there is no hot water, no radio, no TV.
The screendoors are latched at night and birdsong is the only lullaby needed.

It is a place away, a time away. It is what each person makes it.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Choosing Between Two

This week's special election to fill the Congressional seat of our friend, Charlie Norwood, pitted an old classmate against 8 other candidates. We were pleased that he received more votes than his next two competitors together. However, since he did not receive a 50%, there will be a run-off next month; we just don't know which of the two will be his opponent.

Large crowds of voters are never expected for special elections so I was prepared to get a little reading done during our 12 hour day. I didn't have any reading time, but my election workers are a great team and I did manage to take a break with my camera. The church which hosts my precincts is very contemporary and I wanted to photograph the stained glass windows which remind me of Rouault's paintings.

As I passed through the corridor to the rotunda and the windows, I looked up at a sliver of sky above the mediation courtyard. Cottony white clouds were lit with late afternoon sunbeams and I was enthralled. Then I felt a hand on my arm. I turned to face a voter who was pointing toward the ground. I looked down into the garden and found a concrete bunny and a very much alive green lizard having a conversation.

If I had to vote, I would have a difficult time in choosing which view was more awesome. I hope my voters have an easier time in the run-off decision-making next month.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Peaches Were Being Picked

Fuzzy Skins times Three

One of the things I am learning about my digital camera is that I take lots of shots of lots of things. Sometimes I am surprised at what I get. Sometimes I am surprised by what I had not seen.
Three In A Row
Daughter Susan teaches at a rural school and stopped by her classroom last week to return some books and files. When she came home, she had bags of fresh veggies and a basket of peaches from a roadside stand. She said she couldn't resist because the peaches near the school were begin picked and the peach smell filled the air. We spread them out on a table and the peach smell filled the house.

Suddenly, I placed a few in a window, grabbed my digital camera began to shoot. Eleven shots of the same five peaches. Never that many with my print camera; one or two and I'm done! In those photos, I discovered an amazing variety of light conditions -- a whole cache of painting possibilities.
"Is This My Best Side?"
Oh, my! This is exactly what I have tried to tell my painting students:

Don't just paint what you think you see.

In Its Shadow

Create other possibilities of lighting and composition with photos or thumbnails.

Okay, Line Up

Try a series of paintings.

Waiting On Stage

Make notes in your sketchbook or in your files. "The peaches were being picked."

Two Plus Three

Sometimes I need a reminder.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Color of the Day -- Yellow

I am still absorbing the changes which come to a household when a tiny baby moves in -- and not just the diaper ones! Lucy, Susan and I went to the hospital on Thursday to bring Kathryn and Belle home.

Now I write blog entries and don't get them posted. I make shopping lists and lose them. I suddenly find that I have been sitting with one or the other of my two grandchildren while an hour slips away. Every day is filled with a golden glow.

We think Belle is a beautiful baby and she is fitting into the family. Lucy is generous with her toys and snacks, so we have to watch for large stuffed animals being tossed into the crib or offers of tastes of peppermint candy or cheese and sips of soft drinks.

It has been an interesting week.

The yellow dress which Belle wore home from the hospital was worn by both her mother and her aunt Susan in the late 60s. Is that 'recycling' or 'heirloom?'

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

New Arrival

Belle is here -- a whopping 8 lbs 5 oz. Hope the picture says it all.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Color of The Day: In The Pink

My downtown neighborhood has just been given Historic Preservation District status, so I thought I should spiff-up a little.

Our collection of porch chairs and cushions have seen a lot of wear, so that seemed to be an easy place to start. Who knew that my choice of pink primer would cause so many comments! Some for the color; some not.

And then when I painted some large pink flowers on the columns, the comments stopped. Oh, dear!

Now, the bright pink has been covered with a beautiful proper white and the columns are once again bare of art. I think I heard a sigh of relief.

However, there is an apple green peeping from under the bottoms of a vintage metal table and pair of chairs. And there is sure to be a floor painting or two before the summer is over. . . .

And with a new baby girl arriving on Monday, we are sure to stay 'in the pink."

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Farm

It's the land of red dirt, red pick-up trucks and red barbecue sauce.
It has been family land since 1793 or 94. Its three hundred acres are shaded by tall pines, scrub oaks and old pecans. It has seen its share of cotton, corn and watermelons and now is home to quail, pheasant and deer.

There have always been things to do at the farm whether for a day or a week . This year the family reunion there was only a little different. Now there is a lovely covered pavilion and a pretty fancy skeet range. (I found my aim at the clay pigeon to be better with the camera than the gun.) The "hayride" minus the hay but with cushy seats is pulled by a tractor. There is a new coat of paint on the old house and horses and new puppies at the barn. The children played and got muddy in a welcome rain, the teenagers rambled on golf carts and on foot, the twenty somethings had their own agenda, the older folks did a little of everything and sometimes age didn't matter. Maybe it wasn't that different.

Some would say there is a special feeling about a place with red dirt. Perhaps so. There is evidence that the family's ancestors moved through five states, stopping along the way to establish homesteads where ever there was land with red earth, tall pines and scrub oaks. Whatever it is, these acres welcome this family home.

Most of the people who were there on Sunday remember names only as far back as Ma Belle and Daddy Henry, the grandparents of the senior members of the group. We are counting the days now until next week's arrival of another Belle (or Henry) who will continue the tradition of hugging cousins, eating good food and catching up on family news "at The Farm."

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Lives in a Painting

On Friday night, the little redhead in the painting graduated from high school. She and her sister often visited me when they were small and I took them to the playground at the River (the same one which Lucy now loves.) I took photos and made sketches just as I do now.

On this particular day, the light on the blues of the girls' shirts and the pretend paddle wheel of the ship shaped playground equipment seemed to need a brush. I combined several photos into a composite sketch to get just the right lines and tackled a 22"x30" sheet of watercolor paper. I had no thought of making portraits, only the idea of patterns of light and the interesting shapes. Well, duh! There they were -- Lily and Savannah! It's what I routinely drill into painting students -- Don't paint "things." Paint light and shadows in interesting shapes and the "things" will say what you want them to say.

The girls have always loved their painting and for some reason it simply never found a home. It hangs at the top of my stairs just outside my bedroom door. It makes me happy and it is a fun reminder of my nieces as children. Lily will go away to college with the three honors she was awarded at graduation. Savannah is taking medical classes while working and being mother to one year old Ben. (Their younger sister, Hayley, is enjoying HER 'trip to NYC' with her mother this week.)

I wish for them many days in the sunlight with enough shadows to shape their lives well.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Colors of the Day: In Light and Shadow

Looking back at my recent blog entries, I realized that many have to do with light and shadow. Some of my favorite photos are also because of the light and shadow patterns. Here are a few:

Why I like it: The light on the old swing and its shadow on the ground, the leaf patterns juxtaposed with the soft edges of the child.

Why I like it: The bouncing light which highlights the old child's rocker and, while it partially obscures the kitten, gives a shine to her eye and paw.

Why I like it: The stone lantern which is usually shaded by the trees and a rock wall, sometimes gets a pop of the sun which shows its ancient details.

Why I like it: The light on the hair and folds of the clothing; the shadows patterns hiding the faces and making a private moment.

Why I like it: Light and shadow highlighting the organic shapes of the foliage and worn cobblestones with the surprise of the 'hidden' eggs.