Chris and I love the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, and we've been dreaming of “escaping” for a visit for most of our long, hot, humid summer here in Florida. This past weekend, we jumped at the chance and took off! We arrived in Tennessee on Friday morning to rainy, overcast skies, but it didn't dampen the gorgeous colors of fall in the least.
Cade's Cove on Sunday
We spent the day in the "shops" in and around Gatlinburg and Kodak, TN, on Friday as the rain was heavy enough to make the prospect of sketching on location, let alone hiking anywhere, a rather unpleasant idea. We visited with some old friends on the Arts & Crafts Loop and made an early night of it. Oh, and we visited the apple orchard restaurant, Carver's, that's an old favorite!
Roaring Fork, TN
Saturday morning dawned wet and overcast - after all, they don't call it "smoky" for nothing. This was the view that greeted us about a mile and a half up the trail. Still, it wasn't raining and it was so still and beautiful––good medicine for the soul. The temps started to drop around noon.
Roaring Fork, TN
We soon walked out of the smoke and mist, only to return to it as we climbed up. There are places in this area that really make you rethink what it most of been like to have lived in this area back 150-200 years ago when these "trails" were the "roads." Folks today hike to go see the pretty waterfalls or the trees in all their glory––back in the day, the pioneers hiked because that was the only way in. And out.
Don't you just love those funky shots that you get sometimes that seem to suggest something else entirely?!! This is actually a photo of Chris half hid behind a tree and for whatever reason (operator error) the image came out murky and dark and slightly out of focus - and hence, our Bigfoot sighting! By 5:00 that afternoon, with darkness falling rapidly, it was downright chilly. Excellent weather for sitting in front of the fire and musing about the day. Turns out it was 37º the next morning - perfect for someone looking for a break from the Florida heat!
With only one dry, sunny day, I didn't get much painting done. However, I did come back with a box full of leaves and such, as well as a pile of images for inspiration until we can return again. Maybe after Christmas??? (Hint, hint)
And I have to say Chickadees make lousy models. They should have named them "Mad Cap" instead of "Black Cap" as these guys are not still a minute! Consider yourself lucky if you get 15 seconds of this guy in one spot! This is unfinished as there simply wasn't time to chase him all over the National Park to get a sketch done. It will be finished from photos.
All in all, a much needed break and so good for the soul. Would loved to have stayed longer, and already, I'm dreaming of the next trip. In the meanwhile, I've got leaves and pinecones and critters to tickle with my paint brush!
Where has this week gone?! I had intended to have this new image up on Monday, Tuesday at the latest, and it's already Thursday?! Time is flying and Autumn with it. It will be Thanksgiving next week and Christmas the week after that at this rate!
I am so pleased that "An Imaginary Trip Through Autumn" is over half full! Yay! I am so looking forward to the class–so far everyone seems to have a love of all things "pumpkin!" As it turns out, several of us have made several trips to the pumpkin patch/stand and have come home with several pumpkins–just for the purpose of painting!! We've been discussing the possibility of starting a support group! If you're interested in joining us, please click here for more info.
*This painting won Best of Show at the Florida Suncoast Watercolor Society's Open Aqueous Show being held at the Venice Art Center, Venice, Florida. The painting is available for purchase. Please contact the Art Center for more information. You can read about the show here.
I am over-the-moon-beyond-the-stars thrilled to share with you that my watercolor painting, “No Place Like Home”, has been awarded Best of Show in the Florida Suncoast Watercolor Society's 2009 Signature and Open Aqueous Show!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Woohoo!! Yippee skippee!!!!!
Some of the long time readers on the blog will remember when I was painting this back in the early summer - and nearly ruined it! From the brink of disaster to 1st place! This is the first time I’ve been able to show the completed painting on the blog due to different show restrictions. (And for those wondering - that’s the new ‘do, too!!) I am so very, very excited! I'm not sure I'll ever get to sleep tonight. I've known that the painting won an award since last Saturday, but we didn't find out until tonight at the reception where all the paintings actually placed. The reception was very well attended with a lot of super nice people. There was live piano and finger foods as well as wine - just a lot of fun!
The Open Aqueous Show is being held at the Venice Art Center, 390 Nokomis Avenue S, Venice Florida. The facility is one of the nicest I've ever visited and they are open Monday - Friday from 9 to 5. The show will hang until Friday, November 6th. If you are in the area, please stop by!
This painting is available for purchase. Please contact the Venice Art Center for details.
p.s. I'll be posting a much better photo of the painting in a few days!
I'm talking about the kind of things that aren't really lost, just misplaced? Or so you think.
This morning, my curling iron's heating element gave up the ghost. Now, usually this would be no big deal, but I had errands to run this morning and I had just blow-dryed my hair. Having recently changed my hair style, leaving the house in this condition was not optimal. I had no doubt I would traumatize small children upon sight and put them into therapy for years. I looked like an escapee from one of those hair commercials they show on TV with the before and after shots. That's me - the before shot - times 10!
I use a certain kind of curling iron and the last time one died, I spent a good amount of time and suffering trying to track the model down. Desperately, I searched and at the last store, finally found it. After going through this agony, I decided to be clever and purchase two! My thinking was simply that I'd be ahead of those sneaky manufacturers that quit making a perfectly good product because, well, because it's a perfectly good product.
So I went looking for my new curling iron…and could not find it. Anywhere. What I did find disturbed me even more––several old curling irons that looked like they went through the war known as “The BIG Hair Years.” I mean really, they had enough hair spray caked on the handles and heating tubes as to look like they had been spray painted a light grey! Yuck! Double Yuck! The bigger question now is why do I have these hair-spray-caked-curling-irons at all????
I have to believe that the “it's best to be prepared for any and all circumstances” part of my brain is responsible for the three, yes, three hair-spray-caked-curling-irons to be living in my bathroom cabinet. Jeeze, like there's going to be an apocalypse of hair curling implements in the near future and I'll never ever be able to find/purchase/afford another curling iron in this lifetime????!! Could this possibly be for real? Do they even work?
It is these small glimpses into my mind and how it works that scare the absolute daylights out of me. I like to think I'm fairly practical. That I use common sense in most situations, and yet, here is proof positive that I may not be so levelheaded as I like to think. Really. I'm hoarding15-year-old (maybe older) hair-spray-caked-curling-irons??? Why not gold or food or medicine or something of relative value other than an instrument that plays to my vanity?
And what's worse yet is that I still have no idea where the new curling iron is……
The days winging by, the temperatures beginning to cool, color showing in the trees, birds beginning their long trips home––Autumn is upon us! And with it, the latest class, “An Imaginary Trip Through Autumn” will begin on October 29th! The class will be an intimate view of Autumn with all the vibrant colors and unique textures that make this such a special season!
For more information on the class as well as registration information, please click here. If you have any questions, you can email them to me by clicking on the box in the lefthand column that shouts "Email me!"
Just had to share from Paris*! This new fellow is a friend of the first Paris pooch I painted on my imaginary trip to Paris. You can see him here. Isn't he a dapper young man?! And a lot of fun to paint as well. As you probably know by now I love most animals and capturing their essence, their spirits is what I'm after when I paint a portrait like this!
I've read that there are 300,000 dogs in Paris! In fact there are suppose to be more dogs than children!?! Amazing, yes? Especially when you consider that the most visited place in Paris is……no, it's not the Eiffel Tower, or Notre Dame, or the Louvre……it's Disneyland Paris!!
Once again, a well-mannered pup who sat very still whilst being painted in the hopes of a treat! Good puppy!!
*This sketch was created during An Imaginary Trip to Paris that started September 21st. It is a sketching and painting holiday! (I'm not really in Paris, darn it!) More information is available by click the logo link in the righthand column!
I'm sure you've met someone in your lifetime that you've sat down with and talked with them like you've known them forever. Laughing, connecting, discussing subjects that you usually don't talk about unless you've known someone for years. You're different from each other and yet, oddly the same. You wonder how you could be so comfortable with someone after only knowing them for 7 emails and 3 1/2 hours of talking face-to-face and yet, you are.
I have recently met KJ for the first time, and she used the term kindred spirits and that's it! We seem to be kindred spirits on levels not usually touched until after years of friendship construction. It is a liberating feeling to be able to speak candidly, openly and receive intelligent, insightful and thoughtful replies with regard to these deep subjects. What a wonderful blessing!
Too, I think this blessing (in part) is a byproduct of my lifestyle change. My lifestyle in Corporate America made it difficult to find or make the time to grow friendships outside of work. I worked an hour away from home and was gone much of the time. I also traveled a fair bit. Now, I can rearrange my schedule to accommodate a lunch date with a friend. It still means working later to get done the work that I missed while out playing, but it's so worth it.
I don't have this working-for-yourself thing completely figured out, but I'm beginning to think that some of the perks, like friendships with folks like KJ, are pretty cool! The little bird up top is another warm up piece for acclimating myself back to the studio. He actually sits next to the little green bluebird cutie from a few posts ago. I think maybe I should have called this post “birds-of-a-feather!!”
The colors are so far off on this one that I'm not sure if I'd know what it is if I weren't painting it, but I'm sure you can guess! Apparently, I'll be doing some calibrating between my new computer and scanner - yuck! Icky colors! Even adjusting the colors didn't seem to help much. (These are only the first washes - it will look better soon!) On the other hand, I am so pleased to say that I actually made it back into the studio today! About 45 minutes worth, which you see above. If you've read the blog very long you know that when I don't paint, I tend to get out of sorts and odd things start to happen.
Between crashing computers, new computers, trips to Paris, and a few other minor details, I haven't been painting and boy, can I tell it! Yes, I'm out of sorts, but I'm waaaaaaaay rusty too! I've been doing a lot of sketching while on location in Europe, but for me, there's quite a difference in the mindsets between sketching and studio painting. For one thing, my sketching is generally more free, capturing an essence of a place and no concerns about every detail. Studio work tends to be more exact, with close attention paid to nuance of color variations, details, and temperature.
But I gotta say - if feels so good to have a brush in my hands and to be back in the saddle. Too long gone. This painting is being done with watercolors on Ampersand's Aquabord and is approximately 6" square.
Three weeks ago, Himself found this adorable little green bluebird for me in a second-hand shop. In the madness that followed shortly thereafter, I totally forgot about my little guy. Today has been such a good day. Life is so good! I got out for a three mile walk/jog today - beautiful, clear, manganese blue skies with nary a cloud to be seen; sweet, cool, gentle breezes to caress and carry me along; bird song; the circling flight path of an Osprey over the lake; Mallards lazily gliding by on still waters; a Downy tapping out his song before taking off in startled flight…twas a most excellent morning.
This afternoon, I decided it was time to bring order to the chaos otherwise known as my studio. No small feat this will be and it will take more than an afternoon, but in my cleaning I did re-discover this lovely little bird waiting ever so patiently for my return. When evening came I sat down and let my brush tickle over his form and feathers. I don't quite have the right of him, but he seemed not to mind. He knows I won't be able to resist another try. Soon. Very soon. For now he is content to be perched in a flower arrangement singing out the last few notes of summer…