Tuesday, June 30, 2015

On my way to France!

Flying Delta from Columbus to Detroit, a three hour layover and then on to Paris. This flight seems full with plenty of people flying standby. Luggage is an issue, with folks trying to bring rather large suitcases on board. The gate agent told the passengers that all the luggage would not fit in the plane and she would determine who'd have to check their bag.

Everything was moving along smoothly, but we are now parked on the runway with one engine running, the seat belt sign off while wait about 15 minutes for take off. We are allowed to use our electronic devices, so I'm writing to you. Weather in Detroit is the cause of our delay. But, an artist with a sketchbook is never bored. So, I will start writing in my journal, and drawing, too. After all, I've got a captive audience.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Residency #1: June 28, Exhibition and Sale!

Here's my good friend, Edie Dean. Edie fell in love with my 5x7" oil painting entitled "Rock Garden". It was painted along the Cedar Run Trail. The rock sits with many other rocks in the Rocky Fork Creek, but it serves as a distinguished home to many plants. The light coming through the trees and reflected by the water surrounding the rock was unusual in it's gorgeous shade of greenish-gold. The combination of the rock garden and water color was irresistible to me. I started a larger painting of this spot a day later, but never got it finished. That water color is fleeting, only surrounding that rock for about 15 minutes, and mixing what I truly saw seemed impossible.

My friend, Edie, is also a wonderful artist in her own right. Check out her website, Edith Loechler Dean Fine Art. She's having a Solo Exhibition this coming September at the OSU Faculty Club, paintings and original monotype prints.

Residency #1: Friday evening, June 26

Here's an old bread rack at the Beechcliff Lodge. I made some leaf prints yesterday and had a good time using it as my drying rack! (Thought I posted this. Oops)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Residency #1: Sunday, June 28 - Breakfast, Show and Sale!

Martin showed up at Beechcliff Lodge this morning 6:30am. He waited patiently on the lovely white wicker porch furniture until someone let him in. He's patient, and the time alone with nature is restorative.

I'd started packing after we hung the show and finished our wrap up meeting with the organizers. We had pizza and drinks, and Betty and John even brought a quart of their neighbor's homemade blackberry wine, more like moonshine!

Martin and I had all the gear, clothes, framing stuff in our cars by 7:30am, and sat talking with Bridgette and Doreen. We were having breakfast at Charlotte and Dale's at 8:00am. Dale makes a mean crêpe, which we completed with butter, blueberries and real maple syrup. So good.

Then off to the museum for the show from 10am - 3pm. 96 paintings by 5 artists were hung. Six of mine are now living with their new owners! My "Mushroom, Moss and Beech Roots" painting was sold out the back of Martin's car because the purchaser arrived after the paintings were packed up. She'd stopped by to see my paintings at the lodge on Friday morning, and she had an idea of what she liked. So glad that people who love and appreciate nature are the owners of my work from this exhibition. Thanks to all who came today.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Residency #1: Friday, June 26, 3:57pm

I'm on the porch at Beechcliff Lodge, all alone. Robin left a few minutes ago as the thunder could be heard only at a distance. Just now. The heavens opened the flood gates, and the sounds and vibrations that accompany this rolling thunder is interesting to just hear, feel and witness. Wow! A very loud close clash in the sky, made me jump. Somewhere out there is Chris. I wonder what the moth at my feet is feeling?

Residency #1: Friday, June 26

Here's a moth on the porch last night. And a photo of wood sorrel from the Ravenwood Trail. I'd never seen either of these before.

Where did the time go? It seems it was just a blink of the eye! Today is the last full day to paint. But my day begins with a visit from the Sanctuary's Board President at 8:15am. She is busy this weekend and just wants to see the work I've done. After she leaves, I'll paint all day, rain or shine.

Saturday, at 1pm, we have to help hang the show, followed by wine and conversation with the organizers, a wrap up brainstorming thing.

I suddenly realized yesterday, that in 5 days, I will be on a plane to France! So hard to believe, so I'm just not going to think about it.

Residency #1: Thursday, June 25 - rain

I gave myself an extra hour of sleep since we stayed awake past midnight talking and looking at some of Chris's photographs. Robin had said another day of nice weather was expected, but we woke up to rain. I decided that today was my opportunity to make spaghetti sauce, make some leaf prints, and start another rainy day porch painting featuring the tea cart.

I left around 8:30am for 13 mile drive to the Kroger in Hillsboro to buy a few things for the sauce, and called Martin once I hit the 4G network area. I'd had one cup of Robin's high test coffee and couldn't stop talking. The storm got more intense. It was bucketing down when I reached my destination, so I sat in the car to catch up with the blog.

I returned home with groceries, and made the sauce, carried all my painting gear, and got a printmaking station going, three 6 ft. tables! I worked for about an hour and a half and then went out onto the porch.

Chris had been out painting, watercolors in the rain under a large umbrella, but at some point his umbrella collapsed and he came back to the lodge. He was now painting on the porch. When I came out, he said two fawns had come walking through our trees while he was painting.

It took me a long time to settled into starting my painting. I usually like to get some distance from my subject, but I was sitting so close that it was difficult to see and measure things correctly.

I painted until it was time for Chris and Robin's demo at the museum. I didn't want to stop painting, but I wanted to see their program. I'm glad I went. I got to meet a lot of new folks, and Betty made both peach and strawberry ice cream! What fun. The boys did really wonderful demos, and then we came home for a spaghetti dinner.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Heavy Rain!

Thunder and lightening, too.

Residency #1: June 24, more fungi

Laying loose on the trail. And, evidence of animal tastings!

I read that fungi may not really be part of the plant kingdom. Spores land, and if the location is desirable, filaments grow underground. These filaments can last for hundreds of years, and when conditions are right, up come the fungi. Since they can't produce their own food, like plants, each has a specific place they grow for a certain food source.

Residency #1: Thursday, June 24, morning - The Ravenwood Trail

Saw two plants I'd never many great fungi on the trail yesterday seen before on this trail, and so many wonderful varieties of fungi.

Sorry the second photo is out of focus. Standing on the edge of a slope with all equipment on and walking sticks bent over is not the best way to shoot!

Residency #1: Tuesday, June 23 - lunch, framing, signing,

We had lunch at Betty and John's Heronwood home. They are land stewards, as are Charlotte and Dale, so they bought this property from the Sanctuary and have a life least on it. When they die, it goes back to the Sanctuary.

After a great lunch of fresh gazpacho and salad with homemade croutons, Betty took us to Ravenwood. What a great property! She showed us the inside of the house, and we are already thinking that we want to rent this property and just paint in various seasons. If you might like to get in on a painting trip like this, email me at debrajoycedawson@gmail.com to be put on a contact list.

The painting photos are the very successful 10x10" painting that will be at the show, but probably not for sale. It was a pleasure to have painted all day in the shade!

Residency #1: Tuesday, June 23, Morning at the Ceremony Hill Trail

Sunny, but I was in the shade.

I've tried to get back to this trail ever since Betty showed it to us on the third day I was here. That day was a hot day. It was in the high 80's. The trail wasn't long, but it ended with an ascent that left me sweaty at 8:15 in the morning, and with no reward of the promised view. The trees were all leafed out; all we saw were leaves.

However, there was a smallish swamp at the low point in the trail that had a Zen effect. It reminded me of a Japanese painting. Lovely and quiet, simplicity of design, very simple color scheme. That seen was locked in my head, and I knew I wanted to try painting it. I'd forgotten what Frank LaLumia had told me in 2004, "The simplest things are the hardest." And it this case, it was the actual gesture and calligraphy of the leaves that escaped me.

Below is the block in for my 12x9" painting. This was my last panel of that size. It was one that Doreen had given to me with a very smooth surface. After all the drag of the cotton RayMar panels, which I think I've finally come to understand, it was hard to control.

I just couldn't make the painting work. I started with a tone of transparent red oxide and Gamblin's solvent free quick drying medium. I'd hoped that it would tack up a little and give me some grab, but . . . Sigh.

My biggest problem was just getting the stark elegance of the grasses that suited me, and which was more representative of the way the grasses actually grew. I worked for about two hours, but wasn't pleased with the painting. The best idea would have been to scrape away the paint and leave just a blurred ghost image to work back into on another day. But, the weather report had been saying rain most of the week.

Still, weather men lie, and we've been thrilled to have had two great days of sunshine! Today, Thursday, June 25, another promised nice day. So maybe, I go back to this swamp again and rework the painting.

Residency #1: Tuesday, June 22, afternoon hike, The Black Gum Trail

After hiking and painting on The Big Beech Woods Trail, I had lunch, took on some fluids and had a look at the trail map. I decided to head out for the gum tree forest. Stupid me, I didn't know exactly what a gum tree looked like. I didn't even give it a thought.

All I knew was that my Mom wanted, Daddy to dig up a gum tree because it had the most most gorgeous star shaped leaf. Daddy didn' t want to do it for two reasons: it colonizes by underground runners, and it has prickly seed pods a little smaller than a golf ball. But, of course, Mommy got her way!

I suppose I saw gum trees, but they must have been tall, mixed with beeches, huge oaks and smaller maples, and pawpaws, too.

It was a nice hike, and I decided just to hike. No painting gear. I found interesting stuff on the trail. It's funny, when you spend enough time in the woods, things start to jump out from the ordinary. Usually it's color related, but sometimes, you wonder why you notice something, for instace, the plant in the first photo. It was off trail about a foot, and you could easily walk right by it. Squaw 'something' is what Betty called it.

The last photo is a rather freshly fallen limb off of a tulip tree, the yellow poplar. My Dad spoke with reverence about this tree, so I've never forgotten it. The limb was blocking the trail. I had to walk off trail to get around it. By doing that, I found at the leafy end the bud of the spectacular flower of this tree.

Residency #1: Falling Behind

I haven't had the energy or time to blog enough to keep up! Next up, photos from the Black Gum Forest two days ago.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Residency #1: June 22, my 12x10" painting

Here is the start of my painting - the block in that I spoke about - in the Big Beech Woods. When you're surrounded by greens and silvery bark, a colorful mushroom in all health and splendor, sitting in a bed of moss, with beech roots poking through the ground, right at the edge of the trail, is something you just can't walk by. It was like a beacon in the night! Obviously the fungus knew an artist was coming and put on a most colorful outfit.

I worked for a couple of hours, with my feet slanting in two different directions. Painting on a slant is not the most pleasant way to paint, on two slants even worse, but the subject was so enticing.

Residency #1: June 22, making friends with Beeches

So on the way up the trail, you come to a Beech barrier. It's a huge limb that feel from the tree with the initials carved into it's bark. If I were a giant, I'd just step over it. But since loosing an inch of my height, I now measure 5'3", and had to take off my easel, sit it on the otherside of the limb, then with backpack still on, one leg over, and while I'm there, why not just sit for a few minutes?!

I did. What fun. The bark was still in great shape. I rubbed my hands on it, looked down the length of the main limb with tree major branches. I felt like a Hobbit, riding on an Ent! But the bark's texture reminded me of the feel of elephant skin (Martin, Ray and I on an elephant in India - 2011), which I thought felt like roofing shingles.

I enjoyed sitting on this huge limb letting my mind wander playfully, and thinking about trees. What magnificence they have. How they stand, what they've witnessed, and how I was a kid again for a while. Not alone, but in company with nature.

The limb is starting to decay and serving as host for many years to insects and a host of organisms such as this rust colored hairy moss.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Residency #1: June 22, Big Beech Woods

I enjoyed my hike on the Beech Trail today. Three of our artists said this trail was all uphill, and taxing with a pack on your back. So, I took out everything that was non-essential, leaving just paper towels, solvent, brushes, a PanelPak holding two 10x12" panels, my tripod, half a cheese sandwich, 4 clips, trash bag, and water! I was ready! I put on the pack, light as a feather, and then, I slung my paint loaded easel over my shoulder, and off I went.

It's a 2 mile loop trail, and does go up, but not too bad for me. I had one my Camino boots and both walking sticks. I confess, I took tons of photos, again.

Here's a sign that I rarely see here, no yellow arrows either. I was told that the trail is being diverted away from some of the largest trees, and the second photo shows you why.

Residency #1: Monday, June 22 - The Big Beech Trail

I'm taking a break after doing a block in of a 12x10" painting here in the Beech forest. I love beech trees, and there are some really nice old ones here. What a pleasure to be among them all alone. Of course there are birds singing all around me, and insects buzzing, too. So far, not biting.

Below, pawpaw seedlins, about 4 feet tall nestled in the feet of a big old beech!

Residency #1: June 21, continued

John Matthew Waddell is the name of the man who built the Beechcliff Lodge in 1912. He's in the backrow ans second from the left in the family photo.

Residency #1: June 21st - As Sherlock Holmes would say

"The most heinous of crimes happen in the country."

Betty found me at TES Farm last night to tell me that a missing young woman's body had been found in Rocky Fork Creek. She was found Saturday, the day of the OPAS paintout by a hiker.

Police will be searching the area today, so not sure how that might effect us.

I am off to a late start this morning. I didn't get to bed until around 11:30pm, and the 6:20am alarm seemed to be an awful early call, even if I was awake.

Think I will try the Beech Trail today, or maybe head for a forest of gum trees.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Residency#1: June 21st, Summer Solstice!

Last night, all five artists-in-residence residence were here together. We had a good time BS-ing. This morning, the "chicks" on the left (Doreen St. John & Bridgette Turner)of me went home. Now, I am left with "the roosters"! ( Chris Leeper & Robin Roberts)

Okay, we got sun, storms on the way this evening, so gotta get back out and paint.

Residency #1: Saturday. June 20, the Beechcliff Lodge

Today, on theast day of spring, the rain bucketed down. A paintout was planned for this day, and we had four brave souls come out to paint, in addition to the five artists-in-residence.

You can see myself and Edie Dean painting high and dry today on the "white porch" where you enter the house. The second photo is the "eating porch".

The lodge was built in 1912, by John Warren from nearby Greenfield. (I need to double check the guy's name.) What parties they must have had here!!! In 1915, the first inground swimming pool in the area was built, and filled by water diverted from the Rocky Fork Creek. Mr. Warren was the first person to swim in the pool. Once he was in and wet, the others followed.

The original old stove is here, but the kitchen has been all kitted out in modern appliances, sink and mouse-proof cupboards! (BTW, mouse traps were placed here several days ago, and five have met their demise.)

Two albums of photos and documents from the family and their friends tell the what history of them and this lodge has been collected. Each of the five bedrooms has an original sink, soap dish and hardware, and two twin beds.

There are three wonderful porches to the house, some with swings and gliders, some with old white wicker furniture, one with a stone floor and long tables to seat a crowd! We usually eat on that screened porch and try to imagine the parties, good times and conversation that took place on that porch.

It's a fantastic lodge, birdsong all the time, and just one of the Sanctuary's places available for rent and retreatlast

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Residency #1: Friday, June 19, words of wisdom

We can never have enough of Nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor . . . the wilderness with its living and its decaying trees, the thunder cloud, and the rain which lasts three weeks and produces freshets. We need to witness our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander.

    --- Henry David Thoreau

Friday, June 19, 2015

Residency #1: Thursday, June 18

The sun came back for most of the day! We all packed our gear and headed out for the Etawah Woods Trail and on to The Three Sisters. My Sherpa and I had hiked the trail last Saturday, and then after lunch, we went back with the painting gear.

I took 16x20"  and 12x12" panels. No sooner did I start the 16x20" panel, it started to rain. Sigh! We took all the gear under a rock ledge, and as the rain fell down, I had time to look at the new surroundings, just 6 feet from my original painting spot.

It was relatively dry, save for a drip or two coming through the dolomite shelf overhead that was sheltering us. I studied the rock and the trees and decided I would not waste the time spent here. I started a new painting on the 12x12" panel.

I just knew that if I started a new painting, that the rain would stop. And, it did. But I was interested in what I was doing, so gave up on my sisters start for the time being.

I worked until I was as far as I could go, not sure that the painting was complete, but I was tired after the one and a half hikes, and not a comfortable painting position sitting on a small rock outcropping, and still had to hike out of the gorge. I looked at the painting yesterday and decided it wasn't too bad. Fresh brushwork, clean color, and it the feel of the day.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Residency#1: Wednesday, June 16 - Let's play spot the poison ivy!

I've never been around so much poison ivy! So, knock on wood, I have managed to live beside it and no reaction. Dawn dishwashing liquid, original blue formula, and I have a date in a few minutes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Residency #1: June 14, afternoon

This afternoon, I agreed to work with a group of day camp children for a few hours. First the 3 - 7 year olds. They all wanted to paint! No lesson needed except trying to explain to wash the brush between colors. When you're three, it doesn't always stick in you head, so at intervals I'd tidy up the palette a bit, and help mix colors.

The 8-12 year olds were more image oriented, had great brushwork as well. I helped mix more sophisticated colors, and started them off at their request, with two rough drawings of chickens = 2 triangles.

After all said and done, they had a great time painting two 16x20" paintings in acrylic. I received many handmade thank you's from the little kids, a popsicle from the camp guy, and many thanks from the organizers. Plus, a good feeling in my heart.

I felt compelled to ask one parent to back away from the easel and allow the "artist" to paint without being told what to put down, or how to mix. One girl said, "My Mother doesn't let me paint at home." I said, "Really!? My parents always let me paint at home. Sometimes parents can be pesky." I just looked up the definition of pesky, a word I don't remember using for a very long time. Oh my!

Residency #1: June 14, morning

I went out to TES Farm to get a signal and paint something small and quick since I was scheduled to work with day camp kids at Noon.

I pulled into the well hidden drive whose slope I've traveled many times now. When I got only about 10 feet in, there were milkweed plants in full bloom. I'd never seen one in bloom, and these were fantastic! I'd been out there the day before to test some drawing materials in a new sketchbook. I drew milkweed then in Senelier Bistre ink, with a brush, as I couldn't get the reed pen to release the ink onto the paper. Next I added watercolor, which I felt ruined my drawing. Maybe it was the blue color that seems out of place, or just being tired after having survived four thunderstorms while painting at the bottom of the gorge earlier in the day (story yet to be told).

I decided to paint the milkweed in bloom, working in oil on linen panel for 2 hours, and see how much of the painting I could get finished. But first, I'd take some photos. I'd seen a large Daddy Long Legs on the underside of one leaf. And there were fireflies, and later honey bees and bumblebees, working these plants. But I was amazed by the number of DLL arachnids all on one flower.

I got out my field guide last night and discovered what I had seen was not a spider. They are called Harvestmen, in a class with mites and ticks. Harmless, eight legs, which by the way, can drop off away from the body if you grab one!!!!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Residency #1: June 15, of mice and butterflies.

My Facebook friend, Linda Crank, posted last week the need for a butterfly for a painting. While hiking a few days back, I saw a beautiful gold and rust colored one flitting about on the trail before me.

Later that same day, I found a different butterfly dead on the road on my way home. It's Cave Road. You know, the same road where the turtle hangs out sometimes.

Well, I had to collect it, and placed it in a glass in my car for safekeeping. I carried the glass into my bedroom, put it on my little table, and it still sat there as I drifted off to sleep.

I woke at 6:20am, as I do each morning, and when I looked in the glass, I saw that a mouse had eaten the body, and left only the wings and maybe an antenna.

Sigh! Who knew? I was pretty disappointed.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Residency #1: June 13th, Etawah Woods Trail

It's been so hot, and hats make you hotter, so I'm wearing a visor with a kerchief over my hair to protect me from ticks. My deceased sister, Cheryl, gave that shirt to my Dad, so I feel 5he were both on the trail with us yesterday. They'd have loved this.

My sister would have love Mother Nature's "dish garden"!

Residency #1: Sunday, June 14th, Workshop Day

Today was my relief printing and bookmaking workshop. 15 students embraced the process and had a fun time making leaf prints.

One man, Rodney, among 14 women, one of those his wife.

Residency #1: Saturday, June 13, Martin arrived!

Yesterday was an active day. My Sherpa, Martin, came at 7am to share his day with me in the forest. I wanted to walk the Etawah Woods Trail. We took our time going in so I could get photos and look have nature has put her garden together in a haphazardly organized way.

I was glad he was with me because this trail has some steep spots, and my Sherpa has the balance and agility of a mountain goat!

We hiked the trail twice: once to see what was there, once to carry the painting gear in to paint.

We were caught in a thunderstorm at the bottom just as I started to paint. But, we tucked under a dripping rock ledge and watched the rain pissing down all around us. I had time to look at my surroundings, and decided to start a new painting. Of course about 30 minutes into that, the rain stopped, but I wasn't gonna move a second time.

I think we clocked about 7 miles of walking with up and down elevation. Felt good, like being back on the Camino.

Residency #1: June 12, gifts

We received a packet of info at orientation. There was also the gift of CD'S of bird voices and field guides to butterflies, damsels, moths, birds, turtles and other reptiles, amphibians, and plants, and such. I finally opened them to identify a few butterflies.

At around 1:30pm, I went back out to paint and on my way back in on the Cedar Run Trail, I stopped to watch this damsel - I think - got to check him against the book! He was a great model changing poses several times for me. The wings look black at a certain angle, but at other angles you seem to be looking through a brown veil!

I was the solitary human for about 4 hours, surrounded by huge slump rocks, the creek bed, horsetail, damsels, frogs, and hundreds of unseen creatures and plant life. At one point, a racoon passed by me to hide away in a large cavity at the base of a huge slump rock. There I was, just painting and observing what happens in the forest when one is quiet.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Residency #1: June 12, painting

Residency #1: Friday, June 12 - one hot morning!

An expected high of 91 today. Doreen snapped this photo of myself and Bridgette painting at Nancy's place. The goat was smart, he stayed in the shady barn.

At the end of this painting session, the wind came and white puffy clouds blowing by. The photo of my painting might be too high res, so I just posted it on my Facebook page. Now lunch and fluids!