Sunday, June 30, 2013

Eureka Springs

Summertime--Ah Summertime! This has been a wonderful summer. However, in all honestly I thought I would be further along on my "to do" list. All those projects I intentionally put off until I have more time, do not seem to be getting crossed off that long, long list. Sometimes I even add more before crossing off anything. And then there are the everyday things that have to be done. The garden is needy, the house is needy, my spirit is needy, and the dog is extremely needy as are the ticks and fleas that think she is a delightful summer home.
I seem to constantly bite off more than I can chew and I have recently realized I chew a lot slower than I used to.
My grandchildren are a delight--but I need more time there.
My children are wonderful--I need more time with them.
My traveling spirit is ready to go--I need to plan a trip to use those flying miles.
My anticipation for next school year has me looking for new projects--I need more time to look.
My time spent once in a while watching a Dr. Oz show makes me want to treat myself better--I need a plan.
My friends are important to me--I need face time not face book to keep in touch.
And lastly and very importantly--I need to nourish my creative self and get some painting done. For I get very cranky when I don't.
I guess what happens is during the year I know I can't finish a lot of projects so they slide and I only concentrate on the things on the top of the priority list. The things at the bottom continually being moved down.
I did not blog last week--I was on a short trip with friends--much needed and too short.
This is Hank--one of the friendly hosts of Scandia B&B
Eureka Springs Arkansas is an enchanting little place carved out of the mountain side in northern Arkansas. In the late 19th century it was a mecca for people who sought medical healing from the natural springs that dotted the landscape. There are beautiful gingerbread houses and charming shops, as well as, delightful restaurants. The approach to the downtown area has several well tended gardens. There are friendly Bed and Breakfasts to stay in and friendly people to visit with along the streets.
Outside of town are many hiking trails, lakes and rivers to explore.
Where ever I go I always make time for sweet natured pets--like Hank!
So you can see why I couldn't get to the computer to blog. But here are some photos I would like to share.                                 Who knows maybe I will paint a watercolor inspired by one or two of them!!
Stop be next week and check on my progress.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Old House Portraits

It is not often you think of a house having it's portrait painted. But houses speak to me, as do graveyards, and rocks settled in the bottom of a clear-running stream. If you look hard enough and long enough or if you are innately open to such opportunities, many houses have very distinct personalities. Whenever I pass an old house, particularly in the countryside, I always consider what kind of stories it could tell if it had a loud voice and how easy it would be to hear them. And some old houses do have a loud voice by means of a caring individual or group  devoting time, research, and no doubt a great deal of money to make sure the stories are not lost.  They are wonderful places to visit.
But the old houses that have lost their owners, that sit sadly in an overgrown meadow, that slump within a grove of old magnolia trees at the end of a weedy lane--those are the ones that call to me and whisper their stories into my ears and my imagination.
In my youth I went into old houses undeterred by weak floors or falling ceilings. In Kentucky, outside of Bowling Green (where I was a college student in the 70's), there was one such old house, built during the Civil War, in terrible neglect. It was an old beauty made of durable red brick but only part of the upper floor was intact and much of the ceiling caved in. But there was a cupola, on what was the third floor, and I wanted to see the countryside from that window. So myself and a couple of other students carefully picked our way up to that window. You could tell the house was truly loved at one time--there was evidence of good taste everywhere. The curved banister that lead to that upper window was still shiny and looked as though it was polished only moments before. The view from that third story window was brilliant. It was there I could hear the army camped in the fields next to the house. The men and horses, the rolling of the artillery, and smell the camp fires in the center of the laid out military style streets, were all as real as if I had looked out of that window a hundred and six years before. Today I would not be so headstrong and careless. I have a little more respect for private property and  a great deal more respect for weak floors and caved in ceilings.
Years later I went back to that old house. A group of caring individuals had found the time, the money, and the inclination to save a beautiful anti-bellum mansion. And as the tour guide talked about the times before, during, and after the war, and about the  families who had lived there, I already knew the stories. They were tales of children being born in upper story bedrooms--some surviving but many who filled the graveyard next to the house. Some stories were of the old ones departing this world and being "laid out" in the parlor. There were Easter egg hunts and Christmas dinners. There were many nights when storms were on the verge of taking life and limb. There were tragedies of lost children and blessed events such as weddings and christenings. It is difficult sometimes to imagine that so much happened in one specific space-- and now  is so gone
My grandfather died in the house he was born in--a house his father built and died in. A house my father was born in--along with his six brothers and sisters. The house I spent so much time visiting.  The house, yard, garden, and barns are all gone. I wanted to show my children their heritage but could not even find the location because of the new highway. Finally I recognized the power lines. The ones my grandfather sold the easement to back in the 1950's. I knew where the house and yard had been in relationship to those power lines.
So much family history, so many birthings and Easter egg hunts--so much everyday living--like it wasn't even there. My heart was broken.
Some stories are of people who had money--who exemplified their values by the possessions they cherished. Some of the stories are of immigrants who left their homelands for a chance at something better, and still others are stories of individuals who barely eked out a living on hard soil and even harder luck. I love all the stories...
Here is a photograph of a cabin from the hills of Missouri.
And here is my watercolor painting of the cabin.

Daniel Boone's home near Defiance Missouri is a great favorite of mine. Obviously one of those structures that has received a great deal of love and attention. This is a watercolor done for a lady who felt the same way I did.
And then here is an old one that is dying for want of a roof and someone to cut the overgrown foliage away from her joints and window sills. I have many, many photos of old houses I have taken over the years--maybe I will write down some of the whispers they have shared with me.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

To Reinvent or not to Reinvent

Last week there was no post as I was off in the woods contemplating the growth of moss on the north side of large trees and thinking about my next piece of artwork.
That is not true--last week I was more in the fits of a mild depression. My birthday was fast approaching and I could garner no sense of accomplishment in my world. My grandson was heading off to school and I was wondering where the last five years had gone and why I had not done more in that period of time. Clutter overwhelms me and "dirty eating" plus a  feeling of inertia slowed me to a turtles gait and left me slouched in a lawn chair--hoping at least to get a suntan.
Since I was a young child  I have reveled in the opportunities to reinvent myself periodically. When I was little it was to be a nun (I am not catholic) and another time it was Robin Hood. As I grew up some of my reinventions became slightly more realistic.  From a war protester to a wife and mother. From a stay-at-home mom to a college student to a school teacher. So once again and with the inspiration of former lives I drag out my "clean eating" cookbooks, books of spiritual guidance, an exercise chart, my most recent "O" magazine, sunscreen and sunglasses, a refreshing herbal tea with a sprig of mint from my herb garden, my journal, a psychedelic pen, and  I began to write. I have some art events coming up so I used these to cultivate a sense of empowerment. Someone said once that you need to have just about all of your basic needs met before you can engage in creativity. Unless of course in the case of creatively dealing with survival. At a time when not all of my needs were being met my creativity turned to the darker side--but I won't go into that here. I have learned the procedure for my timely reinvention of habits.
I designed a meal plan that utilizes fresh produce from the beautiful garden in my backyard(something during  the stage my bad habits I ignore and choose instead the frozen pizza). No more sugar and processed foods, more veggies, and less meat. The exercise chart is to be filled in daily and the repetitions increased as time passes. But most of all and this is different from previous sojourns into healthy living--being in the Zen of the moment. Summertime is a great opportunity to slow down and think about taking care of myself. When I lose sight of that I suffer and then the things around me suffer. It is a very significant cause and effect system.  From reading articles in "O" magazine I think about my financial plan and my health insurance. There are articles on how to declutter--I have another plan in place. I see some cute dresses I may have to order. From my books by Deepka Chopra I remember what is truly important in life and how to take the time to search for and listen to that still small voice. Did I mention the unbelievable sunglasses in the magazine too! I write in my journal--something when I get too busy I forget to do. And as time passes I am really sorry I didn't do. The mint rosemary tea is reinvention in a glass!
The better I take care of myself, the better I am at doing just about anything and everything that is important to me. When I am healthy my art is healthy. Everyday I get better my art gets better and that is what keeps "mild fits of depression at bay" and reinvention so compelling! 
If I sit down with no immediate agenda for a painting (this is not including the hours of mental searching and decision-making) I find I treat the canvas and the paints with an attitude bordering on carelessness. I choose colors for silly reasons and I let the brushes play with the thickness of the oil, pigment, and turpentine to fashion strokes with a certain "mooshyness" to them.
This carelessness evolves into better paintings on many occasions. Here is one such....a gift for my grandson's first day of school.