Day 30: Here we are at the end of another challenge. The stats for this month are as follows: 368 miles driving to look for painting subjects, 114 hours painting, 38 cups of tea, 83 podcasts and 20 hours writing stories. While the rainy days far outnumbered the sunny ones, I even enjoyed that added challenge of finding soggy subjects. When I proposed painting through the month of March, I had no idea of what historic events would unfold before us. This challenge served as a wonderful distraction for me, as my focus was on paint rather than toilet paper.😉
Thank you for taking the time to follow this series. I looked forward to hearing from you daily and listening to your memories that the paintings had evoked. I wish I could continue, but I have several commissions that need my attention, as well as the need to wangle my house back in order.😉 I will try to sprinkle a few painting stories in occasionally, so please keep an eye out. Now for the final story...
Growing up in the 60’s was vastly different than it is today. The only screens we had were the screens on the windows that let in the sounds of the peepers and kept out the Junebugs. Every morning after breakfast, I unceremoniously scuffed on my old pair of light blue Keds (with the hole in the toe), flew out the door and slid down the railing to the earth below. There was so much that had to be done between chores, crayfish hunting, rotten apple throwing in the orchard, woodchuck hole counting in the back meadow, balancing on moss covered rocks across the “crick”, making handprints in the grain dust in the grainery, pretending to be Roy Rogers thwarting the evil bank robbers... The days were long and lives endless.
“Fleeting Days” Watercolor/Colored Pencil, 5”x3” $125
Day 29: the Administration Building in the Red house area of the Allegany State Park, always looks so stately, sitting atop a knoll overlooking Red House lake. Built in the depression, stepping inside makes you feel like you’re in the middle of the Adirondacks with all the dark wood accents and twin stone fireplaces￼. I only have one memory of Allegany State Park that I am certain of... I can remember drinking Spring water from the Sweet Water Spring, on the way up to the summit. I remember the water flowing freely out of a pipe into a stone basin. My Mom handed me a metal cup and told me to get a drink. Holding the cup into the forceful flow of water, I almost lost my grip on it. It filled to overflowing almost immediately and I could feel the cup chill with the cold spring water. The sign said “Sweet Water”, so I had a little bit of an expectation... I was surprised when I took a sip, that it didn’t taste sweet, put rather more like... water.
I’m not sure when the Park decided to plug the Spring... I feel a bit of regret every time I see the old stone basin with the words Sweet Water written across the front. I guess these days, drinking water flowing from the earth, is a health hazard. When I was growing up, I learned that the best tasting water flowed from the side of a hill and was gathered in an old metal cup.
“ASP Administration Building” Watercolor/ Colored Pencil 3”x5” $125
Day 28: I’ve painted this church many times and each time there are more branches... while painting today, a song rolled through my head. “Come to the church in the wildwood, oh come to the church in the dale. No place is so dear to my childhood as the little brown church in the vale.” This little church was my Moms church when she was young. I’ve heard stories of Saturday Christmas play practice and mishaps when someone tried to dry their boots to close to the fire. I’ve always wanted to see the inside as it was when my Mom attended, but many years ago it was remodeled into a summer home.
The church that I attended as a child, was about a half a mile down the road, past the old cheese factory. When I drove by to take reference photos, I found it had been reduced to a pile of rubble. Even though it is gone, it still stands straight and sturdy in my memory. If I close my eyes, I can still walk up the 3 rough concrete steps to the old weathered, double doors. I turn the cold metal doorknob and push hard, the door had a tendency to stick... 3 more steps will take me into the sanctuary. The pews are hand made with no cushions and are straight across, from side to side. The old upright piano, that was hard to keep in tune, is on the right side of the maple pulpit. The floor boards are painted light gray and the walls are papered with a repeating pattern of a generic country scene (the pastor hung wallpaper as a side job). As I stand there in my memory, I hear “would you all pease rise and turn to page 345, in your red hymnal and join in as we sing, The Church in the Wildwood”.
“The Church in the Wildwood” watercolor/colored pencil, 3”x5” $125
Day 27: When I am searching for a subject to paint, I look for what others would call imperfection. I love to find crooked fences, loose boards, sagging roof lines and tin patched walls. It’s things like these that create a back drop for life stories. While painting today, I found myself feeling the cold metal of the cans handles and took a moment to mentally step inside the milk house to hear the metallic click of the handle and smell the earthy pungent aromas of the barn beyond. I miss the smells that accompany a farm. They are honest and good.
“Milk Pick Up” Watercolor 3”x5” $125
Day 26: March has had it’s share of overcast, rainy days. Today was full of sun, that laid rich shadows across the planes of weathered wood and rolling meadows. The barns in today’s painting were once strong, vital structures, but nature has a way of reclaiming it’s own. The play of the shadows on the broken siding and the pierced walls breaking open to the sky, gives today’s subject a sculptural effect. These old barns are good examples, showing that there is beauty when time and weather become the artist.
I grew up hearing my Dad proclaim “let’s go for a drive”. My sisters and I would pile in the old green Rambler, calling out our claim to seats. My favorite place to ride was in the back, laying down with a pillow propped up against the back seat. I could see the clouds race by or watch the farms as they disappeared in the distance (I must have had a stronger stomach when I was younger). Going for a drive is almost a forgotten activity these days, where everything has a purpose and every journey has a destination. When I was a kid, the purpose of a drive was to see deer, turkey, new buildings, washouts, clouds, neighbors and to open the windows on steamy evenings and play with the wind. We drove over paved road and dirt roads and some that were questionable roads.
What strikes me now, is how my parents knew everyone within a 5 mile radius, and 90% of the people within a 10 mile radius. Today, I can’t say that I know everyone on my road... I think it may be time to relearn the fine art of “goin’ for a drive”.
“Old Giants” watercolor 3”x5” (SOLD)
Day 25: I have watched these electric poles following the Ashford Junction tracks for many years. I love the rhythm of the lines going from pole to pole, but with one snap of a weathered line, chaos ensues￼. With a “zing” it would free itself in a wild dance that would create a domino effect, magnifying down the line and eventually cumulating in a tangled mass.
I can remember my first Christmas being married. I stopped by the homestead on a cold, snowy night to see the Christmas tree my mother-in-law had decorated. It was beautiful with homemade ornaments that she had made all year long. As I studied the ornaments I noticed tiny candles clipped to some of the sturdier branches.￼ She noticed me looking at them and began telling me about how when she was a young girl, the tree was kept in the parlor and the doors were closed to keep it cold. On Christmas Eve the 10 children would sit around the tree and their parents would carefully light the candles, one by one. With increasing light the tree would flicker and the candlelight danced around the room, bouncing off the ornaments. After 5 to 10 minutes the candles would be extinguished.
My Mother-in-law then did the most memorable thing for me. She turned the lights out and lit the 12 candles on the tree. The flames threw shadows that danced around the room and reflected on the colorful glass ornaments. It’s simplicity was beautiful. I will always remember that history lesson and the chance she gave me to step back in time, if only for 5 minutes.
“Old Lines” watercolor 5”x3” (SOLD)
Day 24: I’m sure that many of you are familiar with this old truck. Old Danny Boy stands off the edge of RT 242 near Holimont in Ellicottville. Today, I found Danny Boy still decorated with a plastic Christmas wreath and it seemed like the drive by rock throwing had taken quite a toll on his windshield . Even with all he has suffered, Danny’s Boys graceful curved fenders and chrome accents testify to what a grand truck he was in his day.
There is a painting of a weathered peeling church door, that I painted about 8 years ago. Most people walk by it mumbling, “why would you paint that”. I didn’t paint that piece to be beautiful, although it is in its own way. I painted it to share it’s history with those who stop and spend the time to look deeply at it. I want them to feel how the wood swelled after a week long soaking rain, or the paint cracked under the drought that dried up Aunt Velma’s well. I want them to visually feel the warmth of the weathered, sun soaked door knob that has been turned by four generations of families and to hear the echos of joy and laughter or crying and grief behind its door.
There is beauty in things that are past their prime, but have a history to tell. We just need the time to listen.
“Danny Boy” Watercolor 3”x5” (SOLD)
Day 23: Another grey, cold, wet day. Putting shadow in a painting is like dessert at the end of the meal. Today was a meat and potatoes day
I used to beg my Mom for a story when she tucked me in. I wanted a hear about when she was my age because her stories were vivid and often centered around mischief. Sometimes, her memories reflected a different code of ethics of a different time. One such story was about the Riceville laundry scandal.
Monday was washday and women would get up before the sunrise to begin laundry. They wanted their laundry to be seen hanging on the line first, showing that they were the most virtuous woman in town. No matter how hard they tried, there was one woman who’s laundry was out at the crack of dawn. The next week they’ld start earlier, but it was always too late.
They began to feel something was amiss and decided to stake out the woman’s house to learn her secret... At 2:00 in the morning they met, planning to learn what time she began laundry. As they gathered in the light of a half moon, they saw that the laundry was already hung and the family was sound asleep. It was obvious that the sinful woman was doing laundry on Sunday and hanging it in the cover of darkness before going to bed.
I would always gasp in mock horror and then laugh at the silliness of the story, as I slid between the cool, crisp, sheets that smelled like the outdoors.
“Monday” Watercolor 3”x5” (SOLD)
Day 22: I have no idea why some subjects stick in my head, but I have wanted to paint this little trailer for at least three years. I noticed when I was looking for places to paint, during my first 30 day challenge. It is placed next to a very steep ravine on the edge of a field. It seems so out of place yet so perfect.
I can remember the day that my dad came home and told us that he has bought something special for the family and we each were to take turns guessing what it was. I knew it had to be a horse, after all what could be more special than that!?! No, my Dad said absentmindedly it’s not a horse... Then everyone else took their turn, I didn’t even hear what they guessed... It was my turn again. “Is it a pony”, I yelled. No, it wasn’t a pony. After 5 minutes of this my Dad grew weary of his game and blurted out, “It’s a truck camper, I bought a truck camper! We jumped up and down and squealed with delight. Later that evening when the the sun was just a glimmer on the horizon, my Mom came to tuck me in. She soltly said, Are you excited about the truck camper? I nodded yes and yawned. As she was leaving the room I said, “Mom, what’s a truck camper.”
Through the years that followed, I developed a love of camping and that wonderful truck camper carried us through unbelievable adventures and experiences. We experienced the south in the height of racial tensions, we were the first vehicle out of the Fairbanks flood and rode the spinning teacups until we were dizzy at a newly opened Disneyland. Such wonderful memories!
“The Camper” Watercolor 3”x5” (SOLD)
Day 21: I had an idea of what I wanted to paint today, so I waited a little longer before heading out. I grew up in West Valley, I know the “lay of the land” or so I thought. If I know where I’m painting, I check an app called Sun Seeker to pin point when the light and shadows will be peak. Today I went old school and went with my inner compass. I arrived past peak. There were still some shadows but I’ll revisit this spot.
I decided to check out some old haunts while I was there. I wanted to see Booger Hall. I used to see it every Sunday on the way to church. It was just a tiny old barn that some teens had claimed as a club house. They painted “Booger Hall” on a sign and nailed it to the front. I was certain the teens were just like Dobbie Gillis and his friends. I got there and it was gone. Then I drove down RT 240 to see the haunted house where the man was carving his own casket in the attic...but... it was gone. My last stop was to the cemetery to see the monument to the man who put real beef in Spam. My Mother used to tell me all about him. He must have been a really nice man because my Mother always smiled while she talked about him...🤔 but I couldn’t find it.
I guess things change, and life creates new stories for the next generation. Booger Hall, the man building a casket and that nice man who put real beef in spam will live always in my memory😉
“The Mill” Watercolor 3”x5” $125