Vagabonding

Before I settle down to a summer’s work it’s good to do a little gypsy roaming.  I just had a great break from my routine, exploring Provence.  At first I enjoyed the companionship of wonderful friends at Le Beaucet in a  delightful country home. We saw the sights, enjoyed the regional foods and wines, and were expertly guided, tended and fed by Mary James and Xavier (www.maryjames.net) . In my journal I made a list of sounds and sights and smells that were especially vivid.  And of course, tastes.  There were many.  It was a sensual feast from morning until …

a tender moment

Early June is about as paradisical as North Carolina gets.  There are thousands of flowers around me– probably a hundred roses that I can see from my kitchen window.  The first tomatoes have just appeared in the garden.   There are glossy eggplants and cool cucumbers.  It’s steamy and overwhelming at midday, but gentle and ravishing at 7a.m.  I often end up planning a trip to somewhere else in June, and missing a portion of this time.  What bad planning I always end up telling myself. The Ruin has reached a lovely state of maturity.  The rock walls I built …

strawberry moon

Tonight my brother called and invited me to pick my own strawberries.  His patch has reached the point where it’s scantily filled and not worth hiring labor to pick it.  So, at dusk I went to take a look.  He told me that the end of season berries are the best.  He was telling the truth.  I ate the first strawberry I picked and it was the best  I had ever tasted.  His fruit has the added benefit of being organic, making the flavor even more intense. I picked until it grew so dark I couldn’t tell which ones were spoiled. …

John Borden Evans at Christa Faut Gallery

Last night John Borden Evans opened at the Christa Faut Gallery. It was great to see his newest work in the company of his many friends and fans here in the area. His work always has a strong resonance for me, because we have both chosen rural lifestyles and our environments have much in common. John often creates diptychs. I recall one from a show several years ago that was immense, and divided in two parts so it could be transported. In this exhibition he had one diptych that was a small work on paper, and another that was midsized. …

subject matter

The newest piece on the easel is a large painting I started a month ago.  It’s been a slow and delicious process bringing this piece together.  It’s slow, because I’m using tiny brushes on a large surface to create the kind of texture I want.  It’s delicious because it’s about very early spring and the colors involved have the aura of magic about them– delicious because it reminds me of earlier times.  Its edge is its subject matter.  It’s a painting about a barn.  I tend to shy away from barn painting because that subject is so hackneyed and sentimental …

Leonardo Drew at the Weatherspoon

A couple of weeks ago, I took an evening off and went to Greensboro to a workshop at the Weatherspoon.  There was a short component for teachers, followed by a kind of community-wide invitation to make a sculpture– or three, to be exact.  My one word description of the evening was “fun”. The current exhibition of the installations and sculptures of Leonardo Drew were the jumping off place for the workshop.  The work is very dense and rich.  The palette is restrained– the white of paper, the red of rust, the brown of wood.   Much of the work is compartmentalized– assemblages …

Small pleasures

An unusually deep snow fell here over the weekend.  It greeted the beginning of the weekend–starting just a few moments after I left school, and quickly and magically covered my whole world.  I stopped for provisions, filled the woodbox before dark fell, and planned to be forced to relax, eat well, and paint for a few days, without interruption. All that happened.  The days that were gray made the woods look soft and mysterious.  I’ve been challenged, in my paintings, to figure out how to represent the dove grays of the woods– so thick that no light shows through–tiny limbs …

The Party of the Season

I would never have predicted that the Party of the Season would be tonight–with my family– in “the deep midwinter”.  But it was. My brother and sister in law, Grier and Kim, threw a party tonight on their farm, while my family was all gathered for the funeral of my dear aunt,Betty.  It was a party full of good will, humor,and reminiscence.  I don’t expect to see its match for a long time– until we are all gathered again.  Tonight would have been the 50th birthday of my cousin Homer Harris Ragan– Hobey.  He died at 48 of lung cancer. …

New Day

It’s a new day in a new year, beginning a new decade.  I’m grateful for that.  We talked today, at Kim and Grier’s table, over blackeyed peas and collard greens, about how we all, in our own ways, managed to miss the clock turning over.  But I think we all felt keenly this invitation to newness and change. I marked the close of last year by writing out my intentions for the coming year.  This is much more productive than making resolutions.  I’m bad at resolution-keeping.  But if I name an intention it rides around in  my unconscious mind all …

White Christmas

A snow day in the balmy North Carolina of global warming times is a rarity.  I have always loved this experience.  The highway grows quiet.  The wood stove snaps and pops and talks back, baking one end of the den.  The cat sleeps the whole day.  Crystals are on all five million tiny tree branches.  Black crows come out to bring some contrast.  If I’m up early, the sky throws in some color– pink and yellow.  This year it’s happening just before Christmas. In North Carolina these rare snowfalls are considered excuse enough to retreat and give in to hot …