Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Haunted? Egg Hill Church / The Last Painting

Egg Hill Church  / 10x10

The farm-tour day is a long one, at the end of a long trip, and I'm tired. But there's enough light, and enough energy, to paint this beautiful, historic, abandoned - and possibly haunted! - church, on Egg Hill, near State College, PA. 

The road that runs along the church is not paved, and there are no street lights for the one house that stands near the church. The trees are mostly bare, and the warmth that pushed into the middle of the day has thinned to a dusky chill, as the shadows lengthen and spill down the hillside. 
This church is supposedly haunted, the aftereffects of the minister poisoning his congregation during a Halloween-night service. You can read about it by clicking here.  
But the church does not feel creepy. It just feels abandoned and perhaps unloved. It is a fine building, its edges still straight, its roof unbowed. And someone has taken care of the graveyard beside it - which I did not paint. 
Somehow, it feels right that this last painting of the trip has such a story, such an atmosphere. I would never have been able to decide on a landscape, or choose a farm for the final painting. But this church sort of chose me, and I was happy to comply.


SO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? I've put all the paintings up on the Farms and Foliage webpage of Jacobson Arts.  When it's your turn to choose, I will be in touch, and will ship you your painting. I'll move the chosen paintings to a new place on the page, so you will always know what's available. 

If someone chooses the painting you want, please don't despair! I will paint you one like the one that got away, or you can choose another 10x10 painting that I make over the course of the year. Or, you can put your money toward another painting of any size - or another painting trip. And if you have any other ideas, I'm open to suggestions.

Some Stragglers 

Here are some photos I liked, but which never quite made it into the newsletter. Above, I just loved the light in this photograph that I took at an RV park in Connecticut. Below, a cool car I saw at a diner in Hatfield, MA.  

Above, a photo from Big Moose in Hoosick, NY, a total tourist trap - overpriced and filled with cheap (expensive) tourist junk... the stuff I love! I had fun poking around and marveling at what people will pay for something that says "VT" on it (Hoosick is at the NY/VT border). Below, an Amish farmer and his team take a rest in Pennsylvania. 

Above, the sky near New Paltz, NY, on my rainy travel day. The wind was so strong that I had to get off the highway and travel the back roads. Below, me and a moose statue in Maine. 

Dog of the Day 
This is Fluke, the beloved dog of a good friend and sponsor here on the Eastern Shore. Fluke had a tremendous career in agility before having to have surgery on both shoulders in July. She had a long recovery time, and was patient and cheery through weeks of confinement and enforced stillness. When Fluke was allowed to start walking, though, Bonnie noticed that she wasn't bouncing back. She took Fluke to the vet, and the poor girl has been diagnosed with a rare, fatal form of cancer. She's a dear, dear dog, and she and her humans could use your thoughts and prayers.

A Final Thought

Thank you, all of my sponsors, for participating in this trip. It's not only your financial support that I value. I also treasure your interest, your enthusiasm, your input, your delight in my travels and my paintings. I hope that this experience has been good for you so far, and that you're excited about choosing your painting. Again, thank you! 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

MaryJo's Overlook

MaryJo's Overlook / 18x18

My friend Carol has engineered a whole day's worth of Pennsylvania farms to see, photograph, paint - wherever the spirit takes us, and whatever time allows. We stop first at the home of her friend MaryJo, who lives at the edge of a huge, old farm that's been run by the same family for generations. 

Carol relaxes and watches and kibbitzes as I set up to paint. In time, she gets a call from her friend Sam, a photographer who is in the area for a few days. Sam and his driver decide to come over to the farm, and so, in a while, we are joined by them. 

I paint and Sam and Jonathan take photographs, and we talk and laugh and enjoy the beautiful, crisp morning. Then MaryJo and her wife come home, and suddenly, it's a party in the driveway. They are lovely hosts, and they take Sam down onto the farm where he shoots more pictures while I finish the painting. 

Afterwards, we say our goodbyes, and Carol and I head out to continue our farm odyssey. Some of the farms we saw are in the "Scenes from the Road" below. 

Scenes from the Road 

I can't remember where each farm is, though I know all were somewhere near State College, PA. The farms in the area are incredibly beautiful - my guess is that the soil is rich and the people extremely hard-working.

The white farm below - home of the longhorn - is Penn's Cave, which bills itself as "America's Only All Water Cavern and Wildlife Park."

I'm not a huge fan of zoos or wildlife parks, though I have to say this one looked really good, and the animals that I saw looked healthy, and as though they have enough room to live the kinds of lives they would live in the wild.

Dog of the Day

We met this guy - or maybe this girl? - as we drove from one farm to the next. 

A Final Thought

"October's poplars are flaming torches lighting the way to winter." 
- Nova S. Bair

Monday, November 6, 2017

Afternoon in the Churchyard

Afternoon in the Churchyard / 10x10

My trip is drawing to a close as I near my friend's home in State College, PA. Different emotions pull at me, as they always do when a painting trip winds down.

I am tired, tired in my bones, tired in my hands, tired in my eyes, tired in my soul.

I am delighted, thrilled with my paintings, and with the leaps and strides my painting has taken.

I'm empty, drained of ideas, of energy, of the deep drive to keep traveling, keep seeking, keep painting. It's time.

And I'm full, full of color, full of light, full of gratitude for the beauty of the natural world and the incredible opportunity I've had to glide through this fiery landscape and paint.

So it is with this mix of feelings that I get off the highway and pull into this churchyard in Lamar, PA. It seems fitting that I paint a church, say a little prayer of thanks, and of hope for safe travels home, and success with my very last paintings of the trip.

The Black Dirt Region

On my way from Vermont to Pennsylvania, I stopped at the home of some friends in Warwick, NY, and had a delightful evening of ideas and laughter and catching up, and in the morning, before heading out to Pennsylvania, I drove through the Black Dirt area.

The first time I saw this place, I thought farmers had burned the fields, as they did sometimes in Idaho, where we once lived.

But no, it was just the color of the incredibly rich soil, which at one point was a glacial lakebed.

It is a fascinating and incredibly beautiful place - and I do wonder why I didn't stay there for one extra day and paint. But I have a multitude of photographs, and can always paint from them. After all, taking those pictures is a big part of these trips.

Dog of the Day

I saw this moose of a dog in Kittery, Maine, where I stopped to get postcards on my way out of the state. It was a very windy day, and his hair was blowing wildly. I think he liked the wind.

A Final Thought

"Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead
has never watched them dancing on a windy day. "
- Shira Tamir

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Pennsylvania Backroad Farm

Pennsylvania Backroad Farm / 10x10

The storms I passed through spawned a clear, beautiful, chilly morning for my drive from Warwick, NY, to State College, PA. Those warm, golden days of autumn had changed and there was no denying the snap of cold in the morning air.

I left the highway as soon as I could, and bounced along the back roads, looking for farms and foliage and anything else that would make a good painting. As always, the narrowness of the roads, the ubiquitous ditches, the speeding drivers made even photographing farms a challenge, let alone stopping to set up to paint. And on this day, it was windy, which was an extra challenge.

But in time I came to a crossroads with a store on one corner and an abandoned building and parking lot on the other, and was able to situate myself so that I could see the ramshackle barns and the lovely field behind them, and sit in the open side of the van and paint.

West Rutland Art Park

In West Rutland, VT, I rounded a curve on a narrow road and saw a huge human sculpture, wearing rainbow colors, sitting at the bottom of a hill.

When I looked up the hill, I saw more sculptures - and at the driveway, a sign reading "West Rutland Art Park / Public Welcome."

So up the drive I went. There were a handful of sculptures, huge and interesting, framing the landscape and looking at once familiar and alien. At the top of the drive was a great-looking modern house, and a sign indicating that the public road was ending.

The West Rutland Art Park was the brainchild of Barbara and Bill Carris. From what I gather from an Vermont Public Radio story on the park, the Carrises invited nine sculptors to live with them and work on the art for a month, in 2013. One was from Mexico, one from Bulgaria, one possibly from Australia, one from Vermont, and the rest, well, I don't know. But the park was fascinating - and what a great idea! You can check out the West Rutland Art Park Facebook page by clicking here. The photos above and below are sculpture in the park.

Dog of the Day

It's Ollie the collie, who lives with Hope, yesterday's DOD. Ollie is about 8, and Hope maybe 4. As we were leaving, Ollie was at the fence, watching us. Hope came out of the house, noticed that Ollie was distracted, and ran right into him. Ollie took off after her, clearly happy to be loved, played with and knocked around.

A Final Thought

"The tints of autumn... a mighty flower garden
blossoming under the spell of the enchanter, frost."
- John Greenleaf Whittier

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Rain on the Lake

Rain on the Lake /10x10

The clouds hang low and gray this morning, blocking the light, casting a gloom that feels like winter.

I've had days, weeks of glorious autumn weather. I've had crisp, sparkling mornings: warm, sun-rounded days; long, golden afternoons, everything lighting up the incredible, intense autumn colors.

It's been an immersion into painting, into color, into a joyful autumn, a celebration of life and living and the beauty and intensity of nature.

This morning, that youth of autumn has aged, and an older, quieter fall has taken its place. This one knows sadness and death. This one thinks about the coming winter, hibernation, the burial of summer, the leaves turning brown and brittle and falling from the scratching branches. This morning feels like the end of something, and so I stop and paint the first scene I see - and before I am truly done, a cold rain falls and speeds me on my way south.

Scenes from the Road

Above, this sign made me laugh every time I saw it. Is it really necessary to tell people not to sit on the flowers? It made me think of a sign I saw at the Maine Welcome Center -
"Please don't pick through the trash."

Loved this whole yard. Someone had fun! 

Cool gourd! 

I bet these trees, which I saw in Vermont, are heading toward a Christmas tree lot. 

Dog of the Day

It's Hope! She had just been groomed when I met her, and she smelled sweet. What a nice girl. 

A Final Thought

"Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons. "

    - Humbert Wolfe

    Friday, November 3, 2017

    Plymouth Union

    Plymouth Union / 10x10

    I had a charmed and lucky childhood - and I know this for sure, even though I can't remember much of it, not specifically.

    One thing I do remember is that we had a condo on a small ski mountain in Plymouth Union, Vermont. We went there nearly every weekend in the winters for many years. Only now do I realize what a tremendous amount of work this must have meant for my mother.

    At the time, though, it was just fun. We skied, we hung out with friends, and one winter, we lived there. I went to school in Woodstock (this is one of many things that I know happened, but which I can't remember at all).

    What I do remember is the landscape, the shapes of the mountains, the curve of the road along the edge of a lake, the spires of the trees, the quality of the light. No events, few people, only a few days here and there. But the landscapes stay with me, and on this trip, welcome me back.

    I made this painting in the parking lot of what had been a convenience store and gas station near the foot of Round Top Mountain, where we skied and lived. The store is closed and deserted, as is the RV park next door, which I believe is what I painted.

    What I love is the bright flame of yellow, golden, translucent leaves shimmering on the trees behind the ones already bare, already wintry. And I love the colors in the field, picking up the golden light of the air and of the trees.

    Vermont Country Store

    One thing I do remember from my teen years in Vermont is the Vermont Country Store. When we were little, and driving back to Connecticut from Vermont on winter Sundays, we almost always stopped at the Vermont Country Store. Our parents let us get a small bag of penny candy. Now, I realize that that candy was not only a treat but also a way to keep us quiet for most of the drive. (You can see the current candy room in the photo at left).
    At that point, the Vermont Country Store was just one building, and not very large. The double doors opened into a not very well lighted space, longer than it was wide. The floor boards were dusty and worn, and creaked underfoot. The candy counter was off to the left, and you had to tell a man behind the counter what you wanted, and he would put it in a little brown paper bag and let you know your total. My favorites were Mary Janes and Squirrel Nuts, candies I believe I'd avoid now because I'd be so sure they'd pull my fillings out.

    These days, the Vermont Country Store is a powerhouse, with a huge catalog, a big website, and a building that is a conglomeration of additions to that first, original building.

    When I arrive, the large parking lot is jammed. Dozens of people - mostly men - sit in chairs and on benches on the front lawn. Inside, the store is crowded with goods, and people, and their dogs, who apparently are welcome.

    The candy area is now a whole room, and you serve yourself, portioning sweets into that same small brown paper bag. The store goes on from there, with an apothecary room full of soaps and makeup and cure-alls, a sleepware area, a kitchen area and heaven knows what else. It was crowded, and it was hot, and it was emotionally jarring. I bought some candy for Peter, and took my leave.


    Dog of the Day
    Can you see him? He's sitting on the stone wall, just to the right of the sign.

    A Final Thought

    "Listen! The wind is rising and the air is wild with leaves.
    We have had our summer evenings - now for October eves!"
    - Humbert Wolfe

    Thursday, November 2, 2017

    Near Rutland

    Near Rutland / 10x10

    As I drove into Vermont, I found myself doing a thing I'd found myself doing already on this trip - traveling roads I know, going to destinations I've loved.

    I hadn't planned on doing this, and in fact, it came as somewhat of a surprise to me, though now, looking back, I react with an amazed "duh."

    Why hadn't I thought I'd visit my old haunts? Why hadn't I thought I'd go back to places that I lived, homes that I loved, areas that I knew?

    I think that when I was planning the trip, I simply wasn't focusing on my past, or on myself. I was focusing on the present moment, and the trip, and places to go to make paintings that would delight all of you.

    So when I found myself choosing to go toward Bolster's Mills, in Maine; choosing to go to Plymouth Union, in Vermont; choosing, in fact, to go to New England in the first place, when I look back at it, it surprised me - and made me look afresh at these places I once knew so well.

    Rutland and the area around it is one of those places. I found this farm and made this painting on a road I'd never known, but in a place whose light, whose breeze, whose landscape I knew intimately.

    Scenes from the Road

    Yes, it has finally happened - the pre-Halloween Christmas tree. 
    And guess what store I was in when I found this display? 

    Above, a big sneaker on the road in Springfield, MA. 
    I bet it has something to do with the fact that basketball was invented in Springfield? 

    This is the Augusta Civic Center, in Augusta, Maine - and this is basically all of the civic center. It is so tiny, so dinky, it sort of amazes me, and thought you might enjoy seeing it. 

    Dog of the Day

    Really, I do have fun with the Dog of the Day. This rooster and three happy, fluffy chickens live at the farm in Massachusetts where I painted with the Joneses.
    This guy squawked nearly the whole time we were painting.

    A Final Thought

    "Two sounds of autumn are unmistakable ...
    the hurrying rustle of crisp leaves blown along the street ...
    and the gabble of a flock of migrating geese." 
    - Hal Borland