Thing1 texted today that is spring break return this weekend will be the beginning of an extended stay as his schoolmoves to dance learning to respond to this virus that the world health organization now calls a pandemic. The University, like so many other organizations, is recommending “social distancing“. I often think we have too much social distancing in this country already.
While I texted back-and-forth with Thing1 about the logistics of getting his stuff home for an extended stay, I I clicked on Facebook a few times. A fellow artist in town announced that it was plein-air season and she was looking for people to go paint nature. I had too many meetings after work to go paint today, but as she posted another open invitation to any would be painters, I begin mentally assembling my travel kit and checking the weather for the next few days.
Painting outside, for me, means painting alone most the time, but is anything but lonely. Painting outside means communing with bugs and birds. it means meditating on setting Suns or the dozens of colors of green. It means becoming part of the scenery so that you can feel it and try to keep that feeling in your work. It is solitary, but it is never lonely.
A few years ago I used to run. My favorite places to run were our mountain roads, flanked by trees and teeming with life. Like Plein air painting, running was solitary but never lonely. It was feeling morning do on your skin mixing a sweat. It was hearing your feet setting on dirt and dead leaves crackling underneath. It was listening to birds and smaller creatures wrestling in the woods next to The road or path. It was The opposite of distancing. It was getting closer to nature end to life.
So even though I know temporary recommendations for social isolation are probably wise in light of the impact of Corona in other countries with excellent health care access. I do think there is a an antidote do the Loneliness (and fear) it may bring. The answer is to move closer, Not farther, to life. Reconnecting with the natural world seems like one of the better ways to do that.
I had a mountain of paperwork waiting for me at home, so when I got the text last night that a mountain of sand at the top of our driveway was blocking the last 900 feet of my trip home, I groaned. All I wanted to do was to get my work done and go to bed, but suddenly there was time to kill. It wasn’t what I wanted, but it soon turned out to be just what I needed.
I drove around for a little while and finally pulled into the parking lot at the Wayside Country Store 5 minutes from the house. It was well past sundown and the light from the store cast a warm glow on the slushy snow. As I pushed the door open, the smell of roasting chicken blasted my senses, followed immediately by the aroma of baking scones and cookies.
Normally I go to the drinks aisle or the kitchen supplies to grab what I need and go. Tonight, however, I headed toward the deli where the gingham oil cloth-covered roundtable serves as a meeting place for farmers and contractors on their way to work in the mornings and knitters and time-killers like myself in the evenings and on the weekends.
The guy who normally plows our driveway was sitting there, recounting the tale of how the sand came rest at the top of our driveway, and I sat down, suddenly feeling an unexplainable smile emerge. Another friend was sitting at the table listening, and we talked about goings on around town. Talk turned to the quality of heat from the various woodstoves that were waiting for us at home. The sound of food being made in the deli was our background music, and I thought of how rare simple, comfy moments like this are – especially on a work night when the world outside our doors is at odds with itself. And, as suddenly as my schedule had changed, so did my mood as I realized I was glad to have been waylaid at the Wayside.
The day before we left for the hospital, I took down my show at the Oldcastle Theater. I try not to count my chickens before they’re hatched at art shows, but I will admit I was surprised that only one item had sold (I am definitely getting too big for my britches).
they’re 100 different ways to rationalize the results-for the good or the bad-but I’m still looking at it as an overall positive experience. The person curating the show was very nice to meet, and a few people who hadn’t seen my work saw it and sent encouraging feedback.
This is me blowing sunshine. It’s finding the good where I can. And the good is that the paintings will make people at home happy for a little while longer until they go to new homes.
A wet and windy front moved through over the weekend, blowing tons of leaves off the trees. We’re post Peak now, looking towards stick season, which is usually my favorite, but foliage season this year was especially long and glorious. I got this glimpse of the field near our house just before the front moved in and wanted to paint it while the glow is still fresh in my mind.
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The lack of significant snow has produced some dramatic, and, in some cases, romantic mountainscapes this winter. There is more green than white reaching up to the sky, and the bits of snow that remain at the top of the mountain make Mother Earth look as if she’s sleeping, waiting for spring.
I was going north on VT 7, decending from the highest elevation when my favorite perspective of the Equinox came into view. I had sped down to Bennington to get groceries, and the sky was still pink and orange, the clouds leaning over Mother Earth for what seemed to be an early spring kiss. I’m waiting to see if she decides to awaken early.
To purchase the original, contact me at email@example.com. You can purchase cards and/or prints here.
A few weeks ago an aunt who had been a huge influence in my creative life passed away. Her encouragement was felt even when we didn’t see each other for years. She and her sister were (and are) not willing to listen to their nieces and daughters downgrade their work or trash their talent, and her words of encouragement are with me every time I pick up a brush.
I found an old black and white picture of her running on the beach where our family has spent the last 80+ summers. She was so full of joy she looked like she could fly. Officially I’ve heard that people can’t fly, but my theory is that, instead of keeping the secret of flying all to herself, she shared her joy of life with everyone in her life else so they could soar.
I’m just figuring that out now, and it’s helping me get closer to the secret of flying, of joy and the sharing of it..
$80 Matted Ready to Frame. To purchase the Original, contact me at rachel@rachelbarlow.
Card and Prints of this painting are available here.