Built in 1755.
I was fortunate to approach this scene in the spring when the new greens offer such contrast with the old house.
Thanks to Emmett and Bobby Winborne who allowed me to paint their birthplace.
This painting grew from a sketch, a study and a rendered drawing. I felt like a gardener before spring, transplanting little seedlings from pot to pot as I drew, measured, enlarged, and painted. Each time, I trusted the image to materials I made myself.
It is satisfying to brew one’s own ink, cut panels, dissolve rabbit-skin glue and dust for gesso. Taking handmade materials outdoors makes one look more acutely. One of my teachers, Nathan Bertling, used to tell me, “If you love your paper, you’ll love your drawing.” He meant that time spent in preparation makes for good execution.
Much is made these days of “plein air” painting, and often I’m asked, “Did you do that all plein air?” To which I say “Harumph. I was working before I went outside.”
First, I corrected the date given for my show in Edenton next month. It is now to open on Thursday December 4th. The time remains 5:30pm. The volunteers who run the Chowan Arts Council Gallery didn’t want the show to conflict with the lighting of the town Christmas tree.
Second–and as promised–another look at Bunch’s garage, which greets entrants into the town. Last year I made the quick sketch of it in China ink, paying attention almost entirely to the shadows cast by the molding. The building sports a certain posture despite its age, so I returned to the spot, this time to study the texture of the corrugated sheet-metal siding:
The rhythm of verticals in the building’s fabric makes a strong contrast to the contorted oak forms behind. I chose a prepared paper to catch the sense of atmosphere that nourishes the trees and ages the building, because, for the time being, the structure’s age contributes to its dignity. I also abandoned the brush, intending to suggest brittleness with the use of goose and steel pens.
Making a drawing out of a million tiny lines demands an upped tempo and a light touch at once. It asks both draftsman and viewer to see with two faculties that our historical moment hates: aggression and restraint.
That’s the eponymous title of the benefit art show for Riverlink, the non-profit that has cleaned up and made accessible the French Broad River near Asheville. The French Broad is the third oldest river in the world, it flows north, and its beauty has been neatly reduced to little rectangles and hung on walls.
A ticketed event opens the show on October 23rd at Sol’s Retreat, overlooking said river above the New Belgium site. Free public viewing, albeit without live music and bottomless gluttony are available the following two days, 11am-6pm.
You can sample works by some of the exhibitors here. Many are my teachers, and I’m pleased to show my work next to theirs.
Eighty miles west of the Atlantic, twenty miles south of Virginia, and two hundred years past memory, the small Meherrin River joins the Chowan, holder of pirate treasure and backdrop to a few colonial plantations.
No one has heard about this river, because its namesake, the Meherrin Tribe, registered its holdings in the appropriate court house in the 1750s. Individual Meherrins still hold title to ancestral land nearby. With deeds to their land, the Meherrin didn’t have to fight a losing war for their land as did the Tuscarora, whose name graces a beach a few miles downriver.
My teenaged grandfather used to canoe down this river during the Great Depression. He and his friends made their canoes out of castoffs from a veneer factory near Murfreesboro. “They just said, ‘y’all take all that stuff; we don’t want to burn it.'”The only interruption on his trip was the cable that spanned the River at Parker’s Ferry, twenty feet to the right of this view.
They caught fish and cooked them on the banks where they slept. When they had to return to family, chores, church and school, they offered fish to trucks that took the ferry, and the drivers would drop them, canoes and all, near home.
I don’t know how he stood the deer flies. I varnished myself with bug repellent and sustained eighteen bites. And that while wearing canvas pants, coat and hat to paint this picture. Even then part of me was underwater on the ferry ramp so that I could get a view.
You can find a good picture of the ferry in operation here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/06/08/3919675/best-kept-secrets-100-counties.html. Select the picture at bottom right if you follow this link.
Some pictures come from stories. Some occur when the story is over and our work is done and there is peace at the last.
That’s Edenton, of course. Edenton, North Carolina, the county seat of Chowan County, which figures into many of my landscapes. And it is beautiful, too: what with its pre-Revolutionary architecture and its decided lack of world-class golf, five-star this and over-bloated that.
Edenton was founded in the early 18th century, was the seat of the colony’s government, and was overlooked by history in favor of larger ports, railroads and the Dismal Swamp Canal. It sits on the Albemarle Sound, near the mouth of the Chowan River.
People usually ask, “Where is that?” It’s about an hour south of Virginia and an hour west of the Atlantic. Here’s what it looks like:
I’m going to paint the town at an event to benefit the foundation that cares for the 1758 Cupola House on April 25th and 26th. It’s called Easels in the Gardens, and a click here will tell you all about it: http://cupolahouse.org. The town will be at its best. The weather will, too. You can even dance in the middle of Broad Street during the two-day festival.
I’ll be in St. Paul’s churchyard both days from 1pm until 5pm.
Yes, it has a waterfront and historic buildings, Edenton is very much a living community. Drop by and live a little. Directions for cars, planes and boats: http://www.visitedenton.com/directions.