Sunday, February 27, 2011


When I paint in the woods I refer to it as "painting in the interior" as opposed to the fields and open spaces. It is the hardest painting I do because of all the stuff. It is a hodge podge of shapes and values and pieces and light and confusion. It takes filtering. And time. And patience. Three very distinct deficiencies in my personality and life. So... I have decided to make an effort to include it in my routine because when it is done it is gorgeous. I have seen some Aspevig interiors that are so spot on that you can smell the woods and see that wonderful diffused light that permeates everything under the canopy that is created by the tree tops. And for filtering and putting the EXACT number of strokes necessary to say what needs to be said, nobody does it better than Marc Hanson. He can filter and put the perfect stroke right where it needs to be to say everything that needs to be said. Nails it.
I have been painting in the Cheatham Wildlife Management area between hunting seasons there. They have 20,000 acres of interiors. Lots of hardwood timber on ridges and in hollows. If you go make sure its during the periods where there is no hunting or the wildlife officers there will make sure it's the most expensive painting trip you have ever been on.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow....

I have been taking a little heat lately because with all the snow we have had here in Middle Tennessee I have implied that I could stand a little more. Didn't go over so well. I understand that when your kids will be going to school on July the 4th and the tow truck drivers around here are starting to shop for property in Belle Meade you may be kind of tired of it. I understand that. But there is still something illogical about me that would like another snow storm tonight. I love walking in it, hunting in it, painting in it, and especially driving in it. Yeah, driving in it. I know. I think I may enjoy the cold and snow because I have never had to deal with real snow and cold. The kind that covers the windows on your house and lands in October and stays until May. I went to Door County Wisconsin once and as I stood gazing at the Green Bay one of the locals told me, "yeah, you can drive across it in your truck in January."
It's a Bay. A big one. Sheesh.
If you really want to get a chill, read The Endurance. It's the story of Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic expedition in 1914. After arriving in the Antarctic area, their ship, the Endurance, was trapped in the pack ice and eventually crushed, crushed, by the ice. They walked for miles dragging and carrying their lifeboats and equipment until reaching open water where they endured some of the most brutally cold conditions I have ever heard of humans enduring. All before the advent of Gore-tex and Thinsulate. The descriptions of the cold and ice they suffered is unbelievable. Did this for months and months over thousands of mile. A testament to the resilience of the human species.
The piece above was done on the last day we had snow and as I painted it the snow in it was completely gone by the time I had finished and I haven't seen any since. Sigh.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"Well My Mama's Not Here Now, Is She?"

And it's a good thing because she never would have allowed me to scale a 30ft. limestone bluff into a raging river gorge. And Kay Keyes Farrar's mom wasn't there either so she went with me.
Was it worth it? After the edge of the initial adrenaline surge subsided, yeah, well worth it.
We were painting with the Chestnut Group Saturday in an area right outside Cookeville Tennessee called Cummins Falls. It was bought by a private land owner who gave the Tennessee Parks and Greenway Foundation a year to generate enough money to purchase it and save it for posterity.
Enter, the Chestnuts.
They will be having a show on the 24th of February at the Belle Meade Mansion to raise funds for the purchase so we are making an effort to get out there and paint it.
If there is anyone out there who is going to try and get to the bottom of the falls, be prepared, there is no easy way to do it. We had initially began to hike but ran into some hikers who said maybe up to an hour to get in plus a knee deep river crossing three different times. We bailed. On the way back we noticed an area on the bluff that didn't look so "bluffy". We contemplated the climb about two seconds and then over the edge we go. There were a couple of areas at the top that had a pretty high "pucker" factor and after that it was just a matter of keeping your footing. Someone before us had the foresight to tie ropes at the lower areas so you could climb back out. Had they not been there it would have been a lot of muddy hands and knees climbing at the bottom. Oh, and I wouldn't suggest doing this with your gear on your back. Maybe lower it with ropes, then climb.
Once down there though, it was gorgeous. Boulder strewn river gorge, huge sheer bluffs on both sides, and the roar in your whole body of the falls at the end. The photos I had seen of it didn't even come close to the magnitude and weight and scale of this place. And being there as a light snow fell was perfect. Absolutely perfect.
After climbing back out and a little coffee, provided by the parks folks (Thanks!), we painted along the river at the top and then home that afternoon with nothing more than a little mud on our clothes. With the drive only an hour and a half it's not a bad day trip. Hopefully it will wind up in the hands of the Parks and Greenway Foundation because when you're there you realize how unique this is and what a jewel it is for our state.