While I was attending the watercolor workshops this past week in the North Carolina mountains, I wanted to go and see the Moses Cone mansion in Blowing Rock. I'd read about it before, but had never visited it until this past week.
Moses Cone and his brother were very wealthy, and they made their fortune during the era when textiles were important to North Carolina's economy. The brothers were very smart, because they recognized the importance of proximity of their raw materials (the local cotton plants) to their final product, (the textiles they manufactured.) Moses Cone became known as the "Denim King." Their mansion is still there in Blowing Rock (see below) but is now a Craft Center for artists' works from six neighboring states. Lots of beautiful pottery, jewelry, woven fabrics, quilts, glass work, etc are for sale in this building.
Two of Moses Cone's youngest sisters, Claribel and Etta, were fortunate enough to be able to travel, and they befriended Gertrude Stein and her coterie of ex-patriot friends in Paris. The sisters met a young man named Pablo Picasso and liked his art work. It happened that Pablo was enamored of cartoon comic strips, and they traded some of these cut-out comic strips for some of his art work! Over time, they amassed a huge collection of paintings by the likes of Cezanne, Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, Gaugin, and they ultimately donated a fortune in their art to the Baltimore museum of art.
It's a tribute to their sense of taste that they gravitated towards these artists before they were known as "artists." They just liked what they saw and wanted to enjoy it! (Below is the view over the hillside from the Cone mansion porch.)
The grounds around the mansion are now a park with walking trails. We saw people riding horses along the hills as well. It's a beautiful spot--if you ever visit the area, you should go see it for yourself. It's a lovely place!
"Art is the desire of a man to express himself, to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in." (-Amy Lowell)
Tomorrow is my older sister, Mary Kate's birthday--Happy Birthday, MK!! xo sue
Joe and I ventured off to the western part of North Carolina for a few days, into the beautiful Appalachian mountains, where I attended a mini-watercolor workshop "sampler" at Cheap Joe's Art Stuff. In other words, I had classes with several different instructors for just a portion of a day apiece. I sometimes forget just how beautiful North Carolina is, and these past few days were a good reminder of how gorgeous the mountains are.
Now, in all honesty, "realistic" painting is not what I'd like to learn the most. I gravitate more towards looser, freer styles, (and that wasn't the focus of these workshops) but I still enjoyed these classes immensely, and learned a great deal about all sorts of things. Several days beforehand, I dutifully sketched out the (above) image we were supposed to paint in class, and although most people had huge sheets of paper before them, I was more than happy with my 9" x 12" Canson block. (Large enough for me at this point--I can barely draw/paint, let alone draw/paint large!) Much later, I realized that that teapot is supposed to be much "taller" than I made it! That's the kind of thing I prefer not to have to worry about!
But let's just say that now, if called upon to do so, I can probably render silver in watercolors and make it look believable.
One of my instructors was Anne Abgott, who's written a book called Daring Color, and she's not kidding. She has a bold approach to painting with color, and mingles colors together on the page for a luminous effect that I liked a lot. After I met her, I realized I have her book at home! But since I tend to have hundreds of watercolor books, that shouldn't have surprised me in the least. Below is Anne's effective example of painting only the shadows of an image in a negative painting, as she demonstrates the way shadows tend to flow into one another.
Since our home was slated to have temps nearing 100 the past few days, it was heaven to near the mountains, even though the first day or so was rainy--soon enough, the clouds parted and the sun burst forth, with breezes and lush green color. And no mosquitoes!
Joe relaxed while I went off to classes, and then we went out to explore this pretty part of our state for a day or so. (I had read about the Moses Cone mansion, near Boone and Blowing Rock, which is now a Craft Center featuring beautiful artwork from neighboring states, and I'll tell you more about that in a later post. The Cones were a fascinating family I'd read about years ago, and you may know about them, but I'll tell you more about them soon!)
In the meantime, I am going to try to practice some of what I learned, and this workshop will give me more confidence for the one I'll be attending in Maine later in the summer.
"Life is a train of moods like a string of beads; and as we pass through them they prove to be many-colored lenses, which paint the world their own hue, and each shows us what lies in its own focus." (-Ralph Waldo Emerson.)
It's been one of those wonderful, lazy summer weekend days today:
I confess, I didn't do a bit of weeding in the garden, which I should have done.
Well,... I did mow the lawn, (since Joe is mending after arthroscopic knee surgery.) But we started the day with decadence-- french toast for breakfast, along with plump strawberries, syrup, and whipped cream. (It's the weekend, right?)
For a good bit of the day, we sipped lemonade, relaxed, read the Sunday New York Times, and quietly watched the birds fly back and forth to the feeders. I clipped flowers for vases all over the house.
Joe and I are babysitting "the kids"--Olivia and Winston. (Joe always teases that the two of them put together might equal one complete dog.)
They've actually behaved quite well. Olivia likes to curl up behind Joe on his chair, and she'd be pretty content to sleep there with him almost all day long if he let her. I don't think she'd care if he never moved.
Winston, on the other hand, likes me to harness him up and venture into the Great Outdoors, where he can sniff and nuzzle every flower, leaf, and blade of grass to his heart's delight. To see the two of them, you'd think visiting Joe and me is a pretty exciting adventure!
When I took Winston out for one last walk this evening, we saw fireflies flitting around the yard in that magical way they do, blinking like little fairies in the dimming skies.
It brought back memories of summers as a little kid, catching those little guys and putting them, with leaves, into Mason jars, with holes poked into the lids. We'd watch them lighting up the sky, and finally we'd let them go, out into the steamy night.
In Defense of Fireflies:
Of a starlike start they are accused as if a star was ever used to combat cancer, or to lure phosphorescent mate, secure.
Since when were fireflies meant to stay? They propogate and fly away and now you cannot find them in a single field or north woodland.
Surely I'm not the only person who glances furtively at other peoples' grocery carts in the checkout line, right?
I tend to be one of those people who really does "shop the perimeter aisles of the store," meaning that I buyfresh food and produce, and limit my purchases in those inside lanes that cater to packaged, processed foods with tons of additives that have a shelf life of 100 years, because they're mostly chemicals anyway. I like to purchase certain things in certain stores: Fresh Market gets my vote for gourmet items, but Lowe's is fine with me for paper products. The Farmer's market is the best for local, fresh produce.
And ok... I sometimes like to buy pretty fresh flowers, or try those orange/ginger flavored almonds I saw at Whole Foods. (I admit it, sometimes I'm an impulse buyer.)
Joe likes to race into a grocery store on a mission, with specific items in mind. (He loves it if I give him a list.) No browsing; he snaps things up at the speed of light, scopes out the shortest checkout lane, and checks out as fast as possible, already planning where he'll stop off for a cuppa' on the way home. He doesn't read labels, he never reads what the fat content is in any item, and he likes to know where items are so he can head right to them. He'd much rather dash home and tune in to the latest international soccer game on TV. Cracks me up.
Not me: I like to investigate what new foods are there, and think of new things to try in the kitchen. I like to get to know the fishmonger, the bakery folks, the butcher, who can tell me what to do with certain cuts of meat. I think nothing of asking for a sample at the deli counter--what do they have those little tiny spoons for, anyway?
But finally, most of all, I find it extremely entertaining to watch people throughout the store, and especially at the checkout counter: I like to try to figure out what meals they might fix with the things they have overflowing in their grocery carts. Sometimes, I'll get good ideas for my own future purchases, watching what things they've selected...
...and sometimes, I can't imagine what they'll put together from what they have in those carts. The other day, a woman in front of me had a cart filled with: Cocoa Puffs, Krispy Kreme donuts, french-fried onion rings, bacon, Wonder bread, and a gallon of milk.
"Many doctors pay their grocery bills with the money of folks who have eaten too much." (--Unknown)