Friday, November 11, 2016

The Final Blog Post

Near Livingston, 14x14

It was a gorgeous afternoon, and I wanted one more painting from Montana, so I stopped and made this one, outside of Livingston. A guy who looked at it said it's a famous part of the range, and that locals say you can see Jesus sleeping in the mountain peaks. I can't, but he pointed out what he saw, and that made me happy. 


SPONSORS, THIS IS THE final blog post.

I will put more photos from the trip on our Facebook page, and you are all invited to go there, check them out, let me know what see and think.

The choosing will start in the next day or so, and here's how it will work. I'll send you an email, and you can go to the Big Skies Painting Trip page on the Jacobson Arts website  and pick from the available paintings. Right now, all the 10x10s are available, but as you choose them, I'll move them from "available" to "claimed." All I ask is that you make your decision as quickly as you can. I think some people are giving the paintings as holiday presents, so I'd like to wrap this all up by mid-December, if we could. 

I'm hoping that everyone gets the painting that they want, but if you someone takes the painting you were dying to have, I have many options for you. 

  • I can remake the painting you wanted. It probably won't be exactly the same, but will have the same feel, same colors, same spirit. 
  • I can make a new painting for you from one of the photographs I've posted in the newsletters, on the blog or on the Facebook page. 
  • You can wait and choose any 10x10 that I make in 2017. 
  • You can have $125 off any larger painting, including paintings from this trip, or a dog portrait, or whatever you choose. 
  • You can hold off and have a sponsorship in my next trip. I already have my first sponsor for that trip, but you could be No. 2. 
  • And finally, if you're totally in love with one of the paintings, please let me know which one ASAP - before I contact you about making your choice. Like, let me know now, today, this minute! If someone chooses that painting, the one you HAVE to have, I would be OK with letting that person know that someone else is crazy about it, and asking if they would be willing to let it go and choose another. Sponsors, if you get an email like this from me, please be honest. I will keep everything anonymous, and no feelings will be hurt. If you have chosen a painting and someone else wants it, and you don't want to give it up, just let me know. There's no harm or shame in it, and I promise that the other person will end up happy. That's what I want, folks, is for all of you to thoroughly enjoy the trip and the process, and the painting you receive. 
Questions? Ideas? Please let me know. My email is, and my phone is 860-442-0246.

Scenes from the Road

I thought you all might like to see my set-up. Sometimes I sat in the open door on the side of the van, but mostly, I stood, painting at the back of the van like this. 

I think they had a few extra letters and just put them on the sign. 

The Final Painting 

Nebraska Fields, 10x10

This was the last painting of the trip, and it might be the one I like the best. It's the one that shows me what I can do and hints at what is possible. I was excited when I finished it, and I sent it to Peter, and after I did, realized that I hadn't told him what it was - and he might not be able to figure it out. And then, much to my amazement, I realized that I didn't care - that even if he didn't know what it was, it still was a very cool, very beautiful painting. 

Dog of the Day

It's Koko, above and, below, with Abby and Lulu. Doc and Woody are around somewhere, too, and they were just as happy to have me home as the girls were! 

From Here to There and Back

With the West in the rearview mirror, I headed east, until I hit Wachapreague, 
below, with the Atlantic just beyond that beautiful salt marsh. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Heading East, Near Manhattan and Autumn Stream

Heading East

I'm home now, and I'm glad to be here. It's great to be home, to be with my husband and our dogs, to see my friends and my hometown, sleep in my own bed, eat home-cooked food, be grounded again. The trip brought me to places I loved, and to which my soul responded. It brought me to a new level of painting. It filled me with joy and excitement, adventure and accomplishment. And it left me exhausted and depleted. 

But I have slept and rested and slept some more. I've snuggled and been coddled and been given the best of welcomes. By now, the van is mostly unloaded, and the paintings are in the studio (there's a photo below of all the small ones, and a few of the larger ones). I've made a larger painting from the one just below, Near Manhattan. I'm scheduled to paint on site on Wednesday with the Eastern Shore Art League. 

So life is picking up again, the rhythms re-establishing, the breath of life here on the shore going in and out like the tide, like the wind, like the seasons. 

I'm glad to be here, and I need to be here, but I miss the West, the huge skies, the tantalizing colors, the thrill and pull of standing, small and insignificant in that monumental landscape and painting all day, until I couldn't make one more stroke, one more blend of colors, one more rich swipe at the canvas. 

It came to me that in that landscape, with the views that stretch forever, and the sky that seems impossibly large, and the hills and folds and wrinkles in the earth that seem to have been there since time immemorial, in that vast and open landscape, life itself seems infinite. Though I feel like a speck of dust in the enormity of this land, I also feel invincible, connected truly and strongly to something eternal, a voice that calls deep into my soul, and expects an eternal answer. And my soul does answer, singing its heart's song, true and free, in echo and response. 

Near Manhattan, MT


Montana Autumn Stream, 18x36

This is one of the larger pieces. Made it near Dillon, Montana.

 Here are some scenes of Dillon, Montana, which looked to be a pretty cool town. The town's website is having some trouble, apparently, but is still pretty interesting. Wikipedia says the town was named for the president of the Union Pacific Railroad, and that the population was about 4,000 in 2010. I'd have thought it was much more than that, judging from the downtown.

The railroad apparently chose to put a town at Dillon's location because it made sense in terms of shipping gold from the mines. The rush began in 1862 and lasted into the 1930s. There are cattle a plenty in the area, and at one point, Dillon was a major exporter of sheep. Forbes magazine named it one of America's prettiest towns in 2010. I don't know that I'd go that far, but it is a nice-looking place, with wide streets and some lovely homes and commercial buildings.

If you make the above photo larger (and sorry for the tilt, it's one of the ones that I can't seem to straighten. Iphoto shows it straight inside the program, but when I export it, it ends up tilted again. Sorry! ) But... Below the "Welcome to Dillon" sign, and around the tipped scales of justice are the words ""Unfair City Government." 

I just had to find out. So at 9:20 in the morning, I went into the bar and found it dismayingly full (below). I talked to Beverly, above, who explained that her husband John, who owns the bar, had wanted a lighted sign on the building. She said he went to city hall to get a permit, and was told they weren't allowing any more. 

A few months later, McDonald's came to town, and got the same kind of sign John said he'd been denied. He went back to city hall and says he was told that McDonald's had slipped through the cracks and it was too bad, but he couldn't have his sign. So he had the wall of his bar painted, and Beverly says she thinks it was worth every penny of the $850 it cost. 

I've been sober for almost 30 years by now. I wanted to jump up on the bar and tell these people to wise up and quit drinking before it was too late. But I didn't. I just said a little prayer of gratitude and got the heck out of there.  

All in One Place

Well, all of the 10x10s, and a few of the larger ones. I think it's exciting! 

Dog of the Day

It's Phillip, Dillon's town mascot! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Side of the Road and Autumn in Melrose

Side of the Road

In my reluctance to leave the Wisdom area, I drove back roads, I soaked in the October air, watched the sky, looked at cows and horses and electric-colored trees - and painted. 

I made these paintings in the megalopolis of Melrose, Montana, a tiny town between Butte and Dillon. Lots of cows, a hotel with cabins and RV spaces, a fly shop, and the Big Hole River, winding through it all. I saw a volunteer fire station, houses, ranches and not much else. The population in 2014 was 138 - more than Wisdom's 98 but less than Wachapreague's 232.                                                                                                                   I don't think a single car passed me in the hours that I stood at the side of the road and made these paintings. The day was cool, the sun was warm and the heavy clouds softened the edges of the rocks, and brought out the deep, rich colors of the land. 

Autumn in Melrose

More of Melrose

Above, lots and lots and lots of cows in Melrose. I'd wager that cows easily outnumber people.

Above, the volunteer fire department in Melrose, Montana. 
Below, a cool door on the fly shop in Melrose. 

Dog of the Day

Here's Tiny, who's best friends (well, sort of) with Tanner, DOD from yesterday. Here's how their relationship works: Tiny will be sitting there, minding his own business, and Tanner will come up and bark, bark, bark, bark, bark - until Tiny finally leaps up, snarls and chases Tanner around the yard or house. Then Tiny goes back to relaxing, Tanner spends some time doing something else, and then the entire cycle starts all over again. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Last Look and Yellow Trees

Last Look at the Big Hole

Since I'm home, it feels right to send out a couple paintings in each of the remaining newsletters, so we can get to the choosing more quickly. I thought about posting all the rest of the paintings in this newsletter, since they're already up on the Jacobson Arts website, but there are things to say about each of them, and so I am going to string this along for a little big longer.

These final few paintings are probably the most emotional of the trip. I was feeling tired and lonely and so far from home - but I was exhilarated by what I was seeing and what I was painting, and as always with these paintings trips, I didn't want the journey to end.  All of that shows up in these pieces, I think. It shows in the brilliant colors that pulled so strongly on my heart. It shows in the wide, free splashes of paint I put on the canvas, and how I loved the silky feel of those mixed colors, those random melanges. It shows in the details I decided to allow and the many more that I decided to let pass. This trip brought me to a place of ease, excitement and freedom in my painting that I'd never experienced, and it shows in all the paintings, but especially, I believe, in these final ones. 

And I'd be leaving out part of the story if I didn't mention how very scared I was, with each piece, that the thing I found I could do - and which I did do - would suddenly be gone. 

Yellow Trees
These yellow trees, whatever they were, cottonwoods or tamaracks or aspens, they were the visual extravagance of this trip. They were the glitter, the glitz, the sparkle of this autumn landscape, and I fell in love with them. This particular grove was in Divide, on the way to Wisdom. I saw it on the trip in, and had to go back and find it on the trip out. It was so very windy, however, that I had to paint inside the van. I'm going to make a large version of this painting very soon, before the memory of the shine and flash of these trees fades.

Scenes from the Road 

Saw this marvelous painting, above, in a store in Wachapreague. Below, the sign on the door of the gas station: "Open til Closed / 8 or 9 to 5 or 6 / Closed when door locked." 
p.s., the gas station is for sale... 

Just a pretty scene near Divide, east of Wisdom. 

Above, the Crossing, the only restaurant in town. Below is Shale, my wait person, who just earned her master's degree in Emergency Management and Disaster Resiliance at Tulane in New Orleans. She'd come back to Wisdom because her grandparents have a ranch just outside of town, and she'd spent nearly every summer of her life there, so it seemed like a good place to gather herself together and figure out where to look for work and start on her career.  

A nice sculpture outside the gallery in Wisdom. 

Dog of the Day

It's Tanner, a sweet little dog who lives with a couple in Omaha who collect my art, and sponsored me on this trip. Next time, you'll meet Tiny, Tanner's doggie housemate. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Heading Home

Heading Home

The Wisdom area resonates in me, for reasons I can't explain or even really understand. I have the same reaction to it as I have to Wachapreague, where we live. The songs that these places sing, they are the songs that my soul hears. It has to do with the breadth of the visible landscape, the size of the sky, the colors and topography, the quality of the light and the way all this comes together. 

I was delighted that my response to the area was the same this trip as the previous one, seven years ago. And it was hard for me to leave. I'm thankful that the hotel had no room for me, or, who knows, I might be there still. 

As it is, I am home, in Wachapreague. I have a few more newsletters to send to you, a few more paintings to unveil. In the meantime, if you want to see all the paintings I made on the trip, you can click here to reach the Big Skies paintings page on the Jacobson Arts website! 

Instrument House

I don't really know what else to call this place! All over it, all over the yard, the fence, the driveway, all over parts of the house and the garage, there were, well, instruments. Implements. Machines. Models. Stuff. Cool, painted, whimsical stuff. I wanted to go up to the door and ask about it, but in sharp contrast to the fun nature of the decorations, there was a scary black and red Do Not Enter / No Trespassing sign, so I refrained.

Dog of the Day

I had to do it, just once!