Sunday, March 15, 2015

Home Through the Storms

Home Through the Storms / 10x10

If I want to miss a place, all I have to do is leave. Soon enough, I start looking ahead, but before that, the act of separating - from a place or from a person - churns up a mix of longing and regret that has brought me to tears more than once. 

This feeling creeps up on me, like a cold breeze pushing in under a door, as I leave Fort Defiance. Even with the feelings of distance and difference, I find myself wishing I were staying - and wondering, in fact, why I am not. I have a few spare days. I could stay in Fort Defiance, or I could go back to Tubac - but I push on, and as I do, I find my eagerness to see what's ahead. 

As it turns out, it's a very good thing that I leave when I do. I end up having to stay for a couple days twice - once in Tucumcari, NM, and the second time in Morrilton, AK. As I look back at the country, and my drive, I see that my leaving when I did was propitious. If I'd left a couple days later, I'd have been forced to drive in storms the entire way. I'm not crazy about holing up in hotels, but if it keeps me safe, it is OK.

AS I FINISH writing this blog entry, I am at home, sitting at the kitchen table in Wachapreague. Peter's still in bed, but he will be up soon, and we'll have Sunday breakfast and continue to be grateful and happy that I am home. Outside, it's chilly, but warm enough to leave the back door open, and the dogs are having fun going in and out. 

I loved this trip, and it has surprised me. My previous trips have been sheer joy, by and large, and while I didn't have expectations of this trip, the expectation of joy generally frames my days. Joy came to me in the paintings from this trip, in the interactions I had with you all, and in the beautiful scenery and the unfolding journey through this vast and unexpected country. 

But it was not all joy. I didn't expect the deep feelings that came to me this trip. I didn't expect to miss my mother so much. I didn't expect to miss my youth so clearly, or feel my age so sharply. I didn't expect the sadness and feelings of apartness that washed over me on the reservation. I didn't expect to be so surrounded by poverty and neglect.

Still, it was all OK. Better than OK, really. It was good. The experience has given me a world to consider, and a depth to remember and keep as a wellspring for my paintings, and my living and my understanding of life. 

I have been grateful to all of you every day, for helping me create this trip, for supporting me on it and for riding along with me. Thank you. Your sponsorships mean the world to me. 


THIS WEEK, I'll send a post with the paintings from which the lottery will choose, and I'll pick that winner, and the winner of the books and calendars, as well. I'll also finish posting the paintings on the Origins Painting Trip page of the Jacobson Arts website

And then I will be in touch with you individually, and you'll choose your paintings in the order in which you signed up. When a painting has been chosen, I'll mark it as chosen on the website. If someone has chosen the painting you love, I'm happy to paint it again for you. And if you have other ideas, we can talk. So far, the sponsors of my trips have all gotten the paintings that they had hoped to get. 


HERE ARE SOME random thoughts from the trip:

Somewhere in Oklahoma, I start to see water in creeks and ponds along the road. It is utterly shocking, after being in Arizona for a month. It's like seeing gold nuggets scattered on the sidewalk. Living in the East, we don't think much about water and how precious it it, but my shock at these free bits of water seemed to put it in perspective.

I see some funny name-signs that I can't get photos of.

  • Fish Wash is a creek on the reservation, and I find that name hysterical. 
  • Hungry Mother State Park, Virginia
  • Toad Suck, Arkansas
  • Bucksnort, Tennessee
  • A license plate that reads IMLOST. 
Yes, indeed, I see all these things - for real! - on this trip.

You can get books on CD at Cracker Barrels! For the first one, you pay the price of the CD - about $40, then a $3 rental. From then on, you can trade your book on CD for another, at any Cracker Barrel, for $3. Isn't that great? 

It is a joyful surprise to get to the spot on the trip where the buttons on my radio bring in the stations I've set for them. It's great - even though when I do reach this point, my least favorite show of all - The Thomas Jefferson Hour - is just starting on our local NPR station. 

I can't solve all the problems of the world, and though I am drawn to acting as if I can, I can't. Furthermore, the world's problems are not necessarily my problems. If I solve my own problems, I should have time, energy and funds to help others who have taken on the world's problems.

HERE ARE SOME random pictures from the drive home:

Aren't these great? I cycled back to get a photo, just outside of Albuquerque. 

A storm coming in eastern New Mexico. It kept me in Tucumcari for a couple days. 

Texola, on Route 66 on the border of Texas and Oklahoma, now has a population of 17, according to an Oklahoma state trooper. I'm assuming that doesn't include the cats. At one point, before I-40 was built, it was a happenin' place. Now, it is sinking - or has sunken - into disrepair. Below, a remnant of the good times. The gas station isn't open, but someone loves this little spot. 

I saw this beautifully painted little shed outside of Shamrock, Texas

Not a great photo, but this was the only herd of pronghorn antelope I saw the entire trip. They were far, far away, along I-40 in Oklahoma. I got off to take a photo, and the instant after I shot this, they were 200 yards farther away, and widening the gap fast. 

Tucumcari, NM has a bunch of great old motels, wildly painted buildings, 
and some fantastic murals like the one below, on a True Value hardware store.  

I was stuck during another storm in Morrilton, Arkansas. At the hotel, I met Vicky, who sells advertising space in a funeral-home guide. She is 72, an actress and an artist, and a great, good soul. 

A sad ps. I received an email from Vicky this morning; she got word, days after we met, that her husband was ill. She drove like crazy to get home, and made it in time. He died two days later. 


Dog of the Day

Yes, the final dog of the day is the dog of my heart, Jojo. It's so great to be home! 


I'M ALREADY THINKING about another trip, and talking with a friend about making it a truly different experience, for everyone! And while I don't want to commit to anything yet, or give away any surprises, let's just say that this final painting might turn out to have some significance. 

In the meantime, I hope that you all will sign up to receive my regular blog - The Accidental Artist - by email. It's easy to do - just click here to reach the blog, then look to the right and put your email address in the "Get the Blog by Email" box! I post my new paintings there, and you can keep up with my shows and my journey. 

Sponsors, again, thank you all so very much. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

New Mexico Snow

Morning Snow, oil on canvas, 10x10

A storm rolls in behind me to Tucumcari, NM. It has wind and ice and snow, and it forces me to stay in a hotel there for a couple days. I sleep almost all of my first day there - I always forget how exhausting these trips are - and then I sleep 10 hours the next night. That morning I think it might be safe to leave, but it's snowing a little still, and I decide to stay another night. Later that day, I find out there's been a 26-car crash on I-40, just where I'd have been, just about when I'd have been there. 

The morning I leave, I stumble onto Route 66. I drive along, delighted with the great old motels, wishing I'd have stayed in one of them! In places, Route 66 just vanishes, and you're forced onto I-40. In some spots, I find odd dead ends and spurs, and this is one of them. 

A yellow field stretches out before me, spotted with snow. The storm is moving on, gone just enough that I can stop to paint. It will catch up to me again in Arkansas, and then again in Memphis. In all these cases, I miss the most dangerous moments, the deadly stretches, the ice storms that trap people in their cars for hours and hours, cause 18-wheelers to spin out and topple over, and I am grateful for my safe journey. 

Around the Area

  Here are some of the cool remnants of the heyday of Route 66, in Tucumcari, NM.

OK, this might be THE photo of the trip. I've cropped it below so that you can see it better. I mean, I can't believe I found the Acme Brick Company! I grew up on Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote - and Here It Is! Acme Brick Company!

Silos and barn under a big Texas sky.

The Truth bus. 

I don't pretend to understand this, but I think it's fun and funky and 
sort of beautiful, in an odd, bath tubby kind of way. 
A gorgeous sunset outside of Shamrock, Texas. 

Young cows kick up their heels on a cold day in Arkansas. 

And yes, these are daffodils! It WILL be spring! 

Dog of the Day
This dog is near the Truth bus, outside of Morrilton, Arkansas. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Light and Shadows, Fort Defiance

Light and Shadows, Fort Defiance / 10x10

On one of my final days in Fort Defiance, I return to the spot where I painted "Snow in the Shadows." The nights have been cold, cold, cold, and I imagine that the patches of snow I painted will still be there, frozen and crusty on the shaded hillside. 

But the warm days, and the rising arc of the sun has found those hidden, shady spots, and nearly all that snow is gone. But there's another scene in the opposite direction, this rock wall and small bluffs, shaded and bright in the early morning sun, and I have a great time painting it. 

It has been a challenge, during my time on the reservation, to paint the strength and muscle and power of these rock formations. Large canvas or small, it seems not to matter. I read somewhere that one artist said he tries to paint the forces that shaped these formations, rather than the formations themselves, and while I sort of understand that idea, it's hard to do in real life. Easier to do in philosophy. 

A dust-filled windstorm blows up out of nowhere on my final day in the area. In time, I find that this wind presages a series of nasty storms that begin as I drive east. The storms precede me, follow me, catch me, force me to hole up in hotels for two short stretches on my way across the country. I rue the extra days and extra expense, but I am safe and sound, and thankful. 

My painting in the landscape

I love the combination of this blue house, the green rocks and the red rocks in the background. 

A sponsor of this trip asked me to post some closer, larger pictures of the housing in the Fort Defiance area. Above, a string of townhouse-type structures. Below, a fairly typical house and yard, with multiple vehicles and multiple buildings. 

Throughout the region, there are houses with all kinds of junk and dead vehicles in the yard. This one is a bit more clutter-strewn than most. At one point, there was a horse in the middle of all this stuff.

One of the many wildly commercial enterprises on I-40, 
nestled in to one of the most beautiful rock formations in the area. 

Two hogans

On my last day in Fort Defiance, a big, swirly wind rises up, blowing dust and sand everywhere. 

Dog of the Day
This nutty canine gets his kicks chasing cars on a little-traveled road near Morrilton, Arkansas. 

Psssst..... If you've read all the way down to here, congratulations! I'll be posting the final painting giveaway tomorrow, March 10... sometime in the morning. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Thursday Morning, Fort Defiance

Thursday Morning, Fort Defiance
Oil on canvas, 10x10

Though I am still posting paintings from Fort Defiance, and still thinking about the journey and my discoveries there, I am now in Memphis, where I have a show this coming weekend. 

I leave the reservation early, for many reasons. One is my annual confusion about February. I tend to overcompensate for the short week at the end, and this year is no exception. Also, when I decide to leave, the weather across the country is looking pretty horrible, especially on I-40, the only route that makes sense for me to drive. And finally, I've stayed on the reservation about as long as I can. 

I have some conclusions after spending 60 hours or so painting on the reservation, and at least twice that amount of time thinking about it. 

The area evokes strong feelings in me, that's clear. And whether those feelings are positive or negative, or somewhere in between, the fact remains that they are surprisingly strong in me, surprisingly deeply rooted. 

I seem to know the sky. And while that might sound flippy and out there, it's the best way I can say it. I have no hesitation painting the sky ever. I don't think, I don't wonder, I don't question. I paint the sky unhesitatingly, in every pieces. 

The big rocks, I know almost as well, though these do take some thought, some guessing, some trial and error. I get the colors easily, again, unerringly, unhesitatingly. It's the massive, muscled, monumental qualities that take work on my part. But even those come pretty easily, in most of the paintings. 

I can't draw a straight line from my earliest days to these latest ones, but I sense the line, I feel it, and it seems to be true. 

 My painting in the landscape. 

Around the Region

I spend some time at the laundromat before I leave. It's me and a bunch of Navajo grandmothers, and a couple grandchildren. This boy keep pushing the shiny doors on the change machines, until he gets them all swinging back and forth at the same time.
Three people herd this small group of escapees back to their home, 
somewhere along Navajo Route 12. 

There's a pretty cool-looking junkyard beneath this car tower. 

I see these amazing, conical buttes along Navajo Route 12, 
not far from where the little group of cows is being herded. 

Not only am I now an award-winning artist, I am also an internationally known artist. One of my international sponsors lives in Switzerland, and sent me the photos directly above and below, after she saw pictures of the Painted Desert (bottom photo in this stack). The photos she sent are from Cappadocia, Turkey, where she's gone to ski, and to sightsee. Isn't it amazing how much the formations resemble each other? 

Painted Desert

Dog of the Day
This vociferous guy actively defends his car in a parking lot in Amarillo. 
You can just barely see his compatriot, a relatively quiet shepherd-type,
 sitting in the driver's seat, minding his own business.