Comfort And Creativity In The Familiar

There’s comfort in the familiar and there’s creativity to be found in photographing the same places. I have been testing this theory lately by walking the same bike path a few times a week.

It’s interesting to see how the look of a place changes with the time of day, changing light and the presence of wildlife. The Canada Geese were happily soaking up late afternoon sunlight one day last week.

Then there was this message in the snow.

This bench is a particular favorite of mine. It’s so close to the road I have never seen anyone sit there but it does look welcoming in photos.

It helps being able to view your ordinary surroundings with fresh eyes. It keeps life interesting!

Eldean Covered Bridge

Last summer I took my parents on a road trip to Piqua, Ohio. We were headed down a state route when everyone simultaneously exclaimed “covered bridge!”

I made a quick left turn and we took a closer look at the 1860 covered bridge.

At 224 feet long, it’s the longest surviving long truss bridge in the country and it spans the Great Miami River. Today the bridge is a National Historic Landmark that is open to pedestrians and cars.

There’s a small park adjacent to the bridge.

When you drive through a covered bridge, be sure to roll down the windows and turn down the music so you can hear your modern wheels bump over the wood floor.

Tale a deep breath and absorb the smell of history. It’s a rare treat for many so don’t take it for granted.

Adventures Ahead

I’m starting to dream of adventure days ahead. I miss the allure of the open road, gliding down country lanes and going around the block for a picture. I miss having the windows down and the music up as I look for the mundane and the unusual alike.

This image is from my last big road trip to Ligonier, PA at Christmas. It’s the Stahlstown Trinity United Methodist Church and it called my name. It looked interesting so I found a place to turn around and head back. This is such a common occurrence that I don’t even consider it abnormal anymore but anyone traveling with me for the first time would likely find this quirk of mine bewildering.

Unfortunately, there were numerous things along this route that were noteworthy or interesting in some way but there was nowhere to turn around or pull over. It’s hard to resist this urge and to accept that it’s time to move on.

So, I continue to enjoy my cold days of hibernation but am starting to think about the adventures ahead. This world is an amazing place filled with things I haven’t seen and stories I want to know.

Warmer days are ahead. Adventures await for me and for you. We just have to go find them.

Impressions of Impressionists

I recently sat through a webinar with author and art historian Kristine Hardeberg. She’s from Norway and has an easy approach to helping students understand art. In fact, she believes in understanding art on an intellectual level but encourages simply viewing and feeling what you feel as well.

This webinar gave a 10,000 foot view of thousands of years of fine art. She talked about what was happening in the world and what to look for in the art of the period. She focused some on the Impressionists as a preview to a paying course she is selling right now.

After lingering near Impressionistic paintings in museums for years, I still never really knew much about their origins so I was delighted for her insight.

The rise of this style of painting actually accompanied the rise of photography. Cameras made it possible to capture realistic images, particularly portraits of wealthy people who had long been patrons of the arts. Since this new technology could capture a realistic scene, some artists were inspired to experiment. Rather than duplicate what they saw, they wanted to create an impression of what they saw and used light, motion and color to do so.

In a nutshell, these early painters of this late nineteenth century movement were renegades and rule breakers. They stepped away from the traditional rules of academic painting and constructed their paintings freely, allowing color to take precedence over lines and contours.

The critics hated it.

This movement began in Paris where artists like Claude Monet abandoned stuffy studios to paint outside. Kristine said that they wanted to get outside, breathe the air and capture the light as it illuminated the world quickly and before it faded.

“They wanted to paint the world as it is right now,” she said.

That meant they worked quickly and focused on the present in a way that had not been done before. She showed us paintings of the sea that evoked all the senses. I could almost smell the salt air and feel it on my face. I could hear the lapping waves and feel the sand in my toes. It was a taste of a summer day captured 150 years ago.

No one wanted to show these artists’ work because they thought it was silly and rudimentary. One critic compared it to a child’s work.

This painting “Impression, Sunrise“ by Monet actually inspired the name Impressionists.

Kristine said a critic actually began calling these painters Impressionists as a criticism, a taunt. He was making fun of them but they loved it and the name stuck.

If you are fortunate enough to stand before one of these paintings in a museum, stand close and study what you see. It’s all color and globs of paint.

Now take a step back. Close your eyes and open them slowly.

Kristine encouraged us to play pretend.

Pretend that you’re just waking up. You know that moment when you’re still drowsy and slowly opening your eyes? The world is a bit blurry but your senses are still absorbing sound, smell and light.

That’s what the Impressionists are all about. It’s a glimpse of an instant and it’s lovely.

Ironically, the Impressionists have gained steam over the decades and are among the most sought after works in most museums. I snapped this picture at the National Gallery of Art in Washington while tourists were lining up for pictures. It’s incredible seeing people so excited about art.

It’s Never Too Late

Van Gogh only painted for the last ten years is his life. He started at the age of 27 and painted over 2,000 pieces including some of the world’s great masterpieces

You know what that means?

It’s never too late to embrace your passion. We clearly can’t all be Van Gogh but we can start a new hobby, peruse a better career and get to work on what matters.

If not today, then when?

Around Here

Around here, it has been cold and snowy. I have been enjoying hibernation, trying to balance relaxation with tending to my own health and wellness.

I have been taking the easy way out where dinner is concerned. This bag of stir fry is a step up from the egg sandwich and fistful of chocolate I would rather be eating when I’m cold and tired.

This book has been keeping my mind engaged.

As always, Scout keeps me on my toes.

I joined in a free art history webinar the other day and got a nice overview of the progression of early art through the Impressionists who happen to be my favorite artists.

This is a famous Claude Monet painting that I was lucky to see in Washington DC last year.

The webinar instructor had a down to earth approach to art and a wonderful ability to simplify big topics. If I had hundreds of extra dollars I would sign up for a paying course she offers on the Impressionists. She gave voice to what I have long felt but didn’t understand about these lovely works of art. I’ll talk about that another day.

For now, I’m trying to find a balance between work and home, self care and doing as I please, healthy skepticism and unhealthy mental ruts.

Winter is a time of hibernation. We recede into our homes as animals take to their dens. Even the hardiest of plants conserve their energy and rest in anticipation of brighter days ahead. Aside from a few walks, I have been happily hibernating and wondering what kind of rebirth might accompany the arrival of spring.

Around here, life is pretty good these days