Mountains to the Sea

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”

John Muir

Where the mountains meet the sky is undiscernible in the Great Smokey Mountains at certain times of the year. White mist crawls through the trees like a playful kitten, slinking around hill and dale. As you walk along the trails, it wets your face until the drops form tears rolling down your face. They are cooler than the ones you cry. As you look toward the heavens all you can see are shadows of trees and swirls of smokey gray. Always keep your chin up and watch the dips and peaks of the crown, else you’ll be lost.

I had a deep love for trees in my youth. I have a cousin who promised to build me a treehouse when he returned from military service, but that didn’t happen. We would walk and climb over treefalls as we tromped Grandmother’s woods, exploring for insects in amber, colorful mushrooms, or other fungi. Chided by the other cousins and siblings for being alone together at dusk, we shrugged it off and made plans for the next day.

Another cousin and I would climb to the tip-top of white pines, 30-40 feet off the ground, and lean deeply in order to make the treetops sway until we could reach out and grab branches from each other’s tree and switch trees in mid-air. If my grandparents or uncle had seen us do that, we would still be doing time. I’ve probably climbed more trees than I have walked trails.

When I saw Feliks’s foggy forest painting, I knew I had to give it a go. Painting fog and mist is tricky. The difficulty is not so much painting the various light and dark shades that go in the background as it is getting the lighter shades for things that are in the mist and darker shades for things out of the mist. It was a fun tutorial that brought back fond memories. I haven’t varnished this one yet because I still have some detail work to finish.

Misty Mountain Forest 16X20 acrylics on gallery wrapped canvas Inspired by ColorByFeliks

“The most amazing thing to me about the sea is the tide.”

John Dyer

Next is one of my first (actually #6) originals. This one is painted from a reference photo. The photograph, Biscayne Bay, was taken by my friend, Armando Colls, who is a professional photographer in Miami. His gorgeous seascapes hang in high-end hotels in the area. This image is unlike most of his works. He often shows a vast sky over a thin beach with a special feature, a piece of driftwood, the underside of a pier, an odd lone tree, a shell. Maybe that’s what caught my eye on this one. It’s different. I love the natural mix of ununiform clouds. It moved me emotionally, committing me to paint. It’s an image of genuine beauty found in the shabbiness of the shoreline at low tide.

Tidal pools are rich with small sea life captured in the arms of the earth. Approached with wonder, beautiful shells lay bare. Tiny crustaceans scurry around when you step into the water. Little fiddler crabs dance across your barefoot toes, tickling sensations up your legs. Mollusks only big enough to be on a bird’s diet burrow deeper. As a small child, some of my most glorious moments were spent in the panhandle of Florida during our vacations, where these water pockets are found all along the back bays. We could rarely afford the beachier hotel suites on the sands, but found a world of joy in exploring these tidal pools that know every secret of the sea. On a breezy day, you can enjoy them without the biting bugs.

There seems to be a part of all creatives that is trapped in the tidal pool only to possibly be freed when the waters rise. For me, that time is when I am alone for extended periods that allow for introspection and deep thought in solitude. For others, the waters rise when they are around jovial friends and loved ones in celebration. Either way, creativity ebbs and flows. Nothing is constant.

Tidal Pool 11X14 acrylics on gallery wrapped canvas Original

Aside from painting pictures, I have been creating flower pots out of hypertufa slurry soaked fabrics. I drape the fabrics over an old, cheap, plastic pot used as a mold. I’ve unmolded them, but they remain to be painted. I’m about halfway through that project but I’ve made much progress this year. Last year, I had to stop working on them because it simply got too hot to continue working outside. My hope is to create some pots that appear as columns of coral in my little fantasy ocean-themed garden xeriscape.

I’ve been updating my website, also.

Since we moved from Orlando to the islands, I decided it was fitting to include more island images so I put out a call to local photographers. Jon Hunt, Ron Mayhew, and Martha Huard stepped up and offered some gorgeous pics. I only have one-time use though, so you’ll have to view them here.

Upon attempting this, I discovered just how outdated the technical aspects of my website were so that that sent me off down the pathway to cyber hell, but, as usual, the RS came to the rescue, and now I am set up with a coaching service to establish an artist site in addition to my author site. I’m hoping to get that acomplished within the next month, or so.

I’ve also begun working with Berthold Gambrel, Mark Paxson, and Audrey Driscoll at Writers Supporting Writers. In addition to our posts, we have video chats about writing. So, you can see more of me than I ever thought I would want you to. Ha! Seriously, if we can offer any morsel of helpful information to struggling writers, every second is worth it. So far, I have only participated in one chat, but the next is scheduled for the 20th, or shortly thereafter. We might even bring up some mistakes we’ve made.

How about you? When are you feeling your creativity most?

Are you affected by weather or tides? I am. The high tide makes me feel more alive. Rainy weather moves me to write. Sunny weather moves me to paint.

Are you living in a place where you can work outdoors in winter? I can’t in summers here.

3 thoughts on “Mountains to the Sea

  1. Susan, you have an outlet for every kind of weather. I am enjoying your painting and your prose.

    I find creativity bubbles up when I’m not trying too hard to seek it. Enjoy this holiday season!

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