Saturday, November 12, 2016

I'll go to it laughing.

My trip to Ocracoke Island, NC began with about 20 minutes of viewing time of a double rainbow arching over 290 in Worcester, MA. A sign of good times ahead? With 1700 miles in hindsight, yes it was a good sign, a very good sign indeed.

A trip into Annapolis to pick up my long time, good times friend Terry and her painting gear, food. We were off to Chesapeake's eastern shore Cape Charles, Virginia for a sleepover at Cape Charles Hotel: a pet friendly and tres contemporary accommodation. http://hotelcapecharles.com/




lower Hoopers Island
Next day we headed to Swan Quarter, NC to catch a ferry ride to Ocracoke. Took a side trip and had the best crab sandwich EVER at Old Salty's Restaurant on Hoopers Island on the Maryland's Eastern Shore. For a lark, Terry and I decided to continue to the road's end and onto Lower Hoopers Island over Hoopers Island Bridge (how the citizens ever procured funding for this impressive civil project to nowhere is beyond my understanding) over the Honga River and Bay to this scene:



Great Dismal Swamp



Proceeded into southeastern Virginia and northeast North Carolina where we ventured into the massive Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge with lots of sightings of the Bald Eagle.

The swamp was used as an escape route by runaway slaves seeking passage north to freedom.  In the region, Harriet Tubman is honored with historical markers and new exhibit halls to tell this story.




Arrived at Swan Quarter an hour ahead of schedule. Had a lunch of wine and peanut butter sandwiches at a public boat ramp from the back of car.  Trust me... there is NOTHING in Swan Quarter except the ferry terminal.  The three hour ride through the Pamlico Sound to Ocracoke Island was uneventful except for my departure off the ferry when I tore off the front panel below the car's bumper when I exited a little too fast on the ramp's steep incline. (OOOps, easily repaired at the VW garage back home)


The ferry terminal is located within walking distance to the small town of locally owned businesses and small dwellings. Nothing of grandness or ostentatiousness distracts from its quaintness. Its welcome to visitors is of one big hug of friendliness. I would liken the island feeling to a southern version of Maine's down eastern Monhegan Island.

  • Shrimp boat sightings and fresh, locally caught fish bought at Ocracoke Seafood Market. Yummy!
  • A candlelit Halloween performance by a local island girl sings Appalachian ghoulish folk songs at Coyote's Den
  • Home visits via of golf carts of FEMA officials (Hurricane Matthew)
  • 'Wake up' rooster crowings every morning at 5:30a
  • Pesky mosquitoes
  • Beautiful weather, beautiful island scenes for painting




Terry and I met an island plein air painter from Virginia Beach, Peggy Powers, who painted with us twice daily. Her husband slammed on the car brakes when he saw us unloading our painting gear from the car at the start of our painting session and told his wife sitting next to him, "Those are plein air painters!!" How did he know.... was it the turp can swinging on the backpack or,,, maybe it was our plein air couture that caught his eye: large brimmed hats, paint smeared pants, crusty old gals. Whatever reason, we were glad she introduce herself and joined us for daily painting and conversations. She was a delightful surprise to our trip.

All good vacations come to end. We drove to the other end of the island to catch the ferry to Hatteras and the Outer Banks.  With gusty, thirty mile per hour winds there were high rollers breaking over the boat's bow and a slanted horizon.  On land the drive wasn't any easier with shifting sand dunes drifting across the highways. On Pea Island, large steam shovelers sat atop the marauding dunes moving tons of sand out of harms way.  Driving over the many OBX bridges, we saw dredgers below working to open up choked inlets. Every town we entered, debris lined the roadways. All remnants from hurricane Matthew.

I toasted our return to Annapolis and my last vacation day before leaving for Lowell..at Sailors., a raw oyster bar where I dined on Kusshi oysters from Canada and ended with a shot of Pilar rum.


A quote from their web site to end my blog:

"I know not all that maybe coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing"- Herman Melville
I know not all that may be coming, but  it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.”
― Herman Melville
“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.”
― Herman Melville






Saturday, October 22, 2016

Felling kind of dark lately?

Feeling kind of dark lately? perhaps the semi-global reign of blood and terror, climate doom and gloom, and the fiasco of recent american politics has put a lid on my hopefulness and optimism diminishing the flame of a bright future.   Reflecting on all that I lost this year; my husband, Ken, his mother, Jean, my furry feline, Percy, my awareness of being alone makes me quake with such sadness, fear and guilt at times.




This cold morning I stumbled across an open field of chopped down milkweed and scrubby poison ivy to reach a beautiful Maple specimen. I've painted this tree from afar many times but today the tree beckoned me to come closer.

(The photograph to the left is the same tree with me painting in the foreground taken by the Newburyport Daily News. 2014).

At its threshold, I went on through, side stepping fallen limbs, disentangling briars from my pant legs, parting low branches to arrive at the tree's interior. To my surprise this was a stand of several trees, disguised as one large tree creating one hugeness of single presence from afar.
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Everything within and under this umbrella of color glowed warmly; my blank canvas was sunflower yellow, tree trunks were buttery, crumbling cement posts marking an abandoned farm path were coated in sherbert. The morning's sunlight came pouring through the restless canopy of a tangerine, orange and lime leafy spectrum,   Swirling at my feet dancing leaves, above my head an arched, multi-branched cathedral, and all around striking me endlessly were the colors of Natures stained glass.   



As I painted, the trees richly colored leaves were fast falling by the tugs of snappy breezes. Falling like the sins of impatience, gluttony, pride.   Soon these trees would be stripped of their majestic cloaks, no longer boastful.  When the cold northern winds blow, they will stand open and leafless. Mindful of what can be.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

the lighthouse, the artist and the widow

There are 68 lighthouses in the state of Maine. None are more famous  than the lighthouse affectionately called, The Nubble.  It is located on Nubble Island in Cape Neddick, York, Maine. Today was a typical day with touring buses and a parking lot filled with cars, off-loading visitors by the hundreds in Sohier Park for a glimpse and a photograph or two of the iconic American lighthouse. 


plein air oil painting on 12X16 panel
Tripping through the Universe,  the robotic spacecrafts, Voyager 1 and 2, houses 12 inch golden phonographs  containing a wealth of information describing Earth and the human race.  A photograph of the Nubble Lighthouse was selected alongside other iconic structures like the Great Wall of China just in case ET makes a rendezvous with the spacecraft to learn something of Earth.

But here along the ocean's water edge, the lighthouse has important symbolic meaning.  It is a symbol of safety during intense hardships. It can also represent a strong, singular person standing tall against unrelentless, brute forces of life. This may explain why lighthouses are so popular in tourism, photographs, paintings and written works.  In the face of adversity, it shines a light toward salvation.

studio oil painting on 9 x 16 panel
I found my viewing spot not alongside the hundreds of visitors but at a 'closed for the season' ice cream stand a couple blocks away up on a hill. Other than the sighing of deep regret and disappointment expressed by strangers who had approached the closed store in search of a cold cone delight, I was quite content to paint the lighthouse from this vantage point. 

While painting here though I began to wonder if ice cream stands could be lighthouses too; symbolically speaking.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A plein painting trip to the Catskills

excerpt from Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle...


S. Jaworski-Stranc morning on Rugg Road, oil on panel
S Jaworski-Stranc, Vista of Hudson River Valley, oil on panel
Whoever has made a voyage up the Hudson must remember the Kaatskill Mountains.  They are a dismembered branch of the great Appalachian family, and are seen away to the west of the river, swelling up to a noble height and lording it over the surrounding country.  Every change of season, every change of weather, indeed, every hour of the day, produces some change in the magical hues and shapes of the these mountains and they are regarded by all good wives, far and near, as perfect barometers.  When the weather is fair and settled, they are clothed in blue and purple, and print their bold outlines on the clear evening sky; but sometimes, when the rest of the landscape is cloudless, they will gather a hood of gray vapors about their summits, which in the last rays of the setting sun will glow and light up like crown of glory.



A dear painter friend and I stayed at the Greenville Arms 1886 Inn in Greenville, New York, for our 'artist retreat' painting trip.  Kim LaPolla,  fiber artist and director of the Hudson River Valley Workshops and her husband, Mark LaPolla, Chef de Cuisine and Chocolatier cater to artists in an all-inclusive environment meaning Kathy and I were in good artistic company, well fed, well cared for during our week long painting adventure in the Catskills.
http://www.artworkshops.com/index.html







Besides painting the inspiring mountains, we painted looming waterfalls, small ponds and quiet lakes, barns and fields.

We were once buzzed by a drone operated by SUNY scientists studying the growth of trees at Lincoln Pond.

We took afternoon swims in nearby ponds, clandestinely because swimming was not allowed.




  • Traveled the Hudson River School Art Trail beginning with Thomas Cole's Cedar Grove, the Main House and Studio
  • Visited the historic site, Olana: Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church's home, studio and designed landscape
  • Visited the famous Kaaterskills Falls
  • Hiked to and painted a breathtaking panorama at the once Catskill Mountain House site at North South Lake
  • Toured via of a tram the magnificent, 500 acre large scale sculpture park, Storm King, in New Windsor, NY
                                         artists at work


to read Kathy's blog about the trip
https://k2rsblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/12/2016-plein-air-art-retreat-in-the-catskills-september-5-9/





Friday, September 16, 2016

Egrets, egrets and lots of egrets

Thursday, my painting group met up at the end of Stackyard Road in Rowley, in an area called The Great Marsh.  The skies were a deep cerulean blue with numerous cumulonimbus clouds floating along.
S Jaworski-Stranc, The Great Marsh, oil on panel
What overwhelmed all of us upon our arrival were seeing hundreds of white egrets milling around in the brackish pannes of the marshes.  In the large gathering were Great White Egrets, largest species with black legs black feet and a yellow-orangish bill, Snowy Egrets, smaller in scale with black legs, black bill and yellow feet and a lone Great Blue Heron.  Most likely they were gathering together before heading to their wintering grounds. All of us agreed one may see a couple of egrets hunting for food in the wetlands but not hundreds like this late summer gathering.  This sighting was magical.



        Just think... these beautiful birds were hunted close to extinction for their plumage to decorate women's hats in the 19th century.  In 1890 five million birds were killed annually for the fashion industry. The National Audubon Society was formed in 1895, New York State's Audubon Plumage Law (1910) banned all sales of birds and US legislation such as the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty (1918) helped to put an end to this avian travesty.  Today all of us can enjoy the privilege of watching these spectacular birds grace our landscape and our imaginations as was experienced by the plein air painters.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Oh that wind

I no longer sail.

But...while sitting and painting on a narrow gangway plank leading to a float on the Parker River yesterday, with the wind being of a gusty speed, I was sure my painting easel with an umbrella attached would go sailing across the river. I kept a tight grip on the edge of box at all times.


This breezy outdoor painting experience reminded me of my sailing days when there were times a tight grip on the sail lines and tiller were needed in case the sails needed to luff (to spill the wind) and prevent extreme heeling over.  It was that windy outside and I loved every minute.


Painting at an arm's length from canvass, holding the paint brush close to its end while gripping the easel was a real painting challenge. My applied paint strokes were as choppy as the surface of the waters I was trying to render.

My artist friend, Barbara, came down for a visit and was impressed with what I had delivered to my canvass in so short of time.  She also helped to reclaim some cast-away items of mine from the nearby marsh grasses.  Oh that wind.

Plein air painting


Monday, August 22, 2016

Highly colorful, balanced values


Just finished putting the last colors on another reduction linoleum print, Orange Ladder, a Green Mountain state scene.

I had the pleasure of giving a talk about my prints and the reductive process at 13 Forest Gallery in Arlington last Saturday. A good number were in attendance with many intelligent questions.

Here's a link to blog of one who was in attendance.  Thanks Caroline for your thoughtful comments.
https://suzannesmomsblog.com/2016/08/19/unusual-linoleum-prints/

Orange Ladder will be exhibited at 13Forest's Tenfold Show beginning September 16th.

The value study of the high chroma print: