I pull out my brushes, paints and canvas, and I’m off into another world.
This is not like when I am painting and demonstrating techniques in a class. This is when I am all alone and I can focus entirely on what is in front of and all around me. Often, I don’t move my chair to start another painting, just my easel, and I am off in that other world again.
I often wonder if Churchill or Eisenhower felt the same way as they painted when the world all around them was in constant turmoil. Did they find they could lose themselves for awhile with the brush in their hand? I would hope so.
I stop often when riding on my granddaughter’s bike and place a few well chosen brushstrokes on a canvas or paper, take a few digital pictures and then go on to the next spot that catches my eye. Wildflowers, trees and vines are some of my favorite subjects, but if I had to choose my very favorite setting, you would have to add a little water to that scene. That is why I really love Darby and Deer Creek and the many farm ponds the farmers have so graciously let me become part of. I am fortunate beyond my wildest beliefs that I would live so close to so many beautiful places.
Just a few weeks ago, I was painting with my class of seniors at a local farm. During this session, we painted the tree-lined, meandering drive that went back to the farm. It was completely lined with beautiful yellow, white and orange flowers. A few years ago, we were at that same farm where a pond was literally full of beautiful water lilies, a place that seemed like it must have been part of the Garden of Eden.
Saying that it was beautiful is inadequate. I could hardly paint for taking pictures of all the flowers and their soft colors, so many and so little time to really capture them. I used the digital photos I took and incorporated them into at least eight different paintings, mostly in oil and some in acrylic. Inspiring? You bet. I feel very fortunate to have lived long enough to become a part of so many beautiful places.
Soon it will be time for a long overdue trip down Deer Creek from the Robison Road bridge down towards Mt. Sterling. I won’t be painting on this trip, but the camera will capture the entire journey. I have never been disappointed when I take this short canoe trip which seems to land me back in time until I go under I-71, and that brings me back to reality. As it gets further behind me, I sink into the wondrous water world of Deer Creek, one of my very favorite waterways to paint.
It might be time for a new series of paintings, “Places That I Love.” In reality, I have been painting them for the last 10 years. Maybe I’m going to have to narrow the subject down. One series I am working on now are scenes along the bike trail. Most of these are watercolor sketches of trees and flowers I have seen along that fantastic path. Why do I call it fantastic? Because you can ride or walk without fear of being hit by a car. You can enjoy your surroundings more. Very few roads are as safe as that trail. Besides that, I get to meet a lot of friends there.
If you see me along the bike path or on the county roads or even on a creek, wave hello. It’s a small beautiful world and a warm hello makes it even better.
Harry Croghan is an artist, photographer, writer and teacher. He can be reached at (740) 852-4906 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.