A Touch of Dixie

I promise I won’t make it a habit here, talking art I mean. Last week was about my “limited pallet” and this week, well yes. I’m going to talk art… sort of, but what else do I know?

I’ve seen many a blog talking of their travels, or what they did that day. Usually an interesting read, but of course I try to buck the trend and do something entirely different. Well not today… I’m talking on my recent trip through the South.

Next week I am attending my opening reception for my “A Touch of Dixie” exhibit. It features 24 plein air paintings from my trip and then an added treat, (or was it just filler for that extra wall?) I have 3 paintings from each year I’ve been painting “en plein air”. (in open air.) 3 from 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. It’s an interesting progression if you want my opinion.

But the real gems are from below the Mason Dixon line.

Last fall I had my “In Aille’s Glade” painting juried into the American Impressionist Society National show in Charleston South Carolina. Having a bit of time available, and places to stay and people to see along the way, I decided driving would be the ultimate way to travel. It also would give me a wonderful chance to stop and paint when and wherever I chose.

I loaded up my gear and 42 canvases of various sizes,

locked and loaded

locked and loaded

programmed my trusty GPS, kissed my lovely wife Susie goodbye & headed out. I had 3 Ipods loaded with every sort of playlist one could want for a road trip, trail mix by my side, my phone set on “hands free” mode, and my camera somewhere within reach, where was it now?

My itinerary was taking me from my starting point in Kansas City, through St Louis, then heading South into Tennessee via Chattanooga, then East into Murfreesboro for a few days. You see I had plans to stay at my Sister-In-Laws place here, do “handy man” things around the place and earn enough money to pay for expenses on my travels. Judy’s list was long, but I had planned for it bringing tools with me. Mornings and evenings were spent traveling the countryside painting, and the afternoons were for installing a glass tile backsplash, setting up a Martin house, building an arbor, fixing a bed, and then solving the puzzle of the mysterious smoke alarm. All fun stuff, and it helped me earn a few brownie points here and there. (always important, no matter the situation)

The wonderful rolling hills, and wooded valleys with picturesque farms and ranches all around, historic Civil War battlefields, it is a nice place to hang out and paint, but we must be moving on, there is a show in Charleston we must attend, and don’t forget… Kenn Backhaus has saved you a spot in his workshop. Don’t doddle!

Well, I doddled, if that’s what you want to call it. I drove South through Alabama, and then turned back North because there was a Facebook friend I just had to meet. Maybe you know her, maybe not. But if not, you need to, she is one of the queens of watercolor, with some wonderfully rich atmospheric creations that makes me wonder just what really goes through her head… and I was going to find out.

Sandy Brown and her delightful husband Ron were a hoot.

Sandy & Ron Brown

Sandy & Ron Brown

Their colonial mansion began in the early 1800’s as a 2 room cabin.  Had to say goodbye way too soon, but there was many miles still to go before I reached the coast.

So I finished the zig part of my zagging across Tennessee, headed back North so that I could go back South to Carolina… of course.

In Charleston I had made arrangements to stay with a very old friend and former Sister-In-Law from an earlier marriage. (a funny/strange thing about all the places I stayed, each place was in some way related to a present, or one of my former wives)

Edie Hollowell lives in Charleston and was gracious enough to give me carte-blanche to her home with a private entrance and bath for a week. Somehow she put up with my coming and going at odd hours as she carted her teenage boys back and forth, and back and forth, and ba… okay, I’ll stop.

From here I had great access to the plantations up the Cooper River, the Point on Old Charleston, or Mt Pleasant, and Sullivan’s Island where the shrimp boats tie up to the pylons… thank you Jimmy Buffet

I have done my fair share of traveling in my lifetime, and for me Charleston SC has got to be one of most wonderful cities in the country, maybe the world. (I’ll let you know later)

Kenn Backhaus

Kenn Backhaus

First thing is the people, they are Southerners, and they have that Southern charm. I am quite confident that if you on the slim chance got mugged, the perpetrators would still be kind enough to call you sir or mam, and make sure you still had cab fare to get to the police station to file a report.

The first 3 days I took part in a workshop of Kenn’s sponsored by the American Impressionist Society. There I met some great artists from across the country, California, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina,  Texas (is Texas still part of the continental USofA?)

The 2013 AIS 14th Annual National Juried Exhibition was held at the “M” Gallery in Old Charleston. Never had I seen a better grouping of the art that I so love. The feel and passion put into each and every painting was evident. My eye is keen on impressionistic art. There is just something about the understated that peeks my imagination. If you did not make the show in Charleston, the 15th annual show will be a bit more centrally located. Show up in Denver come the 1st part of October and take in some of the bestest in the Westest… North, South and East too!

I left Charleston and headed South to many claim to be equal to, if not better than Charleston, and that is Savannah Georgia. I wish I had more time here to form a better opinion, but time was short. I had to be in Atlanta by the end of the week, so I had time for maybe one painting. I drove through the city, up and down streets, but things didn’t seem right. I headed East along

Fort Jackson, GA

Fort Jackson, GA

the Savannah River and came to old Fort Jackson. If you know anything about me, it’s I love Civil War anything… and luckily for me, though the Federal government was on strike or out of money and all National everything was closed, this was a State run operation and in I went, canvas in hand. Here I set up along the ramparts and painted toward the Atlantic as a talented guide gave a demonstration of one of the parrot guns just below me. Quite an experience to say the least.

Enough for now, I must come back to this city and explore another time, now it’s on to Albany Georgia.

Why Albany?

Well I have a daughter in the Marine Corp who’s stationed there. And she (Jennifer) was setting me up on base to stay and visit in the Southern climes of Georgia, where gators and Cyprus and Spanish moss mesh together for us “snowbirds”. I must watch my step. Here I was out and about looking for a place to paint and saw this road called “Grave Springs Road”.  It didn’t matter what was there along this road, but I was going to paint something, anything on this road. It’s one of those things about me, if something catches my eye, such as this road sign, I’m there! I found my first cotton field, it just so happened to be pouring down raining, but I was there, it was there, and it may not happen again.

I visited with my daughter Jen for a few more days, painted Cyprus trees along the Flint River, then headed North to Atlanta. 

My trip to Atlanta was two-fold, okay, maybe more like three or four-fold. I was picking up my wife Susie to join me for the last leg of my trip… and celebrate our 5th year anniversary, I was going to visit my oldest daughter Devin, her husband Randy, and then my granddaughter “Dorian Rose Champagne”. Dorian will be turning 1 year old this February, and this gal is one of the cutest babies I had ever seen.

Oh, post a pic? Okay

Dorian Rose Champagne

Dorian Rose Champagne

My time in Atlanta was more family and touristy type fun things. I set my GPS to take us to the “city center” then parked our car and wandered for hours. Another wonderful city, is there just no end to them? Dorian, Devin & Randy were great hosts, I did paint at the Allatoona Battlefield while I was here, a place where the South tried to cut off the Unions supply lines to Sherman’s army. An amazing engineering feet of carving a railroad cut out of solid granite was the site of the battle. This is much today as it was 150 years ago.

Susie and I left Atlanta to head back to Murfreesburo because I am sure I had more work to do, plus I had left my Tennessee Atlanta-Tennessee 210paintings there. Judy met us along the way because she wanted to take us into the South Cumberland State Park to some areas she thought I might enjoy painting. As everywhere along my journey I found beautiful vistas to paint. We hiked the trails, me carrying my 35 lbs of gear on my back, and them cheering me on saying “oh, it’s just around the corner”. Yeah, right!

I was happy to come back to this area because of all the places that I saw a few weeks ago that I had “bookmarked” and filed away to come and paint again.

I left Kansas City with 42 blank canvases and returned with 13 still looking for an image to be bestowed to them. I tried to fill them all, but there are times when it is better not to paint, and to go with what the situation requires. Whether it be dinning with artists and friends in one town, visiting with family and loved ones in another. Making the best whatever life rolls before me and keeping my expectations very low.

I do what I can, when I can, and when I can’t I do what I must. Sometimes what I want is in there somewhere. That is my reward for waiting.

Thanks for taking the time to follow me on this little “travel-log” to the South.

24 of my paintings will be on display through the end of February, a chronological journey from here to there and back again. I hope you can join me. For more info on this show click HERE, or inquire within.


Shem Creek artists

Gene, Za, me @ Shem Creek