Traveling for my work is now a necessity. The art galleries that represent me like to have new work several times a year, so I work hard loading everything I think I will need for the weeks I will be away into my large car-truck so I can spend countless hours driving from state to state visiting art galleries that now exhibit and sell my original oil paintings. I loaded over 50 paintings in the back of the vehicle, some placed in boxes, others stacked carefully with rugs and packing material between them, when I closed the back hatch-door a few weeks ago. The galleries are located in a variety of places. Some are in busy city centers, where parking my huge vehicle is a nightmare, and others are in quiet mountain villages. When I arrive I unpack all of the paintings and show the busy gallery directors my newest work. I have a wide variety of genre paintings. Figurative, landscape, and still-life. I work with a minimalist palette using a grisaille technique for figures, and my landscapes usually have strong color and are heavily laden with impasto brush or knife strokes. It is fun to hear the reactions of the directors. They love my work and are excited to see what I have brought them.
In Cleveland, Ohio I did a painting on the city streets while I was there. The theater district has had a recent renovation and now has a gleaming chandelier in the center hanging over the main road with flower boxes lining the street. A welcomed break in my travels!
When I arrived at a friends house after several successful gallery visits halfway through this spring’s trip, I opened the back of my vehicle and a large box with two very heavy paintings, that had shifted while driving, slid out and hit my ankle full force. The pain was excruciating, but with ice applied regularly while keeping it elevated for several days, I was able to continue on my journey to more of my galleries. I will always be more careful now before I open the back of that vehicle!
A part of my late spring driving journey that touched my soul was driving around Grand Island, New York. It is a large fresh water island situated between the Great Lakes of Ontario, Lake Erie, and the cities of Buffalo, and Niagara Falls, Canada, and it is where I spent much of the first 18 years of my life. On this trip I had a frozen, chocolate-covered banana for the first time at one of the only remaining summer food shacks, the Bedell House, that is along the river located in Historic Ferry Village on the Island. It was delicious! It was a step back in time to the days of Ferry travel to Buffalo from the Island before the bridges were built.
I heard many voices from my past echoing in my mind as I drove slowly along the road that we lived on beside the swift flowing Niagara River. I stopped and watched as the swallows swooped low along its banks to catch the sand flies that are abundant this time of year. Bountiful waterfowl lived just beyond the edges of the tall grasses that sheltered them from our busy lives. Mallards, pheasants, heron, and countless others called the Island their home long before it became full of subdivisions and strip malls. The familiar song of the red-wing blackbird stirred such memory in me. Emotion welled up and tears filled my eyes as the many school teachers, relatives and friends who once guided me in my youth and who gave me so much encouragement and love along the way silently began to enter my mind and fill it with so many things that I had forgotten. Suddenly, I felt myself sitting on a seat all alone, drawing designs with my finger on the frost covered windows of the old school bus as it carried me through long, cold, windy, lake-effect snow winters to school. I felt an innocent child inside of me that moment.
The voices began to fade to a whisper as I drove up this familiar tree-covered lane to my home in the hills of Tennessee. May those memories of my youth always “carry me home”, no matter where I am in this world.