Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Big Pumpkin

Every few years I find a pumpkin stand with the big deep orange pumpkins I love the most (not the dull brown-orange ones you find everywhere) and I splurge on a large one. Then I put it in the house and enjoy looking at it and thumping it gently for weeks after I buy it. As Oldest put it, "It's wonderful that there is a fruit that gets that big." This year I put it on the hearth. I put a little one near it so you can get some idea of the size.

I compared this to Don Kennedy's photo from the NC State Fair of the prize winning pumpkins. Mine isn't that big by a long shot, but it's plainly a close cousin, and it took two adults to carry mine into the house... It's silly, but I love the color (it's close to my favorite color in the universe, which is a particular shade of orange - some goldfish and some nasturtiums are also very close), and I just get a big grin every time I look at it. That's hard to put a price on, but I'm definitely getting my money's worth.

Happy Halloween, everyone.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

More Grandfather

On one end of Granfather Mountain is the attraction the Morton family built years ago to support their protection of the rest of the mountain. It's been updated and added to for decades, and it's better every time we go.

The "Mile High Swinging Bridge" is less scary since they replaced the board bottom with steel sheets; but it's still too much for many people, and most cross it carefully, with looks of concentration. Some revel in the height, others try not to look out to the sides.

On the other side you can look down on a smaller peak, and cliffs, and hills around Linville Falls Community beyond that. It's impressive. I stood there at the big stone wall and drew this sketch. People came up to talk to me and I found I could keep right on drawing while carrying on a conversation. I doubt I could do that at the start of a drawing, or with something more complex, like architecture or figures, but it worked well with this scene.

As with all sketches, my memory of the event and place is much more vivid than anything I've photographed.

The other sketch here is also of Grandfather, from the guardrail near the Linn Cove Viaduct. I started it in a howling wind, with wind chill probably in the thirties. I had to stop when I could no longer feel my fingers. I finished it almost a week later, when we came back on a much nicer day.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Been Forever...

It started with a two week vacation in the mountains, away from electronic distractions, with lots of time hiking and outdoors. Then there was so much to do when we got home, and so much business travel, that I have not been back on line even for e-mail more than two or three times. No time to write blog posts.

But I did do a good bit of sketching on the vacation, in a new horizontal format book like my large moleskine (about 6 by 16 inches when it's opened up - I call it "Horizon 1"). And I painted one watercolor that seemed like it painted itself, and says a lot about what I "see" when I drive the Blue Ridge Parkway, which we were on several times a day for two weeks. I'll post the painting later.

Much of our activity during the vacation is on and around Grandfather Mountain. We usually avoid the tourist attraction itself (though we did visit this year, at Youngest's request, and we had a great time on one of the most strenuous trails - that's another post) and instead we prefer to hike the Tanawha Trail (13 miles long, skirting the mountain lower down) in pieces from various starting points. Our favorite portion is Rough Ridge.

Here are two sketches done from the Rough Ridge boardwalk (recently repaired, and with a new bridge to a large rock). Both are done in pencil (click for larger views). The first is looking southwest, and shows the Linn Cove Viaduct - one of the engineering marvels of our time. The other shows part of the boardwalk stairs and a bit of the new little bridge. This (and the Bass Lake at the Cone Manor) is the hike we do the msot often during our vacation each year.

The last image here shows the fall colors this year, which came on VERY fast (just two or three days from green to this) and vanished just as quickly. In seventeen years of autumns in this area, we have never seen one this fast. Usually it takes about two weeks to do what this autumn did in about eight days.

I never tire of seeing Grandfather Mountain, in all his grandeur and craggy beauty. It's definitely one of the most impressive and inspiring peaks in the East. It's never the same twice.