A few weekends ago I experienced a wintery getaway in northern Tennessee. I was with a group of painters that pitched in to rent a cabin in a remote national forest. Just getting to the cabin required navigating miles of hairpin, 10 mph speed limit curves through the dense woods. It was bear country, as I could see by the presence of bear-proof garbage containers. (The containers look like squat, brown metal boxes.)
Our group had Saturday and Sunday to paint. On Saturday morning, we painted the woods surrounding the cabin. My biggest challenge was working with the bright sunlight as it created ever changing blue shadows across the snow.
Big South Fork Snow - 5x7
That afternoon we drove to a river spanned by a wooden walking bridge, perfect for setting up our easels. The wind blasted us as we painted, but I barely noticed it as I basked in the beauty of the sun slanting over the hills. I can't display the art from that afternoon, because I ended up doing a Chevy Chase number on the poor little 8x10. While loading the car just before heading back, I set the painting on the trunk. I was in Mt. Juliet off I-40 when I remembered. No doubt it is now face down, coated in frost, weathering away along the shoulder of some lonely highway. R.I.P.! So, here's a photo of the scene I was painting ... I guess I can just paint it again from the comfort of my living room.
And here we are, all set up on the walking bridge. I'm the middle distance figure on the left, in the dark pink jacket. Looks like I just cast a shot put.
On Sunday we drove to the historic town of Rugby. I will quote a couple of lines from the town's vision statement, found on the Historic Rugby website:
British-founded Rugby, Tennessee, is a rare example of a rural, living community that survives from its 1880s utopian beginnings with its town plan intact, many buildings and its natural setting preserved and with no encroaching incompatible development.
Sounds like a great place to paint! We set up our easels in an area where we could see several picturesque churches and cottages. I selected an adorable yellow house called Percy Cottage. It's available as a bed and breakfast in the warmer seasons.
Here's a photo of another very paintable place:
Our painting group was well received by the town. One passerby took my picture and wrote about our painting endeavors in the Rugby online newsletter. You can see the photo and blurb at this link. The next passerby was an artist from Gatlinburg, TN. His name is Dale Gillespie, and he was visiting Rugby as a potential new location for his studio. Just before leaving, I met a couple who told me about the different art galleries in town. This little rural village apparently has a strong art community. My painting group is enthusiastically planning to visit again in April!
After wrapping up the Rugby painting, I started the drive back to Nashville. It was late afternoon; I was driving into the sun; and I was treated to hours of gorgeous, backlit country scenes. (As Saturday afternoon's painting sailed off the back of my car ...) Here are a few photos I took on the ride back. Click any photo to enlarge.
A general store and post office outside of Rugby.
A vast auto restoration lot: a sea of antique autos, gleaming metal parts, all completely deserted and unguarded. Was this place an apparition?
Next I passed a field full of horses ... all in coats. Someone is thoughtful toward these animals.
I love a cloudy sunset–you can't pay for a better show than this!