Sunday, August 24, 2008

Yesterday's painting

I did this tonal painting late yesterday afternoon at a cotton farm about 25 miles away. The individual who owns it is an NC State agronomics grad. His son went to State as well and the family grows literally thousands of acres of the improved Monsanto cotton that utilizes an integrated system of pest and weed control. Yields are enormous but I think the trade-off is that new seed has to be purchased from Monsanto each season. I don't know it for a fact but it may be that this sort of farming lends itself better to large-scale production than it does to small, marginal farms. It seems like Indian farmers were complaining about the expense of improved varieties for small farms not too long ago. Yet the pressure remains on companies like Monsanto to develop ways of boosting crop production - and human population levels favor larger scale farm producers of everything.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sid Bartholomew

I left yesterday morning and drove to Blowing Rock. I managed to get one sketch done of one of my favorite hills along the parkway, then drove over to Blowing Rock Gallery to clean up and talk to Tim and Debbie. Raymond showed up at around five and I had the chance to chat with him a little before people started drifting in. We talked California, mostly. Warren Dennis was one of the earlier arrivals and I found out from him that Sid Bartholomew had committed suicide earlier this summer. He'd been living in LA, where he'd started out years ago as an art director for "Pee Wee's Playhouse".
The news came as a surprise. I didn't know Sid well but we were roughly the same age and went to the same college. I remember the "happenings" he used to stage with other art students. He was a well known personality on campus and everyone thought highly of him. I didn't know what "bi-polar" meant in those days and had know idea that Sid was bi-polar. I just remember him as spirited and energetic. I was happy and proud that he'd achieved success and now I'm saddened by his early death.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


It's in the sixties this morning in the mountains here. This is a 2007 painting along the parkway near Fancy Gap, Va.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The photo below is of sheep grazing near the lighthouse at Cape St. Mary's, Newfoundland. The one at upper right is of Philip Seagull, an artist from St. John. Cape St. Mary's is the area along the coast of the Avalon Peninsula where birders come to observe the gannet rookeries. They call the southern coast the Irish Coast because of the influx of Irish families who came there in the 19th century and settled in outport villages to fish for cod. Today there are severe limits on cod catches due to overfishing and many of the younger people have left to find work on the mainland, leaving behind charming pillbox houses overlooking the north Atlantic.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

August 6, 2008

My 86 year-old father moved to a retirement center located about 4 miles from me. I'm glad to have him here but I know he's a bit lonely. He left his 90 year old girlfriend (Dad's a widower) in Raleigh, where they both lived in an independent living community. He'd been there since the spring of 2002.

If it's true that in our culture we're individually responsible for organizing our own fate, I'm proud of my father's organization skills and achievements. He was president of the civilian student body at Virginia Tech in the forties, served as a supply officer in the Navy during WWII, then finished his MBA at Harvard on the GI bill in 1947. He worked tirelessly and faithfully for a large New England textile company for nearly 35 years, then went on to teach and start his own CPA firm. In 1995, at the age of 74, he lost part of his vision and was finally forced to retire from business for good. But even in retirement he was an active person, helping other retirees with their investments and taxes, organizing and printing a resident directory in his former retirement community and being a good grandfather and terrific example to his grandchildren.

He's confined to a wheelchair now but his mind and memory are still sharp. We're both fairly new to this community. I've been here just a little less than three years and it's one of those small communities where most friendships were forged in elementary school. But we'll be fine. We've been the new family in town most of my life.