News · Northern Neck Artisan Trail · oil painting · Reference Photos

Challenges We Give Ourselves

Lucky me, I’m having surgery on my neck soon. Over the last five years or so I’ve been having difficulty from pinched nerves and bulging discs and degenerative junk in my neck. I’ve run through all the hoops, large and small, that the insurance company wanted to try before we finally landed at the orthopedic surgeon’s door.

I’m actually excited. I’m tired of the pain, the numbness, dropping things, occasional headaches and dizziness.

And in preparation I’ve come to realize that when the surgeon removes my damaged disks and replaces them with cadaver bone as spacers and screws little metal brackets in to hold everything in place, I may not have the some of the neck mobility I have now (albeit painful and spotty).

I was challenged by one of the gallery owners where I’m represented, to do a series of bird nests. I rather like the idea and have been on the look out for bird nests both old and new up in the trees and bushes where I live. Nests, I’ve discovered, are a challenge to discover, but I will continue the quest and see what I can come up with by this Fall as far as reference photos. So far, I’ve found about four. I think I need about 15 good reference photos and perhaps actually nests that have blown down this summer.

In the meantime, we have been experiencing some phenomenally good weather of late. The pollen is literally thick, but the rain has finally abated and the skies are a stunning blue and cloudless. Temperatures are in the high 60s and low 70s, although it actually got into the low 80s today. Just wonderful! And, as I’ve been out hunting bird nests, I’ve also discovered that I really love looking up into the tree canopies backed up by a flawless blue sky.

Maple Tree which has since been cut down

Years ago I took a few photos of a maple in full Fall Glory looking up through the leaves at the sky. I’ve always wanted to challenge myself to paint it, but I’ve been afraid of the intricacy. I think I need to overcome that fear.

One winter I visited a Sycamore tree and photographed it’s beautiful stark white peeling skin against a deep dark blue sky. It’s photo is hidden from me on the computer for now, but I’ll find it and add it to my “Must Paint Pile”.

This past week, as I’ve been closing in on this neck surgery and out seeking bird nests, I’ve been taking really cool photos looking up into the Spring canopies of various trees. I’ve also been reviewing photos I’ve taken in the past.

From under a Dogwood in full bloom on my lane.

I think I want to do a series of fairly large paintings based on these photos. Part of me sadly realized, as I tilted my head back and felt the nerves in my arms scream out, that while I would no longer experience that pain soon, I would also likely be unable to tilt my head back and look up into those canopies soon. To see the same sight, I will need to sit down, then lay down on my back in order to see directly above me.

I think I want to have a series of paintings done that capture, what for me, will soon be memories of fleeting visions.

One thought on “Challenges We Give Ourselves

  1. You see through such beautiful lenses—best of luck to you on the upcoming operation. Strength through fragility—may the thorns of the flesh never bereave you of your appreciation for all that’s beautiful in our world.


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