Words inspired by the backroads of America

Wander


The theme for 2011 is "Wander".
Unfortunately, that’s a word that is not used much these days.  When it is, it generally takes on a negative connotation, most often associated with aimless or lost.
Wander happens to be one of my favorite words.  To me it has a positive connotation of following your curiosity and having an open mind to truly seeing new surroundings and experiencing new adventures.  It’s turning off of the most direct route and onto the winding backroads to see what you can find out there.   

The Value of Ten Minutes


What is the value of a minute?  Of five minutes?  Can ten minutes make a difference in a day?
Flying along the Kansas Turnpike at the usual 5 mph over the speed limit rush, returning from a doctor’s appointment in Kansas City, we were commenting about the profusion of yellow flowers along the side of the road being bent and shaken by the early fall gusting winds.  Were they Sunflowers?  They looked like they might be, but they seemed smaller and without dark centers.  They didn’t look like Brown-eyed Susans.  And then, some looked like merely yellow background plantings to the tall Bluestem grasses growing unmown in the steep cuts along the highway. 

Adventure on the Art Fair Circuit


We just returned from a month of grand adventure.  Last year we made a commitment to jump into the art fair circuit and were able to participate in a few local shows.  With the addition of hand-tinted color added to the prints in my portfolio over the winter, I was pleased to have been accepted into some large and well-established shows including the 44th Annual Edina, Minnesota Art Fair, the Smoky Hill River Festival in Salina, Kansas and the Downtown Omaha Summer Arts Festival.  We will also return to Minneapolis in August for the Uptown Art Fair, an event that ranks second in that state for attendance.  It is eclipsed only by the Minnesota State Fair and ranks in the top 10 art fairs in the country! 

Sunday at the Emma Chase


On a whim we found ourselves seated at the locally famous, old fashioned, down home friendly Emma Chase Café in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, sipping our iced tea from a large canning jar.  We had ordered our Chicken Finger Dinners from the three blackboard menu selections, fried chicken, chicken fingers and chicken fried steak and had time to look around in the gift shop and study the great historical vignette paintings adorning the walls of the storefront café in the county seat of Chase County, deep in the Flint Hills.  We were reflecting on the great day and weekend we were having.  

South with the Snowbirds


Yesterday I spotted several bunches of Crocus with their bright, sunny yellow and lavender blooms popping up in the neighbor’s yard.  I guess spring is just around the corner!  We’ve been without snow for quite a while, but it’s been cold and grey most of the time.  I think you will agree with me that the weather this winter has been unusually intense, cold and grey, and we’re all ready for some warm spring days.   

On the Edge of the Flint Hills


Gazing out over the rolling hills that fall off into the West Branch of the Fall River Valley, I truly feel like I’m one of the luckiest guys around.  I have designed the perfect job to take advantage of both of my loves.  Wandering the backroads of Butler County, looking for an interesting and creative subject for the Coutts Memorial Art Museum 2010 Gift Print, not only am I able to spend a great day driving the countryside, but then I also get to return to my studio and create an etching that will go out to 125 appreciative art patrons.  Talk about a win-win!  Having an excuse to wander the great outdoors and then come back home and be creative!  I love it! 

My Journey into Creativity (Cont.)


With the weather settling in to the dreary, monotone of grey skies and most of the fall color gone, I have made a commitment to concentrate on new art processes and images for a while.  My goal is to master the product called Solarplate Copper, a photo-sensitive polymer coated plate.  Information about the product can be found in my last journal article.  As with most new products, there is a learning curve as new concepts are explored and processes are worked out.  

My Journey into Creativity


The days have gotten shorter, the wind that now comes unhindered across the plains carries a crisp, dampness that chills the bones and our thoughts now lean toward those projects and gatherings that give us an excuse to stay inside for a while.  We have tailgated and cheered, raked and bagged, driven the backroads and fulfilled our souls with another spectacular fall season of color.  For myself, now it’s time to step back and evaluate the accomplishments of the year and make some decisions and course corrections where needed.  After all, what is life but a journey that requires us to make decisions on the course we will take in order to arrive at our destination of choice. 

A Door County Anniversary


A defining moment, maybe?  A memory to tuck into the back of your mind to brighten those common everyday times, probably!  A perfect evening of a perfect day watching the sun disappear into the waters of Green Bay from Sunset Park with my favorite person by my side, definitely! 
You might think I’m being overly sentimental, and just maybe I am.  Nancy and I were enjoying our 40th Anniversary trip to Door County, Wisconsin, where we had planned a couple of days to just enjoy being together.   

Driving Through Down Home Missouri


If you are looking for the heartland of America, you can find a representational sample of it in North Central Missouri. Rolling fields, small scattered farms, neat Amish communities and the feeling that life just moves a little slower are some of the qualities of this part of the country.
I had read an article about State Highway 6 across upper Missouri through Kirksville in a book a few years ago, but had never managed to follow that route until last week on our trip up through Missouri and Illinois to the Chicago area and eventually Wisconsin. We took leave of I-35 just north of Cameron, Missouri and picked up State Highway 6 in Altamont.