Painting is more of an emotional exercise than a structured plan in all my oil paintings.  The paint has a life of its own.  It is up to me to allow that life to flourish.  No matter what plan is in my head before a painting begins, it always, without fail, takes on a life of its own that has very little resemblance to the original plan.  The difficulty for me is to surrender control to the emotional connection of the paint with the canvas.  I must let go of my preconceived idea and let the paint breathe.  In this sense, the painting is painting itself.  The harder I try to control the paint, the less life it has.  At this point, I have learned not to argue with the paint.  It is so much happier when allowed the freedom to be itself. The paint is the happiest when painting nature, either in a happy place or in living growing things and creatures, I love the energy of the paint  I give it its freedom.

The Lake

The Lake paintings are about the magic and drama surrounding a lake created by the New Madrid Earthquake of 1811-12, one of the largest earthquakes to ever hit the United States mainland.  Reelfoot Lake was created as the Mississippi River flowed backwards during the quake, filling up a low -lying swampy area before receding again.  The 28,000 acres of Reelfoot Lake State Park (Tennessee) and Reelfoot Federal Wildlife Preservation Area are now home to bald eagles, and other endangered wildlife.  The beautiful cypress trees surrounded by their protruding knees are doted throughout the lake preventing the use of high speed power recreation watercraft and helping to maintain the wildlife habitat.  Throughout my childhood, I spent many wonderful hours at Reelfoot with my family.  From my great aunt and uncle, I learned much of the history of the lake.  The history as told by my aunt and uncle was peppered with bits of magical mystery about fairies and other woodland sprites living among the cypresses and in the woodsy hills surrounding the lake.  My great aunt was a naturalist who could point out most of the species of plant life growing around and in the lake, and of the plentiful birds who called Reelfoot home.  My siblings and I would get so excited riding in the backseat of the car toward Reelfoot when we caught the first glimpse of what we all referred to as “The Lake.”  There were other lakes around but none were the Lake.  Driving along by the lake we would press faces to the window to see how many turtles we could count lying out sunning themselves on logs in the lake.  We stayed on the look out for the venomous  cotton-mouth water moccasin snakes so prevalent in the Lake.   My father taught us as soon as we were old enough to understand, how to spot the moccasins and stay out of their way.  Reelfoot has never lost its magic and drama for me.  Even though at times, I choose to paint other subjects, I always return to Reelfoot.  Reelfoot has always been my place of enchantment.

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