I was on the East Coast last week visiting friends of my youth and experiencing the colors of autumn. This week's column comes from my travels.
I have been traveling the countrysides and coastlines in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
Walking in colored forests along leaf-paved pathways, I am reconnecting with friends. Playful dogs run from pathways into the woods and back. Beaches are littered with colored leaves, glistening as the sun rises in the east over the ocean.
Sea breezes carry a different salty aroma. Is it the different seaweeds washed ashore or the salt air mixing with the leaves and plants now becoming part of the earth that nourished them?
I realize I am far from home experiencing the same season from a different perspective.
With camera and oil paints I am capturing the surroundings. With my heart I am feeling the warmth in the colors, the evening fireside conversations and camaraderie of loved ones.
Every day brings new scenery with changing light conditions. Along the country roads the signs welcome me into each town.
Taking the place of the population on the sign is the date the city was incorporated. I've seen signs with the years 1690 and 1750. Rare have there been towns settled in the 1800s, and not one dated in the 1900s.
Homes and churches show their age by the size of trees. I feel a part of our nation's history as I pass streets named after great patriots and settlers. Yard signs in red, white and blue encourage voters to exercise their freedom to choose representation at the polls.
I realize I am in places where former generations fought for freedom and took amazing risks to settle and thrive far from their overseas homelands. These are the early pioneers that laid the foundation for our nation so California could join the union centuries later.
Moment by moment I tell myself this is the best part of my trip. At this moment and in light of , the story that follows is the heart of why I am an artist. My desire is to help others discover their inner artist and express only what paint, brushed with heart can tell.
I have only provided the supplies and the encouragement to play with the paint. Words have told only part of a story. What was on the inside came out when Kristen and her mother picked up a brush, added color, and swished it across the canvas. To both of them, creating a painting had only been a dream until now.
What happened in silence was accompanied by smiles. New colors mixed and blended on the canvas, created illusions of delight. Familiar places and fall colors effortlessly appeared before their eyes. Time had no relevance as we spontaneously painted miniature canvases (3-inch by 3-inch) one after the other. (Attached are a few of these expressive miniature paintings.)
We set up a display above the kitchen cupboards so the oil paints could dry safely and out of reach. Then we invited other family members to view them. More smiles, amazed expressions and hugging affirmed the new artists.
Janet Arline Barker is a San Bruno artist who specializes in plein-art painting. Her column appears biweekly on Sundays.
She'll be back in San Bruno Nov. 11 to find new friends who want to make expressive paintings. Join her outside the from 3-5pm. If the weather is bad, she'll be inside. Bring your art supplies and your heart.