Thursday, June 14, 2012

Were The Stars Out That Night?


Childhood in Buffalo Springs VA, acrylic, 18x24
This is all true--I couldn't make this stuff up:

When I was three, I had a pet squirrel.  Whisko Wilkerson was his name.  I traded him to gypsies for a bird; the bird only lived for a few weeks.  The gypsy caravan came through southern Virginia on Rt. 58 about once a year and Dad let them park overnight in front of our country store; we got our palms read and we children were never stolen.

When I was about five, I saw a flying saucer come towards our back yard as I stood near the gate.  I ran into the house screaming; I escaped.  (Okay, it's possible that was one of the days I had watched someone patch an inner tube at the store--I loved the smell of that glue.)  My flying saucer looks a lot like a recessed ceiling light; maybe I was seeing the future.

At six, a calf was born and she became my pet--Pansy.  I used my hair brush on Pansy and I rode on her back.  Before my father studied to became a minister, he was a businessman--he owned the store which was on ten acres, owned several rental farms, was an antique dealer, drove a school bus, and he bought and sold livestock.  HE SOLD PANSY!  I'm sure I cried, but probably quietly, in my room.  About a month later, he hitched the trailer to the car and he brought Pansy home--I'll bet he lost money on that deal.  He told me much later that, as we drove past Pansy's new pasture on the way to church every Sunday, he could feel my feet pressing into the back of his driver's seat and just couldn't take it anymore.  I didn't know I was doing that--I was concentrating on holding my breath and trying not to cry.  

If we're lucky our parents teach us lessons in caring.  Happy Father's Day.

I'm considering adding a few faint stars to the sky (maybe the Virgo constellation for Dad's birthday); when I started this painting Saturday night the sky was starless and gray.  This painting makes me smile and it was great getting back into my studio for four straight days and having real paint under my fingernails again.


Childhood in Buffalo Springs VA (w/stars added)
 Sat. 6/16/12--IMPORTANT UPDATE.  Out of curiosity, I googled "UFOs in 1947" and the results were exciting.  There was a six-week "wave" of reported sightings that year--all over the US.  I only reported my sighting to my parents and, until this blog, never mentioned it to anyone.  Maybe I really did see a flying saucer!!  

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33 comments:

  1. Your painting made me smile too! I love the overall "Roswell" type feeling. I envy that you saw a spaceship. I never have. I wonder what type of lighting fixture I would see, were I to see one. I agree you can't make somethings up. Truth is stranger than fiction. I'm glad you had such a good Dad. Going back to get Pansy was SUPER. I like your Dad.

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    1. Hi Celeste. I've always been convinced that I saw a flying saucer (it wasn't shaped like this but I thought this shape made a better painting). It cast a strange Roswell-type light. Of course, there was also that huge bear who looked in my window--maybe he's hiding behind the trees.

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  2. What a wonderful wonderful story Hallie. We also hope to teach our two sons about caring, compassion for others. I think we succeed pretty well. The painting is gorgeous, the light in it is very mysterious, i love that a lot.
    Sweet greetz i send to you....

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    1. Thank you, Momo Luna. It was an interesting place to grow up; we met lots of characters and heard great stories. I worked hard on the light, trying to imagine how the glow from the saucer night fall and cast those shadows.

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  3. Love the clean, crisp style of your painting, Hallie. I knew your blog instantly (sometimes I forget whose blog I'm on and have to double check) because of that space ship in the piece. Only you, Hallie. Adds your sense of humor and whimsy to the piece, it does. Wonderful work!

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    1. Crimson Leaves--thanks for recognizing my work (I think). I can't be the only kid who saw a space ship or saucer. I think Gary Trudeau of FarSidem saw quite a few. This was fun to paint.

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  4. Loved the Pansy story. We had a duck named Dinky. He got so big that one day dad brought an old farmer over to take Dinky away. He assured us he had a big pond for Dinky to enjoy. I always thought it was odd that the farmer kept smakin his lips and drooling a little as he threw Dinky in a box in the back of the truck, and drove away. I wondered why Dinky couldn't ride in the front seat with the nice farmer with the pond.

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    1. Hi William. Pansy was so named for a pansy-shaped spot--I wonder about the name Dinky. I wasn't worried about Pansy becoming steak, I was worried that the other cows in the pasture might not like her--she could have been bullied. I'm sorry Dinky didn't have a happy ending. I'm glad you're back to blogging.

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  5. Loved that story and I'm so glad your Dad brought Pansy back home to you :) And you were so brave not to cry or have a hissy fit over it all. Fun painting - all it needs is a gypsy fortune teller in the background :)

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  6. Hi Rhonda and thanks. I don't think it was bravery--if something really hurts, I just hide and can't talk about it (but I pitched great "Wikerson fits" over small things). Dad's buying Pansy back is probably the most touching memory from my childhood. I did paint a fortune teller several months ago.

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  7. Great story images...and there just ain't nothin' like real paint and real fingernails to wear it under.
    Happy Dad's Day indeed.

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    1. Hi Donna. The iPad's great but it doesn't feel quite as good as standing at the easel wearing a paint-splattered shirt.

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  8. The fence is what has me in a trance like state. But I think it also is the story (and the story teller), that keeps me coming back for more! You are a wonderful story teller, both with words and with paint.

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    1. Robin. I have umpteen sketches of the gate and Pansy done during the past six months. It was not until I had that "Aha" flash and realized I could step back and to the side that I could begin the painting. I think the fence and it's shadow is the painting--the gate was huge (trailer had to fit through) and I'm sure Dad built it so the boards might have been hand-sawn. Once I had the fence perspective in my head, the painting was easy. Thank you.

      I'm sure my brother remembers the fence; I think he had the job of white-washing it a few times.

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    2. And all the sketches were lousy!

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  9. What a lovely story and a fabulous painting illustration to go with it, I love love it, it is both naive , surreal and modern at the same time !

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    1. Thank you, thank you Jane. I do think seeing the Picasso exhibit might have had some influence on this--I saw the fun he must have found in painting.

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  10. Hallie,
    I love this painting of memories. The squirrel, Whisko, traded to gypsies and cow, Pansy, sold then rescued by your dad, and the star ship that threatened your safety. All of them together in one painting so well composed and lovely. I think the stars to honor your dad will be a nice contribution should you choose to do so.

    I'll be thinking about this painting for a long while. Thank you Hallie. Your parents did a good job. You are a spectacular human being and you always teach about caring.

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    1. Hi PAMO. One vote for stars--I think that empty sky needs a few, too. I'll keep them dim in memory of those teenage years; he was strict but fair and I was stubborn--couldn't wait to get out of the house and on my own. I planned to be wild, but the early lessons stuck. Smoking cigarettes was as bad as I got.

      Thank you--I'll be following your Bike Rides.

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  11. Hallie, what a lovely tribute to your dad, and our peak into your childhood gives us a glimpse of what made you uniquely Hallie. When I first looked at this painting, I thought of a children's book illustration and mused over it a few minutes before reading your description. Yours is a far better story than I created.

    I, too, hope to return to the studio, if I can find my art supplies behind two dozen stacked up chairs. We are having that special remodel adventure.

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    1. Thank you, Mary. I sometimes wonder if I might have actually spent time aboard that spaceship--might have skewed my view!

      I know you're anxious to have the remodeling adventure behind you--it always seems to take longer than expected.

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  12. You are full-out hilarious. And nutty enough to make me feel normalish. Okay, not really.
    One of the things I like about your paintings is the courage it takes to use them to illustrate your nutty stories. And dreams. I mean, I dreamt about Sylvester Stallone last night... as a sympathetic character, no less. But that doesn't mean I'm going to put him in a painting. Come to think of it, Celeste is a much more sympathetic character, so I guess you aren't all that brave after all. Until you start talking about Pansy and Whisko and the extra-terrestrial ceiling light.

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    1. Hilarious, SamArtDog?? I thought I was using my authentic artistic voice for this one; of course, I've never understood how I could use someone else's authentic voice unless I copied a work. I did dream about reading Celeste's blog but she didn't appear in it. I like Stallone--why not a painting?

      I'm considering dream-programming--I'll read your blog just before sleep and maybe you'll appear (you'll probably be lassoing some dogies). Will I recognize you? No self-photos or -portraits on your blog. Or, I might just astro-travel out to Colorado and check out your "normalish."

      This could be the start of a series "Is this Sam?"

      Love the phrase, "extra-terrestrial ceiling light."

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  13. What a fun painting and childhood tale. I thought recessed light immediately--but maybe the styling was modeled after the same UFO you saw. Some guy could have seen it too. Yes, stars would be appropriate. Charming painting Hallie.

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  14. Thank you, Linda. Stars will be added tomorrow--I ran out of time today. (I'm amazed that you can create art with guests in your house!)

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  15. Let's here is for paint!! Okay - now I know why your paintings are surreal. Your life is surreal! Cool painting!!

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    1. Hi Dan. I know you meant to say "hear it for paint" but you're probably using one of those little smart phone things. My childhood was a bit surreal now that I think about it, and our drinking water contained traces of lithium (Buffalo Lithia Springs). We even got to sit on nail kegs in the store and play checkers--Norman Rockwell would have loved it.

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  16. OMG! I just read the update! You know....I think you DID see a UFO! That is what explains the clarity in your painting. I once saw a series of hovering lights in the blackest sky. They just hovered and hovered for the longest time. The odd thing was I took photos and the photos showed practically nothing--but the lights were really bright! What do you think it means....(oh sighter of UFOs) ? I have no one else to ask! lol!

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    1. You too, Celeste? I suspect it means we're "slightly touched" due to Celeste-ial objects. Your sighting might have inspired the great lights and darks we see in your paintings.

      I wonder now about your umbrella paintings. Protection from rain or protection from those eyes in the sky?

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  17. Hallie, you are an amazing story teller through words and paint. I'm glad your dad bought Pansy back for you! My mother in law thought her dad had killed her pet lamb for dinner (the lamb had actually died while Ella was asleep the previous night) so she stopped eating meat and cried for weeks!
    I'm so happy to have time to catch up on reading my favourite blogs again after weeks of painting, painting, painting. Thanks for your encouragement!

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  18. Hi Carole. I'm with your mother-in-law and I don't think I could have made it on a farm. We had some chickens--I couldn't eat one of our own; Mom had to buy them at the store. I was tricked into eating rabbit once and cried for days (my rescue rabbit is another story).

    I glad you had a great Art Walk weekend.

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  19. What a lovely dad! I sometimes think we invest important parts of ourselves in our pets. So maybe some of what seems lovable in our buddies is really a reflection of part of ourselves. Taken in that sense, your dad felt your grieving and at some cost to himself made you whole again.

    Great painting. The stars are just right. They seem to bridge the calf with the mysterious light in the sky and i'm left wondering which is the greater miracle.

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  20. Hi Harry. I am a sucker for all the living things, even the snakes and weeds.

    I got rather retentive with the stars--they are Mom and Dad's astrological signs, Leo and Virgo and I think they belong in the southern sky. Thank you. I'll wait patiently for your next great work.

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