Sep 17, 2011

Wilmington Waterfront Day 2

Facing north on Market Street, 9x12" oil on panel
Someday, I’m going to cross the bridge in Wilmington and paint the USS North Carolina, a WW2 battleship that’s docked there for the benefit of tourists. I’m sure the ship would provide me with all kinds of interesting shapes and shadows. But on Sunday, this scene drew me. I stood not far from where I’d stood to paint the Saturday market scene, but this time looked east up Market Street rather than west. Cars had already grabbed their free-on-Sunday parking places and the guide for the trolley car was there an hour early to prepare his horses and trolley for the day’s tours. Morning light like this is wonderful. But like youth, it’s oh so fleeting.

Sep 16, 2011

Wilmington [NC] Waterfront Day 1

Market Day on Water Street, 8x10" oil on panel
Last weekend was International Plein Air Painters WORLDWIDE Paint Out, and for plein air artists in Eastern North Carolina, the waterfront in Wilmington was the designated place to be. Other than a battleship and a few alligators, there’s nothing scary about the Cape Fear River along which the city of Wilmington is situated. Instead, the eastern shore of the Cape Fear River in Wilmington is a place to find tourists as well as locals strolling, shopping, and grazing along its mile-long Riverwalk. The whites of the tents set up for the Saturday Farmers Market in Riverfront Park caught my eye, and because the entire market would be folding up at 1:00 pm, it made it easy that morning for me to decide  my priority subject matter.

Click WILL PAINT FOR SHELTER to see Saturday’s second painting.

Plein air buddy Bernie
Here too is talented artist and Chief Gatherer of Plein Air Painters Bernie Rosage of the OOPS* tribe. Bernie’s the one whose invitation I accepted to participate in last weekend’s WORLDWIDE Paint Out.

*Onslow [County] Outdoor Painters Society

Sep 7, 2011


Home on 13th Avenue, 6 ¾ x 9" watercolor
Here is the home that it took me courage to revisit. How I loved this house. I purchased it a year after my divorce. It was located not far from Minnehaha Parkway in a neighborhood nicknamed Rabbithood. Click rabbit to read how the area got its name. I don’t like to think I gave up a house in an area known as Rabbithood. Those who know me well, know what a bunny-lover I am.

See the airplane in the sky? The house was under the path of planes coming into the airport. I soon regretted having a deck built onto the back of the house. It was great for viewing, but the noise from airplanes passing overhead made conversation there impossible. The Metropolitan Airports Commission put $80K worth of new windows, doors and insulation onto this house (and others in the path) to insulate it against noise, another reason I can feel remiss that I no longer own this home.

Photo taken by friend Leslie Carlson Ritchie
Enough about regrets, I was happy to see that the lilacs, Flowering Plum and Star Magnolia trees I planted have so beautifully reached maturity. After visiting the house, I met with a friend for lunch. I told him how much I regret losing this house. He said, “You didn’t lose it, you traded it to care for your mom [in North Carolina] and for your art career.”

Sep 5, 2011

Mixed memories, 1989-1996

duplex on Thomas Ave., 5 ½ x 8 ¾ watercolor
I’m picking up a commission today that will include a rendition of twigs of a plant called bittersweet.

Bittersweet pretty much sums up my feelings when I look at this side-by-side duplex where I once lived. I went in a happy, hopeful half of a newlywed couple. I went out alone looking for the nearest apartment. It is difficult to write about this dwelling without dwelling on the marriage that took me there in the first place.

Skipping the bad stuff.
Realtors tell us to look for the shabbiest house on the block. This house fits the bill. It is situated on a street divided by a beautiful median where I sat to do this watercolor. At the end of the street is a tennis court and just one street east is Lake Harriet, formerly known as “the yuppie lake.” This and the home’s quaint Linden Hills neighborhood make the area one of the most desirable places to live in Minneapolis.

I think you’ll agree the painting looks a little cattywampus. I’m including a photo below that also looks cattywampus. Maybe it’s my view of this place that’s cattywampus, making it impossible for me to take or paint a straight rendition of it.

Sep 3, 2011

Home, 1980-1989

The next several Plein Air posts will feature the places in which I lived at one time in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I just returned from a trip there and while visiting, decided it a good thing to paint part of my history. I lived in the Twin City metro area from 1970 until 2003, until I returned to Goldsboro, NC, home of my parents and the later years of my youth.

Home of Behr Lemons, 6 1/4 x 9 1/4" watercolor
When I was in my twenties, I became almost obsessed with owning my own home. Somehow, thirty seemed like the age at which one was supposed to have their name on a property. I rented an upper duplex in Kenwood, an upscale neighborhood in Minneapolis. The duplex was a grand Victorian two-story house with gingerbread woodwork and at least one stained glass window. The duplex I liked second to mine was this prairie-style home in south Minneapolis. Rick Lemons, a friend and fellow art director in the ad business rented the second floor. His living room featured a large skylight that provided light and cheerfulness even in the dead of winter. Sure enough, Rick’s landlords, a married couple who lived downstairs, needed more space when two children from a previous marriage came to live with them. In January of 1980 Rick and I purchased the duplex from them, and became legal tenants-in-common, each with our own unit. Later that year we also became business partners, thus the name Behr Lemons.

I moved out when I married in 1989, but continued to run my freelance graphics business there. When Rick and I were threatened with eviction for operating a business in a non-commercially zoned space, we decided to sell the property. Closing day was on a Monday in early November 1993. Two days later, Rick collapsed from a brain aneurism while working out at a local gym. Sadly, he died just days before his 49th birthday.

I love painting that which is beautiful to behold, but I also enjoy painting places that are meaningful to me in other ways. This gives me time for contemplation and reflection, allowing me to pay tribute to those places or people who have shared a piece of their history with me.