Sunday, June 27, 2010

Riding along on a carousel

This wasn't on my 2010 Happiness Bucket List, but maybe it should have been -- ride on a carousel. It was always my favorite ride at amusement parks as a child, and as an adult, the artistry of carousel horses fascinated me. I got the chance to see some carousel horses up close and personal and relive my childhood's fond memories at Back Home on the Farm in Harrisonburg.

Bonnie and I went out last Wednesday evening to see the annual butterfly exhibit. Trying to capture these fragile, beautiful creatures in a photograph is a great test of our photographic ability. Despite the heat, we spent nearly an hour in the greenhouse, stalking and photographing butterflies. We were on our way out when Mr. Hess asked if we wanted to see the carousel.

Back Home on the Farm is a kid's -- no matter what their age -- delight. There are flowers, a John Deere "tractor" race track, a cow train, in the fall a corn maze and pumpkin patch. And the carousel. It has been carefully restored, Mr. Hess explained, with the larger horses painted to represent famous Virgiians and others from American history and the smaller horses representing Virginia's wide array of agricultural products. When he asked if we wanted to take a ride before he shut the carousel down for the night, I couldn't refuse. For several glorious minutes, around and around I went on the Thomas Jefferson horse (chosen because it was low enough for me to mount while wearing a dress and still keep my dignity). I was lost in the sensations of jhe air rushing past and the familiar sound of the carousel musics. For those few minutes, I wasn't a married, working woman with all of the joys and stresses that come with that adult life. No, for those few minutes, I was a young girl, racing across endless fields, just her and her steadfast horse entangled in some new and daring adventure.

Who needs therapy when you can ride a carousel?

(Photos of butterfly and carousel horse by Pamela Hamilton, copyright 2010; photo of Pamela on carousel by Bonnie Burt, copyright 2010)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

2010 HBL Item #22 --DONE!

Today was my watercolor class, held at Shenandoah National Park. 2010 Happiness Bucket List Item #22 is now completed.

I will never be an artist -- one look at the watercolors I did today will tell you that -- but I had so much fun. For three hours, all I thought about was blending, mixing, and painting. Learning something new is intense, and I can understand why people are advised to learn new hobbies throughout their lifetimes, especially as they get older. I can't remember the last time my brain got such a workout!

Painting is not like writing at all for me, even though both are creative arts. Writing comes naturally to me. Once I get started, the words just seem to flow from my brain to the paper, or more accurately in this day and age, the keyboard. Painting today was entirely different. I couldn't get the initial sketch the way I wanted it. I couldn't seem to blend the paint the right way; it was either too dark or too light. I could see the painting I wanted clearly in my mind. What came out of my fingertips was something else entirely.

I tried not to dwell on how frustrated I was by that. I tried to banish those thoughts when they first started to emerge. I was pretty successful, until the end when I was so-oo tired. (Creating is tiring; learning something new is exhausting.) My success was as much a part of the instructor's encouragement as it was my determination. Trilbie Knapp, president of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Art Association, never said one critical thing about my work, or any of the other students' artwork either. Even when I made a disparaging comment on the color of the petal or the shape of a leaf, she ignored it and pointed out something that I had done well.

I'm not racing out to Michael's to by watercolors and paper, but that's not to say I won't pick up the brush again. Who knows, Ms. Knapp may see me in another workshop one of these days.