Monday, July 2, 2007

Mulberry Pie and Impressionists

I just finished making a pie with some of the thousands of berries that have fallen from our trees. Steve is good enough to go out and pick me big bowls of them just after they collect on the ground so they are really fresh. These late ones seem much sweeter and attract more creatures than just the birds.

There is an exceptionally large migration of Red Admiral butterflies in our area this year and they love the mulberries. And so did the woodchuck that decided to make a home in our yard. He also decided to eat all my lettuce, numerous tomato leaves, pots of petunias, and take bites out of nearly everything Steve or I had planted.

Woodchucks are probably our worst nightmare. They will eat everything, unlike the deer who are somewhat selective. And they will create a home a short distance from their food sources and become fat little eating machines! Their eyesight is excellent so shooting them is very hard. I must admit they are the only creature I could shoot. But, this year it didn't come to that.

This wily little bugger dug a hole under some piled up stumps and logs around my Willow Tree Garden and hung out a "No Vacancy" sign. I threw a bunch of moth balls into the main hole and in between the logs (I know, very unenvironmental - but I was desperate!). All that happened was that the garden smelled like the men's room at work. I don't know how he could stay with those toxic fumes, but he did.

Steve decided on a live trap baited with lettuce (from the grocery store) and carrots. We knew it was a long shot, but it was worth a try. Well, we got very lucky - just before dark we captured the furry fiend and decided on his fate. Steve was ready to shoot him but I had a better idea. I'm pretty sure that it against the law to release "varmints" in populated areas but there is a dead end road not far from here that was perfect.

There is a farm there that I had just been to on Saturday for a rummage sale and after what I saw in their yard, I felt they deserved a woodchuck. Right at their front walk was one of those statues of an African American servant (for want of a better word) dressed in red and white livery and holding out his hand to take Master's horse. I really hate those things and can't imagine how anyone would tolerate that anywhere, much less as a greeting at their front door. So, they got a woodchuck. When Steve opened the live trap, the little guy (he was small, probably quite young) ran off into the weeds towards the house. "All's well that ends well."


OK, now I'm going to put on another art exhibit. When I showed you my Waterhouse paintings a few posts ago, Pam , of Mind Trips, said that impressionists were her favorites. That piqued my curiosity and I thought that American impressionists would be interesting to showcase.

Here is a very brief explanation from Wikipedia of Impressionism:

Characteristics of Impressionist painting include visible brushstrokes, open composition, emphasis on light in its changing qualities (often accentuating the effects of the passage of time), ordinary subject matter, the inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience, and unusual visual angles.

After doing a little research I decided to show three artists' work. I found their paintings to be filled with unique styles and lovely ways with color and shadow. See if you don't agree.

Our first artist is a woman - Lilla Cabot Perry (1848 - 1933) born in Massachusetts and one of the first painters to embrace Impressionism. She was a socialite who married a literature professor and lived and studied in France. She was very good friends with Monet and was influenced by his style. Her work was exhibited in France and the US. She was active within the art world her whole long life.

I see a lot of Monet's influence in this one.


Willard Leroy Metcalf (1858 - 1925) was also born in Massachusetts and studied in Boston and Paris. He started with figure painting and later became prominent in landscapes. Metcalf taught art in various New York schools and was involved with an artist colony in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

This is my favorite. It's called "The White Lilacs".


Our last Impressionist is Childe Hassam (1859 - 1935) who studied art in Massachusetts and in 1882 had a solo exhibition of watercolors. He went to Paris in 1886 for formal studies but was greatly influenced by Impressionists. On his return to the US, he stayed in New York City and painted the "genteel urban atmosphere" he discovered there and became a celebrated painter.

It is interesting that people who are labeled "American Impressionists" are actually all very different. I learned a lot as I researched this post and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Bye for now,


Mary said...

Hi Alyssa,

First, I REALLY like the pig in the pond photo as your header!

Your woodchuck reminded me of a ground hog that love my home in Maryland. He was convenient to a large vegetable garden, a fresh water stream, and a shed for shelter. A neighbor of mine trapped him and drove him 3 miles away to a park with a pond. He came back two months later and I know it was the same one!

You are showing lovely artwork, Alyssa. I think my favorite two are the last ones by Hassam although they are all great.

Thanks for such a nice read. Good luck with the woodchuck!

Pam said...

First...great place for the woodchuck!

Thanks for the art show, Alyssa, it was wonderful. I have never seen the works of Lilla Cabot Perry and liked them very much. I see Monet's influence, definitely. And since the art world used to be dominated by men, her work is especialy appreciated.

Alyssa said...

Mary - I'm glad that the pig pic isn't too distracting and that others like as much as I do.

I sure hope we've seen the last of that woodchuck and don't have a return engagement like you did. Guess he'd have to go down then.

Thank you for the compliment - it's fun to see different styles of painting.

Pam - Yes he should "live long and prosper" there.

I chose a woman just for that reason and was happy when I found one who was so prominent. I really found Impressionism an intriguing style.

kate said...

What first popped to mind were the words, "Here we go 'round the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush." I love the idea of your making a mulberry pie. Most cool!

The woodchuck is quite the wily creature as you say. I think you found the perfect new home for him.

I enjoyed your pics of American impressionists - I'm not familiar with these artists at all. Thank you for sharing this.

Have a wonderful week. Yesterday was a holiday here so today feels like a Monday!