I am back on the island of Bocas del Toro, (The Mouths of the Bull),
off the North coast of Panama. Remember that Panama lies East/West and
not North/South as I used to think. It is the bridge between North and
South America but the bridge is lateral so to speak because the end
of Costa Rica is to the West of the North of Columbia. OK. That is enough
of a geography lesson. I only learned this by being here.
I have been watching the reports of the weather back home. When Malcolm
and I left Mathews at 5:00 a.m. on Friday morning with Jake driving
us to Richmond Airport, the weather was barely freezing. We were dressed
in cool clothing, knowing that once we stepped out of the terminal in
Panama City, we would be engulfed in hot humid air.
We spent Friday night in Panama City watching CNN and saw how cold
it had turned throughout much of our country. My thoughts were with
you and I even felt a little guilty to be in the warm. We were up at
5:00 a.m. again on Saturday morning to catch the early flight to Bocas.
The weather was perfect because for once there was virtually no humidity.
Pat taking a break to read some more of Patricia Cornwall's latest
novel Blow Fly. Pat the artist, Patricia the writer and Bruce
Hornsby the musician were the three recipients of the 1999 Virginia
Chamber of Commerce Diamond Award.
My son John and his significant other, Maureen, were at the airport
to meet us along with Virginia (known to those of you who met her at
conventions before her business took off and kept her from traveling).
That afternoon, Malcolm and I went down to the farm in his boat. It
had been three months since Malcolm had left and he was apprehensive
as to how the farm had fared in his absence. We were delighted to find
that all was well, apart from trouble with a neighbor's dog that had
gotten amongst the sheep and killed two of the farm lambs.
The first Sunday mass at the Catholic church is at 7:00 a.m. and for
me it was also a reunion with my Panamanian lady friends. After the
service, I crossed the road to the Methodist church and joined Malcolm
there in time for the sermon. Joanne, Virginia's mother, was preaching.
She is a lay preacher and stands in on those occasions when there is
no minister available. Her sermons are always from the heart. She talked
of our need to be strong in our faith during these troubled times in
the world and to have understanding of the needs of others.
Pigeon Forge Mill will be printed and released at the Tennessee
Now to my paintings. Before leaving Mathews I worked more on the two
convention paintings, the log cabin, Cabin in the Hills,
and the mill, Pigeon Forge Mill. I lightened the tree and the
fence in Cabin in the Hills and added a muted quilt and put
a white wicker chair on the front porch.
Cabin in the Hills will be published as the large Tennessee Convention
Years ago a writer wrote that when I paint a single tree as in Cabin
in the Hills, the tree is myself, standing guard over all that
I survey. I suppose it is inevitable that my major paintings such as
this are in part autobiographical. Living with the painting for hours
on end I become absorbed into its being and a part of me transfers into
its image. People have likened my paintings of the horse to self-portraits.
I know this log cabin well. It is the home of Mike and Lisa Milhorn.
Malcolm and I have visited it several times and will do so again when
we are at the Tennessee
Convention in Kingsport on May 7th and 8th.
This new painting will be published as the small Tennessee Convention
I have quickly adapted to being back in this studio. Again I have north
facing windows and good light. I am showing you the covered bridge which
will be the second and smaller Tennessee print.
My congratulations to Ginny Myers on the excellence of the current
edition of The Art Cart, the Foundation's
electronic letter to classroom teachers. I thank all of you who support
the Foundation. We are making a difference in the lives of many children.
I am on a roll with the painting and so am going to stop now.
Hasta luego (see you later)
PS: Malcolm is getting about by bicycle rather than walking on his
troubled knee. He is planning to ride a horse at the farm.