Marjorie's Gate. When Robin MacBlane and I went out to do landscapes "en plein air" back in 2011 and 2012, we chose places that offered some kind of peace and some kind of beauty. When we went to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' home in Cross Creek, Florida, we found both of those things with the added bonus of some authentic local history. I won't get into the history here except to say that Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was famous in her day (and, you could argue, is still famous today) as a celebrated author with such titles as, "The Yearling," "Cross Creek," and "Mountain Prelude" (adapted to film as "The Sun Comes Up" in 1950). It would make sense, then, to paint a picture of Marjorie's typewriter, the chair she favored, the water pump outside her home, or even the house she lived in. But we chose to paint the gate that led to her home, instead. Gates, especially small gates like Marjorie's, hold a bit of warmth and comfort for me. Maybe for you, too. A gate represents the threshold to our own personal sanctuary. The dividing line that separates the "outside world" from our own world. And Marjorie's gate, like the gate on the fence to my own childhood back yard, was unassuming and not threatening. It didn't even have a lock on it. But Marjorie was a celebrity. She was sought after. She had a bonified fan base. And she had celebrity friends. Robert Frost passed through Marjorie's gate. Margaret Mitchell also visited the home. Artist N.C. Wyeth was there as was actor Gregory Peck. So, it would have been understandable if her gate had a lock on it. But it didn't. So, it is from that perspective that I looked at Marjorie's gate, and the dirt path that led to her home, as a hint at the person Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was and not just the public persona that, for the most part, has faded since her death in 1953. Probably, like most of us, she was anxious to take off her shoes after arriving home. She probably adored the way the sunlight came through her window early in the morning. I'm guessing, when she was in the quiet of her own home, she allowed her mind to drift back into deep and fond memories. And to look forward to upcoming events like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Like Robin and myself, she grew up in a big city. Hers was Washington D.C. So, maybe like the two of us, as much as she loved her home in Cross Creek, maybe she held on to the "city girl" part of herself. And, like Robin, she attended the University of Wisconsin. So, maybe there were times, during the winter, when she would long to see snow. Robin and I have interviewed a lot of celebrities on our radio show. They were always on the air with us to talk about a movie, or a book, or a new project of some sort. And, of course, we obliged them (and their publicists) by staying on that course. But we would also take that "road not taken" (thank you, Mr. Frost). We called those questions our "left field questions." Questions like, "did you have a dog when you were a child?" or "what's your favorite drink to pair with a chocolate chip cookie?" It lightened things up. It got a chuckle. It often led to long and winding tangents. So, as I painted Marjorie's gate, I wondered which "left field question" would we ask Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings if she was a guest on the show (or if we were guests in her home). Maybe we'd ask, "Can you shoot a bow-and-arrow?" or "What is in your junk drawer?" See? Left-field questions are really gates. Gates into a person's true self. The "self" we all get to know in each other when we become friends. Give it a try. In a previous post I suggested bringing up the Blue Ridge Parkway at your Thanksgiving get-together. Faces light up when you ask that unexpected question that serves as a 'gate' into their very core. I'll never get to ask Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings any left-field questions so I won't be able to pass through the gates that they might open. But it's certainly something I meditated on during the hours we spent painting outside of Marjorie's gate. Some people let you in. Some don't. I have a feeling Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings would have let us in and even served us lunch. That's how I imagine us passing through Marjorie's Gate.
This painting was done in 2012. WAY before I was painting digitally. This is oil on canvas. Simple as that.
This was my half of our 30th set of Plein Air Paintings. Robin MacBlane and I went to the home of author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings on Saturday, May 5, 2012. Marjorie's home has since been made into a museum and her property is now a state park. Our friend, Doug Smith, came along. So did my dog, Hu. It was a bit hot but a beautiful day! Robin and I both chose Marjorie's gate as our subject. If you ever get the chance, rent the movie "Cross Creek" and then visit this park and tour her home. A very cool way to get to know this very beloved author.
May 6th, 2012
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