Thursday, 9 April 2009

Recollection of a Blueberry

Huckleberries at Dolly Sods, photographed by Gene Hyre

I had ran across this this photograph while looking for references for a landscape painting. I had been looking for it to show someone but it had been stashed away somewhere in my e-mails. This photo was taken by my Dad.

I used to go blueberry picking with my Grandfather on Bear Rock Preserve the top of Dolly Sods in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia. That was many years ago and yes, you can say I found my thrill on blueberry hill although, some family insist that they are huckleberries.

It has been a long while since I have eaten a blueberry or even looked at a blueberry. This is because, I can't bring myself to pay for something in the shop that I used to pick for free. For me, it is a crime to see them in a package with a heavy price tag on them.

In all seriousness, I found it interesting that my recollection of a blueberry was different from actual observation of a blueberry.

My recollection of a blueberry :
My first thought is the colour blue and the powdery colour on the outside of the blueberry's smooth soft skin. I always found it fascinating that I could rub the blueberry and the powdery colour would remain. When putting them to my lips, I would imagine the comparison to the softest skin. Would it be as soft as a baby's bottom or perhaps my grandmother would have soft skin like a blueberry.

Still on the colour As my eye travels around the blueberry I expect as I look into the crown and I would see the inside of the blueberry. For small blueberries, the colour deepens or the value becomes darker as I look down into the crown almost but not quiet a black hole. Perfect for a small pool of milk.

I loved that red violet colour that your fingers get stained with when you pick blueberries. Yum!

I ate all of them one at a time!

Well, that was the memories... I won't bore you with the details.

It was the best place to go for blue berries. What a view!

-Kim Bennett

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Opies Parents

Standing on the same porch are David and Sarah Hyre, the parents of Opie. The stone house was contracted by his father Jonathan Hyre, with local stone masons. The Civil War interrupted the construction, but was resumed afterwards. Plagued with labor troubles, sentiment against him because of his stand during the war, and the lack of funds, Jonathan abandoned the project. This left the house an incomplete shell.
David spent some time in trying to complete the construction with the skills that he had learned from the stone masons. But time being of the essence, David contracted with local carpenters to finish the construction of the exterior and interior of the house. This was to be the new home of David and his bride, Sarah.
David was a self sufficient and progressive farmer. Over the years the farm had been cleared, orchards and a vineyard were planted near the house. Surrounding them you can see a grape vine. With this grape, David won a bronze medal and certificate for his grapes at the 1905 Worlds Fair in St. Louis. The medal had its place on the family organ in the parlor. The certificate was kept out of sight and only brought out on special occasions. The certificate was bordered by Greek Goddeses and the nude back view of a Male God. For this reason the certificate was banishment to the closet. As I painted a bit, Granny Freda pulled the framed certificate out and gave it to me for the frame. I have this certificate, in the frame, proudly displayed over my living room fireplace mantle.
The orginal vine was destroyed. But, fortunately my husband took a cutting from this vine and it now grows on our back deck. The second year we had it, the squirls almost destroyed it. They chewed through the vine, but fortunately it survived. I plan to take cuttings and give them to other members of the family.
My husbands brother Mike Hyre gave us the bronze metal. He said the medal and certificate should stay together. I truly appreciate his gesture and will treasure them both. Someday they will both together be give to one of my children.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Good Times

I just had to put this charming picture of Granny Freddie and Grand Pal Opie in the blog. It was taken in 1970, on their front porch. Freda is wearing a red dress. She said it was her favorite color but when she was young a lady did not wear red. Also she wore her nylon hose with a garder just below the knees. Most of the time her skirt tail was long enough to hide them.
Notice that Opie has his house shoes on. He would wear his knee high gum boots to the barn and always change his shoes when he came back to the house. You did not come back from the barn or garden to inside the house. If he did, I imagine, Freda would have chased him out with the broom.
Dogs or cats were allowed indoors. Animals belonged outside. They could stay on the porch or go to the barn to keep warm. They usually had a collie dog to help with the cows. One of the boys brought in the beagle. They kept it and named him Slugo. I was told that, Slugo killed a chicken. That was almost like a death sentence for a dog. But instead, Opie tied the chicken around the dogs neck and let him wear it for a few days. Slugo never killed another chicken. I'm not sure if this was true. But, it did sound like something Opie would do.
The two boys, Jeff and Mark, in the picture are Great Grand Children and also first cousins. Both were born on the same day but one year apart. Mark still loves corn on the cob. I love the way Opie is looking at Mark. My husband gives people the same look. It must be a family trait. They were also alike in a lot of other ways.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Off the Beaten Path

I'm going off the beaten path and posting a few things, that is not part of our beloved hills. I recently finished these two paintings. One is of my grand daughter. Here she is just four years of age and she is conducting the great Gulf of Mexico. I did not see the Ocean until I was 31 years old, and it was a good while later when I beheld the Gulf. One was just as magnificent as the other. I became as a child beholding and delighting in one of Gods true wonders. But, to me the Mountain Forest will always be His Cathedral .

The next painting is of Indigo. A very special person asked if I would paint this for his wife. As Indigo suddenly died and his wife has grieved for her. I had planned to paint her looking out a window, but she was so elegant, like a beautiful piece of porcelain. She deserved an exotic setting. She is supposed to be transcending her aura to the tree of life.
Oh, well we mountain folks can dream. I hope Dawn will like this piece.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

View of Opies' Farm

In 1931, Opie moved back to the family farm to help his aging father. Opie and Fredda remained and worked the farm on Shatto Road outside of Ripley, West Virginia until the late 1970s. He was a self sufficient and progressive farmer.
The day the banks closed, as a result of the depression, the Jackson County sheriff met Opie at the mouth of Joe's Run to relay the message of the banks closure. The sheriff asked if he could help in any way. Opie said that he had 75 cents and a few checks in his pocket. The checks were not of any use at that time, but that he was in better financial condition than most. He indicated that he had plenty of food from the farm and that he could provide most of his needs.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Opie Hyre

Opie Franklin Hyre was born the family farm in 1889. He was the youngest of five children.
After his formal education, Opie went into joint business ventures with his brother. They timbered in the spring and fall and thrashed wheat in the late summer. On one venture, they covered a wagon with metal roofing and went into the local comunities selling patent medicines and remedies. With little success in his business ventures, he decided to further his education, through extension courses from Marshall, New River State, and Glenville State Colleges. After several years, Opie completed the requirements for a teaching certificate. The majority of his 35 years of teaching were at one room schools in rural areas of Jackson County.
During this time, Opie married Fredda Mae Stewart at her home in Parchment Valley on March 16,1912. The couple had their differences, Opie was six feet and two inches tall, Fredda was about five feet tall; he was a Democrat, and she a Republican. These constrasts along with their good nature, provided many an enjoyable hour at family reunions and election times.
I painted the portrait of Opie on a 16" x 20" canvas in oils. Except for Sunday dress, the bibbed overhauls and blue work shirt were standard atire for Opie. Fredda placed patch upon patch. All clothing was worn untill it was beyond repair.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Freddas' Depression Glass

I swiped this off my daughters blog. She is a much better writer than I am.
My mother sent me this photo of a painting she had just finished last week. What you are seeing is pink dog wood depression glass. This luncheon set belonged to my Great Grandmother Freda. As seen in an old advertisement it originally sold in the 1930's for under three dollars. Freda earned it a piece at a time from the general store.
8 x 10 inches , Oils on masonite. I've been wanting to paint a picture of glass. I had fun with it and look forward to giving it another try. A friend recently gave me some beautiful Blinko Glass. I have so enjoyed watching the sun reflect through it.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Fredda Mae "Stewart" Hyre

Freda "Stewart" Hyre was all of 4’10" tall. She was small in frame but large in spirit. She was born to Ephriam Stewart and Cora Mae "Casto" Stewart, in Parchment Valley, West Virginia, on August of 1889. Fredda lived to be 96 years of age. She was buried with Opie in the cemetery at Fairplain. Her mind was as sharp as a tack, she was physically active, but her heart finally gave out. She swore that creamed tomatoes were the secret to her long levity, and she ate them almost everyday of her life, breakfast, lunch and supper.
Like most people her age, she never let anything go to waste. Freda canned vegetables, made her own soap and quilted into her upper eighties. She would complain about her back, and at the same time work circles around all of us. She was spirited and talkative, while Grandpa was serious and quiet. But, It was fun to watch her and Grandpa Opie set and recite poems and verses. She would start in and he would join. Reciting these verses gave them great joy.
A few Stories about Granny Freda
Freda acted embarrassed about marring a younger man. She was 4 months older than Opie.
Her mother had three milking cows. The Black cow would continuously swat you with her tail. To prevent this, before milking, grandma would tie the cows tail to its’ leg.
She raised turkeys for the eggs and meat. She kept a big stick by the kitchen door. When she fed them, she would take the big stick. As soon as she opened the gate, the turkey gobbler would drop his wings, lower his head and run toward her at full speed. She used the stick to force him to keep his distance. The thing she didn’t know was, grandpa would aggravate the turkey to make him mean. With great delight, Opie would watch the escapades from a distance.
Painted on 16x20 canvas. The background of the painting is a suggestion of the pattern and colors of one of her favorite quilts. I took it from a photograph my husband took of her quilts hanging on the clothes line. Grandma, made quilts for all her children and grand children.
A Fair face may fade, but a beautiful soul last forever. I read this on a fortune cookie this a.m.
It brought to mind many people I have known, How true it is.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Ada and Stelman Pennington

Out of fondness I painted this picture of my aunt and uncle. They are standing on the side porch of their home. It was one of the old brown shingle homes. She always raised beautiful plants in old tin cans or what ever container she could find. The rich mountain soil produced beautiful plants. Stell farmed and Ada ran the Dry Fork Post office in the front room of their home. This room also contained what amounted to a penny candy store. They sold penny candy to the children who attended Dry Fork Grade school next to their house. The Grade School and their home are now torn down.
We always stopped at their small house on our way to my grandmothers. Anytime you would visit, Ada would insist that you sit down and eat. This is part of the mountain culture. I was told that it came out of the depression period. If you had food to share, a visitor should never be allowed to leave your home hungry. Anyway, Ada would quickly remove the table cloth that covered the food, fresh bread, canned jams and home made pies. She would set the table with plates, silverware and serve Kool-Aid or fresh milk for the kids and coffee for the adults. I was always fascinated watching Stell sip his coffee from a saucer. Now that I think about it, I don't ever remember Ada sitting down and having dinner or a snack with us. She was always busy making sure everyone had what they needed.
Oils on a 16x20 inch canvas

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Just One of the Kids

Three weeks in June I had spent a wonderful time with family and friends in America. The weather was lovely and warm too.

It was the first time for me to meet my niece Riley who is two. I spent a couple of days with her and her mum. I also spent time with my first niece Gracie, she had just turned four and we had two ice cream cakes for her party. Yum, my favourite!

I also had a chance spend time with Mike; he became ten over the summer and also likes to paint. We spent a couple of days together painting and doing gourd art. We had an awesome time!

Mike is a special guy and he is interested in art. Explaining art to a 10 year old was a wonderful experience for me as I looked at it in terms of another perspective. Let's just say, I did not realise how much science is actually involved in art. Well O.K., that is not entirely true but during our discussions, I found myself thinking back to junior school's Ms. Larose science class to help me explain and answerer his questions. Good thing I paid some attention in school.

I wonder if Ms. Larose was a painter in her spare time. I am starting to think so. LOL

Colour pencils aren't just for kids! This summers reading program was called "catch the reading bug." The KVDA girls made bookmarks with the kids at the library. We used coloured pencils. The bookmarks were of wonderful designs by artist Dottie Kuhl. She did a great job and the designs were so cute. We had so much fun mixing colours and tried using different techniques with our coloured pencils.

Teaching art to children is great! When a situation arises and there isn't enough green markers or colour pencils to go around to everyone, improvise and teach children that blue and yellow make green. It's magical.