Country Roads ~ Small Town USA

I’ve always wanted to live near the water but many times I’ve thought to myself if I were to live inland, Lexington, Virginia where my brother Tom lives, would be on the top of my top list.  This last weekend I went on my quest to find inspiration for my art from the Virginia countryside. 

It all started with my trip to the Muscarelle Museum in Williamsburg, VA, when I saw the Impressionist exhibit and wrote the following blog, Finding Inspiration in Art.   Beautiful landscapes by Degas, Sisley, Hassam, Robinson and others that were so painterly and serene that I thought to myself, I’d like to paint something like that!

The town of Lexington is “Small Town USA” and I could write a blog about it but on this trip I was focused on the surrounding countryside of Rockbridge County.  I got up early to make the three hour trip, attempting to time the morning light just right upon arrival.  Winding my way toward my brother’s home down Route 252 off Highway 81, I had my camera ready. 

Within minutes of turning off the highway, I was winding through the rolling hills, along little creeks and pastures and I soon realized this might be difficult.  It was hard for me to keep my eyes on the road with so many photo opportunities.  There were no shoulders to pull off on.  I drove by a few photo opportunities just because there was no place to pull over.  Already frustrated, I then spotted a single horse standing next to his white barn, looking at me across the mirrored pond that reflected the weeping willow tree that helped frame the shot.  I drove by and then backed up, mustering up the nerve to pull into the farm’s driveway and park, blocking the entrance just for the few minutes I needed to run along the side of the road snapping pictures.  Of course, all hell started breaking loose as the three barnyard dogs came running down the driveway, all barking at me and notifying their owner of my arrival!  Would they stop or would I find myself with them clamped on my leg????  I then pictured a farmer with a sawed-off shotgun running toward me.  I would have loved to have taken more pictures but it was rapid fire and I was on to the next scene. 

Rain set in and I headed to Tom’s.  After showing him my shots he said “We can do even better”.  When the weather cleared up, we hopped in his pick-up truck and that afternoon and the next morning Tom took me on a guided tour of Rockbridge County.  Tom is the kind of guy that can be driving 50 mph over a winding country road and spot a wild turkey off in the woods or a hawk going after its prey.  I’m the kind of guy that has two hands on the wheel and is looking for the oncoming truck coming around the corner! :-)

Tom is a residential builder of beautiful homes and knows the area backwards and forwards.  He is also a nature guy, loves the outdoors and appreciates the beauty of his surroundings.  So with my camera in hand, the two brothers set out on our photo expedition. 

He took me out old Route 60, took a left on Beatie Hollow, we merged onto Turnpike Road, took a right on Sugar Creek and went up and back, then up and back on Bird Forest Road and took a left on Collierstown Road, right up Kyger’s Hill, left on South Buffalo, right on Spring Branch Road, right on Blue Grass Trail and then headed back into town!  The road names I thought would fit nicely into a country western song. Only a local could have mapped out such a pretty course!

Tom said everyone in the area thinks they have the best view in town.  I can certainly see why.  The area is full of picturesque and panoramic views.  Even though the weather didn’t fully cooperate, I arrived home full of inspiration and new painting material. 

Thank you to my brother Tom for going out of his way for me.  Like Maine, going to Lexington, Virginia feels like you’re stepping back in time.  It makes you think of the “good old days”.  The heartening thing is that there still are wonderful places like Lexington to visit and to live, not to mention to set up an easel and paint!