Traveling the Back Roads with the Top Down!

On my way home from a quick visit to Lexington, VA, I thought that even though it was on the cool side, the T-bird top had to come off and I was going to take the long way home.  I took the long and winding roads, up Rte. 252 toward Staunton, and then on up to Harrisonburg.  Revisiting some of my favorite locations I mentioned in my Country Roads blog and looking for new inspiration.  

I turned what normally would have been an hour drive from Lexington to Harrisonburg, into a three hour drive, stopping every whipstitch to shoot the beautiful scenery.  Several eye-catching farms went by the wayside, with no place to pull over on dangerous curves in the road.  Others, I was able to stop in the middle of the road, hold my camera up over the windshield and blindly take pictures, hoping to capture the shot before another car would appear.  

I had read about the Dayton area, near Harrisonburg, being Mennonite farm country, so it was an enjoyable ride until I met with James Madison University’s graduation traffic!  The entire town was backed up, with police directing traffic.  Once I managed to get on 33 East, I traveled over the Blue Ridge Mountains and headed back toward Charlottesville and on to Williamsburg!

The trip was successful as I gathered quality new material for future paintings.  It also re-inspired me to finish several small landscapes that I had put on hold while working on a large waterfowl painting.  

This is one of the three paintings that I came home to, entitled Grazing Alongside Spring Creek.  It’s a scene that I discovered last spring in Rockbridge County, VA.  The Hereford cow is wading in the winding creek with a calf, contemplating crossing, while the big black Angus bull and two other calves graze the open field.  Spring is in bloom.  

Grazing Alongside Spring Creek by William R. Beebe

Grazing Alongside Spring Creek by William R. Beebe

I focused on creating a soft painting, with Impressionist qualities.  Even though the cows are big strong animals, the serenity of the scene blends them into the landscape.  The dark but airy woods in the background allow the blossoming trees to stand out, helping to balance the composition.  

I hope you see in this piece, what I felt when I was delightfully surprised coming around the bend.  I’ll be finishing up the other two landscapes in the near future; one is an historic old mill and the other features a number of Holstein cows grazing by a small pond and weeping willow tree.