What a view

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When my husband and I first moved to the Berkshires from California in 2001, some people would ask us in disbelief, “Why would you want to live here?” Granted there are parts of the Berkshires that are not that pretty and it has a fair amount of people who live in poverty and don’t go beyond a mile from where they live, but only if they did just get on bus or go for a walk in less than a mile from anyplace you live in the Berkshires you can see such amazing scenery.  I painted one of my favorite views which is on the way to a quaint town called Stockbridge, about a twenty minute drive from my house.  The field is a sea of cornstalk stubble and the three pines remind me of some in California.  The sky had a beautiful purple streak across it that day and the hills were a majestic purple. Funny enough, this view reminds me of another reason we love to live here.  The property is close by High Lawn Farm, a farm http://www.highlawnfarm.com that raises Jersey cows and doesn’t give the cows hormones or antibiotics. The farm has been in continuous operation since the 1800s. The milk from these Jersey cows is amazing and it naturally contains more calcium and protein than other milks. We have enjoyed this milk for the entire time we have lived here and my children have grown up drinking it.  The milk is only available here and over the years it has become available in other places in Massachusetts.  You can be sure High Lawn Farm milk will be a part of our Thanksgiving dinner.  Scenery and farms are just two of the many reasons we love to live here and thankful that we call the Berkshires home.  Happy Thanksgiving!

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Old Friend

Old Friend

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we traveled south and visited family and friends. One night, we stayed with our friends Michele and Mike who we have known for seventeen years. It was really great to spend some time with them. I was also glad to see an “old friend” – a painting I did for them proudly displayed in their living room. The image is of the coast of California – Pigeon Point to be exact – 50 miles south of San Francisco. The view is the south side of the lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in America at 115 ft http://www.parks.ca.gov/pigeonpoint/. The succulent plants that creep up and down the seaside cliffs turn from green to earthy browns, golden oranges and fiery reds. Most of the time this part of the coast is under a coat of fog, so we were lucky to visit on a clear day with just a few clouds in the sky. This painting was done over 10 years ago, but I recently did another painting from the north side. See if you can find the “sister” image on my website at http://www.mjnicole.com

San Francisco Carousel at Pier 39

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My daughter read a book this summer called “A Drowned Maiden’s Hair” by Laura Amy Schlitz and she enjoyed it so much that she told me I had to read it which I did.  It was a really fascinating story about an orphan girl Maud, the family business of seances, and the intersection with a girl Charlotte – the drowned maiden.  My daughter is doing a school project on this book and is creating a scrapbook of items that remind her of the book.  In the book, Charlotte loves riding a carousel and her favorite animal to ride is a green sea creature.  My painting of the San Francisco Carousel (though the angle is mostly of the paintings of the underside of the top), does include several animals – including a green sea creature!

We were able to see this carousel last summer on a trip out to San Francisco. We were at Pier 39 and discovered this magnificent double-tiered carousel; my children and their cousins hopped on these amazing carved and painted animals and rode them around and around. I loved painting this carousel with all of the bright colors and the warm yellow sparking lights dancing all around the trim; the green sea creature was my favorite animal to paint as he rears his nostrils up in the air.  How serendipitous to have my painting remind my daughter of the book she so enjoyed!