Sunday, October 11, 2009

RCHS Tour and a Little Tree Painting

from the left, Kirk Leach as Levi Alden, me as Nellie Tallman, Henry Jones as a Civil War soldier, Ashley Glowinski as Lavinia Goodell, Brittany Boeche as Elizabeth Ripley, and Ron Brown as Brother Ira Dutton

Saturday was the Rock County Historical Society cemetery tour. The name is misleading because the event is more than a tour of old tombstones; it's a chance to learn about men and women who feature prominently in Rock County history. It was cold. We all work multiple layers under our costumes, and our fingers were pretty well frozen, amking holding a script a challenge. I wore a cape to disguise my winter coat underneath. I saw a few snow flurries, though by the end the sun had come out and it was less frigid. Despite the weather, a couple groups of people came out to walk the lovely grounds of Oak Hill cemetery and listen to stories. I enjoy the event not only because I like telling about Nellie Tallman, but because the old part of the graveyard lies high on a hill overlooking the surrounding city and countryside, and the changing autumn trees and the birds make for a pretty scene. Yesterday I saw a red-tailed hawk swooping through the trees hunting chipmunks.

I learned a few things from the handouts volunteers distributed. The Oak Hill Cemetery Association was formed in 1851 for the purpose of establishing a community cemetery. The Mortuary Chapel was built in 1890 and in 1917 the ornamental brick gates were added to the entry area. The City of Janesville acquired the 20 acre cemetery in 2008.

They also had a handout describing the symbolism on the old stones/ An anchor represented hope; if wrapped in vines it represented the Christian faith. An angel could mean rebirth or resurrection. Flying birds might suggest eternal life. Three links stood for the Trinity. A hand pointing up suggests the pathway to heaven, and clasped hands a good-bye at death. To keep warm before groups arrived I wandered a bit looking at old stones, saddened to see so many falling apart, or damaged.

On a different note, I'm still playing with acrylic techniques based on a recent video and Robert Burridge's web site. This little exercise involved covering my board with reds, golds, and violets, then letting the mass of color dry. I went back in and used the blues and white to create a negative tree shape. While the paint was wet I sprayed it with water, and let the drips suggest other trunks. I also lifted some damp paint. When this was dry I went back and added some shadows. This is very fun, and a good way to loosen up.


Margaret Ann said...

What a fun day you must have had...despite the nip in the air. Our little community cemetery in Illinois does something similar but I have never attended. Interestin info in the symbolism of the stones,too!

You tree is charming..and I really love that technique...Negative painting trains the eye to see things differently...great result!

Ann said...

This worked so well, it's a lovely image! I can't believe the richness of color that you achieve with acrylics - very nice!

Jennifer Lawson said...

This is wonderful painting, Sherry. Great negative space shapes and designs.