Seeing aunts, uncles, cousins, and new little baby first-cousins-once-removed was a second part of the gift of returning back to Vermont. We were blessed to spend lots of time with my dad's family growing up and grew to know and love his cousins and their families and our own aunts, uncles, and cousins. But it's been so many, many years now since I've seen so many of them. It was a treat to re-connect with several parts of the family and get caught up on all the family news!
Uncle Jack and Aunt Karen kindly hosted us over the weekend! This is the first house my parents built in Vermont. I never lived in this house, but over the decades I spent days and days running around with my cousins. See all those fir trees in the background? Mom planted those before I was born -- now they are a forest!
Uncle Jack and Aunt Karen are oil painters. Their artwork graced the walls of every home my family lived in and now I am so grateful that a few of their pieces hang in my own home today. This is my favorite painting because it depicts the scenery where my life began. All through my childhood I had only to glance up at this painting and I could transport myself back to Vermont and the landscape that is so tied to my heart.
I asked Uncle Jack if he could tell me where he painted this from. His reply, "Let's go take a walk right now. I think it's just up at the top of the driveway."
Out we went. Things have changed in 40 years but we could still pick out the flow of the river and pinpoint where the farm is (hidden behind the trees). The farm in the painting is the Boyden Farm which has now become a fancy winery farm!
Looking out towards the farm -- the view behind is quite amazing!
We managed to see three of our five Vermont cousins while we were back!!!!
I love my aunt's bay window and all the light it lets in!
Aunt Karen and Uncle Jack were amazing in the food department. AND, especially the tea!!!! Aunt Karen drinks as much tea as we do!!! (as in drinks it by the teapot full!!!)
This was my absolute favorite painting that I saw while there. Isn't it stunning!!! And it's so much more beautiful in person! The flowers are from Aunt Karen's garden!!!!!
We all thought Aunt Karen had hung this painting specifically for the light to hit it! She assured us it was all by accident.
Some paintings are so nostalgic -- like this one of cousin Dan's toys.
Or especially this one of the old studio behind the house. I remember that couch so well and the fact that children were never allowed in the studio (except under very special orders -- obviously Aunt Karen had bribed the cousins to pose here).
Now Aunt Karen and Uncle Jack have an amazing studio outside the house in a beautiful red barn!!! Aunt Karen decided to gift us with a painting lesson and while we were out running errands set up this still life.
We had to spend time looking around the studio too:
Isn't this so sweet?!
Mixing up the grayscale:
Looking at a few watercolors done on colored paper:
Each one is just so beautiful! (Pardon the prejudice here. This is the art that I cut my teeth on so it's what I'm drawn to!)
And a few more hanging on the wall:
Back to the lesson: Aunt Karen paints a simple outline:
And begins to put in the background. She is a very skilled teacher and we took lots of notes:
Before we know it the picture is beginning to appear:
Looking through sketchbooks:
I love this valentine painting!!!!!!! (It's just hanging out above the garbage can in the kitchen....)
Aunt Karen thought no trip to Vermont would be complete without some gluten free raisin bread French toast! Of course I had to spread plenty of maple cream on top!!!!!!!
Little baby Leonora got to join us for some of the time. The great aunts oooh and aaah.
Uncle Jack and Aunt Karen:
The all-important teapots!!!!!
In my life that has had so much change in it, I always find it amazing to return to places that haven't changed over the years. So here's a cousin gathering from the late 1980's.
And here we are last month in the same place! Amazing!!!!!
It's fun to watch the aunts get excited about a new artistic plan. Some sort of painting trip is in the works!
It's also fun to pretend to be a kid again and fool around with your cousin!!!!!
I just love the front of the studio!!! Belongs in a magazine!