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Inspiration from the Seashore

Red-winged blackbirds in the marsh at Sea Rim State Park south of Port Arthur, Texas, along the Gulf of Mexico. Photo by Dana Jones©

When I teach color classes, I begin with an exercise that helps students get in touch with the color palette of their lives. For years, I couldn’t figure out why when I enter quilt shops, I’m drawn to orange, brown and gold fabrics — colors often associated with autumn but not my quilts. Then I did the exercise, which I adaptated from Joen Wolfrom’s book Visual Coloring. My happy place as a child was playing in a remnant of tall-grass prairie. I realized these colors resonant deep inside me. They call to my soul.

Upon arriving at Sea Rim State Park along Gulf of Mexico in southeast Texas yesterday, I was greeted by a color palette surprisingly akin to the prairie palette of my childhood. A red-winged blackbird flew by, and the memories flooded in. I had to smile.

Photo by Dana Jones©

I’m not much of a beach person but this beach is not so much a place to relax in the sun as it is a place to get to know the plants and animals that call this transition zone between sea and land home. Last night I watched a flock of ibis and a dizzying array of other shorebirds culling dinner from the nutrient soup of the marsh and pelicans capturing dinner with their signature belly flop into the sea.

Photo by Dana Jones©

While there were signs everywhere warning visitors not to crab near alligators, I’ve seen neither crabs nor alligators. It’s a bit chilly even in the sun for the alligators to be active. I’ve never crabbed — not the same as being crabby — so I’m not sure how you search out those critters. I remember the crabs on Caohagan Island scurrying out of sight so I’m guessing they’ve seen me.

Shorebirds. Photo by Dana Jones©

"Opossum" by Walter Anderson, 1903-1965, from The Little Room.

Discovering Artists Walter Anderson and Martha Kelly

As I walked the Sea Rim beach and marsh today, I thought about something I'd read at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, a few days ago. One section of the exhibition of Anderson’s work is organized by shape. The sign says Anderson believed there were two kinds of shapes: geometric, which are based on a set of rules, and organic, found in nature. The examples of each of these kinds of shapes were from the natural world. So today as I walked, I looked for examples of the geometry of living things, the patterns of life. And I looked for organic lines. I began to think that the geometry is often made with organic lines.

From left, "Wild Bells" by Walter Anderson was shown as an example of geometric shapes and "Magnolia Seed Pod" as an example of organic shapes.

Lots to think about as I contemplate Walter Anderson’s concept of shapes.

"Road to Oldfields" by Walter Anderson.

While at the museum, I met the work of Martha Kelly, who claims Anderson’s art among inspirations for her art. The exhibition of her work, “Hints of Gladness” features her block prints. Check out her work. If you're near Ocean Springs from now until August 28, I suggest you plan a visit to this museum.

"Pelican" by Martha Kelly.

"Home" by Martha Kelly.

My campsite at Sea Rim State Park.

Working My Way Home

I continue my drive home tomorrow. Destination: South Llano River State Park near Junction, Texas. I've stayed overnight at this park twice before. It's a nesting area for wild turkeys but I've yet to see one. Perhaps tomorrow I will.

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