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September 2013



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Among the Amish...

Jamesport buggies, etc

Yesterday we ran away from home again, with rather more success than Sunday's adventure in Arrow Rock. This time I had more time to sketch, and we rambled up and down back roads, poked into country stores, had a good country breakfast, bought veggies and other goodies, and just generally reveled in the glorious, anomalous weather!

I worked fast, mostly, and from a distance or from memory because I didn't want to be disrespectful of the Amish. I know not to take photos of them, but I didn't even want to sketch, directly, without asking permission.

The above was done in a parking lot in Jamesport, with a Pentel Pocketbrush; the color was added later, as were the little boys, from memory. The mother had gone into one of the Jamesport stores and the little ones were waiting in the buggy. You can see the little girl's bare food and lavender dress; we could hear a baby fussing at the wait. The lady at lower left was a neighbor who stopped and talked to the children for a moment or so...

It's delightful seeing a simpler life, and one that still works, largely...herds of real milk cows, not just cattle; work horses and buggy horses; chickens, gardens, big barns and well-kept white houses with no electrical lines leading to them, martin houses to control insect pests...it was slower, and quieter, and I could fall into it for a week or so...

We watched a bearded man cut the grass along the road, using a horse-drawn wagon and mower, nothing but the creak of leather harness, the clop of the horses' hooves, and the "snick-snick" of the mower to break the quiet; his dog followed along beside...

We watched dozens of martins swoop and dive in a wonderful display of dazzling white martin houses at one Amish farm (to see a few more of my photos you can visit my Flickr site!)

We were afraid we had run over a blacksnake in the road, and backed up to make sure it was all right. It was, but we attracted the attention of the two little boys, who had to go investigate! I hope the snake survived their attentions, but I like to think it did. Amish children surely know blacksnakes can be beneficial...

Jamesport Agricultural Building

This old granary caught my eye a couple of times as we roamed the area--the strong shadows and interesting shapes demanded I stop and sketch it! I used a black Prismacolor pencil and watercolor added with my Niji waterbrush, on the spot while Joseph napped in the truck. Could it be any more peaceful?

Jamesport has been named the #1 tourist destination in NW Missouri...after a day of wandering the backroads and slowing down to delight in the day, I see why.
I'm delighted to have recently read (and drooled over!) Welsh artist Keith Bowen's Among the Amish, a beautiful book bound to inspire anyone who loves sketching on the spot, pastels, ink drawings, and the simple life of our shared past that the Amish still preserve, untouched.  No electricity, no phones, no computers, no iPod, no artificial urgency, as kateslover calls it. 

Bowen visited the Amish in Pennsylvania any number of times, made friends, helped with the harvest, and was welcomed to sketch and paint them.  Apparently the simplicity of using a tool and a basic skill like drawing is not the same as taking an image with a camera! 

And of course, it's not.  It's slower, and both a kind of magic and a process that can be understood.  Bowen captures the magic while making your fingers itch to pick up a richly colored pastel!

I'd had the book in my Amazon book store, Cathy Johnson's Books and More in the "recommended artists journals and travel sketchbooks" section, but hadn't actually owned it till recently.  SO glad I found a copy and had just finished it before our trip to Jamesport...I had a much better understanding of the people and their way of life--and the challenges they face in the 21st Century--than I would have otherwise.  I was glad to be able to write a short personal review...it's a treasure.

All in all, a wonderful day with my husband...


Nice Amish Pictures

I like your Amish art. I didn't know they had a presence in Missouri, thank you for that information. I like to judge folks by how much they admire or envy the Amish.

Re: Nice Amish Pictures

An interesting criteria! I love their lifestyle and tried to emulate at least part of it for about 7 years...it's very hard! I'll have to admit I love air conditioning in Missouri's normally hot and steamy summers, but other than that, if my back and knees could take it, it's really lovely...

Re: Nice Amish Pictures

Certain fruits, if eaten by themselves, make you feel 5-6 degrees cooler, for a while. These include strawberries, citrus, and pineapple. In herbalism, they are called "refrigerants". Yellow wood sorrel is another, which is a green, rather than a fruit.

Re: Nice Amish Pictures

I'd forgotten about that...I have the Gerard Herbal here somewhere. I'd have to eat a LOT of them, I'm afraid...

Re: Nice Amish Pictures

Cathy, there is also a yoga breathin that you can do to make you to feel cooler for a while.

Oil Portrait Painting Reproduction

Re: Nice Amish Pictures

I wonder if the Amish know that? :-) Perhaps they're just used to it, we DO get more acclimated (I lived on a farm with no AC and drove a truck without AC for 7 years. I was MUCH more able to stand weather extremes! Of course I was also much younger...)