The Making of “Somewhere Over the Blue Ridge”

I have an old soul.

Not an old spirit but an old soul.  My spirit is often younger than my years but deep inside I’ve been wandering for eons.  Perhaps that’s why I’ve always had a greater affinity for our mountains than the beach.  After all, according to the National Parks Service information on the New River,

[m]any scientists also believe that the Appalachian Mountains are the oldest mountains in the world.

I’m fortunate that both mountains and beach are accessible within a day’s ride from just about anywhere my home state.  But my love of the mountains may also be based on having spent more time in the mountains than at the beach.

Even though I live in North Carolina my first view of the ocean was in Pensacola, Florida.  I was quite young, perhaps only three, and only remember how terribly hot it was and virtually nothing about the ocean or beach on that visit.  It would be eleven years before I would see the beach again this time at that getaway for graduates in our state – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  I was allowed to ask a friend to go with my parents and I when I was fourteen.  (The young lady who spent that week with me there has been my best friend since then through college, marriages, gains and losses.  In fact, years later we would spend a week each year at another beach in North Carolina that remains my favorite – Holden Beach.)

But when it comes to the mountains – that is an entirely different story.  My grandparents, on my stepmother’s side, lived in a small town in West Virginia, Coal City, and we went there at least twice a year.  For the first ten years of those trips the route was one of two-lane, switch back mountain roads. Over the years the route changed along with the completion of sections of Interstate 77 but the majority of those visits were made on the old roads through the Appalachian mountains.  The excitement of going to my grandparents and the beauty of the mountains in all seasons grounded my heart in those rolling hills.

Over my life I’ve been in the Cascades in California, Washington and Oregon and the Rockies in Wyoming and Canada which are young and majestic.  But I will always be partial to the softly eroded, undulating Appalachian mountains and the Blue Ridge section in particular.  These are the mountains of my childhood and my heritage. Even living among them as I do now, rather than in the Piedmont where I grew up, I remain in awe at seeing the unique blue cast they have from a distance.

One day my husband and I had taken the long way back from a trip to Boone and stopped at the top of a ridge for me to take a picture of some barns we had just passed.  I succeeded in taking those photographs but looking across the pasture at our side I saw those beautiful blue hills and captured the moment in the photograph that is the basis for this next painting.  I started the painting while participating in a fund-raiser for the North Carolina Arts Council at Hanes Brands International headquarters in Winston-Salem.  The staff at the company had asked that we not only put up our displays and have work available for sale but to work on our particular art during the day.

And so the following photos are of the making of “Somewhere Over the Blue Ridge”.


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