The scene below, Tyler Bend Bluff by John Wooldridge, is of a place where I might have walked recently, or years ago. I can relate to the peacefulness of it, and to what I assume are this artist’s experiences. I assume because this scene is very real to me, and I think that’s the reason so many of us are attracted to landscape art. It helps us remember places we’ve been, and allows us to fantasize about the places we’d like to go.
“Tyler Bend is a popular camping area on the Buffalo National River very close to US Highway 65 that gets a lot of canoe traffic in the summer months,” says John. “When I was there in late February it was pretty quiet, which is the way I like it. The late afternoon sun was streaming into the river valley and lighting up the bluff with a spectacular orange glow.”
Speaking of places we’ve been, and quiet rivers that call for watercraft, allow me to share with you a little story about a canoe that I once owned. I bought it because it was an ideal for me: just to be able to say that I had a canoe announced that I love nature and adventure. Little did I know! On the maiden voyage, my husband and I set sail during a canoeing fundraiser for breast cancer on what’s called the Little Miami River in Cincinnati. As soon as we pushed away from the shore, ready for a peaceful, hour-long float, I took off my life jacket (I didn’t want to worry about the tan lines, and I’m a strong swimmer).
Life jacket off and oar in hand, we quickly hit a very small drop in the water level; too small to be called a waterfall– it was probably only a one- or two-foot drop–and our canoe turned sideways, filling with water in seconds, and dropping me into the very little known only deep spot on the Little Miami, which happened to contain a whirlpool.
My husband floated to a nearby island and frantically began screaming my name when I didn’t surface. As he helplessly yelled, I was floating quietly along the bottom of the river; I know this because I could feel my feet slowly bouncing up and down, touching the floor. I waited a moment because in my experience, whenever one goes underwater, one just pops back up. But I wasn’t popping back up. Thankfully, because I was down far enough to touch the bottom, I was able to push as hard as I could on the next bounce and use all of my strength to swim upward, where I was greeted with shallow rapids. I then swam to the shore where I hung onto the exposed roots of a large tree, nervous with the fear of snakes that I could be intruding upon.
I was soon reunited with my husband and we somehow finished the trip. Nearby kayakers were able to help us retrieve the canoe, our oars and a few other things, including both of my sandals. Although this was years ago, I still haven’t recovered my sense of naïveté about water currents. And so, I can look at Tyler Bend Bluff and feel the wind, hear the soft waves lapping, and feel my heartbeat begin to race a little at the sight of these two innocent canoes.
I’m grateful that artists like John keep our memories alive, and give us quiet moments to reflect on spaces and stories that were, or might be. Jerry Yarnell is another artist who gives inspiration, and you can get one of his books, Paint Along With Jerry Yarnell Volume Two: Painting Inspirations, for only $4 during North Light Shop’s Overstock Sale. With his guidance, you can create your own thought-provoking paintings to enjoy for yourself and to share with others. Not quite what you need? Simply browse the rest of our sale items by clicking here.
Keeping my head above the water,