The Piedmont Virginian's Blog

Serving and Celebrating America's Historic Heart

Tag: Virginia (page 1 of 2)

An Art Exhibition to Remind Us of Warmer Days

Line Dance

“Line Dance” by Peter Corbin

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer,” the dour existentialist Albert Camus once wrote. This sentiment bears repeating. The heaps of snow Jonas left behind are melting, warm sunny days have mounted a counterattack, and Punxsutawney Phil recently voiced his support of an early springtime platform.

"Broad River Redfish"

“Broad River Redfish” by Peter Corbin

Together these signs point towards the coming spring. These hints are tantalizing; we close our eyes and imagine a warm breeze, only to open them and find ourselves in the car with the heat blowing out at gale-force velocities.

There is a cure for these seasonal delusions: art.

The National Sporting Library and Museum in Middleburg opened a new exhibit January 30th. “Line Dance–The Art of Fly Fishing” features the work of angler and painter Peter Corbin.

"Ligonier Point" by Peter Corbin

“Ligonier Point” by Peter Corbin

“How do you start a painting? Go fishing. Experience the awe. See the fish, the land, and the seascape. Take notes with your mind, camera, or sketch book. Gather all the information you can in every way you can,” Corbin says.

His works capture the ocean’s vibrant blues, the warmth of a cloudless sky, the excitement of reeling in a gleaming striped bass. His works show the influence of the Hudson River School, and capture the intensity of Winslow Homer’s seascapes.

For more information, check the National Sporting Library and Museum

1796573_10202889919310186_4960203201090092007_nMorgan Hensley is a recent graduate of William & Mary where he studied English and creative writing with an emphasis on poetry. He is the Assistant Editor of the Piedmont Virginian and enjoys writing about music and the arts.

Obsession in the Stream

43 years after first casting a bamboo fly rod, Douglas Graham is still chasing brookies in the Blue Ridge.

Text and photographs by Douglas Graham

United States - 080114: Fly fishing on the hawksbill creek in the Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. Here is a brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), is a species of fish in the salmon family of order Salmoniformes. It is native to Eastern North America in the United States and Canada. In many parts of its range, it is known as the speckled trout or squaretail. A potamodromous population in Lake Superior is known as coaster trout or, simply, as coasters. Though commonly called a trout, the brook trout is actually a char (Salvelinus).  (Douglas Graham / Wild Light Photos)

Fly fishing on the hawksbill creek in the Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. Here is a brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), is a species of fish in the salmon family of order Salmoniformes. It is native to Eastern North America in the United States and Canada. In many parts of its range, it is known as the speckled trout or squaretail. A potamodromous population in Lake Superior is known as coaster trout or, simply, as coasters. Though commonly called a trout, the brook trout is actually a char (Salvelinus). (Douglas Graham / Wild Light Photos)

In the fall of 1972 my grandfather loaded me up in his pickup truck and drove me from Virginia’s Tidewater region to the Blue Ridge Mountains near Luray with two split bamboo rods — and infected me with brook trout fishing on the fly. I was 12 years old.

I have not recovered from that trip in 43 years.

In the years following that fall trip so long ago, I’ve learned everything I could learn about the craft. I read every book I could find, and I learned about tying my own flies and any technique used in fly-fishing both fresh and salt water. Hundreds of books and thousands of hours on the water, it’s been a life’s pursuit and to this day a continuing education.

Somewhere in there was a career in photojournalism where I witnessed things people should never have to see. But even with that time consuming pursuit, I managed to work in fishing. It kept me grounded and sane in an otherwise insane job.

Often I’d stay an extra day after an assignment and fish the local waters. Places like the Snake River in Wyoming, where I landed my first brown trout, the Deschutes in Central Oregon for my first cutthroat, and of course when I was in Missoula, I fished the Blackfoot River.

Now retired and living slower and closer to the earth, I’ve decided there is no better fly fishing in America than what my grandfather had infected me with 40 some years ago in our backyard of the Piedmont region.

UNITED STATES - May 21: All the things needed for a day fishing for rookies in the Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. (Photo By Douglas Graham/WLP)

All the things needed for a day fishing for rookies in the Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. (Photo By Douglas Graham/WLP)

United States - 080114: Fly fishing on Cedar Creek in the Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.  (Douglas Graham / Wild Light Photos)

Fly fishing on Cedar Creek in the Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. (Douglas Graham / Wild Light Photos)

I’ve fished a whole year from my motorcycle, logging in my fishing journal the ebb and flow of the water, the weather, the fish I’ve caught, and the seasons of Virginia. I’ve taught my wife and daughter to fish, and even an Airedale.

My obsession is now with the “squaretails” close to home; I don’t really have any desire to travel to fish. Well, OK, I’d go to Slovenia for marble trout, but for the most part I’m content with the brookies. Our storied brook trout live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, the Blue Ridge Mountains. I love that I can fish mid week on almost any stream in the Shenandoah Park and have the stream all to myself.

As far as the brookie being easy to catch, well yes, some of them are because they are basically starving on our small freestone creeks. The young fish will hit anything that moves. With that said, try and catch 11- to 14-inch brookies that lurk in our waters and see how many you land in a day! The older and larger fish are tricky and very selective. Casting and catching a big brookie in the tight confines of our little streams is perhaps one of the most fulfilling moments for me as a fly fisherman.

In this photo essay, the fish itself will reveal why this is my obsession — from the landscape that this little fish lives in to the fish itself. The brook trout out of the water has bright orange fins with a white as snow under belly. The orange lower fins have a bright white leaning edge bordered by a jet black strip and its sides are green and yellow with pale blue spots surrounding a pink center dot. It’s as if the little native fish was painted by the hand of God.

The colorful fish in the water just disappears.

The brook trout is one of many things Mother Nature has done that is just a little better than perfection.  

The Rapidan River ranks #38 in Trout Unlimited's Guide to America's 100 Best Trout Streams. In 2000, the upper Rapidan River was nominated for EPA designation as a Tier III Exceptional Waterway. The Rapidan River, flowing 88 miles (142 km) through north-central Virginia in the United States, is the largest tributary of the Rappahannock River. The two rivers converge just west of the city of Fredericksburg. The Rapidan River begins west of Doubletop Mountain seen here in Shenandoah National Park where the Mill Prong meets the Laurel Prong at Rapidan Camp, approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Big Meadows. (Photo by Douglas Graham / WLP)

The Rapidan River ranks #38 in Trout Unlimited’s Guide to America’s 100 Best Trout Streams. In 2000, the upper Rapidan River was nominated for EPA designation as a Tier III Exceptional Waterway. The Rapidan River, flowing 88 miles (142 km) through north-central Virginia in the United States, is the largest tributary of the Rappahannock River. The two rivers converge just west of the city of Fredericksburg. The Rapidan River begins west of Doubletop Mountain seen here in Shenandoah National Park where the Mill Prong meets the Laurel Prong at Rapidan Camp, approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Big Meadows. (Photo by Douglas Graham / WLP)

 

 The Rapidan River ranks #38 in Trout Unlimited's Guide to America's 100 Best Trout Streams. In 2000, the upper Rapidan River was nominated for EPA designation as a Tier III Exceptional Waterway. Here Campanulaceae, Cardinal Flower blooms along the banks of the lower reaches of the Rapidan. Fly-fishing on the Rapidan River is a real challenge because of spooky and well-educated fish in the Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. (Photo by Douglas Graham / WLP)

The Rapidan River ranks #38 in Trout Unlimited’s Guide to America’s 100 Best Trout Streams. In 2000, the upper Rapidan River was nominated for EPA designation as a Tier III Exceptional Waterway. Here Campanulaceae, Cardinal Flower blooms along the banks of the lower reaches of the Rapidan. Fly-fishing on the Rapidan River is a real challenge because of spooky and well-educated fish in the Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. (Photo by Douglas Graham / WLP)

 

Dawn Graham fly fishing for native brook trout on the Hughs River in the Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.

Dawn Graham fly fishing for native brook trout on the Hughs River in the Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.

 

UNITED STATES - May 21: A brooke trout sits on a feeding station on the Hawksbill Creek in the Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. The brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), is a species of fish in the salmon family of order Salmoniformes. It is native to Eastern North America in the United States and Canada. In many parts of its range, it is known as the speckled trout or squaretail. A potamodromous population in Lake Superior is known as coaster trout or, simply, as coasters. Though commonly called a trout, the brook trout is actually a char (Salvelinus). (Photo By Douglas Graham/WLP)

A brooke trout sits on a feeding station on the Hawksbill Creek in the Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. The brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), is a species of fish in the salmon family of order Salmoniformes. It is native to Eastern North America in the United States and Canada. In many parts of its range, it is known as the speckled trout or squaretail. A potamodromous population in Lake Superior is known as coaster trout or, simply, as coasters. Though commonly called a trout, the brook trout is actually a char (Salvelinus). (Photo By Douglas Graham/WLP)

 

Fly fishing on Dry Run in the Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.

Fly fishing on Dry Run in the Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.

A Generation of Sourdough Bread

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I would tell a lie if I told you I eat a lot of bread. I actually eat very little bread. However, when I have it, and when I make it, I devour it in a heartbeat. You could say that bread is my weakness when it’s available. But it must be fresh, hot out of the oven bread.

It’s only natural that my very first job was working in a little Mennonite store in Remington, Virginia. I’ve always said that my cooking and baking skills came from that stage in life rather than from my mother or grandmother. I never got many opportunities to cook “with” my mom or grandma, or maybe I simply wasn’t interested in it at the time. But as I have grown and now have a family of my own, I often think of cooking and baking with grandma now. The sad fact is that I now cook and bake for her, instead of with her. Slow down, time….you’re taking the people we love away from us much too quickly.

A few years ago a friend of my mothers sent me a sourdough starter through the mail. I was terrified that the white powdery substance would be inspected as some chemical war of terror, but it made it safely to my mailbox in just a few short days — from North Carolina to good ol’ Virginia.

Sourdough was a brand new thing to me. I loved eating sourdough, but I never understood the complex science behind it. I’m a fermenting queen now, but back then? No way.

The history of sourdough is simple. People needed an option to preserve and make something on a regular basis. Fermentation was one of the very first ways of preserving food for our ancestors. Yes, it came long before canning.

But with something so simple, I failed. I failed miserably the first time. I even had to ask for more suspicious white powdery mailed substance so that I could start all over again — and then I failed again. Eventually I gave up because I didn’t have the time for this complex science. Recently, however, I discovered it’s not science at all, but an art.

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Xita the Service Dog

A close up of the face of a German Shepherd, mostly black but with bronze highlights around her eyes and white on the end of her muzzle. She has a big ol goofy grin.

When I first met Xita vom Ludwigseck back in June of 2010, she had just turned 3 years old, pregnant with her first litter, and had recently been imported from Germany by my friend Christine. A stranger in a strange land, Xita was a very correct German Shepherd in every particular, polite to strangers but not really interested in them. Her muzzle was just barely touched with grey on the end, the result of a gene in German Shepherds that results in premature grey and leaves dogs looking distinguished at a young age.

At the time, I was becoming progressively more disabled from chronic pain and mental illness that I’d carried out of my time spent in the US Navy during Operation Iraqi Freedom. I was experimenting with using a dog to assist with my mobility, using my long-suffering male Doberman, and finding it incredibly helpful. I looked into every program I could find that trained service dogs, but not one of them trained mobility dogs AND placed dogs in a home that already had pet dogs. Since you can pry my cherished dogs from my cold dead hands but not before, I was left floundering.

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Looking at Art in a New Way with Online Galleries

In The Same Boat, 24 x 30, Oil.

In The Same Boat, 24 x 30, Oil.

By Nancy Wallace

Technology is always changing; it seems like whatever skill I’ve acquired becomes obsolete by the time I get proficient at it. For example, blogs like this one are replacing websites as the go to place for up to date information.

Galleries are changing too. Artists can now easily take excellent photos of their work, post the images immediately, and even put their work into auctions on sites such as eBay, dailypaintworks.com, and dailypainters.com.

The movement towards selling art online has picked up speed in the last ten years. In 2004, a fellow from Richmond, VA,  Duane Keiser, started posting a new painting every day on eBay with a few words about his process.  His success was contagious, and many other artists joined the “painting a day” challenge, posting on their blogs and sending  their work out for the world to see.

Beach Conversation, 14 x 18, Oil

Beach Conversation, 14 x 18, Oil

A benefit of galleries in cyberspace is that artists are able to keep their prices lower without the burden of steep gallery commissions. Because daily paintings are usually small (under 8 x 10 inches), many collectors will buy more than one painting.

For the buyer, a visit to any of these sites provides an array of work to choose from with easy to use built in filters to narrow the search. Looking for landcapes of a certain area, in a given price range? Click and browse. No obligation and lots of time to think it over.   For collectors, it can be entertaining and enlightening to read the blog post that provides a few sentences of information about making a particular painting. And it’s more personal; visiting an artist’s blog every day reveals who is behind the art.

I recently signed on to the the “painting a day” challenge and created a blog, (they’re free!) to go with it.  Visit my blog and my website.  Browse the online gallery daily at paintworks, and check out Charlottesville artist Paul Charlton.

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