Portrait #16: The Gentleman Farmer

To attempt to paint a portrait of Mr. Leo Whicker, born September 3, 1927, is like trying to harness (with paint and paper) the wisdom of years and experience, coupled with an effortless joy that is surely hard-won through life’s ups and downs.  I have had the privilege of getting to know Mr. Whicker through numerous conversations with him over the past 8 years.  I think I could write a book about him.  Here are a few things I have learned:

The land on which he lives and farms (and which is directly next door to my house and neighborhood), was his grandfather’s land.  At some point, his grandfather sold the land to send a son to law school.  And then, at some point after that, Mr. Whicker (pictured above) bought the land back.  This land encompasses acres and acres and is sprawled in many directions throughout the southern part of Kernersville, in an area known as Sedge Garden.

Mr. Whicker and his wife Martha, had a son and daughter.  Up the hill from where I live, is a small house (now a rental home) where he and his family started out.  As the children grew, he built a larger home for them just yards away, perched on a small rise in the land.  You can see the house here in the charcoal, just a bit of the porch, complete with rocking chairs.

Mr. Whicker’s wife Martha died young, of cancer.  When he speaks of her, you can hear a love and affection for her that leaves you aching and thinking he must still ache and miss his dear wife. Both his son and daughter live in Kernersville and have families of their own. Mr. Whicker is blessed with grandchildren and extended family who live in the area.

In fact, as I’ve been able to gather from Mrs. Gail Smith Love, another neighbor whom I’ve had the privilege of getting to know, Mr. Whicker is considered an Uncle to many from the Smith clan.  She recounts that growing up with Smith land and farms right next to Whicker land, the two families’ children all called the other dads “Uncle”.  So he was Uncle Leo to her and many others.

Mr. Whicker has memories of his grandmother telling him that soldiers used to hide out in caves on their land during the Civil War.  I have a feeling if I could sit for a while with him, I’d hear many stories of historical interest that are tucked away in Mr. Whicker’s vibrant mind.

Mr. Whicker has many barns beside his home.  The barn you see here, and in the above charcoal, can be seen from the road, Silver Dapple Lane. It stores his baled hay on one side, and keeps farm equipment on the other.  You can see a glimpse into the back side of this particular barn in the above portrait of him.  Sitting atop the tractors and equipment are various, huge stuffed animals, such as Kermit the Frog (seen above) and Scooby Doo.  These are here, says Mr. Whicker, to chase away the birds.  Apparently, birds have a bad habit of nesting in the tractor’s engines.  And when he goes to start one of these tractors, the poor birds are lost, and they can cause damage to the equipment.  I wish you could’ve seen the twinkle in his eye as he explained why he had these unexpected furry friends in the barn!

That twinkle in his eye is rooted in his faith.  Leo Whicker is a faithful congregant at Sedge Garden Chapel, just a stone’s throw from his home and farm.  He is, and I suspect has been for most of his life, devoted to worshipping his Creator with the folks in this small and humble church.  Hardly a conversation goes by without him asking me to pray for something on his mind, after inquiring how my husband and children are doing.

There is so much more I could write here.  The description in this post is merely the tip of the iceberg.  Talking with Mr. Whicker (as with other persons of mature years), makes me think I’m in the presence of a stately oak tree.  That tree has seen many years, all kinds of weather, lots of history.  It has withstood storms, change, seasons, “progress”.  It has been rooted in something far more enduring than this world, and its roots are deep and far-reaching.  At first you may only see a trunk and its weathered bark.  But as you get to know the tree, the expanse of the branches and canopy, the gnarled sections leading out to youthful buds and leaves, you realize there is something grand going on here which is very difficult to describe, much less to paint.

Mr. Whicker would never think of himself in this grand manner.  He was indeed a bit reticent about having his picture taken so that I could create a portrait (or two) of him. I just feel that his story needs to be remembered, and that his family would enjoy a painted portrait.

He is indeed, a gentleman farmer.

Searching & Finding

Day 1 at the beach: In less than half an hour of being out on the shore, I chance to look down and see a sea stone…beautifully rounded and smoothed by sand and water. This sets me on a course to find and collect more sea stones and sea glass thru the week.

Day 2: Bent over for much of the day in search of these jewels in stone and glass, I find nothing.

Day 3: Once again, hunched over in search of the elusive sea glass and stones, only to be empty handed at the end of the day.

Day 4: Having abandoned the search for these items, I see a glint of pale blue glass in the sand on my morning walk. Hmmm…

Day 5: At the start of my morning walk, I zero in on a promising mound of shells thinking surely this will be a place to find a stone or bit of glass… A good while later, I abandon said patch of promise with a “humph” and not five paces away, quite all by itself, the glint of a lovely piece of white sea glass greets me.

Evening of Day 5: Sitting by the ocean, thinking through my ever present search for what I’d like to draw next…I consider another self-portrait of sorts. In drawing “me” drawing on the shore, I find my shadow more compelling than the bits of me I can see… feet, legs, sketchbook, hands.

Day 6: Testing a growing suspicion that I may find what I’m looking for if I don’t look so hard, I set out on my morning walk. Something catches my eye, I bend over to see what it is, and I find it isn’t actually glass, but rather plastic . I see next to it a brown, gray stone. I cast it aside with the thought that it’s just an ordinary rock, but then quickly retrieve said “rock” thinking that it is every bit a sea stone, and why should I not accept and receive the brown and gray ones just like I would the white ones?

All of this searching and finding this week at the ocean has caused me to wonder about life: Do we search and search for what we’re looking for, only to find it when we stop searching? Or does it then find us? Do we have a tendency to search in places that seem right, only to find what we’re looking for in the most ordinary, unusual, and perhaps lonely places? Do we dismiss a gem-in-the-rough just because it doesn’t quite fit our idea of what “it” should be? Do we find that what surrounds us is more compelling than what we are? Do we have the thought that the shadow we cast may be more compelling than the inward search for who we are? What is it exactly that we’re searching for? Beauty? Eternal Truth? Peace? Sea glass? Sea stones? Shells?

And so many more delicious questions to think and muse upon. Other thoughts that float in and out of my mind and heart, like the waves upon the shore:…If you seek me with all your heart you will find Me…A well appeared where Hagar had not seen…His voice was not in the thunder and lightening, but in the still, small, whisper…I am the one you have been looking for…and , I am found.

It’s crazy what the ocean washes up on the shore, isn’t it?

Drawing Your Life: Mini Lesson #10

All the Drawing Your Life Mini Lessons have now been typed up, expanded, revised, updated and published into an ebook & video course for you!

Purchase this in my ETSY shop HERE.

Discover Your Life Beautiful…One Drawing At A Time!

Sincerely,

Jennifer Edwards

Drawing Your Life: Mini Lesson #8

All the Drawing Your Life Mini Lessons have now been typed up, expanded, revised, updated and published into an ebook & video course for you!

Purchase this in my ETSY shop HERE.

Discover Your Life Beautiful…One Drawing At A Time!

Sincerely,

Jennifer Edwards

5:30 am

5:30 am

 

Oh the morning hours…

blurry quiet, hazy glee.

Yet I cannot hold onto them

when they begin to flee.

A pitter-patter, then a stomp

comes down the staircase landing

scurrying away the birds,

the mists of morning standing.

Even if family does not invade

the morning will still dissipate…

for I begin to flutter around

and set my hands upon the gate.

-jpe

5 December 2011

Another of those rhyming words that came spilling out in December…

Trees are for Climbing

There are times, as a mom, you feel as if you’ve been privileged to witness something magical and transformative in your child’s life.  Such was the case last Sunday when Maddie and I ventured out to our neighborhood park.

Over the years, we’ve often gone to the park.  We swing a bit together.  I sit and draw or knit while she plays on the various jungle gym sorts of things at our park.  She is 10 years old now.  Most of the slides-n-such are getting too little for her.  I think that’s why she noticed the tree for the first time.

Perhaps it is also because the tree is now the right size for climbing.  I wish I knew what kind of tree…an apple I think.  She asked for help getting up and at first, she was doubtful she could actually climb the tree at all.  With a little encouragement and coaching as to how one climbs a tree, she was soon making her way up and down and all around the tree.  She wore the biggest smile, whispering over and over, “I love this tree…I love climbing trees…what a pretty tree…this is so fun!”  Higher and higher she challenged herself til she reached the point where she could go no further.  Coming down presented some difficulty, mostly in wide-eyed-trembly-fear, not in ability.  Once down, she was up climbing it again and loathe to be told it was dinner time.  She hugged the tree good-bye and asked if we could come every day! We’re headed there as soon as I finish blogging!

It reminded me of another girl of mine who loved climbing trees!  Still does!  My oldest daughter Catherine had the same magical love for climbing trees when she was little.  I pulled out a framed painting I had made of her dated 9/01.  Wow.  Has it really been 11 years?  Catherine would have been almost 7 years old and I remember painting this half-sheet watercolor of her from a photo I took of her climbing in the incredible old Magnolia Tree at Reynolda Gardens in Winston-Salem.  We lived in Winston at the time (only 15 minutes from here), and made excursions to the Gardens on a regular basis.  Catherine and her brother would spend an hour climbing around in the branches of this wonderful tree.

And it reminds me of another little girl who loved climbing trees.  The first house where I lived as a young girl in Boone, NC had two apple trees in it’s front yard.  This house and the large yard surrounding it, remains a magical place in my memories.  Vaulted ceiling in the front living room, with a balcony up the stairs to all the bedrooms, a huge front porch (screened in I believe), apple and plum trees everywhere, an awesome backyard for playing, a monkey swing in the side yard I spent many hours on, and several Christmas trees planted along the other side from each year when my parents purchased a balled Christmas tree!!  Oh how I loved that house!  It was big enough to ride our hoppity hops INSIDE the house!  And there was this gorgeous sun room off the kitchen/eat-in area that was so fun to hang out in.

Well, back to those apple trees.  One “belonged” to me; one to my brother.  We climbed and played in these trees for hours on end, day after day.  All sorts of imagined tales we acted out pretending our trees were: ships, forts, etc.  I do wish my kids had the pleasure of a tree in their own yard they could visit and climb whenever they wanted.  But alas, we live in a suburban neighborhood with nary a tree big enough for climbing.

I have a feeling I’ll be spending more time at the park so Maddie can visit her tree.  Catherine said she wanted to go too! Must take my sketchbook and pens to document the magic!

 

Un Grand Merci!

At the end of 2011 I was delighted to receive from WordPress, the year-end review of statistics and what-not about this blog, Drawn2Life.  When I clicked on the link they sent, there were fireworks and all kinds of delightful and amazing stats that I had no idea this little blog had garnered.

If you’d like to see the fireworks too, click here. (This will take you to another blog post of mine, and you can click the link there for the report.)

But the most amazing stat, was the list of top commenters.  WOW. Alex Tan logged in 88 comments last year! Timaree posted 62, Raena and Nancy 52, with Sandra close behind at 49.  WWWOOOWWW!!! What a gift these folks are.   And I know for a fact these dear ones post comments all over our EDM friends’ blogs!  They are so faithful to encourage us, to send a note of praise, or just their thoughts.  They are amazing!!  And I do not know how to thank them other than to say…Merci.  Merci de mon coeur!!

As a gift to Alex, I have drawn his portrait here.  And I’ll be sending him the original by mail. Thank you Alex, for all you do in our EDM community to 1) lead the way with your own wonderful drawings and 2) cheer us all on in our drawings and paintings!  You are dear to us all!!  If you have benefitted by Alex’s comments on your blog, why not send him a note via email or comment on his blog your thanks for his faithful viewing and commenting. His kind words have meant so much to me, and I know to many of you as well!!

And to ALL of you who took time out from your busy lives to send a few words…I am truly grateful!

Un grand merci a tout le monde!