• thomas neel scenic view
  • butterfly in clouds
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  • fabric textiles
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  • sunset mountains

Country Roads and Creativity

View of a country road.

It was the crack of dawn when I left. My wife Linda was still very much asleep, only the cat was aware of my actions and was determined to be fed before my exit. She’s (the cat) never too demanding, thus, appreciative of my acknowledgment and follow through.

A much needed cold front had come through the day before, killing the swelter and leaving the air crisp and fresh. I wanted to feel its windchill, as it aerodynamically passes over and around my leather wrapped body.

Leather pants, jacket, boots and gloves, earplugs and helmet. The garage door rises and I push my motorcycle out to our long paved driveway. So perfect it is for the task at hand this morning of becoming one with a country road. Colored in black and signal yellow, I throw my leg over, push off and coast slowly away from the house so as not to wake Linda when I thumb the starter button. Its engine fires to life and I’m off. The morning sun is doing its early best to shine, casting long shadows everywhere, but living east, my direction is west and it will be little more than an occasional glare in my mirrors.

A morning ride such as this is just a complete case of asphalt intoxication. So good was the morning and my connection to the country roads I love, it’s a visceral experience to the likes of pure passion for me and I know I’m far from alone. The best country roads are in short, rhythmically seductive, be it two wheels or four and I am completely addicted to dancing with them.

Yes, they can have unforeseen obstacles, blind corners, gravel, wildlife and law enforcement. But they can also have engaging corners and sweepers, spectacular scenic views and mentally stress scrubbing properties. Most of you know I’m an artist and I can absolutely share that without a good country road, I would also be creatively stifled. These roads fix me. It’s almost as if there could be a doctor specializing in alternative medicine, who when turning to the ill feeling artist with a wonderful new prescription of country roads, would say, “Take two of these and call me in the morning - with directions!”

CountryRoads1Building these roads in the early days incorporated the natural flow of the land. What began as a horse-drawn path, became a road and a wonderful partnership formed where the road would go along with every changing contour mother nature gave us. Hills and valleys, over hill and dale, long views, old barns, and trees, over creeks and rivers, by lakes, miles of fencing and livestock. A visual bounty is here to be found. It’s life at a slower pace, but real and worth your creative stimulation. Worth your time to invest in yourself, to give back to you, to make a deposit in the Bank of You.

The morning sun and the setting one too, bring artistic light with endless amounts of interesting subject matter. The imperfection of these roads and their unpredictable routes are a pleasure to me. No new overly excavated, flat concrete road could hold a candle to the blissfulness of this. Fresh air, the smell of the country, the breeze of an open window, top-down or in my case today, my helmeted head.

Road to a Distant View cover for Piedmont Virginian MagazineTo see a mountain is one thing. To see it, as you move around it following the picturesque path you have chosen, brings you closer to its scale, shape, and size. To watch a shadow’s path or a river’s current while passing by is as if to witness something nature gives us for soul rejuvenation. These views are valuable, like a currency you can use in your wealth of pleasure. A good country road is like a force in flow with you, so easy to enjoy. For the artist, especially a landscape painter, lessons are learned if you endlessly scan near and far. Look at the many different verdant leaves of trees. Look at their bark or mountains glowing in orange or warm hues as the morning light hits it. See a desert’s dusty soft colors. Look at birds in flight, grazing cattle, stone walls, ranches, and farms.

Creatively speaking, country roads are quite simply artistic tools, inspirational ones, there to refresh and awaken you. They can take you places, so be sure to appreciate the journey they take you on!

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