Monday, November 21

Found Treasure

It started when I was young; I loved collecting what others considered worthy of discarding. My mother would tell the story of me, at age four, causing trouble in pre-school hoarding random items from the playground in my coat or pant pockets. I would come home daily with bits of small shiny wrapper scraps, a colorful cap from an unknown bottle, or various other untold objects; all with the idea of turning it into something or treasuring it for what it could become. This was highly frowned upon by all.
Erica Dale Strzepek, Small Pencil Series - Scallop,
Pencil, 6x6 inches, ©2011
Despite the early discouragement, my collecting has not stopped. The little bits of this and that in my opinion are still not necessarily trash. I cannot go most places without finding something worth picking up as a found treasure. When out on nature walks with my boys, small pebbles, brightly colored fallen leaves or a smoothed piece of drift wood are sure to make their way home with us. Worn bits of sea glass from a Cape Cod beach or uniquely marked pottery shards long ago discarded in the Hoosic River, I am fascinated by the stories they could tell.

Erica Dale Strzepek, Bowl of Treasure, Digital Photograph, ©2011 
A most intriguing recent find was a shard of Depression Era Vaseline glass. I spotted the out-of-place glowing green fragment in the water amongst the common colored rocks. As I reached my hand to carefully retrieve my find, I imagined its former life as a common place delicate footed dessert dish. What homemade delicacy could have filled its graceful curves? I envisioned the Berkshire hostess presenting a delicious serving of strawberry shortcake complimented by local farm fresh, white whipped cream. Yum! What occurred in its household history for its fate to end up as a broken shard in the cold flowing, Hoosic River? The preceding possibilities were innumerous... “Hurry up, would you?” called out my husband to me. “We’ve got to get going,” he finished. With that, I shoved the beautiful found treasure into my pant pocket.

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Monday, November 14


Erica Dale Strzepek, Snow in October,
Watercolor & Gouache, 5x7 inches, ©2011
Recent weather brought unique landscapes and artistic vignettes to the New England area I love
While driving from Central New York, it began. First, we thought it was the elevation as the sun had long faded and the air was colder. Around us the I-90 Thruway bustled with 18-wheeler trucks on their long haul. A call to our family confirmed our fear; winter was rearing itself early just days before Halloween. What a cruel trick-or-treat indeed.

The historic October Nor’easter wreaked havoc covering the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states. I unpacked winter coats, hats, and gloves along with snow shovels and rock salt. To my dismay, the snowplow arrived 10-minutes before midnight, greeted by loud barks from our dog. Her barking was only muffled by the snowplow blade scraping against the blacktop driveway, back and forth in what seemed slow motion and endless. The Berkshire autumn season was now accompanied by 15 or more inches of heavy wet snow.
With the storm, the local landscape took on a new artistic promise. Scenes in town I had envisioned painting in autumnal brilliance, were now transformed with the addition of this white blanket. Mt. Greylock was a splendid site with orange and yellow trees capped with white highlights. Clumps of full evergreens added dimension to the unique spectrum of color.
Erica Dale Strzepek, Primary End, Snow in October Series,
Watercolor & Gouache, 10x14 inches, ©2011
Among my favorite vignettes three busted, and rusting Volkswagen Beetles. The VWs aligned cleverly (or possibly without consideration) in primary red-yellow-blue sequence adjacent to the pharmacy in the heart of downtown. The subject of a vehicle parked for its final time has always captured my imagination, and is a theme I paint often. I wonder about the last driver and what they were thinking. How long since someone opened the car door and sat inside? How was the hood crushed or the bumper dented? Why has it been abandoned and forgotten? Without knowing the answers to its story, the possibilities are endless. I think that is what I find intriguing.

New original watercolor pieces inspired by #Snowtober are available from my Etsy Shop. Shop Small on November 26, 2011 and support artists and small business owners this holiday season.