Shannon Berrey

Woodpile art

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

We have had record low temperatures in what may be documented as our coldest November in decades. It's not even winter and yet, my fireplace has been in good use! I wish I could say that this was the woodpile I got to visit.   

I am a HUGE fan of stacked wood {check out my Pinterest board!} and love to see the creativity of other folks who also appreciate this natural art. This woodpile belongs to 82 yr old Gary Tallman in Montana. He cuts all of his wood from his property and then separates it by color and size. Then he is able to 'draw' the mosaics by using the natural colors of the different species of wood. 

Gary starting creating these about 5 years ago as a way to entertain his grandchildren. He spends about 20 hours on each design and always takes his inspiration from the many owls that make their home in the trees of Little Belt Mountain.  

Each year, the woodpile dwindles as it gets thrown on the Tallmans fire, then in the Spring, Gary starts sketching the design for the next year. 

It's always a treat to see folks use natures gifts so simply and so beautifully.

The Moodys Mural

Friday, November 14, 2014

A few weeks ago, I got a phone call from my mom. She was crying...I froze and pressed the phone closer to my ear because her voice was trembling and soft. "The Moodys are moving', she managed to mumble. I couldn't even process that idea. Her best friend of the last 40 years, Joyce, and her husband, Bill, were moving - back to South Carolina to be closer to their daughter, Beth, husband Wayne, and grandkids. 

 It all started at orientation, the day before I started 1st grade. Joyce was there and she began chatting with my mom. These two clicked immediately and were instantly the closest of friends. They {we} have been through all of it together - every single bit of our lives have been intertwined. She is my 2nd mother....we have been through weddings, divorces, birthdays, deaths, summer camps, church functions, baptisms, vacations, shopping, cancers, surgeries, dreams, tears, grandchildren and more grandchildren. 

When I turned 16, Joyce took me to get my drivers license because Mom had to work. I failed it. I was devastated. Joyce said 'don't you worry' and drove me to the next city over and sent me in to that DMV. Apparently, they were more merciful there ;) and I walked out a licensed driver!! I know that Joyce would have simply continued to drive me to the next city, all day, until I was successful...

 I am not sure if either one of them could even imagine, when they met at Calvary Baptist Day School, what the next 40 years would hold, that they would speak everyday, become closer than any 2 blood sisters could be, that their bellies would ache with the laughter of their antics as the tears would stream down their faces recounting all of their {our} adventures, or that you can love someone with all of the passion of a family member without being blood related. Their adventures could fill a book. 

{You may have seen a shot of this room this week if you follow me on Instagram!} 

When they moved into their new home 15 years ago, Joyce and I went to a Designer Showhouse together in her home state of South Carolina. It had a beautiful sepia mural in the dining room that depicted scenes of SC. Joyce loved it. I loved it. Our wheels started turning and I suggested that I could do the same thing in her new dining room with places in SC that were special to her family. She collected pictures and I began to sketch the placement. I used acrylics and translucent glaze to achieve a very blended, sepia toned effect.

In the left corner stands the Furman Bell Tower on the campus of SC's oldest private university. It sits on Furman Lake and is one of the most beloved landmarks of the school. Furman is where Bill and Beth both graduated. 

Moving to the right, is beautiful Parker High School where Bill went to school. It was built in Greenville in 1923 in a former mill community. Soon, what had begun as a simple vocational school for mill kids grew into a national laboratory for testing Dewey's theories about education. Parker was written up in national publications and classes were often interrupted by visitors from around the world who came there to observe. A.V. Huff, Greenville historian, says Parker was one of the first schools to sponsor science fairs and field trips that have become the norm in American education.

Situated between the buildings are the most conspicuous feature of the SC landscape - the enormous oaks covered in dripping Spanish moss*. The average life span of these impressive trees is 300 years, but in the right conditions many can live much longer - in excess of a thousand years old! It's hard to see, but I have 2 Carolina wrens, the state bird, tucked on branches in the big tree. Jasmine, the state flower borders the entire mural.  

{*fyi Spanish moss is neither Spanish nor a moss and it grows profusely in the SC low country. The plant, which produces a nearly unnoticeable lime green flower, lives on the trees branches but doesn't siphon nutrients from the tree.}

The next scene is the John C. Calhoun Plantation. Fort Hill was the home of John C Calhoun, South Carolina's pre-eminent 19th century statesman, from 1825 until his death in 1850. It is a beautiful Greek revival with Federal detailing with fields of cotton lining the property. 

It was through a succession of Calhoun-Clemson women that Fort Hill came into Thomas Green Clemson's possession. In 1888, Clemson bequeathed the Fort Hill plantation and cash to the state of SC for the establishment of a scientific and agricultural college. The land that would become home to Clemson University started here. This is where Joyce's dad attended school. 

Here is Joyce explaining all of the scenes to my Jack. {She doesn't know I took this one! ssshhhh!!}

 The next scene, in the corner, is Farmer's Hall. This is located on the town square in Pendleton, a small town in Anderson County, SC, where Joyce's family is from. In 1940, it was a Post Office and the home of the Pendleton's Farmers' Society. It was originally constructed as the court house for the Pendleton District. The bottom floor is now a restaurant.

And the most precious building, at least to Joyce and Bill, is the State House in Columbia. This is where they finalized the adoption papers and left with their precious daughter, Elizabeth, one of my oldest friends. 

Just months after I painted this, a heated debate caused the state to take down the Confederate Flag {one of 3} that flew over the dome and instead fly it over a monument in the front. Some say the flag represents division and oppression while others say, it means heritage and culture.  
I visited with Joyce and Bill at the beginning of the week on a short trip home. I knew this would be the last time I saw them, or the house, before they move in a week. I took pictures and listened to her and Bill recall the stories connected to the places. The new homeowners will move in soon and will most likely paint over the mural. 

Joyce and Bill -- I admire you. I admire the love I have always felt in your home and the obvious love between the 2 of you. I have always been part of your family and you of mine. It is always great to see it, and to feel it and to be a part of it. Thank you for loving my mom, my brother, my kids, and me. Thank you for always, always, always taking care of my mom. I thank you for your part of my journey and though we will miss you, I am excited for this next step in your own journey. love you.

A Wolfpack welcome

Monday, November 10, 2014

I hope you enjoyed the last of the falling golden leaves this weekend! We are on a bit of a road trip so we got to do nothing but stare at them for hours! It's funny how you don't notice the enormous maple trees on the highways until the fall, and then you spend the time wondering their age, who exactly planted them there and all that they have seen {or is that just me?} 

I also got to paint a pillow for the newest Wolfpack on the planet! His sweet parents have been my friends for years and I'm so excited for the arrival of their 4th !!  

Welcome to the world little Jeremiah!!! 

It's November!

Monday, November 03, 2014

I hope your last weekend of October was well spent! We enjoyed great food, a hay ride, a haunted corn maze, a fundraiser, snow {?!}, pumpkin carving, leaf looking, a costume party and fun dancing! 
 a weekend. 

But, I am sooooooo excited to welcome my very favorite month of all....


Let's start counting, friends!!!!

Shannon Berrey Bio
I'm an artist, interior designer, wife and mom. Join me here as I share projects, ramblings, and inspirations.
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