Sunday, November 20, 2011

Moorman's River View

I finally spent some time today doing the last touch-ups to this oil painting, the fruits of several days spent by the Moorman's River in Sugar Hollow outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. My last day of studying this bit of greenery by the river, August 23, I was applying a few final brush strokes and enjoying the light dancing off the wind-blown ripples when the rocks started vibrating beneath my feet. There was the sound of a distant, massive explosion. Eileen was painting a couple dozen feet upriver from me, and she and I exchanged a silent glance for the 30 seconds or so until the event passed.

We both agreed that if something major had happened, eventually a car would happen up the remote hollow, stop near us, roll down the window, and tell us about it. (Eileen, it turns out, had first thought like me that D.C. had been hit by "the big one," but had dismissed the idea when she remembered Congress was not in session. Good thinking, Eileen.)

About 10 minutes later the car came and rolled down its window. We concurred with the gentleman that it must have been an earthquake. He explained he was heading up the road to check on the 77-foot dam, half a mile upriver, that was holding the Sugar Hollow reservoir at bay. As he drove on, Eileen and I exchanged deadpan expressions, then quietly went back to finishing our paintings. Nothing else made much sense.

Once within cell phone coverage on the road home, I got a text message from D.C., then a phone call from France, loved ones asking if I was okay. From France? Back home, the Internet explained: The 5.8 earthquake, rare for our region, had been felt in 22 states — and we, in our spot below the dam, had been about 50 miles from the epicenter. In my absence, my house and my dog had been shaken and stirred. Up a hollow by a sparkling river, the gentle vibration had felt like the most natural thing in the world. I'd like to think that this painting holds a bit of the energy of that day.

Oil on stretched canvas, 24" x 36".

$895 framed, plus shipping. Email me


  1. Polly,
    There's such vibrancy in this painting. The water is alive with movement and energy. I'm not sure if that's the earthquake coming through or your ability to see the life in that water. Beautiful!

  2. This painting caught my eye on the Daily Paintworks site. Very nice depiction of water.