Sometimes only takes a glance in a certain direction for Clayton to recognize a scene that he would like to paint. After a morning bike ride, Clayton was standing at the griddle cooking pancakes when he glanced toward the open kitchen door. Reflected in the glass portion of the door was a field full of Queen Anne’s Lace leading out to the ocean where a lobster boat was heading out to work. The view out the door itself was the edge of the woods across the road.
Clayton finished cooking, ate his pancakes and then set up his easel in the middle of the kitchen to begin painting this double scene. Meanwhile other hungry family members continued to cook their pancakes, careful to avoid jostling the painter at work.
Many consider Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum, a noxious weed, but as Clayton walked by this plant he noticed that four butterflies (monarch and swallowtails) and at least five bumblebees considered it a feeding station. It does need to be cut back before it goes to seed, since it is difficult to control as a non-native plant.
Clayton created Jack O’ Lantern because he wanted a different take on jack rabbits. He had been working on a jack rabbit in full run, legs outstretched, and realized that if he stood it upright, it could be put to work holding a lantern. This bulb is low wattage but sheds enough light to see a walkway or short set of steps. It can also be placed indoors, as shown recently when Clayton combined his art with two artist friends, Doug and Pat Mooberry, for the open studio tour. There is a dignity to the jack rabbit that is evident in this photograph.
When I first encountered outdoor showers it was in a beach town where often sandy footed people arrived at the door. Of course, outdoor showers are set up for camping and at places where the outdoor experience leaves one dirty and not suitable for a clean floor. But an outdoor shower is also something that some people really enjoy, and Clayton is one of them. Being the designer and artist that he is, the shower acts as a climbing trellis for clematis while surrounded by ferns that enjoy the extra moisture. Thus the shower provides both cleanliness and beauty simultaneously.
Clayton’s bronze sculpture entitled A Moment reminds me of the work that lies ahead during the next week. The first shipment of seed potatoes arrived yesterday, but more will arrive soon. This is where the real digging ensues, since we create trenches for the potatoes so that as we continue to “mound” them as they grow, the plant tops will ultimately end up at ground level. Although the ground has been tilled and compost added, digging trenches a foot deep is always work. Just as the sculpted boy, one needs to take a moment’s break from spade work to stand upright and gaze at one’s handiwork.
Today, February 8, it is 60 degrees outside, so I went looking. The forsythia could be forced now – the buds are all there. In fact many plants have their buds ready. As for blooming? The snowdrops take the cake. Their beauty reminded me of Clayton’s painting from a few years ago on January 25th, the title of the painting.
Clayton may not usually cook for the family, but he can cook and produces delicious dishes when he does. In this photograph he had just finished preparing mincemeat for his 2017-2022 Christmas pies (one jar per pie, one pie per year). He also produced three plum puddings, which he shared with two brothers who will enjoy them come Christmas. Clayton says, “Both of these desserts need to sit refrigerated for a long time so the flavors can blend and mellow.”
Great news! Clayton is joining the 21st century! At least in part. No, he is not getting a cell phone. But he now has a Facebook page, J Clayton Bright Studio. Now we get to say, “Like us on Facebook!” I never understood why I should do this, but now I get it. This is a painless way to see what is going on in Clayton’s world – his wide array of work in sculptures and paintings, his gardens including the designs and unusual plants, his house and furniture design. Please take a look, share his page and if you want more, click on the link to the web site.
Clayton created this weathervane, highlighted here by the November supermoon, in the early years of the Willowdale Steeplechase. It depicts a water jump, which is one of the defining features of this particular course. Displayed on top of the judges’ stand at the finish line, it is functional, pointing to the source of the wind direction. Because of the height of the weathervane’s location, its size isn’t readily apparent, but it is large: 3 feet by 8 feet! Clayton has created a couple of weathervanes over time – foxes and, interestingly, a steam locomotive. (Photo by Jim Graham.)