Clayton at a Wyoming Workshop

posted by Starr Cummin Bright

painting-wyoming-scene-j-clayton-bright j-clayton-bright-wyoming-2

Clayton recently returned from Wyoming where he participated in the Susan Kathleen Black Foundation Conference/Workshop in Dubois. This was the second time he has attended this event, the first being in 2014. The presentations covered everything from monochromatic studies as preparation for a painting, to sketching on an iPad.  The subjects and presentations were as varied as the presenters and covered both painting and sculpture.

To prevent complete overload of absorbing new information, there were opportunities to go out to some of the local ranches to paint. Coming from the lush, green fields of Chester County, Pennsylvania to the dun-colored landscape in this part of Wyoming, where it takes 20 acres to support a single cow, meant learning color anew; not exactly relaxing but fun.

Clayton Bright’s Garden

posted by Starr Cummin Bright

cerues-2 cereus-1 cereus-plant

One would be hard pressed to look at the photographs of these flowers and connect them to the gangly cactus-like plant in the bottom photograph, but this is a Night-Blooming Cereus.  Another of Clayton’s finds.  It is currently living on the breezeway so it doesn’t get too much sun and so it can be tied in place.  Otherwise the weight of the plant would cause it topple over.  This past winter it sent out long shoots that extended from one room to another – at least eight feet of growth. Now it is producing amazingly fragrant and showy flowers which, as the name suggests, only bloom at night.  The middle photo was taken at 8:45 p.m., while the top one was taken two hours later. Twelve hours later the flower had wilted.  If you look closely there are still three flowers to open: one at the top middle, and two on the left side, middle.  Yet again it is the fragrance that catches my breath.  Yet the beauty of the flowers is startling as well. Again, look closely and you can see a flower within the flower, perhaps to make pollinating easy.

These treats which Clayton has carefully placed throughout the property demonstrate his holistic concept in maintaining beauty around him.

Unusual Flower given to Clayton

posted by Starr Cummin Bright

2016-08-28 19.28.57

When it became evident to our plumber Tom that Clayton is profoundly interested in beautiful flowering plants, Tom mentioned that he could give Clayton a cutting from his Plumeria,  a South American plant.  Tom said that the plant had yet to bloom for him, but that he was hopeful.  The first year Clayton had it – no blossoms.  But then in typical Clayton fashion he researched the plant and its natural habitat.  Clayton concluded that the plant needed very limited watering during the winter.  He proceeded with that plan and was a little surprised when the plant dropped all its foot long ovate leaves.  But now in August it has robust foliage again and is producing blossoms, albeit one at a time.  What attracted me was the brilliant pink blossom and the great fragrance that it emitted.  More blooms are on the way! Thank you Tom!

Clayton Painting, plein air

posted by Starr Cummin Bright

Clayton gets up to Maine sporadically, but always enjoys his time here painting. He recently found a great spot over-looking a tidal marsh. In the early morning light there are many variations of green with subtle differences in hues as well as a great landscape enclosed by a bulkhead of stones on the far side.  Captured here in his habitat, Clayton paints a preliminary sketch to work out details for a final painting.

JCB in Marsh  2016


Clayton’s Japanese Garden: What Variety!

posted by Starr Cummin Bright

One of the joys of living in a house that Clayton designed is the ever changing view out the kitchen window.  In April the anenomes are opening their white or blue flowers by day and closing them when the sun set.  In May the Jack in the Pulpits poked their leaves out of the ground, and by early June their pitcher shaped flowers were open for business.  Within a week the pink climbing rose was blooming on the north wall with cascades of roses putting out an incredible fragrance.

jack in the pulpit

Chester County Open Studio Tour

posted by Starr Cummin Bright

Open Studio photo

Clayton participated in the Chester County Open Studio Tour last weekend, showing his work at Kinloch Woodworking in Unionville.  Doug and Pat Mooberry, an excellent furniture maker and ceramicist respectively, are long time friends who were happy to have Clayton’s work displayed at their show rooms.  Pat had painted the walls stunning colors which brought out the details of both Clayton’s sculptures and paintings. Thank you!

Clayton Tree Pruning for the Future

posted by Starr Cummin Bright

Apple tree trimmed

Spring means planting, or at least thinking about it, but also elicits pruning and cutting out dead branches.  Clayton went to work on two apple trees that are next to our house.  The one most visible had the most dead branches, but it also holds two birdfeeders all winter long, and the birds have favorite branches to perch on as they wait for openings at the feeders.  Clayton only cut down branches on this apple tree where he didn’t routinely see birds perching.  (What a considerate gardener!)

The other apple tree got a real trimming in order to prevent thick branches from cracking under the weight of unnecessary ones.  All this opened up a clear space underneath, and Clayton, on surveying the carnage declared, “I want to plant a yellow flowering rhododendron right there –  where the thin branch is angled back onto the tree – so that we have an attractive color in this area in future springs.”  Then, having thought about our poor success with rhododendrons and azaleas, he modified his plans, “I am going to prepare the soil in that spot for a year before planting the rhododendron.”  How a true gardener thinks.

I’ll report back in two years.

Clayton Wins First Prize!

posted by Starr Cummin Bright

Clayton and the Last Pear - 1st place

Clayton’s painting, The Last Pear, won first prize as a still life at the Philadelphia Sketch Club today.  The painting is of the last Warren Pear from Clayton’s orchard and a couple of Sungold Tomatoes from my garden, capturing the essence of late fall. Clayton’s painting takes him from still lifes to street scenes to landscapes to portraits.  See the Painting tab for examples of his work.

Clayton’s Art Appreciation: Joaquin Sorolla

posted by Starr Cummin Bright

sorolla wharf (2) sorolla dancing (2)

Museum visits!

Since both Clayton and I really liked the Joaquin Sorolla painting which we saw in November at Musee d’Orsay, we decided to go to The Hispanic Society at 155th and Broadway in New York City.  Housed in their museum are not just a number of Sorollas on the second floor, but a whole room on the ground floor for which Sorolla was commissioned to paint 14 visions of Spain. The twelve to fourteen foot high murals range from a painting of a wharf scene to the rituals before a bullfight, to dances, harvests, herding cattle  and more. They are spectacular and display variations in Sorolla’s painting styles and give a clear understanding of why he was called the  Spanish “Painter of Light.”

February 14, 2016

posted by Starr Cummin Bright

snowshoe valentinevalentine in lights

Valentines don’t always have to be sent by mail or appear as candy or chocolates (two distinct food groups).  Both Clayton and Starr make use of the property as it occurs with vistas established by Clayton’s careful planting and maintenance as well as features which were constructed by Clayton.

This year Starr took advantage of a snowfall to snowshoe a heart in a field which is visible from the house.  And instead of removing the Christmas lights, Clayton reattached them in a heart shape in front of the poured concrete wall which he installed as a sound barrier for a noisy road (which also supports espaliered wisteria for the Japanese garden).  Voilà, two valentines.