When I crossed the border from Wyoming, the hills stretched into smooth, flat fields. I stopped halfway through the state in Kearney, as I had found a modest house on a quiet street in which to stay. After consulting the map, I visited a park that took up a large green rectangle at the edge of town. Yanney Heritage Park is indeed huge, consisting of 80 acres, born of a cornfield.
A sidewalk runs along its outline, so Charlie and I took a long walk to see what we could see. A river fans out into a pond and people were paddle-boating around, sharing the water with giant white swans. The lawns were beautifully manicured and we saw a look-out tower, a senior activity center, work out stations and an outdoor amphitheater, where the final dress rehearsal for "Tarzan, the Musical" was being performed. Further along, a wooden bridge spanned the river and the views going both directions were nice, but all along, I thought I would like to paint a giant sky over farmers' fields because that is how I think of this state. And, then, there it was - a red barn tucked into a line of trees - the perfect Nebraska landscape!
The next day was slated to be hot so I got going early. I packed up my art gear on the rolling cart with plenty of bungee cords and set off at a brisk pace. Perfect clouds rose above the farm and I scribbled off a quick sketch and took some photos to catch their transitory path. The wind was very strong so I left the palette on the ground to mix colors. I almost never mix ahead of time, preferring to react to what I've put on the canvas. But I found it was easy to do so: a light and dark green, a light tan, a medium purple, my favorite aqua blue and a rich dark brown. It turned out that having them ready made the whole process more streamlined. On this, one of my last states, I learned something new! I guess that is beauty of what I do - every situation presents an opportunity for growth.
It was a lovely day at the park! I took Charlie off-leash and he was happy to guard me with a few tough barks when strangers stopped to say hello. Though it was hot, the wind kept us cool. All in all, I enjoyed my time in this state. It felt uncomplicated and straight-forward. I am now happier than ever to be returning to Michigan and my home. If anyone (who doesn't already know) wants to guess the three final states, there's a reward in it for you! They will all be done in time for next summer's show at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts. See you there!