A partial view of the recent solar eclipse on Monday, August 21 simply could not compare to full totality. This was truly an awe-inspiring event that photographs cannot do full justice.
Jimmy and I drove to Rabun Gap, GA, a mountain region in the path of totality. Thanks to a last minute cancellation, we were able to book a room at Georgia’s oldest continuously operating inn, which was, of course, haunted.
During the nearly three hours of the moon’s complete journey across the sun, I did a series of small, quick studies of the various stages of this celestial transit in watercolor pencils. When the moment of totality was moments away and only the thinnest sliver of gold remained, I only had time to draw the solar curve before suddenly, an eerie darkness fell and the night crickets began to chirp as the moon lined up with the sun for 2 minutes, 37.2 seconds of indescribable majesty.
It was so dark at the time of totality that I couldn’t tell with great certainty which colors I was selecting for the study. Hoping for black and light blue, once some sunlight returned, with surprised relief I was able to confirm that yes, I had indeed picked up my targeted pigments!
A nearby rooster must have wondered why the night was so short as he crowed to welcome back the sun.
Like certain other natural events and amazing discoveries that inspire me, such experiences sometimes need to swirl around for awhile in the creative melting pot of my mind before I know how I am going to best utilize the input — but I have a few ideas already!
While both sets of Jimmy’s camera batteries mysteriously drained (we blamed the inn’s ghosts!), thankfully we were able to capture a few shots of the totality with my DSLR; you can see the best one above. Along with the fast watercolor pencil studies, these shots, albeit quite pixilated, should be sufficient to serve as reference for whatever way I utilize this stunning celestial event in future artwork.
Following Eclipse Day, we found that Rabun County boasts five lovely lakes and over two dozen waterfalls. While on a hike to Panther Falls, we came upon an unexpected, captivating area where visitors had ritually placed flat, water-smoothed stones in a series of short stacks within the creek that flowed alongside the trail.
A local we met said she wasn’t sure how long the tradition had been upheld. While it is considered controversial to some who consider it disruptive to the ecosystem, she explained that others enjoy the practice as a meditative act while being in touch with nature. I really liked how the patchy filtered sunlight echoed the pattern of the smooth stones.
Naturally, coming upon this surprise discovery planted the seeds for a new installation in my mind, so don’t be surprised if I ask you to start stacking stones on the floor soon.
Another highlight of the trip was hiking up Black Rock Mountain in the Black Rock Mountain State Park to photograph some amazing views, passing through some lush, large areas of ferns, wildflowers, and other flora along the way. While my hopes to see a black bear (under peaceful conditions, of course) were not met, I did hear a guttural, huffing sound that was unmistakably bearish – twice!
Neither of the two ghosts reputed to haunt the inn made such a sound – thankfully.