The Great Smoky Mountains rise up over the foothills of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. On the west side, they spill into Kentucky and Tennessee. Dense timber and rolling fields, I fell in love with this place. The always-present smoky clouds that came and went. The famed Appalachian Trail bisects the chain of mountains.
I was just a teenager with my parents when I came across this beautiful spot, Mabry Mill. It was built in 1905 and is now a restuarant. Thousands of visitors stop here every year while they travel the Blue Ridge Parkway. Originally it was a grist mill, saw mill and woodworking shop. The stream they tapped was small, and the mill earned the moniker of a slow mill. This is a good thing, as other mills in the Smoky Mountains are known as fast mills and tended to burn the cornmeal, giving it a bitter taste. Soon the mill was known as producing the beat cornmeal in the mountains.
There were just too many details to remember to try to reproduce. I snapped a picture of my parents on the bank with the mill in the background. As soon as we got home, I developed the film, dug into my grandmother's trunk for her oils, and reproduced this scene. I had never painted waterfalls before, and my result drove me to continue painting.
Since then I've hiked several stretches of Appalachian Trail and I remain inspired by its beauty.
Written by Edmund Fratus . . . Copyright 9/26/2017