If the phrase “a perfect storm’ can apply to a vacation then we had it with our trip to French Broad Outpost Ranch—the perfect vacation.
I have always wanted to visit a dude ranch and never imagined it would be in the hills of Tennessee. Yet, there I was with best friend, Sally (Lovie) and her grand-daughters, Avery (10 yrs.) and Siena (6 yrs.). I love horses but have not ridden more than three times in my life even-though my son, Brian, raises quarter horses. What experience I have with riding is limited. I thought maybe a week of concentrated riding and good instruction would help. By Wednesday morning everything hurt and we were in bad shape. Muscles I didn’t know I had were making noises. Sally had injured her leg and hobbled around with a cane in one hand and ice pack in the other. We were a sight, but it did not slow us down, there was only one way to go – up- and we did! By the end of the week our muscles were working and Sal had shed the cane.
French Broad Ranch is sitting in the majestic French Broad River Valley with towering 3000 ft. mountains on either side. One of our trail rides was a sunset trip to the top of the mountain for dinner – what a view of the valley. Owner, Shawn Gannon bought the 347 acres that borders the Great Smokey Mountains in 2001 where he built the ranch. His skill as a horseman and trainer were a marvel. With his wife, Joann, he has created an authentic and remote setting.
Our stay began Sunday evening after dinner. While rain gently settled on us, we learned about horses and the right and wrong way to ride them. Then we were questioned and paired with our horse for the week. Breakfast begins at 8:00 then, off to the pasture to get our horse, brush, and saddle for the ride. There are four trails varying in difficulty and degree of elevation. With two rides a day we covered them all with combination of some trails. The steepest being the dinner ride. For someone inexperienced as myself, the 12 – 18” wide ridges were challenging, but I did them anyway. Trail rides were at least an hour, then we unsaddled our horse and took them on a cool down before walking them back to their pasture.
Trusting your horse is vital and after a few rides I became quite attached to mine. Rose was her name. She was a copper color Arabian with two white “socks” and a white diamond on her face. Beautiful animal. Each ride brought me a little closer to a comfort zone than when I arrived. By the fourth day, I was trying to figure out how to take Rose home and keep her in my backyard. I had become attached.
I cannot forget to mention the food. We had some excellent comfort food prepared by our cook, “Z” who is a master and had mealtime down to an art. Meals were at 8:00, 12:30 and 6:00. A fifteen minute bell was struck, then a five and for what was referred to as” ranch time”, ten minutes slow. With days filled with activities including; riding, rafting, tubing, games, square dancing, we hit the dining room like pigs to a trough.
The first day we were fortunately enough to have met a family from Hoochton, GA., who had two young daughters and our groups connected immediately. We laughed, worked, played and made plans to visit each other again.
As I mentioned, this is something I have wanted to do for a long time. There were a couple goals I set out to accomplish; one to be able to put my foot in a stirrup and easily mount a horse. It took about three days but finally, I was able to mount by myself. The other was being able to lift a heavy saddle onto my horse, that I accomplished quickly with a handy trick that Shawn taught us one the first day.
It seemed like I walked a million miles and back getting my horse from the field. All in all, we could not have had a more fulfilling experience and none of us was ready to leave. There is no doubt we will do it again. And, oh yes, with all the calories of “comfort food” I still lost eight pounds. What more can you ask!
Through the years, many of you have met and come to know Loretta. She was only nine when she went with me to Memphis to show my Elvis artwork, before there was an official Elvis Week, or as it was called in the beginning, “Elvis International Tribute Week”. She went with me every year until graduating high school and going to work, which took her from Nashville to Chicago, Montana, Houston, Austin, New Orleans and as of four years ago back home to Nashville. Now twice a year, when possible, she makes the trip to Memphis with me during EW and the birthday celebration. It is something she has always enjoyed, especially all the wonderful people she has come to know.
The third photo shown was taken in New Orleans during the filming of “12 Rounds”, she was Key-Set Costumer and is standing alongside, wrestler, John Cena on top of a car getting him ready for his next shot.
You can check out her work at www.Lorettaharper.com
The latter of this trio is of particular interest to me. During the late 70s early 80s both Tim Baty and my family resided in Hendersonville, Tennessee. We attended church and bible studies together. Tim and I saw quite a lot of each other. Tim was an accomplished singer and I admired his talents as a musician. Elvis recorded one of Tim’s compositions titled; “Thinking About You”, a beautiful song. Tim had some wonderful memories of Elvis and a fondness and respect for the man himself.
Tim had a great face for an artist to draw and I did just that. Here are a few photos I took and the original pencil sketch of Tim. Also, a video I found on YouTube of Elvis performing “Thinking About You”.
Check it out and give me your feedback, http://bettyharper.com/shop-giclee-prints/.
To learn more about the process, please keep reading.
WHAT IS A GICLEE?
Giclee (pronounced Gee’clay) is a French term meaning to spray or squirt, coined by Jack Duganne, a printmaker, which is how an inkjet printer works. However, it is not the same as a standard desktop inkjet printer, and is much larger. In Giclée printing, no screen or other mechanical devices are used and therefore there is no visible dot screen pattern. The image has all the tonalities and hues of the original painting. Prints are a little over a metre wide and are often affectionately referred to as a “knitting machine” as they look very similar.
Giclées do not use ordinary printers ink but special light-fast inks. The way the image is scanned is also different. The original is scanned directly on a drum scanner. Giclée prints can be produced on any paper as you wish, and printers generally have several specific ones to choose from. For me, if the original art is on canvas then that is what I prefer to use when printing. With my pencil work, I prefer a high quality art paper. I want the Giclée to be as close a reproduction of the original as possible, a clone.
The first Giclée I had made was of a drawing I did of my children, I was amazed when I put the original alongside of the Giclée…I could not tell the difference and found myself actually touching the picture to see which one was the original.
Since art can be printed and sold individually in accordance with demand. Inkjet printing has the added advantage of allowing artists to take total control of the production of their images, including the final color correction and the materials being used, and it is even feasible for individual artists to own and operate their own printers. If we do a Giclée of our original and limit that, say to, twenty prints then we as artist know there is only twenty and no extra prints are laying around. We can feel comfortable that when we sell to our collectors and say it is “Limited” we know that to be a fact.
These prints should receive the same care and attention as any other valuable artwork. The most important fact to remember is that all color fades. Some original watercolors and most lithographs will fade faster than a well-made Giclée print. Unlike lithographs and serigraphs, Giclées have undergone extensive, third-party fade-testing. Giclée prints are museum quality prints that offer extraordinary detail and the richest possible interpretation of an artist’s original work. Giclées are recognized as fine art prints by museums all over the world, many of which choose them as their own in-house custom-made prints from the great masters’ aging originals.
Worldwide there are no fans like Elvis fans. I experience this more and more as I continually meet new people from around the world.
Thanks to Steven Pitman for selecting my artwork to adorn his CD, “Elvis Piano”. Because of this collaboration and Steven’s generosity, I had the opportunity to take my Elvis art to Europe. Steven and The Official Elvis Presley Fan Club of Luxembourg extended a warm welcome to me and my work. Our first show was September 22nd in Luxembourg then again on the 29th during, Elvis: The Multimedia Experience, in Fameck, France. We had a fabulous time with the Elvis fans in Europe. They were so gracious and hospitable. The fans have always been so supportive of my artwork and I can’t say enough how much I appreciate them.
Now, after going through more than 2500 pictures and reliving a wonderful trip, I would like to take you through a quick photo journal. Between the exhibits in Luxembourg and in France, we covered a lot of miles; France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, (Sound of Music Tour) Netherlands, and Belgium. It was a world wind trip.
So, if you would like to get away for a few minutes, come join me on the roads of Europe. Enjoy!
Steven Pitman video