Alley Mill

Thanks to Covid I’ve been able to drag my daughter on nature adventures on her days off school, since every other form of entertainment is currently closed/off limits/frowned upon, etc. Our theatre has been closed since March, there were no parades or festivals this year. 😦
We have to be careful to find bathrooms before we go on trails, because most of the state park restrooms and facilities are still shut down, but the parks and trails give us something to do on what would be otherwise another day in front of video games or the tv. – which I am both thoroughly sick of. If I stay home and go outside, I feel like I need to be working in the yard or garden, so I have to get out and get away if I’m to just relax.

I’m not a fan of crowds and some of the parks are quite a bit busier than I like them right now (Elephant Rocks and Johnson’s Shut Ins have been INSANE this year), but Alley Mill is less exciting, so therefore less busy than the more popular parks. It’s a few miles outside of Eminence, Missouri along the Ozark National Scenic Riverways park. This includes the Current River and Echo Bluff which is another of our favorite places to go, especially in summer. We didn’t go tour the mill because we had our puppy in tow and you can’t take animals into state run buildings- or so the signs said. We did go walk the nature trail that circles behind the mill and along the spring for about 1/4 mile before looping back to the parking lot.

I’ve seen SO many pictures of this place on photography forums and Missouri parks forums that I follow and after seeing it in person, I understand why. The mill makes for impressive photographs, especially if you have good light ( I didn’t, it was too bright and my photos look washed out because of it) and can capture the deep red of the mill against the spring’s turquoise water. Yes, the water IS actually that color in person, I did not ramp the color way up in these pictures AND they were taken in mid-day in full sun! There were some cool little caves along the path, though not for human exploration. They were gathering up a big group of horses for a trail ride when we first arrived. We stopped to look at the hoof-prints in the mud on the way out and chat with a couple whose toddler wanted to pet Bowie.

The trails were pretty calm, there’s lots to look at, if you want a quiet little daytrip with lots of photo ops, I’d highly recommend it. If you have busy toddlers that like to run from you like the couple at the end, I would recommend keeping them strapped to you on the trail- it’s high up, narrow and the water below is running VERY fast over some rather large boulders underneath. You don’t want to have to swim for your kid (or dog!) in it.

I recently did a painting of the one of the pictures I took on a saw blade. You can see it on Etsy here:

Acrylic saw blade painting of Alley Mill

https://www.etsy.com/listing/891211240/alley-mill-springs-on-antique-handsaw
It’s of that same iconic shot below the mill that all the photographers like to take.

My daughter loves to visit anyplace with water. Have any recommendations for us in Missouri? We’d love your suggestions!

-B

Throwback Thursday Painting murals

I came across these pictures from several years ago and thought I would share. Don’t remember if I ever posted these on Dirt or not…

I was volunteering at Ely’s school in Camdenton, Missouri at the time. I had been working a couple days a week for the art and music teachers, really just doing odd jobs like hanging stuff, filling bottles of glue, cleaning out old paint, loading the kiln, laminating stuff, etc. I had also created a couple really cool doors for the music room with door-sized drawings, paper flowers, stuff like that. News got around that I was “artsy” and could “draw stuff.” Those of you that also “draw stuff” or “do art” know that when word gets out that you this kind of thing, people will approach you with projects and either ask your advice, or just ask if you’d do it for them. This is how I got talked into doing a mural at the school- the thing was about 15 feet high and some 25-30 feet across, all along the outside wall of their library, facing the elementary cafeteria. We had to have some kind of special permission from the school board to do it, apparently they have to approve any paint colors or artwork that will be permanent and outside of what they’ve previously voted on.

Sketching out the mural- I punched up the contrast on this picture so you can see the pencil drawings.

We started work in early June, just a couple weeks after school let out. There were still kids there going to summer school, so I had to be careful when they were walking through the hallways, to not be on the ladder when they went by and to keep my supplies close the wall so nobody tripped on stuff. I wish I had taken more pictures of the process.
The school’s scaffold was in use by the janitors elsewhere, but I decided after seeing what they brought to stand on that I would just use my own ladder from home. I balanced on the top of that stepladder, holding onto the wall to do the upper part of the mural. It was an adventure. 😀

We had a month to get it finished. It had to be done by the time the janitors came in to wax the floors before school started in August. Until summer school let out, we were only allowed to be there certain hours, so really the bulk of the work had to be done in the three weeks after summer school and before waxing.

Mildly freaking out.

I had never painted anything before.

Yes, you read that right. I’ve done plenty of drawing. I’ve done stuff in colored pencil, lots of digital work, crayons (lol)… but outside of painting walls in my house, I hadn’t worked much at all with paint. The last picture I probably painted was in high school art class. So that look of concentration and mild worry on my face is for real- I wasn’t really sure I could pull this off when I started and was pleased that it came along as well as it did. I would have no issues doing this NOW… well, maybe I’d tell them it was going to take a bit longer than a month to finish!

My daughter came and helped me with painting the large amount of sky and grass that had to be filled in, while I worked on details, but she couldn’t be on the ladder of course. Jeannie (the teacher that picked me to do the project) helped where she could, but she had multiple other painting projects to complete at the same time. She WAS good company and moral support though!

We did finish ON TIME and it was there for all the kids to see when they came back in fall. I loved getting to hear them talking about it and the excitement when they’d come around the corner and see it for the first time. We used the school’s therapy dog as part of the picture, the kids recognized her immediately and even noticed the purple toenails I’d added to the dog’s paws.

It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun. I’d do another one in a heartbeat. AND next time around, I’d actually know what I was doing! LOL