2023 Bidding Information through Middleburg Art's Council:

Proceeds to benefit beautification projects and promote the arts for the Town of Middleburg!

Lydia's Fox is oil on cut out board. Lydia's Sponsor for 2023 is the Red Fox Inn.


The Call Home

I am fascinated with the idea of yearning to go home, being called home, and going home. This idea has a universal and omnipresent sense and yet if you focus on it- or look at it directly it feels like it vanishes. It is difficult to articulate without analogy. Homesick is a term we often use, but what does it really mean? We can feel homesick for places we have never been by reading poetry in a song or by beholding a beautiful painting. We can be standing in the home we have always lived in and feel out of place. These feelings might be mischaracterized as nostalgia or sentimentality, but in reality it is future-focused rather than backward looking. The concept touches on a deeper spiritual reality that we belong in a particular place. In today’s culture, we may not recognize this concept as a place anymore- but a group of people or siding with the ideology or philosophy that feels like it best suits us. 

To write about this idea of home and what it is feels a clunky thing. It seems to have been touched on only in philosophical circles a generation or two ago. Despite the wish I have that there were writers talking about these philosophical issues, these concepts do still occupy an invisible presence in our culture.  The idea has bled into stories and the way we grasp concepts or images across time. Ed Sheeran sings in his ballad, “Castle on the Hill”:
Take me back to when I found my heart and broke it here

Made friends and lost them through the years
And I've not seen the roaring fields in so long
I know I've grown, but I can't wait to go home.”

When I moved away from Virginia the landscape began to change on a monumental scale. The rolling hills and fields that I grew up on have swallowed up  into little plots for  thousands of new build homes, wineries, and wide fast roads. Recently, on the long drive back to Middleburg, I suddenly felt an inner confusion and panic!  As I was cresting a hill I thought I knew well I suddenly had no recognition of the place and felt lost in an instant. Was I in Fairfax- wasn’t I closer? Had I missed my turn? 

A feeling of relief washed over me when I realized I wasn’t lost. But I began to think about how Adam and Eve may have felt after their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. I speculated about what the journey out of the Garden must have looked and felt like.  As they left the gates did they glance back and not recognize it the farther away they got? Did they know the Garden of Eden was never meant to be the final home? Did they know that Heaven or Hell was before them?

The longing-for-home feeling I’m describing is the sense of alienation and the longing to be in a place where we are known, loved, and where we belong. While the rolling hills in Virginia are my life’s analogy- it is not the real heaven but it is an echo of it.  These places which are so precious to us give us a glimpse into the possibility of what is the future heaven. Virginia gives me a glimpse of what is ahead and what my soul is longing for. The longing for home pulses through us because we are alienated from our heavenly home. A heavenly home that we were created for— a desire which is built into our very soul. On earth we build homes for our physical bodies- but our souls were built for heaven.

" A man's physical hunger does not prove that he will get any bread; he may die of starvation on a raft in the Atlantic. But surely a man's hunger does prove that he comes from a race which repairs its body by eating and inhabits a world where eatable substances exist. In the same desire for Paradise proves that I shall enjoy it, I think it a pretty good indication that such a thing exists and that some men will." -Lewis

I hope these ideas course through in all my artwork; they certainly do as I paint. It is my contemplation of what the expulsion from the Garden of Eden looked like that has driven me to paint faster. Each day that I wake, I am more convinced that the world is bursting with meaning. A meaning that we have been dulling our senses to.  It is as if a screaming voice of significance has become a white noise in the background of our everyday life.  A meaning that is in the very air that we breathe, that touches our skin, yet we shelter away from it so it does not impede our daily mundane tasks.  We become like children preferring to make mud cakes in a dark alleyway instead of a holiday at the seashore.  We now find ourselves unable to comprehend the grander scales of meaning before us.

Middleburg is my own glimpse of Heaven; it is part of my spiritual education in understanding what is promised in Heaven. This perfect place where I belong. It is why painting Hunt Country is one of the greatest honors of my life. Throughout the year I work on projects with companies and organizations which sometimes dazzle me.  Ultimately, however,  the work that truly dazzles me is painting Hunt Country because it has shaped me so deeply as a child and into my adult years.

This particular painting for the Foxes on the Fence for the Red Fox Inn depicts the roads I ran and walked throughout my years in Virginia- through childhood and into adulthood, and as you read this meandering description of my painting you will see in this painting a glimmer of Heaven and maybe you will spot the ever evasive feeling of the call home- the fox.

For Foxes on the Fence at the Red Fox Inn I wanted to depict those Virginia roads that have made such an incredible impression on my life.  As you read this meandering description of my painting I hope you will see the same glimmer of heaven that I do.  Perhaps you can also glimpse that ever elusive feeling for the call of home; the fox.