Monday, October 16, 2017

Eclipse Dragon

After experiencing the eclipse in Eastern Oregon, I became inspired to paint a memory of it.  I began with sketches of dragons, as I kept the Chinese mythology of the dragon eating the sun in mind.   

The ancient Chinese made much noise banging on pots and drums to frighten the dragon away during the eclipse.  

Today, when we witness such an incredible celestial event we are filled with great anticipation and awe.  During a full solar eclipse standing in the path of totality, the sun will disappear and the sky goes dark and you know why so many cultures around the world were afraid.  For a moment, you wonder what would happen if the sun never returned...

A burst of light appears on the edge of the black sun, it glitters like a diamond as you watch it without your eclipse glasses.  For a split second can you look at this beautiful thing before it becomes too bright again.  The earth warms up and the stars disappear, waiting to return that evening.  We made it through the dark, returned to the light, as if inside a circle.

 Eclipse Dragon
Acrylic and Composition Gold Leaf on Wood
16" x 16" Round

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse from Eastern Oregon

We left Seattle at 5 am on Sunday, August 20th towards Eastern Oregon to camp near the little town of Mitchell, "gateway" to the Painted Hills.  Once there we would find a random camping directly in the center of the path of totality to watch the Great American Eclipse. 


There was no cell phone service, as the 10s of 1,000s of eclipse viewers would be consuming the bandwidth and no solid camping reservation.  We knew our friends would be out somewhere in the hills, and we were extremely lucky to have found them by dumb luck!  Here are a few of our committed eclipse watching members.

Our peaceful campsite in the center of it all, on incredibly beautiful BLM land.  Hundreds of other people were camping in this vast area, mostly by the river that was a short walk from us.   

August 21st, 9:30am the moon begins to cover the sun and people are all around watching with their glasses!   They are being so cute holding each other, sitting in the river, cheering and enjoying the anticipation of the event.  There are many little mountains surrounding the area and people are occupying their peaks, like the guy sitting in a chair on top of this mountain.  He is tiny in the picture, but if you look closely you'll see him!

The pinhole camera effect.  Light travels in a straight line, so if you hold an object with a tiny aparature it projects the inverted image (of the eclipse) onto a shadow.   See all the crescent moons?

Tim built his own pinhole camera with everyday household items.  We took a time lapse video on our phone of the eclipse.  Crafty fun!

 The sky begins to darken, soon the shadow appears on the horizon and you can see it sweep over the sky like a fast approaching storm.  This is incredible.  

The light looks strange, we are getting the sense of being on another planet. 

 People are cheering all around us, the energy is high and the sky is so dark the stars come out.  The eclipse is in totality and it is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in the sky.  

My camera is not very fancy, but I remember very clearly the light scintillating around the dark shadowy sun, and the black eye of a god peering down on us.  When the moon began to reveal the sun again, after a full 2 minutes of darkness and chilling drop in temperature, we were excited to see the light come back.  When the beam shone from the corner of the moon it glistened like the most beautiful diamond, and yet you could only look at it for 1 second to keep from going blind.  

The sun has returned.

I would highly recommend this experience to anyone, it was absolutely simply beautiful.  I am now hooked and want to be an eclipse chaser.  Where in the world will I see the next Total Solar Eclipse?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Life Less Ordinary

     I wrote this originally for the tiny house blog, Tiny House talk where I have been featured for my story, "Meet Kelly Patton Traveling Artist and Tiny House Dweller."  I have always loved taking photos of my spaces and writing about them, as you will find in the archives of this blog.  Today I'm posting this article I wrote to my own blog, as the story is really too long for the Tiny House Talk format.  I wanted to share it either way, as the story of Tim and I meeting and building a tiny house is a great one!

                                                         Photo by @tiny_house_expedition

                                                           A Life Less Ordinary
                                                   Couple Reunites and Builds Tiny House 
                                                                         by Kelly Patton

     I have had the ordinary experience of living in small apartments and renting single rooms in the city, but when I moved to the country a whole new lifestyle opened up to me.  Out in the hills of Northern California I lived in a school bus, a small shack, a community house unit, a small cabin, and finally a yurt.  The little spaces were unique and provided me with much inspiration.  Little did I know, however, I was about to reunite with an incredible person who would change my life forever, while showing me how to build and live in one of the most versatile of all small spaces, the tiny house on wheels.
     One spring afternoon while living in the yurt, I received a flirtatious letter from a person whom I had thought I’d lost forever, Tim Seymour, my high school sweetheart. We went to different colleges after high school and later went our separate ways, living very different lives.  He was checking in with me to see what life was like for Kelly Patton, and I couldn’t have been more elated.

Life in Northern California

In Colorado, ages 17

     We rekindled our relationship over the phone, and finally agreed to reunite in person.  He had been living in Wichita Kansas, working as an engineer building planes and flight instructing.  I had been living in the woods as a full time artist and was playing in a local band.  We had much to catch up on, so I jokingly suggested that he “Fly his plane out to come and see me.”  To my surprise, that is exactly what he did.  He flew his family airplane, a single engine Cessna 14 hours over the Rocky Mountains from Kansas to Nevada City, California and we embraced for the first time in 12 years.  He confessed he was more wiling to take risks at this point in his life.

                                Lake Tahoe, the day we reunited for the first time in 12 years

     We agreed to continue our long distance relationship, and very shortly after he was hit by a sudden bolt of inspiration.  He must build a tiny house!   He had seen them on the internet and was inspired to build his own.  After selling his Wichita house, quitting his job, and letting go of his stuff he was beginning to feel a weight lifting from his shoulders. 
     He moved and settled in his mother’s home in Colorado where a workspace was available, and began the process of building the tiny house.  He cleared out a packed garage full of stuff, and borrowed his dad’s tools and purchased a Tumbleweed trailer.  Weeks prior he was creating a plan of the house using Sketch-Up, a software program used to map out the measurements and structural details of the project.  He created the layout as he saw most comfortable and practical, all considering the weight limits and size of all his appliances, walls, windows, cupboards, electrical systems, plubming etc.   I watched it unfold via Skype and went back to Colorado frequently to help him build over the next 4 1/2 months.

     With the equity from his Wichita home, Tim was able to build his tiny house with all the amenities he wanted.  He recorded his building process through time-lapse instructional videos and published them on his blog,  When we finished the house and took it on its maiden voyage to a party waiting for us in Denver, I was indescribably nervous to drive it down the highway.  After laughing all the way at the shocked faces we passed on the mountain and city roads, we arrived to the party with everything completely in tact.  The tiny house on wheels was a mobile mansion, and it never ceased to bring out the best in people who approached it.

                                Celebrating post champagne bottle smashing over the hitch!

     We drove it from Colorado to California and parked it just above the hill from the yurt.  For a while we lived out of both spaces, enjoying the fresh air on the path between our homes that we endearingly referred to as our “hallway.”  The tiny house served as a luxurious addition to our living situation, as we had the pleasure of using a washer dryer combo, a beautiful kitchen, and an additional bed, bathroom and living room for our out of town guests.  We also parked our house on Broad St. in downtown Nevada City for the artwalk where we gave tours in conjunction with my art opening.  At the event got offers for parking while catching the eyes of architects and interested buyers.

     After living in this dreamy manner for 6 months, Tim took a job to become a commercial pilot, a long awaited opportunity.  We agreed to move to Seattle, where he would be based for the next stage in our lives with the tiny house.  We eloped in June at “the end of the earth” in Port Townsend, Washington.

      For our honeymoon, we decided to take the tiny house on an epic RV road trip.  We started from Nevada City andtoured many stops up the Hwy 101 coast taking 10 glorious days to travel to the Olympic Peninsula and the place where we were married, Port Townsend.  We were anointed with a slight celebrity status as inquiring minds wondered if we were “On TV” or if we had built it ourselves.  We could answer yes to one of those questions, and still felt pretty awesome.

     Upon finally settling in Seattle, we found ourselves living in a house with our two cats and two roommates. With Tim’s Job and our shared house in the city, the tiny house has been parked in the peninsula serving as a weekend getaway.  Tim’s colleague generously offered a parking space at their home in Port Townsend, and as a result of visiting the tiny house often, we have made good friends with their family.  We also recently attended the 2017 Tiny House Conference in Portland, and met many amazing pioneers in movement.  To our surprise, many of the speakers and owners of tiny houses never moved their homes, and we seemed to be part of a small group who loved to go on the road with ours.

Parking spot in Port Townsend, WA

  Photo by @tiny_house_expedition

At the Tiny House Conference in Portland!

                                                  Photo by @tiny_house_expedition

  Photo by @tiny_house_expedition

  Photo by @tiny_house_expedition

                                                   Photo by @tiny_house_expedition

     Throughout this journey of owning a tiny house, we have lived so many wonderful experiences and made many new friends along the way.  At this point as owners, we are ready to sell the tiny house, as big changes are coming yet again.  It will definitely be sad to see it go because it gave us so many amazing experiences, but I know it will help give us more opportunities to grow into a limitless future.