Breaking news! More Croatian light

Lopud à l'aube

“Lopud a l’aube”, pastel on paper, 11″x14″

LOPUD, CROATIA-7:00 a.m. SEPTEMBER 20, 2017- This breaking light over the village of Lopud, Croatia was extra sweet for me after a grueling three hour traverse of choppy seas on the Adriatic Sea, my first time in a solo sea kayak!

This pastel will be included in a solo exhibit of new paintings on April 22. WARNING: the last pastel sold minutes after posting! Interested buyers let me know at and I can reserve it for you


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Hot off the easel! Croatian light

Just finished this pastel today. It will be included in an exhibit in April of new paintings. It’s based on live sketches in Croatia this past September while sea kayaking the Adriatic Sea for  seven days with NOLS. It was my first time in a solo sea kayak, on the ocean. It was…unforgettable.

Jaki and the Adriatic


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Remembering Black History Month in the AJC, Walter Cumming’s watercolor portraits

FEBRUARY 2002, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: For a daily series, I painted these watercolor portraits of important African Americans. I created this poster at the end of the series but it was never published. (All images copyright Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Tubman ILLUS

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River heroes and celebrities at gala last night!

SWEETWATER BREWERY, ATLANTA, GA. Last night, Georgia River Network’s  4th annual “Brews, Boats, & BBQ” attracted local celebrities and legendary “river heroes” at The Sweetwater Breweries. Included in the guests were former River Keeper director Sally Bethea, river guide giant Joe Cook, Chattahoochee Nature Center manage Alicia Evans, among many others.

Most impressive to me was my National Park Poster sold  for TWICE the opening bid to Georgia River Network board member Terry Pate. Currently only 189 signed limited edition archival prints remain. (they’re going fast folks! Go to to order one)


sally-betheaFormer Chattahoochee Riverkeeper director Sally Bethea poses in front of my National Park poster





Georgia River Network board member Terry Pate won the bid for my poster with twice theopening bid price! Thank you Terry!



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Blood On My Hands

Just the other day, I experienced “a first.” In an effort to stop the carnage of  political outrage and to get a break from family problems (since the death of my mother in November), I fled to the Appalachian Trail for my weekly long run with my dog.

Rounding the turn on a remote mountain road, I saw a pickup truck wedged against a tree and a young mid-eastern woman waving at me with her cell phone. “STOP! HELP” She handed me a bloody cell phone. “Tell 911 where we are located!”. We were miles from the nearest house but I knew exactly where we were.

Suddenly, my outrage at politics, and family problems vanished. This man’s life was in our hands.

“Is the victim bleeding from his head? Put a pressure rag on it right away.” The 911 woman told me. I yelled across the road to the young mid-eastern man “Is he bleeding from his head? “No. Yes. A bit.His nose and hands are bleeding” .

What happened next is still not clear. The mid-eastern couple said we need to get him out of the truck (instructions from 911?). The victim was conscious, moving arms and legs slowly and speaking softly “I ..need to get out…get my head on the ground. I need … to call.. my…mother.”

We three gently pulled him out and layed him on the ground. “Hang on buddy.” I told him, “ambulance is ten minutes away.” My hands were covered in his blood. I wiped the blood on the grass and on my pants. The stain is still there today. Just then, a firetruck arrived and and a local EMT fireman walked calmly to the scene, spoke with the victim. “Wud you do buddy?” he asked the victim as if greeting a neighbor in the barber shop.

“So, is everything ok?” I asked the fireman. ” You need us to stick around?”  “Na, everthang’s  fine.” he responded in local dialect.”Y’all can go own home.”

So I drove on up to the Appalachian trail for a blissful long run in the Appalachian mist. Politics and family problems didn’t enter my head until I returned back to my studio and the internet.


The above sketch was drawn from a photo I took on the sene

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DEATH! (and my last courtroom assignment)

CHARLESTON S.C.-The jury took 3 hours yesterday to decide on sentencing Dylann Roof to death for the murder of nine members of a black congregation. The sketch below was made live last week from the media room in the Federal Court House. A video camera in the courtroom showed his cold, emotionless expression which I was able to capture live in my journal in pencil and watercolor. The other two sketches were sketched live from inside the courtroom that morning.

For now, I’m calling this my last courtroom assignment and will be focussing on more uplifting themes for my art like National Park murals, and portrait commissions.



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DEATH! (and my last courtroom assignment)

CHARLESTON S.C.-The jury took 3 hours yesterday to decide on sentencing Dylann Roof to death for the murder of nine members of a black congregation. The sketch below was made live last week from the media room in the Federal Court House. A video camera in the courtroom showed his cold, emotionless expression which I was able to capture live in my journal in pencil and watercolor.

For now, I’m calling this my last courtroom assignment and will be focussing on more uplifting themes for my art like National Park murals, and portrait commissions.




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Sea kayaking the Croatian coast with NOLS alumni (part 3)


By Walter Cumming

Each day, as we worked together as a team and I learned more about our 11 team members, my respect and feelings of camaraderie  grew. I always find this phenomenon when traveling. Total strangers become intimate partners within days and even within minutes of working together to solve problems.



The team:

jaki-mug(left to right) Jaki “Mitsi” DeGeronimo – The youngest member of the team, Jaki is a lythe, athletic, shy but deceptively ambitious millennial. In her early 20s, she started her own company, a trendy coffee house on the upscale Island of Kiawah, South Carolina.

larry-ryan-mugLarry “The colonel” Ryan  – A retired Lieutenant-Colonel, Army ranger, Larry was the oldest, most experienced, well read, educated, and to me, mysterious yet respectable member of our team. Currently living in Seattle, he was my room-mate for the 7 days in Croatia and a rich conversationalist and solid, well-adjusted companion. We had read the same books, James Michener, John McPhee, Pat Conroy, Ambrose Bierce, David McCullah, but he remained a mystery to the end. I didn’t push, like a good journalist would, but he may have survived traumatic combat in Vietnam. He was fluent in Croate having lived for a year in the Balkans with a government organization in the 1990s during the Bosnian war. His business card reads “Construction Manager Facilities, Engineering & Acquisition Division – Naval Facilities Engeneering Command”. I have no idea what that title means, but I do know I am indebted to Larry for volunteering to paddle my solo kayak for me across 6 miles of rough seas to Dubrovnik our last day; an act of courage and sacrifice knowing that I was not comfortable in the solo boat.

kelly-mug  zach-mugKelly Rodgers and Zach Isaacs. – A nurse with her nurse husband Zach, they both live in Anchorage Alaska. This may be way off the facts, but I’ll call them “gen X” (thirty-forty something?) cultural San Diego raised, by way of Dubois Wyoming where Zach, like me, built buck fences, and we both climbed the Owen Spaulding route of the Grand Teton. Kelly had a magnificent tattoo of a colorful tropical bird on her right rib-cage .

steve-mugSteve Harrington, second in command as NOLS instructor, lives in San Francisco, was an immaculate model of NOLS professionalism. A multi-skilled outdoorsman with expertise in sea kayaking, backpacking, rock climbing (we both had climbed the famous overhanging free rapell move on Mount Yonah Georgia!) Most noteworthy about Steve (whose email address is “be wise, be brave”) was the fact that he very deliberately withheld his full time profession from the team until the last day (something like Captain Miller in “Saving Private Ryan” withholding his profession as a high school English teacher). Steve’s competence and compassion displayed itself daily , from his sincere interest in my art, to his stoic enduring of a hand wound (he smashed open a finger loading kayaks without complaint). The only other skilled vocalist on the team, Steve and I harmonized “No-where Man” together while cruising choppy seas our last day. A married Presbyterian Minister (we learned our last day). Steve’s best quote was describing the difference between Outward Bound and NOLS: “ By the end of an Outward Bound course, every student has cried at least once, and on a NOLS course, the lead instructor has learned all his student’s names.”

Paul Loudermilk- Another millennial, Paul was an affable, athletic, energetic, IT professional, working for a small start-up in Houston TX. Recently divorced, we bonded over Croatian beer and pizza in Dubrovnic, trading personal details of our divorces and women. Our stories were very different but, despite our age difference (he was my son’s age) we shared a common male bond . Also, as a graduate of NOLS semester in Patagonia, we had plenty of NOLS “war stories” to share.

lynn-mugLynn Petzold – (No relation to Paul Petzoldt ) Trip leader and, unlike Steve Harrington, Lynn is a full time NOLS instructor. A graceful athlete, a competent and qualified instructor and leader with innate feminine instincts in relationships and communication, she was also quite glamorous in her black evening dress at our goodbye dinner in Dubrovnic. Most impressive about Lynn, though, was her “grace and courage under pressure” guiding the entire team of strangers for three hours through choppy seas while sick (intestinal bug our first night left her very weak but functional ) on our challenging traverse from Broce to Lopud.


nichol-mugNicole Pearce – The third of four Alaskans in our group, Nicole lives       in Fairbanks and I regret not getting to know more about her. What struck me about her was her contagious laugh, which, when I was paddling bow with her paddling stern, her laugh always erupted whenever a big broaching wave threatened to capsize us. Also, I loved her dialect which was similar to Nicoles (maybe unique to Seattle and the Pacific northwest ?) . It was a very slow cadence with an almost equal emphasis on each syllable (“Ya – know – what – I – mean?)

bill-%22heyduke%22-mugBill “Hayduke” McCrossen – Fourth of our four Alaskans, an avid photographer (Bill was up at first light every morning with his tripod as I was with my sketchbook) he lived in Steward, Alaska but grew up in New Jersey. I privately dubbed him “Hayduke” after the gruff, eco-terrorist hero from Edward Abbey’s “Monkey Wrench Gang”. Bill declared with a certain working man’s pride that he got laid off from an oil rig job, just after buying his round trip plane ticket to Croatia so decided “What the hell, I’ll draw unemployment and backpack around Europe for a few months after this NOLS course!” Most memorable about Bill was a borderline misogynistic joke that the men laughed at but not the women.

“If childbirth for a woman is supposed to be more painful than a kick in the balls for a man, then how come women keep deciding to have babies after childbirth and no man has ever asked to be kicked in the balls a second time?”

Nest post- “Terror on the Adriatic- Day three sea kayaking the Croatian Coast”


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More live Dylann Roof sketches

Le bien. Le mal. Sketching Dylann Roof was disturbing for me, but a necessary eye witness visual record. True, the peace and beauty of the the seascape water colors was more enjoyable (“le bien”), but the humanity and courage of murder victims’s family in that courtroom moved me as much as the seascapes. They overshadowed the darkness  of Dylan Roof’s cold presence in that courtroom (“le mal”).



In the courtroom, about 6 feet in front of me, was this woman translating in sign language for a hearing impaired spectator and spectator . Her animation and emotional gesturing was filled with joy and compassion. In front of her was NBC sketch artist Art Lien and in front of him was Dylann Roof.



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NOT fake news. Dylann Roof trial today

This is what I saw and heard and sketched in Federal court today in Charleston, S.C.





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