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Bill SnowWilliam Snow spoke to the Fluvanna Art Association (FAA) members on the subject of how to create mood and atmosphere in watercolor painting – a skill that baffles most painters.

“This method works for any medium and addresses any time of day,” he said. “The problem with copying photos is they will not give you the results you want.” He recommended doing a value sketch to pin down the sources of light in a photo or when outside sketching. He advised his listeners not to copy the photo literally but to change it, making it their own composition. The drawback to copying photos when artists are not sure what they are painting, he said, is that they add a lot of minutia in the photo that doesn’t enhance the painting.

While Snow showed the members successful watercolor techniques, an overhead camera projected onto a larger screen how Snow applied his method, allowing the audience to watch as he painted and talked. In the past, members sidled up and gathered around the table to watch the artist work and could not always see what the artist was doing. This was a milestone.

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Maddie Jamison jumps in the poolJuly is the hottest month of the year for Central Virginia, and that’s rarely been more true than this July.

In the first 21 days of the month, Fluvanna County weather stations recorded daytime highs in the 90s on 19 days, and you have to go all the way back to July 9 to find a day that was merely in the upper 80s.

The average temperature for this time of year is around 86 degrees.

Combined with high humidity threatening to push the heat index as high as 109 degrees, it’s no surprise that Cheryl Elliott, Fluvanna County emergency management coordinator, issued a press release on Friday warning residents to beware of the potentially dangerous temperatures and recommending that people in need of cooling head to the Fluvanna County Library or, for Lake Monticello residents, the Fairway Clubhouse. Add a comment

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It may come as a surprise that people other than parents read the list of A and B students printed in the paper.

But as Lake Monticello resident Jack Byers looked at the latest list, he noticed something he questioned.

“There are an extraordinarily high number of students getting As,” Byers said. “By my count, one grade level had a third of the class with all As. Either we’ve got a bunch of geniuses or something’s amiss.”

Brenda Gilliam, executive director in charge of curriculum instruction and finance, said the Fluvanna school system doesn’t examine how many students have top grades.

“We do not analyze data relative to grade distributions and the percentage of students earning honor roll or straight As,” Gilliam wrote in an email.

Byers wondered what constitutes an A in Fluvanna schools. He is familiar with Fairfax schools where his children and grandchildren attended. Add a comment

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Matthew McDaniel and Ian McDanielTechnology is moving at a faster pace than most of us can conceive. In a recent conversation with Ian McDaniel of Gravity’s Edge, a local business specializing in computer repair, networking and data recovery, the question came up of what to do with our old computers, laptops and desktops and whether they can be upgraded with new versions of software, such as Windows 8 and 10. As most of us now know, Windows XP and Vista are no longer supported, and that leaves some of us wondering if our old computers are worth saving or can even be upgraded.

McDaniel thinks it is wiser to simply buy a new computer, since the cost of upgrading an older computer would not be worth it. For those who have McDaniel’s know-how and skill, the process could be as simple as hunting for all the necessary hardware, including four gigabytes (GB) of random-access memory (RAM) and installing it for $100 to $200.

Then there is the added cost of software. McDaniel said there are no downloadable freebies; you have to purchase the pricey software. And if you are not skilled and knowledgeable about computers and installation then someone like McDaniel would also have to be called in to complete the job at an added cost. He pointed out that for the cost of improving an old computer, you can purchase a new one with Windows 8 or 10 for anywhere from $150 and up depending upon your needs. Add a comment

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Sluicing in streamThere’s a saying among the members of the Central Virginia Gold Prospectors: “If you want gold, buy it; if you want to have fun, prospect.” That philosophy is evident if you happen to attend one of the club’s monthly digs in Buckingham County. Hanging out with these guys is like reverting back to your childhood; that of playing in streams, digging, and hopefully, finding treasures.

On every third Saturday of the month since 1998, the club members have descended upon Buckingham County. They come from all over – Roanoke, Suffolk, Fredericksburg, Amherst, Powhatan, Midlothian, and as far away as Pennsylvania. One member, Jim Windle, decided to purchase a home in Buckingham after coming to the county for over 30 years. “My wife teaches at Longwood University,” said Windle. “She got tired of the weekend drives, so we moved here.”

Buckingham has a history of being an area that has some of the purest gold in the country. And that gold can be found, if you know where to look and how to prospect. 

In order to establish claims with Buckingham landowners, the club had to research historical archives and use word of mouth. “Buckingham was the largest producer of gold in the country before the Civil War,” said John Schlaback, club president, who hails from Waynesboro. “There were a large number of gold mines in the county.” Names such as Morrow Mine, Seay Mine, Booker Mine, and Bondurant Mine are part of Buckingham’s goldmining history.

The California Gold Rush enticed many prospectors to leave the Buckingham mines and head west. The Civil War also pulled the miners away, causing the mines to be abandoned. Many of the mines were also burned during the war. It has only been in the past 30 years that these mines have been rediscovered and explored.

“We have land rights to come to Buckingham and prospect,” said Lynne Shaw, club treasurer.  “We pay a lease to use private property. It’s sort of like hunting rights. Hunters take away game; we take away gold.” 

The club’s website has a large amount of information on the history of gold in Virginia. The site notes that Thomas Jefferson made one of the first references to gold in 1782, when he described finding a gold-bearing rock, weighing four pounds, north of the Rappahannock River. Buckingham County’s Booker Mine was opened in 1835 and the Bondurant in 1836, during a time that was known at the golden age, or the first gold rush.

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