We live in close proximity to Harriman State Park, which is probably why I’ve painted Harriman scenes many many times. Here’s a typical scene from one of the many rocky areas found throughout the park. I don’t quite recall where this is, but it was a foggy autumn day – and it was fantastic! I hope this painting gets you in the fall spirit. Crisp autumn air and pumpkin beer await!
My wife, Caitlin, fractured her ankle in three places (and dislocated it, too). I believe there is a medical term for that. As you might imagine, things got a little hectic; especially, with two little kids around. So, I took about a two month break from painting, but this painting was the one that got me back on track. The idea for this scene was inspired by a hike through the John Burroughs Nature Sanctuary in Ulster County, New York.
Burroughs once wrote about a man who reported that his vision improved after getting sprayed in the face by a skunk (or something along those lines). His observations in nature are as thorough as they are entertaining. I often wonder what it would be like to have that much time to observe nature and to spend an entire half a day sitting around outside, as he often did. Here’s to John Burroughs and a renewed zeal for painting in watercolor!
Still thinking about our trip to the Adirondacks last September. Wetlands in the Adirondacks have long been a source of inspiration for me. This watercolor painting is not of the wetland where we first heard the haunting cry of the common loon or where we plunged into the water to cool off after a long hike. This one here is where Emma fell in love with Goldenrod!
The Stairway to Heaven hike in Vernon showcases some of the most beautiful parts of northern New Jersey. But what did I choose to paint from this hike? A puddle of mud! I’m sorry, but beautiful vistas don’t always scream “paint me”. I found beauty in this mud puddle for these reasons – simplicity, reflection, composition, and color. The view from a mountain top can make for an excellent painting, but I’m craving a certain something else these days – something sort of interesting, though difficult to pinpoint.
I like a good architectural challenge once in a while – buildings in truthful perspective, arranged with charm. This time, I”ll take a couple of cedar trees and a muddy path, please. The freedom to paint a simple landscape promotes a sense of joy and relief, as if a tremendous weight has been lifted.
I’ve broken a painting rule – the reflection of a subject in water should be darker than the actual subject. Not in this painting. But that’s the way it is – there is a thin layer of water covering the muddy path, making the reflection of the tree appear lighter because the sun shining on the mud under the water is bright.
There’s no mountain in the background, but artistic liberties must be taken to make things a bit more interesting. Even without the mountain, the composition of this scene made me stop walking. I saw the potential for wonderful depth – the muddy path and lighting draws the viewer further into the painting.
This scene is located at the base of Waywayanda Mountain. The habit is mostly field with numerous red cedar pioneering the area. Whether the trees were planted here, I do not know. I found the color contract tremendous. Red-ish green cedar trees (hence the name Red Cedar, Juniperus virginiana) against a straw-yellow field, with a cobalt-blue bright sky (some of that in the reflection).
That’s what hooked me then, not sure what will hook me next 🙂
Mitchella repens (Partridge berry). This is an often overlooked, wonderful evergreen ground cover for shade/part shade in the garden. It is fairly common in the deciduous forest understory. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any with the red berries still intact (which I hear are edible). This plant is somewhat slow growing and it eventually forms a dense carpet. When in bloom, the little white flowers are structured so that they prevent self-fertilization, thus promoting genetic diversity! And, it is the only plant in its genus in North America.