Violets and Trout Lilies bloomed for well over a week at home on the New York / New Jersey stateline, but the narrative in Wilmington, Vermont was different. We arrived on a windy night. A thin blanket of snow swirled over the New England town. By morning, the landscape was draped in fluffy white snow. Congrats – we traveled back into winter!
In the next 24 hours, the sun broke through the gray thickness above and the snow soon disappeared. Our ambitious gang of goldfish snack inhalers (and their parents, the coffee guzzlers) could not stay put for long. We set off on an adventure to summit Haystack Mountain!
The missus and I bundled ourselves and the little imps as if we were headed to the arctic. With bladders bursting and fingers already numb, we were ready for the trail! We carried our luggage (the kids) on our backs and shoulders through mud and rocks up 1,000 vertical feet. It was not long before we found the snow again. With sun blaring, snow became slush and feet became pruney.
We pressed on and the giant slushy stairmaster with complaining children soundtrack finally gave way to a tremendous vista at the top of old Haystack. Glory was ours! We had made it (all of us)! And then…we realized it was time to climb back down…oh shit.
We were driving home one evening on a “school night” *gasp*…the sky really captured my attention. At this time of the day, the greenery, barn, and road are sort of muted in color and tone, as the sky is lit up in the few remaining moments before the sun has set. And so, in this painting the sky becomes “the story” or the point of focus. There’s this feeling of calm at the end of the day… less to do (hopefully), maybe a cup of tea and less TV.
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 photo I worked from to help guide this painting was taken a couple of years ago. I’m not sure what made me go back in time; maybe the light effect, maybe the time of year. I wanted to show the light coming in from the background to light up the river with enough contrast with dark areas of the river, to keep it interesting. Things may seem just gray and brown this time of year, but I think the lighting in the winter is tremendous – like a lamp with a dimmer adjustment, yet positioned at a certain angle to still create dramatic effects.
For many of us, the real sauce in a watercolor painting, any kind of painting, is direct experience. As I walk, the light bulb goes off, multiple times if I’m lucky. But, walk and be there I must in order to set the mind ablaze with ideas for a painting. It is a wonderful thing to suddenly be struck with excitement about re-creating, and maybe even embellishing the thing being experienced in real-time. It is one of the few things in life that doesn’t feel like pounding a square peg into a round hole; it happens with ease.
I’m still playing around with these watercolor time-lapse ideas. This is the 2nd one I’ve done since the “Winter River Scene” from a trip to Connecticut early this year. I’m fortunate to live close to Harriman State Park; a 47, 527 acre mixed deciduous forest, containing some of the oldest rocks in the world. The idea of showing the sun hitting this exposure of presumably Precambrian (1+ billion year old basement rock) is what sparked the inspiration for this painting.
There were also two gnarly Eastern White Pine growing in this spot. Evidently, this type of pine is iconic of the type of ecosystem found in this region before European settlers began exploiting these giants for economic purposes, such as ship building, and it quickly became a major export. In this painting, I wanted to show the gnarly bark of a White Pine that is allowed to reach a certain maturity; reminiscent of a time when it reached old age regularly. To cap it off, there is autumn color to celebrate the season!