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.
The mind never stops churning, even on a relaxing weekend upstate in the Catskills (NY). The Glen Falls House is where we stayed and everyone was super nice. There are short nature trails on the property, some of which, lead to one of the most beautiful waterfalls I’ve ever seen. It’s not a big waterfall, but the surrounding rock formations are hypnotic.
Painting this was FUN. I worked on it a couple of hours after work for a little over a week. The water was the biggest challenge but the scene already offers great contrast between the light coming in through the trees and the darkness underneath the rocks. The Eastern Hemlock stand at the top of the falls really hit home. I love these conifers and who knows how long until they are destroyed by the woolly Adelgid. Finally, I went for more glow and stronger color to depict the funky vibe I feel from the Catskills.
This place is not far from home. A swamp, a wetland, a breeding ground for a myriad of organisms. Some we consider charismatic, some consider us their host, and some we don’t recognize. It’s hard to walk by without noticing things here, especially, in the fall. What was a sea of green is now a textury color kaleidoscope. This season seems more fleeting than the rest. So little time, so much to paint.
At last; a light snow dusting settled on tree branches and walking paths in the second half of Sunday. Just in time for the finished painting, which I started last week!
Weather is strange in the mid-Atlantic region these days. December felt like a very warm October and today little Mine Brook filled into a raging river thanks to a long period of rain. Being outdoors in the rain can be fun too, but I decided to make progress on a new watercolor landscape instead (teaser shown above). The painting is a reminder that seasonably cold days are ahead!
A few hours later, I felt the urge to get outside – a.s.a.p.! It drizzled on steadily, but rays of sunlight were beginning to peak through the heavy gray blue purple clouds. I needed to run so that I may drink delicious craft beer later. When I hit the road the sun started to overpower the clouds, but the rain kept falling in the now luminous afternoon.
The sun was now behind me as I ran up the hill. I was at the perfect place at the perfect time – in the presence of a meteorological phenomenon. The Hokus Pokus know as reflection, refraction, and dispersion gave birth to an amazing double-rainbow! It was the most vivid rainbow I had ever seen and I ran around grinning up at the sky, of course.
The rain had finally stopped. The air smelled of great sweetness with a hint of clean cotton, grassy freshness, wet earth, and smoke from wood, burning somewhere not far away. It was heaven on earth, but the sun was now sinking below the trees in the distance. It would soon be over and I started to run toward home.
A dozen Black Vultures (Coragyps atratus) circled up above, searching the landscape. A half a dozen more of them were all perched in one tree. Edward Abbey wrote that vultures are philosophical birds, though he was referring to the Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura). Abbey’s vulture thinks: “where there is life, there is death”. I think: what a day to be alive!
Thought I’d share another one from the Natirar. This scene can be found in what I call the “upstairs” section of the park. Not too far from the entrance is a path that takes you over the Raritan river and up toward an open grassy area, where this big gray barn resides. It has been a “good” winter, so this area is almost entirely covered in snow and ice. Only a few random twigs and grasses emerge from underneath, and sway back and forth in the cold evening air. I have seen wild turkey in the area, so I thought that they might like to wander around the big barn once in a while in search of a meal. Who knows what else goes on when we are not around…
One morning before work I went out to Natirar Park to do a site assessment for my ecology class. I puttered around in the frozen field for a while and then I made my way down to the Raritan River to jot down a few more notes. A great blue heron patiently waited on the partially frozen section of the river and it probably wondered why I showed up and when I would go away. I know that’s what I’d be thinking if I were a great blue heron. I got what I needed for class and high-tailed it out of there before I completely lost feeling in my fingers. I rolled up to the stop sign and I noticed a bright red barn across the street. I thought it looked interesting so I snapped a quick photo before making a left turn out of the park. The following weekend I tried to recreate the scene on paper, minus that awful street running through the middle. I took out the street and put in a field where the snow had almost melted away. I didn’t like the way the first attempt came out so I tried it again. Here are the results.
Its like one of those electronic games you play at the bar trying to figure out the difference between the 2 pictures….