After an unexpected allergic reaction from a bald-faced hornet sting, I feel fortunate to experience another autumn season. As woodland creatures prepare for the winter by caching food and planning for shelter, I start to wonder if the old wives’ tales told to predict winter will prove true this time. If so, we might be in for a good one. And, by good I mean power outages and lots of shoveling.
But now, the calm before the storm. A near autumn-peak woodland. Deciduous trees will soon lay down their leaves to reveal naked branches, as they curve and twist this way and that way. The decaying leaves will soon provide nourishment to the naked figures, and an insulated vessel for overwintering insects. The systems at work, even during what appears to be dormancy, are complex and wonderful.
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!
Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia) is often regarded by some as a weed, invading a lawn. But to anyone interested in native ecosystems, it is an important plant. Common blue violet is the host plant for the fritillary butterfly, of which there are many species. Also, the mining bee (Andrena violae), visits only violets. This bee is an example of a “specialist” – a specie, which can only use a specific plant specie for their survival. Knowing this, how could I not paint Viola sororia, as spring approaches?!
The original 🎨 (or print) of Viola sororia can be found on ETSY
On a recent woods walk, I took a photo of this slope. The gnarly old tree or snag probably caught my attention. But, when it came time to paint it the scene changed completely.
First, I decided to put a stream through the middle of the painting. I felt the lighting needed a little jazzing up. The gray background in the photo might have been a bit bland for the painting. Never fear – the gnarly old tree made it into the scene!
We end up with a somewhat moody little scene, depicting early morning, perhaps. I like the way the rocks on the top left came out. Rocks of Harriman State Park are typically that shade (from what I recall, anyway). It has a calming quality to it. Hope it calms you, the viewer too.