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.
Thanks for looking.
Today, Presidents’ Day is a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents. But, some still refer to this day as “Washington’s Birthday”. This holiday was originally established in 1885 to honor President George Washington, though his actual birthday is February 22nd. Coincidentally, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, and William Henry Harrison were also born in February.
Washington was commander in chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Jockey Hollow (the inspiration for this watercolor) was used as a winter encampment by the Continental Army. Here, the soldiers suffered hunger, from lack of resources, and miserable cold and stormy winter conditions. As I hike through the hills of Jockey Hollow, I imagine this place some 240 years ago.
The “Blizzard of 2016” rolled in and left a nice 30-inch snow portion for NJ folk to savor. But, this dish disappeared quickly – a big thaw began as the warm air crept in, melting the stuff away along Caitlin and the Twins’ creation, Ronnie the snowman. The big thaw inspired this watercolor. It is a slightly exaggerated view from the parking lot shared by tavern employees, shoppers, and residents of the old apartment building (that’s us). You may have seen the same building in an earlier post, but the Sycamores are brandy new. Enjoy!
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….