The View of Katahdin From Chimney Pond on an October Evening diptych, oil on panel, entire piece is 8x24in In A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, he writes in reference to a painting by Asher Brown Durand titled "Kindred Spirits" ca. 1849. "Nothing like that view exists now, of course. Perhaps it never did. Who knows how much license these johnnies took with their stabbing paintbrushes? Who, after all, is going to struggle with an easel and campstool and box of paints to some difficult overlook, on a hot July afternoon, in a wilderness filled with danger, and not paint something exquisite and grand?" I like this quote because of Bryson's nod to landscape artists and the regard toward the difficulties of such an endeavor. Exquisite and grand are two words that well describe Mt. Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine and one of the most striking rock massifs in America probably. Many artists have come to Baxter State Park the home of Mt. Katahdin to be inspired, I now feel fortunate to join the other artists who have painted and observed the earth that scoops and digs, rises upward and drops deeply into the myriad of nooks and crannies, recesses and cavernous channels that lead up to summits and down into basins and valleys.
Dangerous and difficult are yet another two words that well describe any
route up the mountain for those seeking a closer look. Well worth the
effort though, whether or not my Katahdin works ever receive an ounce of
recognition good or bad, the paintings, and the experiences having gone through
to get those paintings have been revealing and inspiring to me. The
intensity of the image above reflects the intensity of the journey. There
is a calmness that also appears in the work behind the aggressive slashes of
color, lie subdued hues and meaning also present in the journey. Intense
as the hike and climb is on the outer physical being; the inner is calm and
reflective. So is the mountainous outside rough and rocky, its inner soul
presents itself to those of us more in tune with nature as a quiet peaceful and
lonely rock. Loud and lawlessly unforgiving it has taken lives, or lives
have been lost to it rather. It has also given life to those seeking it.
It is a place that will not soon be forgotten. It is a place I
So I know what you think, I gave up on this blog stuff well, not exactly. Like all things life seemingly gets in the way for a while but I'm back at it again, this time more regularly, hopefully...
So I know what you think,
I gave up on this blog stuff well, not exactly. Like all things life
seemingly gets in the way for a while but I'm back at it again, this time more
I've recently settled up
in the western part of Maine for the summer right at the doorstep of the
Bigelow Preserve, a perfect backdrop for hiking and painting adventure.
This brief period of blog
inactivity was in part due to my settling in here. I've taken a job as
"hut-master" at Maine Huts and Trails. An organization
dedicated to preserving and exploring Western Maine. This opportunity has
allowed me to support myself and my painting while living up in Maine.
This REALLY is hiking
country (or skiing) and people here are (among other things) trail people.
You can't really go to far any direction without hitting the A.T let
alone countless other side trails. The hiking here is rough and rugged,
one cautions step at a time, especially as you near the summits. At time
one would do anything to just put one foot in front of the other normally.
A big difference between hiking the trails of Western Maine and lets say
the trails in the Smokies, is that up here it really is a "prepare for
self rescue" type of deal. While the A.T. gets its fair share of
traffic, other nearby trails don't and you'll be hard pressed to find a ranger
on the look out for you or anyone else. This all culminates in a
'special' feeling when one is out there exploring.
This brings me to my point of how different settings, moods and
experiences affect the paint. A clear example is to paint something when you’re
sad and to paint something when you’re happy. The differences will most
likely be endless. So if I see a striking landscape while I'm driving and
I stop to paint, it's already going to have a different feel than if I was atop
a mountain painting. Then add to
that myriad of other variables such as, how rested I am, time of day, weather
conditions, personal mood etc…
Additionally, I’m feeling more and more as though a work is ‘truer’ if I’ve
experienced first hand what it is I’m painting. For example the stunning Bigelow Range sits right at my back
door and I can paint it at any time I choose as easily as Monet and his gardens
and lilies in Giverny. However, I
hadn’t yet immersed myself into that landscape as Monet had done with his home
and his landscapes. So for me, the
painting constantly felt like a guessing game.
Now I’ve recently come back from a three-day hike in the Bigelow’s
traversing some rough terrain camping out and summiting several peaks. Now as I go to start a new work,
looking out upon the range I just came from there will be less guessing and
more of a relationship between myself and the forest and mountains and a dialogue
can now take place as the painting develops and a real truthfulness can
hopefully be reflected.
Greetings from the Great Smoky Mountains....Keep Scrolling Down*****************
It has been a very productive Memorial Day Weekend here at the Smokies. I've Started five Panels the past 48 hours and I'm going on the sixth later this evening. Each work solves a previous works problem. I guess that's called progress. After 2 years w/out making art I've wondered I would still be the same painter. Signs point to yes. Scenic isn't descriptive enough for this part of the country. Woodsy, majestic, rugged, giant, bouldery, i think boulderous sounds better but that's not a word i guess.
I feel like the paintings become truer the more I walk and hike through the various forests throughout the park. For example, my first drive through the smokies inspired awe so I painted w/out really knowing the ins and outs of what I was looking at. I painted this...
When you hike through a landscape you know it more intimately, you see the leaves of every tree, the moss covered fallen trees, the rocky slopes, the small creeks and everything that is underneath what your eye doesn't see from afar. You begin to recognize the different tree types, hemlocks, firs and birch and all their variegations. This is the first step to painting outdoors. Acclamation and immersion.
Since then I've done several paintings along three trails the Ramsay Cascades trail, Alum Cave Bluffs Trail to the summit of Mt. Le Conte and the short but steep Clingmans Dome trail culminating in 5 paintings across 19miles of trail.
Hiking back from the top of Mt. Le Conte, I ran into a group of folks traveling upward. One of them stopped to ask how far it is up to Arch Rock, I told him from where he was about a half mile. He thanked me, then another amongst his group noticed the painting I was carrying along with me. He asked, "is this a painting of yours?" "Yes" I replied. He looked at the work quizzically as I held it in front of him. "What type of painting is it? To which I replied, "Oil". Again another, longer moment of disquietness. Then, "so you want us to imagine". I explained to him, this isn't a depiction of reality or what are eyes already see. This mark here may or may not represent a tree. Try not to see so much with your eyes but with your feelings and heart. And if that sounds to mushy then see it with your spirit and if that sounds to hippie than see it with your vibes and if thats too groovy, then don't look at it.
I've been apprehensive since I started this trip as to when my first painting would happen. I thought it might be on my first cave along the Raymer Hollow trail in Mammoth Cave NP. But no, nothing struck me at that moment. I thought it might happen driving along the Kentucky highways cruising with the rolling hills and wooden fences. Alas! A sunny day in Tennessee no less. Why not. It was perfect. Although the painting may not be the moment was. Out of the 20 cars that may have passed, at least 5 people slowed down to ask if me and my gal who was sitting next to me if everything was okay or if we needed help... my folks in TN are quite nice. Thank you southern hospitality!! Here are a few pics from that occasion. Finished work yet to be posted... stay tuned.
Just a week a way from starting my trip. Can't wait to see how this whole thing unravels. I've pretty much stopped planning and am just going to go with the flow. I think the worst thing I can do at this point is over-think things s o j u s t s h u t t i n g t h e b r a i n d o w n n o w
I do have a jerky recipe for you though!!!
Choose a flank steak or london with minimal amounts of fat about 1.5 - 2#