My "Sketch the Parks" tour has begun! My plan to tour the parks of America has commenced with a journey throughout New York's Adirondack State Park and Catskill Park. Canoeing, camping, and painting off the beaten path has always brought me closer to nature, providing inspiration and clarity far from the daily distractions of modern living. Replacing the sound of telephones with the call of wild animals feeds my soul and reminds me of my true purpose, chronicling my time on earth with my paintbrush!
The National Park System was created to preserve the health, diversity, and beauty of nature, while ensuring public access to these wondrous places. Nineteenth century artists such as Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, Thomas Moran, and Albert Bierstadt were instrumental in the creation of the National Parks System. By exposing people in the power centers of the Eastern U.S. to the beauty of the pristine wilderness, these artists and others ignited an effort to protect lands throughout America from the rampant industrialization and expansion of our growing country. By painting my favorite parks in the twenty first century, I am fulfilling my duty to renew interest in the magnificence of nature!
The Journey begins...
Paddling my canoe up a tributary of Raquette Lake in Adirondack State Park, I am with every stroke of my paddle further from man and closer to nature. Eager to allow my adventure to unfold as freely as possible, I left Milton, Delaware with plenty of painting and camping gear for a weeklong sojourn, with no exact destination in mind. Once I entered the Adirondacks, I explored by car and foot until I found a river with no manmade structures visible, and then I loaded and launched my canoe.
Hearing the distant sound of rushing water awakened my senses after a two hour paddle on that steamy June day. As the river had become marshland it was apparent that I would be portaging (carrying canoe and gear) through the swamp directed only by sound... Luckily it wasn't long before I was back in my boat heading towards a small waterfall/rapids area nestled in the woods. Perfect, I had found my first plein air painting scene!
After setting up camp, hanging my food (bear country, oh dear!), and creating a rock fire ring, it was time for dinner... and sleep! The quantity and hunger of the black flies present necessitated a hot smoky fire... Luckily the pain and annoyance of these flying devils kept my mind from worrying about bears!
Painting in the rain!
The next morning I awoke to a steady rain that informed me of my tent's lack of water repellency. Luckily I paint in oil so there was no problem painting in the rain! Having passed on the umbrella option that would have complemented my new Soltek Easel nicely, I was left with no choice but to set up and paint in a downpour. I have always enjoyed experiments and this was an interesting one. Water beads up and runs from a vertical oily surface, perfect! Painting at the base of the rapids in the pouring rain also kept me alert to the possibility of a flash flood, luckily that was an adventure that never materialized...
Surprise from the rapids...
"What is that strange noise?" I thought, and suddenly from ten feet away, a merganser appeared from under a rock in the rapids with eight ducklings in tow- two hitching a ride on her back. It was apparent that she wanted to make a speedy getaway when she realized she would be passing so close to me, but being a good mom swam slowly enough that her offspring could follow. I have highlighted this special moment in my painting of the rapids, which I am now completing back at my studio!