Day 21 #rogertorypetersoninstitute This piece was started early in the morning while the dew was heavy and the air still carried the nights chill. I started before the sun was up, while rain was lightly tapping on the RV, sounding like popcorn popping. On days like this, I set up my portable LED light on my little table and work in the RV. There is just enough room for my board and palette with Cutter curled up on my feet.
The part of the trail that I decided to paint today includes several turns in the path, working it’s way through a grove of young saplings. This trail could have been made straight, but it stands as a great example that sometimes the journey is more important than the destination.
“The Journey” Watercolor, 10”x8” Available
Day 20:#rogertorypetersoninstitute Ever since my first day here, I’ve wanted to paint the smoky fog that envelopes the meadows in the early hours of the morning.
Painting fog is such a subtle endeavor. The edges between objects and atmosphere become blurred and play tricks on our eyes. Colors that we’ve known since childhood, suddenly become unnameable. When fog surrounds you, you find yourself becoming just another part of the environment. It’s like those posters that you stare at, to suddenly see a 3D image pop out at you. Fog holds it’s secrets and then within a matter of moments, the world is clear again.
“Enveloped” 8”x10 Watercolor Available
Day 19: #rogertorypetersoninstitute Cutter and I took the trail in reverse, just trying to see things from a new perspective. It was also an effort to stay as dry as possible on this wet day. We lingered under the heaviest canopy, avoiding the rain, but occasionally getting pelted by large drops as the wind shook the rain that had gathered on the upturned leaves.
Out to the right, I caught movement and at first I thought it might be one of the many squirrels that Cutter found so fascinating . Then I saw her, standing still, but eyes locked on our movement. She blended in so perfectly with the color of the trees that surrounded her. With each blink of my eyes I had to find her again because she seemed to move between trees. She never bounded away, but rather just melted into the forest colors.
“The Guardian” Watercolor, 10”x8” SOLD
Day 18: #rogertorypetersoninstitute Today was wet and windy, not exactly good weather to be out with watercolor or oils. I heard the rain falling all night, so I was prepared for painting in the RV. Many of you have asked me why I prefer to paint outdoors (plein air) rather than inside from a photo.
With a photo you are limited to the current technology and your camera’s ability to capture the correct tones and colors. When painting outside I can see into the deep shadows and can take the opportunity to walk up to the subject to study it. I knew that there would be days that I wouldn’t be able to be outside during this residency, so during my walks down the trail, I took photos to use on rainy days. Usually, I take several photos of the same subject, 3 or 4 up close, a couple exactly as I see the painting and a few from a distance. Together these photos will give me most of the information that I need.
Today’s painting features the fallen limb of an old apple tree. I loved the weathered wood against the vibrant golden rod. While I was painting, I thought of all of my gardens at home. Every year I pour hours in to weeding to give my pampered plants room to grow. While I’m not a fan of some native plants, I must concede that nature is a better gardener than I am.
“Fallen Glory” Watercolor, 8”x10” Available
Day 17: #rogertorypetersoninstitute I’ve always loved change. My love of change is probably why I love weather so much. Changing weather is energizing and exciting. Today’s weather was windy, sunny, rainy, stormy and the change between each was dramatic.
Cutter and I walked the trails this morning and came to the pond just as the weather began to change. The wind picked up and swirled around us, picking up leaves, carrying them in giant circles over our heads. Clouds began to make way for an ominous purple dark mass that began to send out tentacles￼, overtaking the blue sky. The quiet mirror like surface of the pond began to be shattered in fragments and the normally chatty birds became hushed. On days like this you can see, hear and even smell the weather.
My light watercolor easel was no match for the wind and rain today, but I did try to capture the essence of the weather change before being driven inside.
“Changing Weather” Watercolor, 8”x10” Available
Day 16 #rogertorypetersoninstitute Bridges on a trail are like pampering for your soul￼. If the bridge wasn’t there you could probably continue on the trail with a bit of effort and most likely a wet foot or two, but a bridge says “rest a bit and take a moment, let me pamper you”.
Daily walking the trails at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, started me thinking about the woods I used to play in as a kid. I wonder if the tiny trail that I followed daily, still exists. Does the small glass jar still hold the twenty seven cents that we buried after having a homemade carnival? Are the trails that I lined with fallen limbs and swept clean with my Moms new broom still there? Mostly, I wonder about the bridge. The bridge was very short in length and made with scrap lumber, laid across two six foot stringers. It lifted it’s traveler far enough over the stony creek that you could stop, sit on it’s deck and dangle your feet over the crystal clear spring water. Usually it was a sleepy little stream with water finding its way around and over flat stones with lacy edges, but after a heavy rain, the air smelled fresh and the deck was dangerously slippery as it led you over the rushing stream that seemed to be in such a hurry. On those days, I would make boats out of sticks and drop them in the water from the bridge, watching them disappear on their way to the ocean...
“Bridges” Watercolor, 10”x8” Available
Day 15: #rogertorypetersoninstitute Here we stand at the halfway mark of this 30 day Artist Residency. I decided, for this momentous occasion, I would paint an extremely tough subject.
My Mom taught me how to love creeks or cricks (as we called them). We would roll up our pant legs and leave our sneakers on the gravel edge. The cricks would usually meander through heavily wooded areas, the darkness would be interrupted as a breeze would play with the canopy above. I loved the cool, dampness that was so inviting on a hot summer day. We would hunt for crayfish that lived under the rocks and count how many newts we could find. It was always a treat to watch a water spider dance across the surface, with little bends in the water where his legs touched. Leaves also “walked on water” and in the still, clear pools I would marvel at the little reflections of light where the dry leaf gently touched the surface of the water as it ended it’s journey to the ground. The water gently cradled it giving it one last glorious ride.
“Walking on Water” Watercolor, 8”x10” SOLD
Day 14:#rogertorypetersoninstitute I took Cutter for a walk around the trails this morning and decided to set up at the pond to capture the reflecting fall foliage. The only problem with that plan was that there was no shade and it was very sunny warm day. I do have an umbrella for my easel, but that is meant to shade the painting, not the artist and her golden retriever. There was no plan B... until...
When I started to hike back to regroup, the sun was shining on this beautiful twisted tree that woodpeckers had been sculpting. It was just off the path and the light flickered across it’s sun warmed wood.
I wish I had just a bit more time to work, but the light is starting to fade...
“With a Twist” Oil on Panel 10”x8” Available
Day 13: #rogertorypetersoninatitute Many of you know that I paint using only 3 colors. I started doing this when I was in grad school, after doing an assignment with a severely limited pallet. I found cutting my color choices forced me to be more thoughtful when mixing paint. After experimenting with the available paints in the local art store, I settled on cadmium red, cadmium yellow (medium) and Prussian blue. Those have been my mainstay colors for 41 years.
Saturday’s, I teach classes at RTPI, so my painting time is cut drastically. I drew this painting last evening and decided to shake up my three colors to a little bit cooler in order to achieve the purples that found there way into the long fall shadows of the upper trail. The 3 colors used in this painting are Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Windsor Blue and Cadmium Yellow. Can you feel the difference that the basic color choices make?
“Upper Trail” Watercolor, 8”x10” Available
Day 12: #rogertorypetersoninstitute Today was an absolutely beautiful day to paint. I took Cutter for our walk in the early morning and stood in the courtyard watching the fog slowly lift. At some point during my time here, I want to try to capture the beauty of the fog as it embraces this magnificent landscape.
I sat in that same courtyard to paint today, watching the shadows play across the building. This scene was suggested to me as a beautiful view of the building and gazebo and I must agree. With the changing colors and beautiful meadow of fall wildflowers, this veiw is captivating. One of the challenges of painting plein air is trying to capture an ever changing light pattern as the sun moves across the sky. I will often snap a photo of the shadows when I find them particularly striking. Today I took lots of photos because they were beautiful all day long.
“The Courtyard” Watercolor, 8”x10” Available