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Monday, June 22, 2015

Day 19: Return to Kaaterskill Falls and Olana

Finished painting of Kaaterskill Falls.

I started the morning off back at Kaaterskill Falls. It stormed last night so I knew they would be completely different after heavy rain. The hike up was like creeking - water streamed down many sections of the trail. The falls were rushing and the rocks were colored differently due to the rain. The sun and shadows were also different from when I left at 6:00pm last time, but probably closer to the lighting when I started the top part of the painting. So this was an interesting experience for me to have to draw upon the informations I saw in front of me, and combine it with what I remembered seeing a few days ago at that very spot. Again, these artists were so skilled and familiar with their subject matter to go home and say "yeah, I know how to paint a rock." I finished quicker than I thought I would, and in the short time I was there I again met lots of nice people who complimented my work and stopped to chat for a few minutes about my project.

The now-rushing Kaaterskill Falls.
I stopped in at the Mountaintop Historical Society, where I had read they had more information on the Art Trail. Not a very busy place...but I had a really great conversation with the older gentleman working there. We talked shop about the HRS painters and the former Catskill Mountain House. I hadn't realized this before our conversation - Frederic Church was rich, and Thomas Cole was poor. The man told me Church came from a rich family and was wealthy before he became a successful artist; Cole died young and didn't have much money. Which makes sense now that I think about it - Church lived in a mansion he built himself, Cole lived in his wife's family home with a bunch of her relatives. I wonder if he would have achieved more fame and success had he lived longer.
Mountaintop Historical Society.
I think it used to be a train station?
I am still developing a visual language for painting trees. They are tricky because you have to think about what's behind them as well, since trees are seldom completely solid. There is usually more than one bunched together, so there are layers of trees to deal with, and there are gaps in the bunches of leaves allowing us to see whatever is behind them. And then there's color and light on top of that! I am realizing that following these artists is forcing me to confront subject matter I find challenging and may not otherwise pursue with such open mindedness. I am not studying their paintings in extreme detail to see how did they do that or that, but instead confronting myself with the same visual information they had to also figure out how to translate from the real world to a canvas. I think the sense that my admired artists did is before me, and did it successfully, gives me comfort and confidence to problem solve my way through trees and rocks and waterfalls, and so on.
This is truly a great adventure and I am learning immensely each day. Being in the Hudson has been a real privilege, especially seeing the homes and art of my favorite artists. Thomas Cole was struck by this very landscape to start landscape painting, and many followed his inspiration during his lifetime and beyond. Cole describes the Hudson area: "The scenery is not grand, but has a wild sort of beauty that approaches it: quietness, solitude, the untamed, the unchanged aspect of nature, an aspect which the scene has worn thousands of years, affected only by seasons, the sunshine, and the tempest." I was able to experience some of the same wildness and solitude, and also the company of others enjoying the landscape. I have further developed, as stated before, how I describe different landscapes and experiences as I encounter new places each day on my journey. I felt more in the presence of history during this leg, learning more about the lives of Church and Cole, and life during the 1800s, and the origins of a great American art movement.
I want to reflect and share more about Thomas Cole's process tomorrow - I've been wanting to do that this week. Tomorrow I have one last stop at Mohonk Lake to finish my the Thomas Cole leg of my trip before spending a few days with Dan at West Point. Excited for a few days with my lovely fiancé!
Farmers Market strawberries on my way to Olana...SO DELICIOUS!!!
Finished painting at Olana...still some work to be done here.
Sunset at Olana.
Sunset at Olana.
Goodbye Olana!
Met a photographer at Olana who wanted to get my picture with the light. Thanks Eileen!



1 comment:

  1. Just so you know I def look at sunsets differently now and love them even more :) <33