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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Day 6: Otter Creek and Jordan Pond

Otter Creek - a few changes to be made.

Today was pretty much a perfect day (excluding the temperature). Got up and going around 7:30 this morning. I read last night that Church did sketch Otter Cliffs, and Cole either sketched or painted them too, I need to see if I can find it online. Church gave it a generic title so I wasn't sure it they were the same cliffs or not. Otter Cliffs run along the shoreline, it isn't just one "cliff," so I'm sure it was at a different spot but in that same area.

Ventured to Otter Creek/Otter Cove where I wanted to paint yesterday. The two mountains were called different names when Church painted them, but today they are Cadillac and Dorr mountains. It was a very picturesque spot and seems mostly unchanged from Church's painting. There is a road that goes in the middle of the cove at was behind me as I painted - I'm not sure if it was there and the park built on it, or if the road was entirely built up cutting off part of the water to the innermost section of the creek. I'm also not sure how much Church invented - I know there were many timber farms in the area when he was there, and Acadia wasn't a national park then, so it is likely that farm existed there. Minus the farm and the rocks in the foreground and some tree growth, the view I saw was the same. His cliff drawing, even though I may not have drawn the exact rock section, but I know those rocks exist today along Otter Cliffs.

The world around is different - roads, cars, more hikers, parking lots, some signs and handrails...but the views are unaltered. It is a privilege to be painting the same scenes my favorite artist(s) painted about 150 years ago. I am also happy that pockets of quiet and calm exist in this park, and hopefully others as well. Fourth of July might be a different story...but the past two days have been very nice.

My painting needs some work. I didn't feel quite okay with it when I finished but I'd been painting (and a little journaling) for about four hours and it was freezing. I knew rain was in the forecast for the afternoon so originally that was what gave me a deadline, but it had to have been below 50 degrees with the windchill. Even with my warm hat and vest and fleece and king sleeved shirt and shirt and thick socks I was still cold. I'll bring my raincoat to break the wind tomorrow. Anyway, I need to fix the really bright water in the foreground. It needs more blue in it. And that section of trees is too light and general, it needs to hear little darker with more variety and detail. Tomorrow it's supposed to rain pretty much all day, so I'll hopefully have some time to make these changes.

The tides also affected my painting! It happened yesterday too - I worked on the detail in the background and middle ground and got to the foreground to find it completely changed. (Tunnel vision much?) Yesterday all these rocks appeared that hadn't been there before, and today the sand bar I painted was underwater when I looked again. Otter Creek had been filling up slowly the whole time I was painting. Tides are crazy!

I got back to my car around 2:00pm and had a dilemma of what to do next! I wanted to be somewhere warm that wasn't my car and I didn't want to go on another hike because of the predicted rain. Since it was along Park Loop Road in the direction I was heading (one way street) I decided to go to Jordan Pond House for tea and popovers. The restaurant has been serving tea and popovers since the late 1800's and one of my books said Church may have stopped here to eat and/or rest. Good enough for me.

I have never eaten alone in a sit down restaurant before so "party of one" was new for me. It didn't bother me at all but when a waitress calls "party of one" it just sounds depressing! There isn't cell service or wifi here, along with most of the park. It was entertainment enough just to sit and watch people as I waited. You observe so much more without a smartphone, go figure. I feel like I'm having a richer experience and definitely observing more than I would otherwise. (Fellows - anyone have similar experiences dining alone?)

The tea and popovers were really delicious. I had no clue what a popover was until waitress Sarah brought it out - it's a yummy fluffy pastry thing you eat with butter and strawberry jelly. There was some nice music outside that drifted in as I ate, and then it started to rain, and I was oh so happy to be where I was. I sat and read Maine Sublime and finished the section on Church in Mt. Desert. Turns out he was here for three months during his first trip here in 1850. So I'm not crazy to think I could have spent my whole summer here. It puts into perspective how well acquainted he was with the scenery when he went back to his studio in New York to paint larger canvases.

I also read that Church did a sketch of two mountains from Jordan Pond (no reproduction of it in my book - will have to see if they have it at his home in New York when I visit). You guessed it, Jordan Pond is right behind Jordan House so I went for a mile and a half hike around the pond. It had stopped raining at that point. The water is extremely clear - I think it's the clearest or deepest or something in Acadia. It was a great hike, as all hikes have been here. I've said it before but the trees, water, rocks, and mountains are beautiful. I am intrigued by so many views, big and small. I stopped at a bend near the end when I had an incredible view of all three mountains he sketched. I took detailed notes so I can execute a larger painting at home after the trip. I am starting to realize how an artist could paint scenes from notes and sketches, and how it is perhaps a more meaningful process to do it without a photograph. I am pleased with how familiar I am with my paints that I can list which colors I'd use and mix for certain sections.

Tomorrow it's supposed to rain most of the day, so I am going to try getting up early to see and paint the sunrise from a small path from my campground. Otherwise I will try to see where I can sketch from my car, do laundry, finish my itinerary for the week, read, go to a museum or two, finish my painting from today, take a shower...maybe get another popover...yep, there's things to do even if it rains!

From yesterday to compare with Church's sketch below.
To compare with yesterday's sketch - Granite Cliffs, MDI by Church
Otter Creek - making a few changes tomorrow when it rains.

Otter Creek, Mt Desert by Frederic E. Church
A little sketch before I dined.
Check out that atmospheric perspective!
Jordan Pond trail.
A tree on a tree.
I sat and pondered life here.
Neat bridge.
Beautiful colors from setting sun.
The greens get so vibrant as the sun sets.
A lovely place to sketch some mountains.
Penobscot Mtn on left and The Bubbles Mountains on the right.
Otter Creek, Mt Desert by Frederic E. Church




  1. Oh! I love the comparison between yours and Church's works! Very neat to do that in your blog. These are some of your best photographs yet....and love the rugged hiking paths! Have you spotted moose or other wild life yet and you sit and ponder life?
    Love, mom

  2. Some of your photos remind of Oregon! Love the tree on a tree 😆