I took a walk on the Panhandle Trail on Christmas Day 2011, a lovely sunny day and even fairly warm, no snow, but no rain either. Of course, there were many photo opportunities and one of my pleasures of being on the trail is also doing a sketch or two. Above is my sketch from that Christmas Day, just a nice spot on the trail where the sun angled across the hills, touching certain trees and not others, throwing sunny splashes across the limestone chip surface. I remember the sycamores were very, very white, even in the shadows, and the oak trees on the hill a warm bright bronze in the sunlight.
I most often bicycle Panhandle, and though I am also on other trails this is the most familiar to me for how often I am on it. I always have my camera equipment and art materials; sometimes I am less about bicycling for the day than I am about painting and have easels and drawing boards and then some, pulling my bike along like a two-wheeled pack horse. But whether I am set up for a day of en plein air (“in the open air”) painting right there on the trail or just a quick sketch before I pedal on, I’m glad the trails are there for me.
Small sketches, affordable art and donations
I have a house full of small sketches I’ve done of my cats, my garden, my neighborhood and especially local trails and conservation areas. Usually pastel but sometimes pencil or charcoal or pen and ink, I’ve organized the originals into exhibits such as Winter White and printed them as notecards like My Home Town, Feline Sketches and Eye on the Sparrow.
I try to frame the originals as soon as possible, cutting my own mats and framing them with repurposed frames which people have given me or I’ve found at thrift shops and yard sales and cleaned up and refinished. They always come together in a nice, neat and unique piece of artwork. Because they are small and quick and I recycle materials, I also keep their prices affordable for someone who wants a piece of original artwork. I sell them myself and in other places—for instance, a number of these are now at Distinctively Different Decor & More and in my Etsy shop—but I also donate a certain number of these auctions to benefit animal shelters and other organizations; I’m gratified to find that bidding is often higher than what I would charge, so I’ve been able to benefit an organization I support with something I’ve created.
The Montour Trail Council is hosting the Pittsburgh Cycling Expo on Sunday, March 25 to benefit the Montour Trail. I’ve donated prints for their events in the past, and this time I offered a selection of recent trail sketches I’ve done on the Panhandle Trail and they chose the sketch above, “Christmas Day on the Trail”. I originally wrote about it on Today the day after I visited the trail, and you’ll see I added to it after I finished it—in order to make it fit the frame that matched it perfectly out of my stock of extras! But I so appreciate the presence of these trails which I use as often as possible for exercise, for art, for inspiration that I’m glad I can offer this for their benefit.
I’m also donating a framed photo, below, which is not from the trail, but it includes a bicycle, “Commuter”, taken in Pittsburgh’s Strip District; I’ve always liked this photo and it’s sold well at outdoor events, so I hope this earns bids for them as well.
Visit the website to read about the event which is sponsored by AeroTech Designs, a local clothing manufacturer in Coraopolis, PA that makes cycling clothing. In a roundabout way, I’m glad to be supporting a local business and employer as well.