I haven’t been canoeing for a while, but I remember the early mornings on the creek. This painting is of a placid morning canoe trip on Chartiers Creek as the sun spills over the top of the hill, and a goose and goslings head upstream. Of course, I couldn’t paint this while paddling, but I kept it in mind for later. I wear a small digital camera around my neck while canoeing and probably spend more time taking photos than paddling, and I’ve tipped the canoe more than once while swinging around trying to focus on a heron flying overhead. It’ s a good thing Chartiers Creek averages about 1o inches deep most of the year.
This piece was the signature painting at my second annual poetry reading and fine art show at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, “Winter Twilight”; those long nights of midwinter can inspire some very deep thoughts. Even though this piece depicts summer, I painted it during a series of those longs nights, remembering the sweet and mild June morning, full of life and sound. Visit my website to see more artwork and read the poetry from that reading.
Sometimes these are studies for larger works when I’m remembering a scene or working from reference photos and trying to get back to that moment of inspiration to find what was most important to me then.
For instance, I had taken a number of reference photos for a painting of a scene I’d seen on Chartiers Creek while I was canoeing. I couldn’t do a plein air painting in a canoe because I didn’t want to hold up my group of canoers, but I did a quick reference sketch either that night or the next day, doing my best to hold onto what I had perceived in that space. The result was “Sunbeams”.
I didn’t get a chance to paint the painting until January, though sometimes waiting until January or February for a big work is by choice because it’s a better time of year to focus one something big and complicated, and business is a little slower. But in this case it was also icy cold and snowy, a long way from the warm June morning in a canoe. Looking at photographs will bring that back, but my sketches hold my memories and thoughts at the moment of creating more than my photos do. Photos aren’t always accurate for color, especially contrasty ones like this scene, so I’m also careful to choose the colors I feel at that moment for later use. The result is “Morning on the Creek”, though trust me, this one in particular was no quick sketch! It’s the only one in the set that was a planned and long-term piece.