Painting in the Adirondacks

Last week I spent two soul-refreshing days in the quiet and beauty of the Adirondacks. A friend invited me to her place in the North Woods Club, accessible only by a 10 mile long dirt road that gets progressively narrrower and bumpier the closer one gets to one’s destination. Of course there was no cell signal along the road, and I was hoping (at times doubting) that I was on the correct road. Nevertheless, as my car bounced along over stones and rocks, I marveled at the scenery on all sides, from the small scale beauty of a stream gurgling on rocks beside the road to the breathtaking vista of a spruce-lined pond with a backdrop of bluish mountains. I figured that even if I were on the wrong road, it was a fine place to be lost.

Happily I was not lost, and eventually arrived at my friend’s house, already awed by the place and eager to pull out sketchbook and paints. Within minutes I was on the deck, sketching the mountains, while sampling a variety of delicious cheeses and chatting with my friend. As evening drew near, we drove to nearby Mink Pond, loaded up a rowboat with provisions, and rowed across the pond to a fire pit on an island, where we cooked steaks and home fries (and, of course, I sketched). Steaks grilled over a campfire taste better than almost anything else, especially after a long day of travel. Only one party at a time is allowed to sign out a rowboat for a given pond or lake, so we had Mink Pond to ourselves. As I watched the reflections on water and the colors of sunset, I marveled that there was no sound of traffic anywhere around– such a welcome sound of silence.

–Click on photos to see images large enough to read notes–

Polaris Mountain from the deck of the house
West Bay of Mink Pond from Mink Island
Sunset over West Bay of Mink Pond
Sunrise from my bedroom window
Looking toward Mud Pond from Prospect Rock
The second day I was there, we drove along a very long, very, very bumpy road (more like a rock-strewn path through the woods) to a more distant lake– Split Rock Lake. There we loaded up rowboats and rowed a fairly long way across to a fire pit and lean-to, where we made a fire and prepared to cook burgers, when suddenly storm clouds appeared across the lake. We quickly doused the fire and rowed back through rain, thankfully making it across before there was any thunder and lightning. I love storms, so once back at the house, I happily sketched cloudy skies.
Stormy afternoon view of Beaver Mountain

On my final morning visiting, I again woke early enough to watch the sky turn from dull gray to pink-tinted gray, to a full-blown wash of pink, orange, and purple. Both mornings I was there, I heard loons start calling on the lake just as the first hint of color appeared in the clouds.

I departed reluctantly but well-refreshed, having thoroughly enjoyed good time with friends, the splendor of nature, and the quiet of the deep woods.

Olana Sunset

Olana, the home of Hudson River School painter Frederic Church, is beautiful at any time, and especially at sunset. I was there this week and did a watercolor painting and a quick watercolor sketch.Wednesday was one of those perfect days, with low humidity, warm, but not too hot temps, and a light breeze. As sunset drew near, the breeze picked up, and I had to put on a long-sleeved shirt — a treat in August, at least for this heat-averse artist. Hints of autumn peering around the corner are always welcome for me.

(Click on photos to view more clearly)

Olana sunset sketch
Olana Sunset Plein Air Watercolor

American Avocets!

After watching the
wind whip up the river and a cloudburst obscure the downriver view for a
while,  Stephen and I were strolling along the Newburgh waterfront on August 7th, when I stopped
to sketch a friendly duck, who was following people along the sidewalk.
While I was sketching her, Stephen asked me what some birds were down
by the water’s edge. I turned to see two striking black and white birds of a kind I had never seen before perched on rocks on the river’s edge.

The name “Avocet” immediately came to mind, but having never seen an Avocet or even a suspicion of one, I really wasn’t familiar with them. I did a couple of quick sketches,
along with some notes to help with identification, then ran to the car where I keep a
field guide and checked– they were indeed American Avocets! We went back to watch them
for a few more minutes, until they flew off low over the water, headed
down river, in the direction of Beacon or Cold Spring.

The American Avocet is not typically seen this far north along the east coast, so this is considered a rare bird sighting for our area, all the more special for us, as we were out on a dinner date for our anniversary. American Avocet Species Range Map