Lately water’s been my main theme, water and what I’m calling enchanted places, places that lure me in with fairy dust and siren songs. Forest interiors, green and lush, waterfalls, moss. Toadstools. Gnomes (someone with a nice appreciation of Harvard Forest’s mossy glens has tucked a few of the little folk here and there).
It’s been a busy week or two and very hard to keep a running account in one post, so I’ll have to give some of the highlights: a painting trip to Maine( complete with a B&B that would have given Stephen King the creeps); a painting trip to Hamanasset State Park in Connecticut, a day on the Freedom Trail in Boston; Tanglewood and Beethoven’s 7th in a thunderstorm; lots of painting and drawing; and on and on.
But back to enchantment- I was a kid who liked to ramble in the woods, and once upon a time I found an enchanted place of my own. It was a tiny spring coming up in a mossy depression in the ground. The water came up out of nowhere and went back to nowhere, but it burbled through rocks and ferns and made a little reflecting pool before it disappeared. To me it was magical.
I couldn’t wait to share it, so I got another kid to walk there with me and have a look. He gave it a glance and a grunt before walking on, crushing ferns under his boots. I looked again and the enchantment was all gone. It was just a boggy, charmless puddle.
I still love enchanted places but I have since learned it’s better to share them via art. In art the enchantment is the essence; the charm stays put, the fairies lurk around the edges and the trees are all inhabited by gnomes. That’s how I see it, that’s how I draw it.
This is today’s work, done on site at Doane’s Falls just north of Athol near Petersham. It isn’t quite finished but I wanted to share it with you, knowing you’ll respect the ferns and won’t trample the moss.
Other news: I have two pieces in a show called Impressions of New England at the Bennington Center for the Arts in Vermont, which opens August 9 and runs through the end of November. Both are large mixed media works done plein air in Harvard Forest. They were drawn from the same spot, in fact I looked in one direction and drew the first, then turned around and drew the other. The first one is called 19th Century Slab Quarry with Hermit Thrush (15″x22″, pastel and graphite on Rives BFK), and is one of a series of drawings of a single boulder granite quarry out behind Benson House. The other is titled Glacial Erratics (18.5″ x 24″, pastel and graphite on Canson Ingres toned paper). Both of these are for sale through the Bennington Center, so please do inquire through their website if you are interested.
And may your summer evening include fireflies and wood thrushes for maximum charm and enchantment.
Update 7/30/08: Here’s it is, all done: