Little Lands of Enchantment

Doyle's Cascade, plein air pastel/graphite, 12"x16"

Doyle’s Cascade, plein air pastel/graphite, 12″x16″

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).

In the Harvard Forest, where even the gnomes are content.
In the Harvard Forest, even the gnomes are happy.

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.

Rhododendron State Park, New Hampshire
Rhododendron State Park, New Hampshire

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.

Cormorants, Hamanasset Part, CT. Watercolor.
Cormorants, Hamanasset State Park, CT. Watercolor on cream Arches Cover

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.

rhododendrons, graphite 8 1/2x11

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.

Doane's Falls. Plein air graphite/pastel 22"x30"
Doane's Falls, graphite/pastel 22"x30" Rives BFK

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:

The finished piece, Doane's Falls
The finished piece, Doane's Falls

4 thoughts on “Little Lands of Enchantment

  1. Becky says:

    Beautiful! I love your drawing of Doane’s Falls! The contrast is perfect and the entire piece draws you in immediately. Thanks for posting! (had wondered where you had gone)…

  2. Janet Wilkins says:

    Congrats on having some entries to the Bennington exhibit. It’s kind of funny cause I have plans to visit the Center in late August, I had seen one of the earlier Art of the Animal Kingdom exhibits and I’ve wanted to get back there to see another exhibit. It’s a beautiful place, and your art is perfect for this exhibit … I am a little envious!

    Again, congratulations! I will look for your pieces when I get there. Janet

    BTW, I love your drawing of Doane’s Falls too. You wrote that it isn’t quite finished but I think it can stand on its own just as it is now!

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