Painting from Plein Air Drawings, Part 2

The collection, so far. Left to right, chestnut sided warbler at Doyle's cellar; American redstart at Wing Spooner's malt mill, ovenbird at Spooner's mill, myrtle warbler at Nelson's cider mill, and Louisiana waterthrush at the cider mill. Acrylic and graphite on wood panels, 48" x 20" (except for the first one, at 12" x 30")
The collection, so far. Left to right, chestnut sided warbler at Doyle’s cellar; American redstart at Wing Spooner’s malt mill, ovenbird at Spooner’s mill, myrtle warbler at Nelson’s cider mill, and Louisiana waterthrush at the same cider mill. Acrylic and graphite on wood panels, 48″ x 20″ (except for the first one, at 12″ x 30″). Yes, that’s a sort of diptych over there, second and third panels on the left.

The routine: door closed, music cranked up, paint brush moves to the beat. Time flies agreeably as a painting takes shape. Yesterday’s soundtrack: Warren Zevon, Talking Heads and the ever-energetic Rolling Stones.

This one's almost done- the waterthrush is a little under-cooked, still. This is Nelson's cider mill (early 19th century ruin in central Massachusetts).
This one’s almost done- the waterthrush is still a little under-cooked. At Nelson’s cider mill (early 19th century ruin in central Massachusetts).

These are places of rich history. The beautiful ruin of an apple-cider mill on Nelson’s Brook, for example. In 1815 it operated not far downstream from Sanderson’s tannery, now a beautiful ruin, too. The water swept effluent away from the tanyard, then turned an apple-grinding apparatus less than three hundred yards away. Maybe not that much water went into making cider, but the recipe isn’t currently available. One can only guess at cross-contamination. I once visited living-history Sturbridge Village where a Red Devon ox named Henry turned a whole-birch-tree sweep in circles, grinding apples. Flecks of pulp spat out from between the wooden gears into a wasp-buzzed box. I listened to a docent in a stovepipe hat describe how early American cider-makers added secret ingredients for a harder kick. Dead mice are rumored. It’s not a stretch to imagine a cider-maker topping off the barrel with a bucket of brook water .

The cider mill at Sturbridge Village, a living history farm in central Massachusetts. Watercolor over pencil.
The cider mill at Sturbridge Village, a living history farm in central Massachusetts. Watercolor over pencil.

Somewhere before 1850 both the tannery and the cider mill on Nelson’s Brook went bust and the dams got dismantled. Now wood frogs and red efts inhabit the riffles and ruins, and warblers come and go undisturbed. The big wheels are gone. There’s lots of moss gathered on these rocks, and very, very few rolling stones.

Happy Friday.

American redstart at Wing Spooner's Malt Mill, 18th century ruin, Harvard Forest. Acrylic and graphite on wood panel, 20" x 48"
American redstart at Wing Spooner’s Malt Mill, a nice 18th/19th century ruin in Harvard Forest, Massachusetts. Acrylic and graphite on wood panel, 20″ x 48″

 

9 thoughts on “Painting from Plein Air Drawings, Part 2

    1. zeladoniac says:

      Dinah- happy you asked- they’re for a show this fall in Norman and will be for sale. If there’s interest, something can be arranged…by all means:-)

  1. alanbaggs says:

    Great stuff. I like the graphite underdrawing showing through the glazes, and the leaning towards simplifying all the details to concentrate on the light. I especially like the treatment of the shimmering birch bark in the redstart image…deftly handled…

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