Paint Schoodic

Join Carol L. Douglas at beautiful Acadia National Park, August 6-11, 2017. More details here!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Painting in the Adirondack Wilderness


"Oxbow Lake Outlet in February melt," oil on board, 12X16, Carol L. Douglas. It was 10ยบ F when we left the Irondequoit Inn to prospect for sites. That gives you a real appreciation for Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven.

To landscape painters, Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven are tied to Canada’s Algonquin Provincial Park. Both represent a muscular, vigorous kind of backwoods painting. Imagine Tom Thomson (who was a backwoods guide in addition to being a painter) snowshoeing into the woods to paint a winter scene, or paddling his paint-box in by canoe right after the Spring melt.

Even cars and roads don't significantly change the winter painting experience. You're still using cold paint in cold weather. Here Marilyn paints the view below.


I love the Oxbow Lake outlet in all seasons, and winter is no exception. Curiously, the water flows away from the lake here, into a stream.
This week, I met Marilyn Fairman (this year’s Irondequoit Inn featured artist) in Piseco to do some winter painting. When you strip away the convenience of decent roads and cars, our experience this week was much the same as those Group of Seven painters. We donned woolen sweaters and socks and hoisted our paintboxes to the edge of a boggy inlet to paint, just as Thomson and company did nearly a century ago.

Despite my great love for the view of Oxbow Lake (above) I chose to paint downstream for the lovely winter reds, golds and greens.
Adirondack Park is as untrammelled as is Algonquin. It’s a rocky, forested, watery fastness that was too inhospitable to support pre-industrial society. It doesn’t mesh well with the modern world of cell phones, internet and automobiles, either.
And it’s vast—far vaster, in fact, than Algonquin Provincial Park.
It’s the largest park in the contiguous United States. You could shove Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier, and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks into it with room to spare. In fact, at 6.1 million acres (or 9,375 sq mi, or 24,281 sq km), it’s more than three times the size of Algonquin.
One of my goals was to show Marilyn some of my favorite painting haunts. Turns out, she knows as many as I do, since she lives on the southern edge of the Park.
We spent some time looking at sites along Lake Pleasant and the west branch of the Sacandaga River, which is a rather lazy river that winds through a lovely Grimpen Mire. In twenty miles, there were literally dozens of prospects that took my breath away. They range from the intimate—rocks and water and bogs—to the panoramic.
Marilyn in her winter woolies. Remember when my student Kamillah Ramos painted from this site in November? Piseco Lake looks far different when it's ice-bound.
I’m teaching a workshop here at the end of September (details to come), which is the height of northeastern color here in the mountains (and much warmer than February). The question isn’t finding something to paint; it’s how to tamp down the excitement long enough to work. I promise you, it will be a workshop like you’ve never seen before, of woodsmoke and the wind whispering through pines, rocky scarps and soft maples flaming violet along the bogs.

Addendum:

Here is a link to the workshop information. I'd love to see you there!

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