|Overlook at Olana, 9X12, by Carol L. Douglas|
There is a limit to the mileage you can get out of caffeine and vitamins, and although I haven’t hit it yet, I sense the end is near. And yet today is one of the maddest, gladdest days of my painting year and it’s dawning spectacularly. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Sketch for south façade of the main house at Olana, Frederic Edwin Church, c. 1870, watercolor, ink and graphite on paper.
Every year, the chapters of New York Plein Air Painters congregate at Olana for a one-day paintout and picnic lunch. Olana is the palatial home of Hudson River School painter Frederic Church. It overlooks the Hudson, with fantastic vistas in every direction.
Olana is not just your typical rich man’s confection of Victorian whimsy. It was designed by architect Calvert Vaux but the influence of the artist is apparent everywhere.
|Painting at Olana with Nancy Woogen, right.|
In the fall of 1869 Frederic and Isabel Church returned from an 18-month-long trip to Europe and the Middle East. Impressed by the architecture they saw in Beirut, Jerusalem and Damascus, they envisioned a home that would incorporate Moorish elements.
|The facade at Olana.|
As many times as I’ve looked at the house, it never fully registered to me that the cornices were not tiled, but stenciled. Church translated the tile work he saw in Islamic mosques into stencil patterns, which he used inside and out. Hundreds of his pencil and oil sketches for them survive.
Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in August 2015. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.