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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Someone’s creeping on me.

The painting that appears in Buck Rack Lake, now in the private collection of novelist Jay Giess. By little ol' me, of course.
Last month I was given a copy of Jay Giess’ new novel, Buck Rack Lake. It was inscribed “For Carol: see page 22, enjoy! Jay Giess.” I dutifully turned to page 22

This opening scene is set in a modern version of an Adirondack Great Camp. A guest is speaking: “‘None of us would be sitting here in this room,’ he motioned with his right hand in an arc, pointing to the bookshelves, the windows crafted out of native oak, and the landscape by Carol L. Douglas, “if we didn’t take risks. But there are good risks and there are bad risks. And this, I’m sorry to say, is a very bad risk.”

Back before Jay gave up cubicle dwelling for the writer’s life, he collected art. Among the paintings in his house are several by yours truly. So I was amused but not totally shocked to see my work mentioned. (Perhaps he wanted to prop up the value of his investment.)

Beaver dam along the road to the camp where my son went; any resemblance is strictly coincidental, of course, because they all say they are trying to make 'real men' out of our boys. By little ol' me, of course.

I’ve got a fair amount of experience painting alone on rickety bridges or along lonesome trails in the Adirondack preserve and other back-of-beyond locations. Many painters won’t do it, but I figure the risk is actually almost nil. But in the back of every solitary plein air painter’s mind is the realization that it would take only one lunatic to end an otherwise pleasant career. I tell myself the possibility is remote, but it somehow all seems more plausible when one is alone in a deserted mountain camp in the dead of winter, or the light suddenly fails along a lonely trail.

View of the lake from the hostelry where I taught in the Adirondacks. Now in a private collection. By little ol' me, of course.
I never should have taken Buck Rack Lake to the hospital; it was just a little too scary and a little too familiar for a person quaffing narcotics. A beautiful, solitary hostelry on the edge of an Adirondack lake, furnished with Stickley antiques—didn’t I just teach there a few years ago? A boys’ camp where the parents are discouraged from contacting their son while they do survivalist field trips—didn’t my kid go there for years? Gravel roads leading to clapped out summer camps that might hide neo-Nazis or other species of lunatic—I can point you to any number of them. One of the characters even has the same French surname as my son-in-law.

And then I got to the end and laughed aloud. A wealthy woman from Rye (and I paint there every year, too) is killing time in the room mentioned above. “She looked at the painting over her right shoulder. It was an image of a river flowing out of the mountains, a very pleasant blend of blues, oranges and greens. She noted the name. I’m going to have to find out more about this Douglas artist, she said to herself. Then she grabbed a copy of Adirondack Life from the coffee table and pretended to read.”

I know that painting well, and now you do too; it’s at the top of this post. Jay’s wife bought it for him for a gift years ago.
Canoes play a big part in Buck Rack Lake; here are the ones from the secluded lakeside hostelry where I taught and painted. Also now in a private collection. By little ol' me, of course.
For the record, I swear I haven’t talked to Jay in quite a while; it’s all just coincidence. But more than that, Buck Rack Lake is a fun read: tightly plotted and lots of local color for anyone who loves the Adirondacks. My copy is no longer a pristine, signed first-edition; I found it gripping, so I gripped. I hope you enjoy it, and when you get to the end, you can tell yourself you know exactly what that painting looks like.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me in Maine in 2014 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops!


Matt Chinian Painting blog said...

This is great!, I never thought of writing a painting into a story, but your always ahead of the curve! congrats!, and I hope your recuperation is fast and complete! Best, Matt

Carol Douglas said...

I'm not ahead of the curve; Jay Giess did this! But thanks.