|North-South Lake, the Catskills, 9X12, oil on canvasboard, by little ol' me.|
I have been in many spectacular places around the world, but I never realized that one of them is practically in my backyard, and I’ve never seen it before. This is NYS Route 23A in Greene County.
This is most peculiar because I’ve been in Palenville (through which 23A passes) several times to hang with my buddy, painter Jamie Williams Grossman. I guess we just never turned right before.
|North-South Lake, the Catskills, 9X12, oil on canvasboard, by little ol' me (and not quite finished).|
Palenville was a center of the Hudson River school. Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, and other notable painters stayed and worked there. (Palenville is also the fictional home of Rip van Winkle, although it’s surprising that he could get any sleep, between the waterfalls, the Great Horned Owls, and the frogs and peepers who sing in the night.)
|Rain was on the forecast, but it was a far nicer day than anyone anticipated.|
Route 23A passes several of the Catskill High Peaks before dropping into the Hudson Valley via Kaaterskill Clove. The section I drove today runs along Kaaterskill Creek in the general area made famous by the Hudson River painters. It’s no surprise that they loved it; it’s stupendous: the narrow rock walls vary between green, grey and red, and great boulders are washed in spray as the creek bounces its way down the steep gorge.
|Beavers hard at work everywhere.|
We met—a group of sixteen New York Plein Air Painters—at North-South Lake. This was a favorite subject of the Hudson River school, particularly Thomas Cole. For a long time, the prestigious resort hotels in the area made it synonymous with the Catskills.
The park includes the site of the Catskill Mountain House, built in 1823. It was one of the premiere vacation spots of the 19th century. Today, all that’s left is the view—miles and miles of the Hudson River at your feet—and the forest paths.
|Never one to waste a canvas, Patricia McDermond painted over an unfinished nude, engendering all kinds of comments from bystanders.|
Because I’ve never been to this park before, I had to spend some time poking around and looking at things before painting. It was a full day, ending much too soon, and I can’t wait to come back.
Tomorrow we will meet at the trailhead for Kaaterskill Falls, made famous by the Hudson River painters. At 260 feet, it’s impressive, even for someone raised in the shadow of Niagara Falls.
There are still a few openings in my 2014 workshop in Belfast, ME. Information is available here.