Paintings from Pine Creek: Issue 1

I have notions about what I ultimately hope I can achieve up here in the woodsy woods of north central Pennsylvania. But first come the “studies”.

View of the Back Lawn, Cedar Pines, 12 x 16″, oil on Masonite, 2012

“Studies” for me are always begun on-site in some fashion (although I often don’t stick to the technical rules of plein air) and then, where necessary, they are finished in the studio. Here at Cedar Pines, the studio is the back porch of the family homestead, the Camp.

The Back Porch, Cedar Pines, 18 x 24″, oil on Masonite, 2012

Back Porch was painted from where the first painted scene (Back Lawn) is located; it isn’t finished yet, but as I had resized it, I thought I’d upload it anyway.[Note: this and the other photos are now “finished” and have been rephotographed in my studio in Portland Oregon.]

¬†Back Porch contains some of the elements I’m interested in — the red house (a foil for all the greens), the snag or stump of trees, of which there are many because of some wild winds that devastated the area, and a trifle of the mountains behind the house.

Windfall at Gamble Run, 18 x 24″, oil on Masonite, 2012

Gamble Run Road, 12 x 16″, oil on Masonite, 2012

A small stream, Gamble Run, tumbles down the mountain which fronts the Camp. The run goes under a small bridge and then gurgles along the side of the Cedar Pines property; the foot bridge in the first painting goes over it. Both these paintings were done up the mountain, along Gamble Run. [Note: this painting was sold in PA before I could photograph is under studio conditions.]

The first painting shown above, Windfall, was painted just before the stream flattens out a bit and goes under the paved road. The space is lined with tall trees, the beginning of dark woods and the mountain climb. Innumerable fallen trees and branches cross the stream bed and the foliage catches the westering sun.

Gamble Run Road was painted sitting along the gravel road that follows the stream up the mountain. The stream ends in a marshy area on top of the mountain, one of those geographical features of the plateau region. The road is also the source of various family tales of getting stuck in mud and snow, but that’s another matter. The woods get dark and mysterious up Gamble Run.

Fog along Pine Creek, 12 x 16″, oil on Masonite, 2012

Pine Creek is the stream that is the source of the magic of this place, having caused the carved canyon in the Allegheny Plateau called the Pine Creek Gorge, being the end point of the long lawn off the Camp’s back porch with its series of grassed drops, and acting as the primary watershed in the whole area. About a mile upstream from Cedar Pines, Pine Creek becomes a protected scenic area and has almost no human habitations on it. It also goes through some impressive treed canyons, where the drop-off is precipitous.

The Owassie from Barbour Rock, 18 x 24″, oil on Masonite, 2012

This is the upper part of the wild area of Pine Creek, looking down on the Owassie Rapids, which is August are more like the Owassie Ripples. In March, they are something else, which forms another set of family stories. I can honestly say that I’ve seen the Owassie from a Piper Cub, from the inside of a canoe, and from under the water. But that’s a story for another day.

All these paintings, except the one that was sold, have been tweaked and rephotographed in the studio in Portland. The places I’m painting and the paintings I’m naming are not merely reproductions of scenes, of course. Each painting, for me and I suspect for others, contains pieces of family history, of memory and desire, elements of the universe that place and space provide.

Out of the studies I am hoping to make larger canvases that will capture more fully the magic and pathos of this place called Pine Creek. –June