Paintings from Pine Creek, Second Issue

It’s now November and I have left the north-central woods of Pine Creek, had a brief visit with relatives¬† in Lancaster County, spent four days in Philadelphia, mostly at the new Barnes Museum, and am now back in Portland Oregon. Here’s some links to my non-painting adventures: the Saga; the Crick; the hike up Gamble Run Road;¬† and the last days.

And, just in case you missed it, the first group of paintings from Pine Creek can be found on my art blog, the post immediately prior to this one. Below are the paintings not shown there.

The Camp (Cedar Pines) and its Rock Fence, 12 x 24″, oil on board, 2012

Pine Creek and Stump, 18 x 24″, Oil on board, 2012

From Gamble Run Road (2), 12 x 16″, oil on board, 2012

Slate Ledges along Rt. 414, 12 x 16″, oil on board, 2012

Birches at Leonard Harrison State Park, 12 x 16″, oil on board, 2012

Cushman View 1, 6 x 16″, oil on board, 2012

Cushman View 2, 6 x 16″, oil on board, 2012

Each of the paintings carries its own anecdote, of course. The long, semi-panorama of Cedar Pines was done on a humid day on a hill across the road from the camp, another of those masochistic attempts to capture something of the feel of the place in which our family has so much history embedded. The rock wall is made from creek cobbles.

The stump, in Pine Creek and Stump, is one of hundreds in the area, left after a mini-tornado took out trees as well as roofs and telephone wires. I became fascinated by the stumps and the trees, many of them white pines. Somehow the stumps and trees became metaphors for my thinking about the homeplace, particularly as some of the snags and stumps showed new growth or sheltered new kinds of plants.

The Gamble Run painting was a re-visiting of another which sold; I was so smitten with that view that I tried to paint another. The second version, while painted from the same spot as the first, is different — of course.

The slate ledges painting, done in preparation for something else I had in mind, took on its own life, in part because of the challenge of the material and in part because I was sitting on a very narrow verge of a hill on a winding narrow mountain road. It almost certainly caused a certain amount of comment in the community, particularly as I was in danger of a) tumbling down the hill behind me and/or b) being run down by the vehicles of the locals who know every inch of the road (and drive accordingly) but didn’t know that painters had found the glories of the area.

The last three paintings above were from views of the Pine Creek Gorge. The birches with the Gorge in the background were a compromise; I found the perfect place to paint from but couldn’t get my materials down the trail to the lookout (I took lots of photos). So I sat along a comfortable and accessible spot in the main trail.¬† The two paintings from the Cushman Lookout were done in the sun and heat with waspish creatures bugging me, but were somehow important to me in a personal sense. My mother and father loved that view and I have old black and white photos of them with the two of them and Jer, looking out over the mountains. The Cushman isn’t a view of Pine Creek but rather of a tributary of a tributary of Pine Creek; it does, however, show the Allegheny Plateau going on and on and on. The two paintings were done on a single 12 x 16″ board, which I think will be cut in half some day.

Autumn and Snags, 16 x 12″, oil on board, 2012

This last painting was done at the end of my visit, after Jer had loaded up the big canvases and I had finished off the few pieces I kept back to ship before I traveled home by train. It’s one of my favorites, containing not just the snags and fog, but at last, some color other than green.

Finally, in the continuation of this post, are paintings which I sold or gifted; one of the benefits of being a painter is that it isn’t too difficult to give thank-you gifts to those who have helped. So if you want to see a few more photos of paintings, not tweaked in the home studio, continue on.

And, the two big canvases I started on the back porch of the Camp (as well as a few others) are still being worked on. More on them later. –June

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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