Saturday, January 26, 2013

If at first you don't succeed....

Cave Lake Inlet 8x10 Oil/Panel
A friend and I packed our plein aire gear and drove to Carter Caves State Park, a delightful place to paint with natural arches, trails, rock formations, streams and, of course, caves. With the temperature at about 30 degrees I set up the easel, premixed piles of paint and proceeded to fail miserably. We attributed our difficulty to it being our first paint-out of the year, where we were overwhelmed by detail:  the rock formations were beyond difficult with a multitude of subtle colors, layer upon layer of limestone and a rapidly moving sun with its long winter shadows.   
We took plenty of photos and, back in the studio, gave ourselves the time and patience to sort through the scenes for subjects. Cave Lake is a small lake surrounded on three sides by marsh grasses, with crystal clear water.  The bare trees were backlit by the strong sun and had to be painted wet over dry.
We vowed to return later in spring and take advantage of the simpler views and trails. No day spent painting is wasted even when you paint "wipe-offs". We've already selected our sites for the next visit and there is just something always energizing about fresh air, rock and sky. We both slept well that night.


  1. Dan, nice painting in spite of the brutal conditions. Carter caves is close to my neck of the woods. Let me know when you come back, I'll bring you some hot beverages!

  2. Lovely, thanks for sharing this Dan :) I go through my photos a lot and try to meditate a bit on the places I have been, and see if I can re-capture in my mind the "feeling" of the atmosphere. And it really helps in my writing poetry and painting. When I travel to a place, and have inclement weather, it really puts me in a bad mood, and I take lots of photos to go through for another day, go home and have a hot cup of tea. :)