This blog showcases small and large paintings depicting landscapes, wildlife, and still life subjects. Selected paintings are for sale.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Highlands of Western Pennsylvania

(12x24 acrylic on canvas)
click image for larger view

Yes, the highlands. This painting depicts a view from Haining Hill near Springs, Pennsylvania – about 3 miles, as the crow flies, from the highest elevation in Pennsylvania (Mt. Davis, 3,213 ft).

Rolling picturesque farmland, not rich by any means, but certainly picturesque. As you stand atop Haining Hill you get a real sense of being ‘on top of the world’. The topography is rolling with prominent ridges, all part of the ancient Allegheny Plateau. Some interesting history in this area as well. Further south from this point is the remnants of General Braddock’s road, which old Route 40 follows and which Interstate 68 parallels.

The view that you see depicted is looking southeast towards Springs, very near the area where my father and I were raised. In fact, we used to gather hickory nuts in that woods in the distance off to the left of the dirt road. Yes, that's a dirt road and for some of you that's a rare sight, but I'll leave that for another discussion...

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Evening at the Forgotten Gate

Someone's left the gate open, for a long time. I came across this scene on one of my back road excursions on Maryland's Eastern shore. A sort of faded elegance draped in late day gold. Obviously someone took great pains to create a memorable entrance. Now it appears to be forgotten -- except for someone who stopped and thought it worth a painting.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed painting it...

(orig. 5x7 acrylic on gesso board)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

What did Captain Smith see?

I frequently play a little time-travel game as I drive around Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I ask myself, as I look out over the marshes, what did this place look like 400 years ago? What must it have been like for Captain Smith as he commanded a small open vessel up the Chesapeake? Perhaps it looked something like this painting. Quiet, cold, obscure. Bounteous yes, but not without serious dangers – the indigenous people weren’t always kindly to bearded Englishmen who often said one thing while doing another.

If we’re really honest with ourselves and with history there are two things of which we can be certain: John Smith didn’t see the Chesapeake the same way we see it today, and what we see is simply a fragment of what once was.

Smith didn’t see the Chesapeake as something to be appreciated as one might a fine painting or as a recreational stress-relieving interlude. He saw it as commodity, as a way to make a name and a fortune, and as adventure. Rather than seeing a peaceful scene, he might have focused on the oyster beds (they were hungry that first year) or the pines in the distance (good for ship masts perhaps?). In other words, one might say he saw the Chesapeake through utilitarian eyes.

What the early 21st century observer sees when they look out over the Chesapeake is a sad tattered remnant of what once inspired Smith to write “…heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a place for man’s habitation.” Gone are the migratory masses that blotted out the sun and seemed to go on forever. Gone are the oysters. Gone are the massive trees. Much is gone, and yet the Chesapeake can still inspire people with its beauty, much as one might admire an old, worn out, but beautifully-tailored evening gown.

(unframed 5x7 acrylic on gesso board)

painting will be up for auction - check back soon!