"The Swimming Hole", pastel, 11" X 15", 2014

Celebrate Summer in “The Swimming Hole”

"The Swimming Hole", pastel, 11" X 15", 2014

“The Swimming Hole”, pastel, 11″ X 15″, 2014

On a hot summer afternoon out on the trail, there is nothing more refreshing to me than wading into the deeper area of a stream and cooling off.

This painting was actually visualized during one of the visits with my great nieces and nephews and I knew I’d have to paint it, but it came about in bits and pieces, I’ll say it evolved over a period of years. I took a photo during one visit in 2010, but that wasn’t enough information when I decided I wanted to catch the whole scene, not just the kids in the water so I went back to the spot and took more photos on my own, but no one was in the water and it just wasn’t right.

On another visit in 2011 I took lots of reference photos from different angles and even did a small pencil sketch, then individual photos of them in the water, knowing I could never get out my pastels and paint them right there. In my studio the following year I lined up my photos and visualized something pretty close to this but couldn’t get a feel for it from just the photos, so I took my pastels to the trail the next summer, 2013, and laid down the basics of this sketch while there, trying to capture the colors and light and positioning of everything. I didn’t have all the colors with me which I needed and I knew I’d be working on it in my studio to add the kids in the water so I knew I wouldn’t be finishing it right then. I set the sketch in my holding area for more work, and there it sat. I finished it in time for my exhibit “Sun Shadow Ice & Snow: Seasons Along the Panhandle Trail”, the very first of those exhibits in 2014.

"The Swimming Hole", pastel, 11" X 15", 2014

“The Swimming Hole”, pastel, 11″ X 15″, 2014

I love painting water, and never give myself enough of a chance to paint it. I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on all the details in the surface as well as the direct and reflected light and the colorful shadows on the kids, the way the mid-day sun fell on the water, alighting the top layer of the brush and just touching leaves in the trees with brilliant highlights and creating deep shadows underneath. It’s part of what I think of when I think of summer.

Like the rope swing, how did we kids live through our childhoods jumping into a deep pool of water in a creek off in the woods and swimming? For me, unless the water smelled really bad or it was filled with something I didn’t want to touch, I was in it. Water is irresistible to me—if there is water, I at least have my feet in it, if that’s at all possible, and even when it rains I’m out in it for a bit, or standing in the gutter along the street in front of my house letting the rain water run over my feet. I think most kids are like that, and while there are dangers in places like swimming holes, avoiding dangers is not always the best way to deal with them. Instead, learning how to safely use the swimming hole can help teach a life lesson about observation, caution, and when to let go and enjoy things that aren’t manufactured for our use. That’s one of the joys, and lessons, of nature.

And it creates some great memories.

Purchase a print

The original is sold, but “The Swimming Hole” looks great as a canvas print or on paper at any size. You can find this artwork here.

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