Ninth Annual Exhibit
SUN SHADOW ICE & SNOW
seasons along the panhandle trail
“Reflections on an October Afternoon”
featuring art, photography and poetry of and about the Panhandle Trail
plus paintings & sketches from prior exhibits
prints of paintings and photos
handmade gift items inspired by the trail
Opening Friday August 25, 2023 5:00 P.M.
through Saturday August 26, 2023 11:00 P.M.
Panhandle Trail Quarry Area as part of Rock The Quarry
For more information about the event please visit www.panhandletrail.org.
I had several paintings to choose from this year, but I chose this tiny 5″ x 7″ pastel painted en plein air as I knelt aside the trail astounded by the glory of an autumn afternoon in the woods, and reflected in Robinson Run, no less. I also have four other new paintings from this year alone!
In addition I’ll have paintings and sketches from previous exhibits, prints of photos and paintings, and new handmade gift items featuring my art and photography of the trail: keepsake boxes, decorative trays, cabochon pendants, suncatchers, votives, garden flags, gift bags and coasters, and who knows what else.
Five New Paintings in Seasons Along the Panhandle Trail
From October 15, 2022:
I played hooky today and ran off into the woods.
Autumn has been developing most beautifully and I keep trying to find the time to get out there and have a few hours in the woods to paint and photograph and just walk barefoot on the trails at least one last time this year.
A friend who walks the same trails every day shared some photos from the upper trails of yellow trees full of sun and leaves on the trail and that’s one of the places I’d wanted to explore this autumn. We agreed it wasn’t going to last, and when I discovered that my Sales Tax Webinar was not today at noon I felt the big blue sky calling me and packed a sandwich and an apple and some water and made sure I had some pastels and papers in my backpack and I took off.
Four hours later I have this little finished sketch, and I started two others just to save time, and have lots of other photos and ideas. There is nothing like sketching en plein air. Not only are my paintings different, but it also improves my work in studio. One afternoon is not enough, but rain and frost are coming and many leaves will fall.
Sunset comes early and dusk and nightfall quickly follow near the winter solstice. Christmas is among the shortest days of the year, and on this particular year I headed west on the trail, hoping to capture a beautiful sunset as heavy clouds gathered, then parted, and snow squalls and flurries filled the air. The timing did not work for my goal, but the blue and violet light was magic, seeming to suspend nightfall, delaying total darkness.
As I turned around toward the trailhead and home I looked up to see the reason why: a nearly full moon had risen in the east, brushing the snow draped on branches and twigs and land with delicately tinted light. The air was full of tiny sparkling crystals, the moon softened by a light haze of clouds and the sparkling flurry of snow between me and her.
The quiet was comforting and I felt a connection rather than isolation looking at that moon through the glistening air, connection with all others who would be looking at this same moon at that moment, and others who had seen it already, and those who would see it in coming hours, all over the world.
As I looked out and up and opened my awareness to take in this simple moment, feeling the quiet and the snow flurries brushing my face, words, the title of a poem, came to me, “Sure on this shining night…,” the title of an art song composed by Samuel Barber based on a poem, Description of Elysium, by James Agee. Though the poem speaks of starlight and high summer, the idea of connection, of peace, of healed hearts and kindness, were there.
Time was running out for the amazing leaf color in October 2022. I hadn’t had any time in the woods and knew if I waited even to the weekend the brilliant yellow that lit the upper woods along the trail would be on the ground. A friend who walks the same trails every day shared some photos from the upper trails of yellow trees full of sun and we agreed it wasn’t going to last. I played hooky one afternoon and ran off into the woods. From the bottom of the hill to the top it was all as amazing as I imagined it would be.
I painted this from one of many photographs that helped me capture and remember what stopped me in my tracks as I walked on that upper trail, where the sun was hitting the tree canopy above me and the leaves glowed, lighting the woods and highlighting the trails where the leaves were packed down by humans, deer and everything else that walks the woods. This view faced back toward a ravine with just enough blue mist to give a cool complement to the warm yellows and oranges and umbers and silhouetted the tree trunks.
I’ve always loved this ravine just off the Panhandle Trail for the angle of light that enters it, that deep “V” shape creating colorful highlights and rich shadows and always mossy logs with a little sparkle of water that meanders down the center.
And in nearly all seasons I’m intrigued by the soft mysteries in that mist when the woods are damp, filled with muted light.
I took the reference photo for this painting on an unusually warm day in early March 2022, walking barefoot in the woods around the Panhandle Trail between the snows. There was plenty of mist on that day as the warm sun reached the cool damp soil, and as I walked past this ravine on my way to the trail that winds up and up the hill the light was perfect to capture that feeling.
I wanted this to be loose, just to catch the feeling of it, but not to include every twig and sprig of moss, much as I would if standing there in the wet soil and the spring afternoon was fading and the light changing each minute.
To mimic as much of the plein air experience as I could I opened the photo on my studio computer’s large screen, put the paper up on my easel, and started painting quickly, working from the middle of this scene, blocking off areas and making adjustments as I moved. That way I catch the elements of the scene that are most striking similar to the way I would if the light was actually changing,
This painting isn’t quite done yet! I took a photo of saplings along the creek in early spring along the Panhandle Trail. The straight lines of the saplings and varied colors and widths and patterns with the light behind them, and even a bit of the creek, immediately appeared to me as a larger painting, but abstracted. I just wanted to capture the colors and the pattern the young trees made.
Photography in Seasons Along the Panhandle Trail
I have some interesting views on common scenes, including a walk through the spring woods, typically full of emergent color and shape, in black and white film. My DSLR needed a repair but I couldn’t get it done right then. I pulled out my old Pentax K1000 fully manual film camera and a roll of black and white someone had given me. I saw completely different things in the flora than I’ve ever seen before, and the feeling was completely different.
Poetry and Prose in Seasons Along the Panhandle Trail
I’ll also have my folio of poetry, all of which was inspired by, and much written on the trail. Here are a few lines of the featured poem as an example:
At a bend in the trail,
The scent of wild apples greets me.
A tree abandoned from an old orchard
Or sprung up on its own from old stock, wild and uncultivated,
Heavy with small round burnished apples.
The late summer heat releases their scent,
Sweet and tart, that the world may know they have reached their prime;
The wild perfume of the coming season.
From another tree one single leaf lets go
And falls, papery, dry and curled, slipping through branches
Clattering to the summer-hardened clay of the trail,
Loud in the silent heat of the August afternoon.
Winter lost her grip, and, one by one,
The wildflowers of spring began to bloom,…
You can read the rest of this poem on my writing website www.PathsIHaveWalked.com, or just wait until the exhibit!
Time spent in nature gives the the freedom to expand my thoughts, touching all my senses and leading me to a greater, deeper, even new understanding of myself and my world. Poetry is a perfect way to express that.
Also, each of my paintings and photos have a story of how they came to be. I found a magazine that was happy to publish not only the essay about “The Rope Swing”, but to publish the art as well, in 2019, then in 2020 they published an essay about “Running Through the Woods”. I’ll have that with me, and several copies you can purchase.
I’ve been visiting the Panhandle Trail since 2002 with my bike and on foot, for exercise and inspiration, more inspiration than exercise, packing in with backpacks of camera equipment and art supplies. I’ve taken thousands of photos along the trail and off in the woods, but I’ve also done a number of sketches while there in pencil, charcoal, pastel and watercolor, and arriving home in my studio to do more from photos. I’ve collected a number of these for an exhibit, but not in a gallery—right on the trail, where I’ve spent so much time and found these inspirations. It’s the place where I found the scene of one of my favorite paintings, “Dusk in the Woods”.
From the very first show it’s been one of my best and one of my favorites. Most of all I love to get the chance to talk to others who love their trail and share with them both the familiar places and the extraordinary moments.
I will still offer all my handmade goods along with prints…
Panhandle Trail Photography from Previous Exhibits
The following five photos were features in this year’s exhibit, all taken on the morning of March 10, 2017. To visit the page to purchase a photo, click the image.
When I reached the trail that day the sun was just beginning to break through small holes in the the clouds that cast beams of sunlight like spotlights. I knew I wanted a photo of an icy, snowy tree completely alight against the deep gray clouds of the storm as they left the area. The photo above was from the very beginning, as soon as I arrived at the trail and I saw the sun moving over the trees, changing every moment. I just began photographing, zooming in and out, capturing different lighting. Everyone who saw the photo recognized the bridge as the very first one on the trail and knew exactly where I’d taken the photo.
Though “Dramatic Light” was my first love from that magical morning, there was another photo I wanted to capture just as much. As I drove to the trail I looked at all the tree-covered hills that looked as if they were frosted with powdered sugar. I did photograph a few of the hills, but I knew that the steep hills surrounding the valley where the trail and Robinson Run were would be even more dramatic, and when I arrived, as soon as I’d photographed “Dramatic Light”, I turned to the hill on the left and it did not disappoint. The sun moved like a spotlight over the hill and I did capture several where one treetop of many was highlighted. But it was when a quick flash of hazy sun through thinning clouds touched the hillside that I saw what I’d envisioned: treetops frosted with white to fill the frame. As I organized my exhibit “Frosted” quickly captured me and I decided to use that photo as my feature at the front of my tent.
And here is the photo.
Both “Dramatic Light” and “Frosted” are matted with black core mats and framed with a 2.25″ matte black wood frame.
Photos always included in the exhibit
Clicking on any image in the gallery will bring up a full-size image, and you can also see the images in a slideshow. I know that some are missing from here because I decided at the last minute to include them.
Only a few of the images below are available on this site. Now that I know which ones are more popular at exhibits I will add them.
Running Through the Woods
16” x22”, pastel, $500
pastel on pastelmat, 13.5 x 19.5, $400
Other paintings and prints of paintings included in Seasons Along the Panhandle Trail
I’ll be previewing new works over the next few weeks. Clicking on any image in the gallery will bring up a full-size image, and you can also see the images in a slideshow (photos are below).
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What’s the quarry? The Panhandle rail line, which was removed to built the trail in the old rail bed, runs right through a century-old limestone quarry, a portion of which is still actively quarried. The quarry ponds are there and that and the woods around make a natural gathering place.
I use this trail all the time, and part of my giveback is to maintain their website and the little bit of social networking that we do, along with photographing things. I use to volunteer during the event, usually in the kitchen dishing out easy food, but this is much more fun.
For more information on the trail please visit www.panhandletrail.org.
Other pages for Seasons Along the Panhandle Trail exhibits:
Don’t miss any new items or opportunities!
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