Now You See It – Now You Don’t

 

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We left Seattle in the morning and headed for Mount Rainier. It really is a stunning sight, seeing the snow capped peak dominate the landscape as you get closer to it. The combination of blue skies, wildflowers, greens of summer at the lower elevations and that massive dome of rock and snow was breathtaking. Mountains seem to have their own personalities, determined by the profile and the weather they generate, or otherwise effect. I would suspect that mountain climbers feel the same way but with different criteria for determining how they describe an given peak. As a painter, it’s important to get the features right, just as you would with a portrait. But with the peaks at high elevations there is the constantly changing light as clouds come and go with such frequency you’d swear that within the blink of an eye the whole landscape changed. Such was the case in Paradise, Washington where we spent the night. One minute a clear view and the next it’s gone, hiding behind a veil of clouds like a shy child.

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After a short hike at Patriarch of the Groves, after we entered Mount Rainier National Park, with it’s enormous Western Red Cedar trees and a picnic lunch we set off for Paradise. As we drove higher and higher the temperatures cooled and there was more and ore snow on the ground. The game of hide and seek with the clouds and the mountain tops had begun. While the day had started out somewhat overcast it had cleared for a while, but late afternoon brought on a mix of things, seemingly every few minutes. While enjoying our dinner in the dining room of the Paradise Inn we went from spectacular views all around the walls of windows, to thick white fog that made the mountains disappear, and back again to clear skies. My plan was to get up early and paint. There were wonderful spots right outside the building so I didn’t have to carry my gear very far. However, with the vanishing act the mountains played during dinner I was just keeping my fingers crossed there would be something to paint in the morning.

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When I first awoke, I looked out the window and saw clouds. I went back to bed, it still being quite early and wondered if it would be clearing. An hour later I got up, took another look and saw blue sky – with that I threw on my paint clothes and went work. Even with thermal and fleece it was a bit chilly. Standing still in the shade didn’t help either, but it’s about the best view, not your comfort level. When I had completed enough so that finishing in the studio could be easily done from memory, and or improved upon by lessons learned by years of painting, I started packing up my gear. Halfway though packing up I look back up at the peak, it seems the mountain was all done too as I watched a thin cloud slide over the vista I had just been painting. Seems time was up for my model as well.