Spring and the White Mountains

It was beginning to feel like one of those “have-to’s” in the jurying process. The words “consistency of style” and “series” kept popping up in forms which I would fill out to have my work reviewed. But painting a series seemed beyond my limited attention span – just a little too disciplined for me. Still I kept it in the back of my mind waiting for something to grab me. So when the idea of painting the peaks of the White Mountains, focusing on the Presidential Range hit me, it fit the bill for me. There were many to choose from and traveling to the White Mountains was far enough away to make it a bit of an adventure.

The first trip this year was over Memorial Day weekend, (Written on the Wind – Blog entry)that’s when I came up with the idea for this series. With the thought of doing such a series I wanted to be sure and get the names of the peaks right. Hikers seem to know these things by instinct, but then their perspective is different from mine. I purchased a couple of maps and a book to aid me in naming what I would paint and identifying the pictures I took. The first painting is “The Founding Fathers – Mounts Jefferson, Adams and Madison”. This is the view from Mount Washington observatory looking north. In doing the research I learned some interesting tidbits. The smaller peak between Jefferson and Adams is Sam Adams. The other is that ther folks doing the naming made a little mistake which they discovered too late, since the names were already established. Mount Monroe is higher than Madison. That was the error, not having correct information about the height, they would have named the next highest peak Monroe should have been Madison.

It didn’t take me long to stray from the original intent of painting the peaks named after presidents. “Nelson Craig” grabbed me when I was looking at my photographs, the drop off, the shadows of the clouds, the orange foliage that was just starting to grow and that bit of snow in the crevices where the warmth of Spring sun could not reach. The catch was finding the name of this peak. Studying the map of the Mt. Washington Auto Road and trying to figure out which pull-off I’d taken the picture from combined with hiking information from the books I’d purchased did the trick, it’s just I didn’t know a mountain could be called a craig.

Painting a series of the White Mountains would not be complete without “Tuck” – that is “Tuckerman’s Ravine”. Not only is it impressive to look out, it is legendary for skiers. Again, no ski lift, just the understanding if you can hike up with your ski gear, you should be good enough to ski it. This is the view from above at the top of the trail, after driving up the auto road I went down the trail a bit to get a good view, the carin marks the trail. I realized when we returned that the view of Tuckerman’s from below was equally, if not more impressive. That being the case there will be more paintings of this wonderful example of natural sculpture.

The next trip was over July 4th weekend. The colors and foliage had changed considerably. While Mount Washington had a dense cloud covering the peak the rest of the sky was a beautiful blue with sweeps of clouds billowing up from the lesser peaks. That being the case this trip became a qwest for other peaks and more exploring of the area. The air was warm and fresh, no humidity. We took a short hike from Pinkham Notch Center down the trail to Lost Pond. Again the cloud cover hid the top of Tuckerman’s but the reflection was beautiful and it seemed to me that painting that cloud cover would be a realistic view. After our hike we started the drive for home. I wanted to go back the way we’d come in case the cloud cover over Mount Washington wanted to recede and give me another chance to see the peak. No such luck, but we did find a pullout that was a field of wildflowers with the elusive peak in the background. I knew that would be a furture destination. The last stop before we left the White Mountains was a parking lot for a trail head just past Cannon Mountain. It was now late afternoon with the sun casting strong shadows across the mountainside of Franconia Ridge, dramatically highlighting Mount Lincoln. Lonesome Lake, wildflowers and a little trail made the perfect foreground. The day was a success and the series moves forward.

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