My friend David Rosenak is a landscape painter who found himself working closer and closer and closer to home and realized he had a lifetime of paintings to make without leaving his property. When he first revealed this to me I thought it was a little odd, but perfect for him – see more about him by clicking here. I compared my practice at the time to his and I was attracted to the convenience of it but couldn’t see how it could ever work for me. I tend to want to paint everything I see, all the time, everywhere I go. But I struggle to get things done and finish what I start so, David’s method stayed in the back of my mind.
We got a dog two years ago and started taking her on walks along this ditch trail about half a mile from my house. It’s a wonderful walk. You see close mountains and distant ones, close and distant trees, houses, shacks, weeds, farmland — there are just endless compositions to experiment with. And there are never any other people down there. So I started painting there a lot and have made five paintings I’m pleased with in the last year.
These are the latest paintings are from the ditch trail. Painted last fall and late summer. The evening one was painted when my mom was sick and I didn’t fully realize she was dying, but I was extremely stressed out and painting this was a good way to take my mind off of things. The last one was painted in the month after she died. The reason I bring this up is that when I look at these paintings I travel emotionally to the joyful feeling I had while making them. Writing this post, my mental sequence was, “Wait, when did you make these? Was it before mom got sick?” And I realized it was during her illness and right after she died. It is kind of shocking, but somehow there is life and spark in being outside and making landscape paintings, despite this generally being a terribly tough time. However, I don’t think I would have been able to do it if I didn’t have this comfortable and easy location to go to. Since my mom’s death, I feel like staying home (or closer to home) all the time. I really miss her. I think as the spring comes I’ll feel a little less like a hermit. And I don’t know if I have more paintings to make down on this ditch trail. It’s impossible to commit to something like that. Time will tell. But I do like working where it’s comfortable and safe.
Both measure 20″ x 35″. Painted en plein air over a number of sessions.