The View of Katahdin From Chimney Pond on an October Evening diptych, oil on panel, entire piece is 8x24in In A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, he writes in reference to a painting by Asher Brown Durand titled "Kindred Spirits" ca. 1849. "Nothing like that view exists now, of course. Perhaps it never did. Who knows how much license these johnnies took with their stabbing paintbrushes? Who, after all, is going to struggle with an easel and campstool and box of paints to some difficult overlook, on a hot July afternoon, in a wilderness filled with danger, and not paint something exquisite and grand?" I like this quote because of Bryson's nod to landscape artists and the regard toward the difficulties of such an endeavor. Exquisite and grand are two words that well describe Mt. Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine and one of the most striking rock massifs in America probably. Many artists have come to Baxter State Park the home of Mt. Katahdin to be inspired, I now feel fortunate to join the other artists who have painted and observed the earth that scoops and digs, rises upward and drops deeply into the myriad of nooks and crannies, recesses and cavernous channels that lead up to summits and down into basins and valleys.
Dangerous and difficult are yet another two words that well describe any
route up the mountain for those seeking a closer look. Well worth the
effort though, whether or not my Katahdin works ever receive an ounce of
recognition good or bad, the paintings, and the experiences having gone through
to get those paintings have been revealing and inspiring to me. The
intensity of the image above reflects the intensity of the journey. There
is a calmness that also appears in the work behind the aggressive slashes of
color, lie subdued hues and meaning also present in the journey. Intense
as the hike and climb is on the outer physical being; the inner is calm and
reflective. So is the mountainous outside rough and rocky, its inner soul
presents itself to those of us more in tune with nature as a quiet peaceful and
lonely rock. Loud and lawlessly unforgiving it has taken lives, or lives
have been lost to it rather. It has also given life to those seeking it.
It is a place that will not soon be forgotten. It is a place I
So I know what you think, I gave up on this blog stuff well, not exactly. Like all things life seemingly gets in the way for a while but I'm back at it again, this time more regularly, hopefully...
So I know what you think,
I gave up on this blog stuff well, not exactly. Like all things life
seemingly gets in the way for a while but I'm back at it again, this time more
I've recently settled up
in the western part of Maine for the summer right at the doorstep of the
Bigelow Preserve, a perfect backdrop for hiking and painting adventure.
This brief period of blog
inactivity was in part due to my settling in here. I've taken a job as
"hut-master" at Maine Huts and Trails. An organization
dedicated to preserving and exploring Western Maine. This opportunity has
allowed me to support myself and my painting while living up in Maine.
This REALLY is hiking
country (or skiing) and people here are (among other things) trail people.
You can't really go to far any direction without hitting the A.T let
alone countless other side trails. The hiking here is rough and rugged,
one cautions step at a time, especially as you near the summits. At time
one would do anything to just put one foot in front of the other normally.
A big difference between hiking the trails of Western Maine and lets say
the trails in the Smokies, is that up here it really is a "prepare for
self rescue" type of deal. While the A.T. gets its fair share of
traffic, other nearby trails don't and you'll be hard pressed to find a ranger
on the look out for you or anyone else. This all culminates in a
'special' feeling when one is out there exploring.
This brings me to my point of how different settings, moods and
experiences affect the paint. A clear example is to paint something when you’re
sad and to paint something when you’re happy. The differences will most
likely be endless. So if I see a striking landscape while I'm driving and
I stop to paint, it's already going to have a different feel than if I was atop
a mountain painting. Then add to
that myriad of other variables such as, how rested I am, time of day, weather
conditions, personal mood etc…
Additionally, I’m feeling more and more as though a work is ‘truer’ if I’ve
experienced first hand what it is I’m painting. For example the stunning Bigelow Range sits right at my back
door and I can paint it at any time I choose as easily as Monet and his gardens
and lilies in Giverny. However, I
hadn’t yet immersed myself into that landscape as Monet had done with his home
and his landscapes. So for me, the
painting constantly felt like a guessing game.
Now I’ve recently come back from a three-day hike in the Bigelow’s
traversing some rough terrain camping out and summiting several peaks. Now as I go to start a new work,
looking out upon the range I just came from there will be less guessing and
more of a relationship between myself and the forest and mountains and a dialogue
can now take place as the painting develops and a real truthfulness can
hopefully be reflected.
Greetings from the Great Smoky Mountains....Keep Scrolling Down*****************
It has been a very productive Memorial Day Weekend here at the Smokies. I've Started five Panels the past 48 hours and I'm going on the sixth later this evening. Each work solves a previous works problem. I guess that's called progress. After 2 years w/out making art I've wondered I would still be the same painter. Signs point to yes. Scenic isn't descriptive enough for this part of the country. Woodsy, majestic, rugged, giant, bouldery, i think boulderous sounds better but that's not a word i guess.
I feel like the paintings become truer the more I walk and hike through the various forests throughout the park. For example, my first drive through the smokies inspired awe so I painted w/out really knowing the ins and outs of what I was looking at. I painted this...
When you hike through a landscape you know it more intimately, you see the leaves of every tree, the moss covered fallen trees, the rocky slopes, the small creeks and everything that is underneath what your eye doesn't see from afar. You begin to recognize the different tree types, hemlocks, firs and birch and all their variegations. This is the first step to painting outdoors. Acclamation and immersion.
Since then I've done several paintings along three trails the Ramsay Cascades trail, Alum Cave Bluffs Trail to the summit of Mt. Le Conte and the short but steep Clingmans Dome trail culminating in 5 paintings across 19miles of trail.
Hiking back from the top of Mt. Le Conte, I ran into a group of folks traveling upward. One of them stopped to ask how far it is up to Arch Rock, I told him from where he was about a half mile. He thanked me, then another amongst his group noticed the painting I was carrying along with me. He asked, "is this a painting of yours?" "Yes" I replied. He looked at the work quizzically as I held it in front of him. "What type of painting is it? To which I replied, "Oil". Again another, longer moment of disquietness. Then, "so you want us to imagine". I explained to him, this isn't a depiction of reality or what are eyes already see. This mark here may or may not represent a tree. Try not to see so much with your eyes but with your feelings and heart. And if that sounds to mushy then see it with your spirit and if that sounds to hippie than see it with your vibes and if thats too groovy, then don't look at it.
I've been apprehensive since I started this trip as to when my first painting would happen. I thought it might be on my first cave along the Raymer Hollow trail in Mammoth Cave NP. But no, nothing struck me at that moment. I thought it might happen driving along the Kentucky highways cruising with the rolling hills and wooden fences. Alas! A sunny day in Tennessee no less. Why not. It was perfect. Although the painting may not be the moment was. Out of the 20 cars that may have passed, at least 5 people slowed down to ask if me and my gal who was sitting next to me if everything was okay or if we needed help... my folks in TN are quite nice. Thank you southern hospitality!! Here are a few pics from that occasion. Finished work yet to be posted... stay tuned.
Just a week a way from starting my trip. Can't wait to see how this whole thing unravels. I've pretty much stopped planning and am just going to go with the flow. I think the worst thing I can do at this point is over-think things s o j u s t s h u t t i n g t h e b r a i n d o w n n o w
I do have a jerky recipe for you though!!!
Choose a flank steak or london with minimal amounts of fat about 1.5 - 2#
One thing that is always on my mind is...food. So it's no surprise that while planning my trip i've been thinking much about the stuff. As i mentioned in my last post I have a history of working with some of the best chefs and cooks in Cleveland and this has taught me a lot about taste and preparation of delicious food, not something I wish to give up so easily as I post up camp and trade gas burners and sharp knives for rocky fireplaces, a 2qt propane stove and plastic kitchen ware...
It is my intention to avoid the highway rest-stops and fast food refuges that are entirely all too prevalent for lesser-known local stops. I have my fingers crossed for farmers-markets (wouldn't it be nice if there was just 1 for every 2 McDonalds you see). Fresh and local produce wherever I am and finding these places will be the key to my survival. In addition to acquiring perishable nutrient-rich goods and eating them before they turn, I've started experimenting with dried foods. Drying food, I've learned is one of the oldest methods of preserving food. In fact, Native Americans were sun-drying meat, fish, corn, squash, pumpkins, beans and berries years before European settlers arrived (Fears 109). Drying preserves food by removing sufficient moisture to prevent its decay. Water content of properly dried food is anywhere from 5 percent to 25 percent, reducing both bulk and weight. Making it ideal to take on backpacking trips where every oz carried counts.
Because the Sun has been uncooperative the past week, I've resorted to oven drying. So far I've successfully dried bananas, kiwis, eggplant and beets. Fruit can be thinly sliced and thrown in the oven on the lowest setting for about 4-6 hrs, bananas took about 5 hrs where as the kiwi only took about 3. Monitoring the fruits status every hour or so is a good way to prevent scorching. Also continually rotating the fruit and flipping sides is beneficial in even drying. In order to evenly dry out both sides, instead of using a baking tray, I've taken parchment paper about the length of the interior of my oven and poked 1000 tiny little holes for the fruit to rest upon. A window screen would work equally well and save you some time. For vegetables you need to blanch prior to drying. Beets, being a bit hardier, need to be actually cooked as you would normally, I like to salt-bake them but one could boil, steam, or wrap in foil and cook until done, then peel, cool and slice about 1/4 in thick and then they're ready to go. Below are a few images of the process.
Now vegetables are great and salubrious fresh or dried. But so is beef! Jerky that is! And whats better than making your own!
Making ones own jerky saves money, produces more and allows you to do away with generic flavors like original or teriyaki. It also allows one to go to their local butcher or the like and get the best local, grass-fed beef available. I've got a nice piece of flank on cure right now with an uber-garlic brisket type cure going. It's at hour 36 and at hour 48 it's gonna hit the oven at about 150 thinly sliced, not overlapping pieces and cook for 10-12 hours. This process successfully dries out the meat and produces a delicious leather like meat strip that can be store in an airtight container for quite sometime. I've had mystery jerky show up in my golf bag from who knows how many seasons past and although I wasn't so desperate for food at the time to eat it, my friend was and he said it was great! Anyway there is much more on food to come including on the road kitchen equipment, outdoor stove/cooking techniques, the best brewed coffee in the world as well as the notion of taking a levain (french word for sourdough) on the road with me so I can have the best campfire pizzas anywhere!
much more to come
peace and love
ps. check out the book cited below for more information on food preservation and backcountry cooking
Fears, J. Wayne. Backcountry Cooking: Methods & Recipes for Indoors & Out! Charlotte: Fast & McMillan Publishers, Inc. 1980. Print.
my name is jordan rolleston. i've graduated from alfred university in 2010. i paint and i've set my sights on going cross country for several months. i've worked hard for 2+ years as a cook in cozy cleveland ohio at an outstanding restaurant the greenhouse tavern. it's been a dream of mine to see this country and all it it has to offer. my trip will be recorded throughout this blog via text and images. i'm about a month away from setting out on this trip of a lifetime and am in the midst of planning and gearing up. i will be posting every week to keep everybody plugged in. i am excited to set afoot but i'm more excited to share with you. this is my first blog and i hope you find it interesting. questions, comments, feedback and dialogue are always welcome. we'll be in touch...