Monday, October 20, 2008

"Maple Tree on Toad Lake Road" -- plein air oil study -- oil on canvas board 11x14" -- Margie Guyot
There is a one-lane dirt road that winds along between the farms between Ellsworth and Eastport, called Toad Lake Road. The first time I happened upon it, I was lost, trying to find my way home from Tapawingo. It was early spring and the road was quite muddy in places. I have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, but I was worried I'd get stuck, miles from help. I revisited this road on Friday, armed with painting gear. The road was relatively dry. It's really quite a pretty drive, snaking along through the woodlands and hills. Rather like parts of Vermont. No Hunting/No Trespassing signs are posted, along with Season Road -- Not Plowed in Winter (And they mean it!) signs.

At one point it does pass a small lake. The famed Toad Lake, I assume. I rolled the window down and listened. Hmmm... no toads were calling. Wrong season anyway. None were trying to mate at the moment. Come back in the spring when the road's a quagmire and hear the frenzy.

There was a really cool, old, gnarly maple tree along the roadside. There are LOTS of old, gnarly maples up here to chose from. Some are right on my property. But somehow the excitement (and suffering) of exploring the hinterlands give certain gnarly trees more of an appealing aura than others.

I loved how the branches snaked out. And the golden leaves, some brushed with shades of red, some still green, shot through with bright sky holes! It's tough to paint. I'll probably try doing another version of this, using this field study as a reference. What I'd change is the value of the leaves in relation to the value of the sky holes. I'd make the leaves a shade darker and give the sky holes a bit more of a design, a pattern. It's sometimes kind of difficult to consider all these aspects when out painting in the field. The light changes so fast. The wind is blowing. Insects are biting. Branches are moving and leaves are falling. Clouds move in; clouds move away. No wonder Van Gogh went mad!