(Mount Bachelor, Elk Lake, Oregon Cascades)
Oil on Pannelli Telati fine Cotton Panel
9” x 12”
Back in 2009, at the end of May, I first encountered this view of Mount Bachelor from Elk Lake. I hoped and waited for an evening glow, such as this, but it turned out to be a relatively colorless and grey Sunset. Nevertheless, I made a Sepia wash drawing heightened with white on Turner’s blue-grey paper. Over the years, periodically looking at that drawing, in conjunction with the uninspiring photographs taken at the time, I finally decided to paint the evening I had hoped for, all those years ago … that is why, for me, painting is so much more enjoyable than photography. I get to create those moments, not only seen, but those hoped for. I did use the cloud formations, in the bland reference photos taken then, as a starting point, but the colour comes from years of experiencing evening skies, both through actual seeing and remembering, and of photos taken.
An aside here is that the above image looks perfect on my computer, is a bit too colorful on my tablet, and downright garish on my phone. So if you are thinking that you are looking at a caricature of an evening, I guarantee you that, although a colourful & bright painting, it is more natural than you might be looking at on whatever screen you have in front of you. This goes for any of the images of my paintings you might be viewing … past, present or future.
Last July, after the opening weekend of the Coos Art Museum Maritime Show, I headed out for the Crater Lake area, to meet up with an old friend of mine that I had not seen since 1976. That was also the last time we had been in contact until sometime in 2018. The younger generation does not recall the days when it was so easy to lose track of people, especially in the transient bedsitter land of London in the 1970s, where phones were either public call-boxes or, if you were lucky, a payphone in the common hallway of the house your bedside was in.
I decided to take the small roads through the Coast Range. I'm not sure when the Coast Range becomes the Klamath Range, or for that matter, the Siskiyous, but I believe I touched on all three ranges. As I was dropping down towards the Rogue River crossing on Forest road 33, north of Agness, I spotted my second Oregon black bear. Only a little cub, and no I didn't stop to spot it's Mom. The other bear I spotted, in a similar situation, was back in 2010, also in southwestern Oregon. About a mile back up the road I had had a conversation with a guy, who was pushing his heavily loaded bicycle up the hill. He was going to camp soon. Hope the bears left him alone.
My plan was to cross the Rogue and climb up the Bearcamp Road (coincidentally aptly named) onto the ridge that it follows, and find a camp on one of the few logging side roads up there; which I did. I camped at 3340', thinking I was near the top, but I had over another thousand feet of altitude to go, before the descent began, the next day. For you British, that's like driving up over Ben Nevis.
Bearcamp Road was where that young family from the Bay area was stranded in the snow after Thanksgiving 2006 … it doesn't seem that long ago. In actual fact they took a logging road off the Bearcamp Road, the 34-8-36 road, and were stranded 22 winding miles down that. The thing is, that if they had continued on the Bearcamp Road, instead of inadvertently following the logging road, would the snow rapidly increasing with altitude have caused them to turn around sooner than when they attempted it at the lower altitude they were at? Now having been on the Bearcamp Road in mid-Summer, it would be Hell in the snow. I kept imagining sliding off the road in the slippery snow, and disappearing down into the extremely steep sided ravines … that could happen in Summer if you did not pay full attention to your driving on that ‘single track with turnouts road’ that the Bearcamp Road is. For those of you not familiar with the story, after 9 days the mother and two young girls were rescued, but James Kim, who had left for help 2 days earlier was found dead, after walking 20 miles for help. A tragic, but very heroic, attempt to save his family.
Even though I will be updating about last year, I will also be mentioning this year. I am camping at present, where I was last year at this time. Spring was about a month early, back in the Yamhill Valley … the first bank of wild Daffodils were spotted on 9th February, whereas in the previous several years, that same bank brought forth their Daffs on or about the 7th of March. When I arrived out here in the wilds on April 1st, it was colder than last year, and the vegetation didn't seem so far along … I arrived in camp in a driving snow, for the last 20 miles (although it wasn't sticking), at about 21:00 hours, and then it immediately stopped and the Moon came out … must've just been testing me. Three days later it lightly snowed all day, but amounted to only a dusting, until at 19:00 a deposit of 2 inches was left in about ten minutes. The next day was a snowy magical morning; gone by midafternoon.
Imprimatura: Rublev’s Ercolano Red;
Drawing: Schminke’s Caput Mortuum;
Painting: W&N’s Cobalt & French Ultramarine Blues, Cadmiums Orange & Yellow Pale, and Cremnitz White; Gamblin’s Permanent Magenta; Rublev's Blue Ridge Yellow Ochre, French Red Ochre; M. Graham’s Cobalt Teal.