Last Friday, Sharon and I conspired to take the afternoon off from work and find somewhere to paint near Jaffrey. Sharon had to pick up some frames from an artist friend who is moving to New Mexico (and is inviting us down there to paint) and it seemed a shame to go that far (over an hour’s drive) without having a new painting to show for it.

The Monadnock area is full of fantastic painting locations, but sometimes the best choice is the obvious choice. I have known Monadnock for many years. Back in the sixties, when I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I spent the summer with his aunt on Snow Hill, and he would run from her house to the top of Monadnock every morning before breakfast. I so regret not trying to keep up with him in those days, but physical exertion was not in my repertory. In the eighties, to make up for my neglect, I would climb Mt. Monadnock at least once a summer. Now I have lost the ability even to do that. But I can paint Monadnock, and that gives the greatest pleasure of all.

This view of the mountain was from southwest on Route 124–near Perkins Pond, I think. The water was teeming with yellow water lilies, which became the big problem–how to represent them? I tried various techniques and wiped them all out. I ended up painting the water and streaking some masses of appropriate lily colors onto the water with a palette knife. The next day, after the paint had set up a bit, I smeared the edges. Since I was no longer in the presence of the real thing, I was satisfied with this result.

Most of my plein air paintings look better when I get them home, where I no longer have the original to compare the painting to. I can almost count on a happy surprise when I open up my wet painting container to view what I did on location. I say “surprise” because when this happens, it is always a gift, never to be taken for granted.

Nevertheless, I must acknowledge that my smear of lilies is no more than a token representation of the blanket of pads and buds that were present last Friday. If I am to paint the lily blanket, I will have to move my focus closer in, and leave out the mountain. Next year perhaps.

Monadnock is painted on an 11 x 14 panel.

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