Last summer we went looking for Turkey Jim Covered Bridge in Campton, NH, in order to paint it, but could not find a good vantage point where we could set up our easels. But a little exploration upriver yielded a good view of the bridge and its reflection in the water. It was too far away to make for a happy plein air experience, but I snapped a photo and, more importantly, the image seared itself into my imagination. I vowed to make a studio portrait of that bridge someday. (My original draft of that immediately preceding sentence was more factual:– I used the verb “planned” instead of “vowed”. But “vowed” sounds so much more dramatic!)
So when I pulled out a large canvas to start something on, the Turkey Jim covered bridge sprang to mind, and I printed out the photograph to help me get in the mood. My experience with painting on larger canvases is, well, limited. This one is, I believe, 30 by 40 inches. My studio is only about 5 feet by 8 feet, so it’s a good thing that I don’t have to lay anything flat to paint on it (as a watercolorist would like to do).
That was several months ago. I worked on it off and on, as I found time. Here is where I was before this weekend.
The Christmas holidays provided me with extra time off and this year I had no Christmas duties to fill that time with–the best gift I could wish for. I spent two days on Turkey Jim, adding foliage and a certain special critter, one that I have seen in this part of New Hampshire, but not as often as I would like.
This great blue heron posed for my camera in balmy Florida, and has now been transported to the chilly North. Isn’t it extraordinary that this bird can thrive in both locations? Probably it travels South in the Winter. Hmmm. Maybe this heron has actually summered in New Hampshire, and possibly descended from the one I met years ago at the base of Mount Pemigewasset.
After admiring my lovely heron for an afternoon (whilst dabbling with the foliage) I suddenly realized that the heron was not reflected in the water. Thank you, gods of art, for letting me be the first to notice that! My photo was enormously helpful–the heron was facing to the right instead of the left, so when taped the photo upside down next to the spot where I wanted the reflection, it kept me on track. Reversing curves in a reflection is a little bit like trying to pat your head while drawing circles on your stomach.
A painting as large as this one (40″ by 30″) is hard to photograph. No matter how hard I try to line up the camera lens perfectly I still get a slightly skewed image. Cropping hides the problem as long as there are not too many vertical or horizontal lines that need to be perfectly on the vertical or horizontal. In the case of Turkey Jim, only the bridge needs to be perfectly horizontal. The dilemma gave me an idea, however. In addition to photographing the whole painting, I captured small sections of the painting, to test whether each could stand on its own as a decent work of art. Here is a slideshow of each section as well as before and after versions of the entire painting:
By now, I hope, you are dying to examine the entire painting more closely!
Turkey Jim is close to being finished. I will ponder it for a while, looking for trouble spots. If you sight anything, please let me know. Sharon–any elves or pixies pop out at you?
Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:
at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at her studio by appointment. And if you happen to eat at the Bedford Village Inn, check out the painting in the foyer.
Link to website: www.paintingsbyaline.com