Plein Air in the North Country

In late September, I participated in the Littleton Art Festival, which placed me a little higher North than my usual stomping grounds.  The Festival event was Saturday, so I had Sunday open to scout a particular, new spot to paint, a spot I could not reach without the help of my friend and companion, Art (appropriate name, right?).   by means of indefatigable searching online, Sharon had discovered a location known as “Mossy Glen” in Randolph, NH.   She was considering it as a location for the upcoming Fall Artists Getaway Weekend.  We go up to stay at the Bartlett Inn at least twice a year and have painted all the best spots multiple times, so we are always on the lookout for something new and different.

Randolph is farther North, but the description of the Mossy Glen made it sound worth a trip.  So off we went, me and Art and Justice, the dog.  The directions were sketchy, but we ran into some native walkers who were glad to help us out.  We had to start out on a road marked “private”, then hike up.  Art carried my painting gear in my back pack.  I had only to get myself to the location.  I deployed a toothy cane that I had acquired to keep me on my feet during icy winters;  it performed the same service on the steep parts of the Mossy Glen path.  The terrain was delightful –up, then down, then up again, passing along the way an amphitheater constructed from mossy logs and mossy boulders. The Randolph hiking club, mountain club, held meetings there.  Impressive!  At the waterfall that marks the location called Mossy Glen I looked up to see another unusual object–a  Nepalese Bridge.  I struggled up a quasi-path to reach Bridge  level, and had to scramble to climb up onto the bridge itself, for I wanted to paint right on the bridge.  Which I did.

I reported back to Sharon that the hike into the Mossy Glen would be difficult for artists who were having to carry their gear.  Many of us use rolling carts to lug the stuff around, but this particular woodsy path was extremely cluttered with rocks and roots.  But no question,  the spot was worth some effort to get to.  The waterfall had just a trickle due to the drought.   In the Spring, snowmelt, assuming we get snow this year, will feed the waterfall and make the Mossy Glen doubly worth our attention.

Later on that Sunday, back at the cabin in Twin Mountain where we were staying, I painted one of the 12 hydrangea bushes that grew at the Patio Motor Hotel.  This is a variety of hydrangea that blooms in the Fall and seems to grow much larger that the blue of pink varieties.


Hydrangea at the Patio Motor Hotel, Twin Mountain, NH

Only a few weeks later, I was back in the North for the Bartlett Getaway Weekend.  I returned last Sunday, bearing six  new plein air paintings.  The weekend was one of the best ever–the foliage and the weather cooperated.  Foliage usually peaks earlier in October, but it was late this year and apparently the whole world knew about that because the hills were crawling with tourists.  And the weather was extraordinary.  True, a little too windy at certain places, which sent me in retreat behind a wind-breaking building for one painting.  And Saturday night, our usual “show and tell” turned into a lively critique session, best one ever, that inspired me to improve upon my six paintings as soon as I got home.

I remembered to take photos of the six before improvements, so we will be able to compare the before and after of each.  Actually, one was not improved.

First, Friday morning atop something akin to a mountain, west of Jackson, lies the Hays Farm Land Trust, with a view to the North of Mount Washington and Pinkham Notch.  The wind gusts were fierce but I stuck it out as long as I could.


The farmhouse provided some shelter for my second painting.  I parked myself there and just painted what I saw.


We next headed farther up through Pinkham Notch to the Auto Road location.  My third painting was of the Auto Road.  Route 16 rises up and blocks one’s view of the section of Auto Road closest to Route 16.  It appears as if it goes under Route 16, but it doesn’t.  I got a tad frustrated with my inability to convey the actual layout.  At the critique I suggested a solution that everyone endorsed.


Auto Road, WIP


Auto Road up Mt. Washington

Saturday we started in Crawford Notch.  The parking lot where we set up was not overrun with tourists at all.  This is the same location where I painting the railroad trestle last May.  Saturday, because of the gorgeous foliage effects, I gave into the obvious–paint the notch.  this painting is the one that did not require improvement.


From Crawford Notch, we reversed direction and drove all the way down to Conway, or perhaps Albany–to the Albany covered bridge.  Every now and then I have to paint a covered bridge.  This one was obscured by foliage.  It was really a foliage painting with a covered bridge in the background.


Finally, the sixth painting: in “downtown” Bartlett, the intersection of Bear Notch Road and Route 302, where there is a blicking light, grows a very tall, very orange tree in front of a white house.  We set up in the church parking lot across the street.  I made sure to put the blue spruce between me and the orange tree because I wanted to partner the icy blue against the hot orange.  I knew I might not be able to keep the orange behind the blue.  I did the best I could, and came close, I think.


Reminder for folks in the Chesapeake Bay area, if any there are: see two of my animal portraits at the Annmarie Sculpture Gardern and Art Center in Solomons, Maryland.   The exhibit’s theme is “Fur, Feathers, and Fins–Our Faithful Pets”.   It will run  through January 29.

Other places where you can catch a few of my paintings are:

  • NH Antiques Coop in Milford NH
  • Ellis River Art Gallery in Jackson NH
  • Bartlett Inn in Bartlett NH
  • Red Jacket Resort in North Conway NH
  • Bernerhof Inn in Glen NH
  • Mesmer & Deleaut Law Firm in Manchester NH

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, phone cases, pillows and the like at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to

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3 responses to “Plein Air in the North Country

  1. Art here the foliage paintings are reall vibrant . I always like orange. I want to havethe covered bridge painting. Autumn captured with paint forever before the wi,nter. Excellent production it must have been beautiful. T&e )eaves they area changiin.