There is a story with every one of my paintings which is a lot of the joy for me in working on them. I'm transported back to a place that inspired me while I work out the composition, colors, and details. This one is simple but very special.
Ray and I had ridden bikes on the Greenbrier River trail while staying at a friend's cabin in 2012 and had talked about coming back to ride more of the trail sometime. In the fall of 2013, we made the commitment and drove to Cass, WV to the north end of the trail one afternoon. We spent the night in a small hotel near the trail and got up early the next morning on a crisp autumn day, had breakfast at the Cass Company Store, then hit the trail. The day, September 28, was exactly 15 years since the day my dad had passed away, so my mind was filled with memories of how he loved the beauty of nature and many fall family trips with him. I thought this was a nice way to honor his memory.
This post is mostly pictures with just a few descriptions and bits of story which is different than many of my wordier blogs. I've posted the pictures larger so you can fully enjoy the beauty of the scenes. I hope this will evoke good memories of fall days and peaceful times for you!
The historic train was getting ready to take visitors for a ride on the Cass Scenic Railroad as we were getting on the trail in the morning.
Break time at a beautiful spot. This is one of my favorite fall pictures - I love how I captured the serenity of Ray contemplating the scene, the fall colors, the bikes, the shadows,.... maybe some day I'll paint it but I love it as a photograph because it captures a moment in time.
We had a habit of taking the scenic route when we were driving from point to point every chance we could. Several months earlier on one of those drives, we'd come across an old unincorporated village called Clover Lick and taken pictures along the road. We were thrilled to come upon this section of Clover Lick on the bike trail this day! This is the little depot that had been renovated into a museum.
Snack break! Great spot next to a cool wooden bridge....
A bridge and a tunnel!
The site of this cool old water tower coming into view told us we were arriving in Marlinton about 25 miles from where we began.
We were ready for a good lunch and this shop is just about the coolest ever - I mean food, coffee and bikes? We're glad we were able to enjoy the atmosphere of the original Dirt Bean location before a fire swept through Marlinton months later. We're thankful that the Dirt Bean is still alive and well in a new location.
Back on the trail - heading back to Cass - a little uphill the whole way which wasn't the best planning on our part. We should have reversed it and done the uphill direction first. But, we'd wanted to stay in quaint Cass so we toughed it out.
Hey, do you recognized this scene? This is the photo that I used as a reference for my painting, First Blush. You can see that I've enhanced a few colors and blurred a few details for the feeling that I was after. (The painting is at the top of this post.)
Back through the tunnel.... This is the other side and time for another break.
A quiet friend out there in the water - so much beauty
We made it back to the end of the trail! We felt pretty victorious so this is our victory pose (for our daughter Bri who had a habit of posing like this atop many things including mountain cliffs, rocky pinnacles, lighthouses;.... it had become a thing).
We had ridden almost 50 miles on the trail and just couldn't end at almost, so we rode around the streets of Cass until the odometer registered a 50 mile trip for us that day. We thought this was funny when we rode by it and had to take a picture. I guess it reminded us of Mayberry.
Of all the beautiful scenes that day, why did I choose to paint the one I did? Well, in March of 2020 I took a landscape painting workshop and we were to bring some photos from which to paint. This was among those and, since we were to work on one painting a day during the three-day workshop, I chose one that had inspirational beauty yet not too complicated. Katriel Srebnik is an excellent instructor and influenced me to change my usual, very detailed way of painting in order to give a greater sense of distance. It wasn't easy for me, but I'm glad for his instruction because I'm still working at doing that and believe it's helping my landscapes to have more depth and feeling. These are some photos from the workshop and the beginning of my painting.