The musings of a landscape painter, art teacher, and art history lover
This past summer, Marla and I were fortunate enough to travel to the finger lakes area of New York. We were there to attend my brother Paul’s wedding, which took place at theInn at Taughannock Falls, an old historic mansion that sits overlooking Cayuga Lake. We marveled at the scenery, so green compared to Arizona!
One of the highlights of the trip was the fact that Taughannock Falls was a short walk from the hotel. You follow an easy path back up a beautiful valley with a creek meandering its way down. Trees line both sides and, rather quickly, the walls become steep rock cliffs that give the whole place a quiet, intimate feeling. At the end, after only about a mile, you cross a bridge and come to an opening with a waterfall cascading down. I hiked back there a few times in our short stay and really enjoyed the morning light as it hit the sides of the canyon.
This painting catches the moment the light was hitting the top of Taughannock Falls and also illuminating a small pine adjacent to the waterfall. I did a few preparatory drawings for this painting, as well as some gouache studies. My biggest concern, in terms of composition, was how to keep the attention focused on the light hitting the side and have the waterfall stay in the shadow. The true focal point of the painting is the top of the waterfall, where the light is just kissing the water. It was tempting to brighten the waterfall as it came down, but I tried hard to keep it muted. Another challenge was the color. The trees were a vibrant green, while the shadows felt like cool violets and blues. The side of the cliff moved from purple to pink, to yellow. That was just too many colors competing. My decision was to focus on the compliments of yellow and violet. With that in mind, I shifted the shadows more to the violet side and added yellow to almost all the other colors. Even the blue sky has a share of yellow added into it. In that manner, I harmonized the colors.
Following the wedding, we stayed on for a few more days in a house near Skaneateles New York, another beautiful area. I hope we can return the to finger lakes someday. The entire area has a rich history dating back to the Native Americans who settled along their shores.
Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on painting or the finger lakes area in general.
Here are a couple of the preparatory paintings, along with an image of the finished painting in a frame.
I have also included a short video on Taughannock Area and the map.
Author: Bruce Black
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