I have been wanting to blog for years now and feel I must back track a little (two and half years!). I will start with one of my first painting adventures from the summer of 2013, which had a profound impact on me: the Hudson River Fellowship.
First, I should explain what the fellowship is. The Hudson River Fellowship models itself after the traditions of the Hudson River School, a mid-19th century American art movement embodied by a group of landscape painters whose aesthetic vision was influenced by romanticism. The fellowship is a two week intensive drawing and painting adventure. Surrounded by beauty, you spend time receiving practical and technical tutorage while discovering for yourself the more spiritual and personal experience in Landscape painting. You can find more information about the fellowship in the link at the end of the post.
From the many artists around the world who apply, only twenty are selected to partake in the fellowship. It was an honor to be among those selected. I was thrilled to be taking part beside other talented artists, some of whom were already good friends.
After two flights, a train ride and a very long bus ride, I finally arrived in Jackson, New Hampshire. During the course of the fellowship we stayed in ski chalet log cabins in the hills. It was quite an experience to live in community with artists that I had so much in common with. Not only were they artists, but classically trained painters, and we all shared this love of being in nature and creating art from that experience. Many of them were passionate about the earth, caring for the land, eating in a way that protected it, all things I am also passionate about. It was clear to me that these same passions had been born in all of us because we first saw beauty that we wanted to capture and represent, and the more time we spend in amongst that beauty the more respect we have for it.
I found it a profound experience to have the time to just slow down and see, to truly see. Since I was very young I have had an appreciation and fascination for beauty, but to have two weeks committed to only painting in nature really allowed me to slow down in a way I had never done before. There was so much time to explore the wilderness, to take time observing all the beauty that surrounded me, and then to draw or paint from whatever captured and inspired me the most! I find I can look at something for hours, but unless I try to capture it, I never truly see it. There is something about representing what you are seeing in a drawing or painting that encourages your eye to see differently. It is a beautiful process.
My greatest pleasure in landscape painting is the connection I feel with God, who created it all. Each time I paint I feel like He is inviting me to create with Him; to witness what He has already made, to be inspired and to describe the beauty I see in his creation. My unique style and perspective influences every brush stroke I put down to describe what I am witnessing.
During a tree portrait-painting demo, Thomas Kegler talked about capturing the characteristics of that individual tree, whether it is a young girl dancing in the wind or perhaps a stoic grandfather. Tom encouraged us to see the story that each tree had to share. This idea transformed the way I look at all trees, whether I’m painting them or not. I look for their personalities and what makes them unique and beautiful.
I had many great conversations with Erik Koepel and Lauren Sansaricq, the couple that hosted the fellowship. We spent most evenings deep in conversation at their home. Seeing their art and the way they lived their lives was very inspiring to me. They were the first landscape painters I had the privilege of getting to know personally and it was encouraging to see how they were successful at what they did and were able to pursue their passion in art and music.
In amongst all the painting and drawing, there was still time for us to enjoy the wilderness and explore in other ways. I have many fond memories of running and dancing through forests, swinging from trees, swimming in rivers and hiking through waterfalls.
So many beautiful days filled with adventure. So many hours spent capturing God’s beauty. So many conversations with inspiring people. Partaking in the Hudson River Fellowship was a special experience I shall always remember.