Sunday Afternoon at the Lake
10 x 14, oil on canvas
Sue Smith @ 2009
I recently read Robert Genn's post about hiking to Lake O'Hara and Yoho National Park in British Columbia, including photos of his group scaling the rocks with a 30 x 34 inch canvas. Our trek was not nearly as strenuous. True, we've tried to get up to Three Creeks Lake on other occasions and had to turn back due to snow lingering on the narrow road. Sharp drop-offs, unexpected boulders in the path and a paved road that disintegrates into dirt and gravel discourage reckless exploration. But once the weather warms up enough to clear the way it is well worth the effort.
This past week we figured - with temperatures in the 90's - the snow was probably gone. Packing up essentials - food, water, camp chairs, a camera and coffee for the road - we set out, following the well marked road south out of Sisters, Oregon, and headed up into the Cascades.
It was a beautiful drive - even bouncing over the rutted track at 15 miles per hour added to our "adventure." Three Creeks Lake is beautiful. Nestled beneath Tam MacArthur Rim, the blue water shimmers in shades of aqua, phthalo and viridian. Only boats powered by human beings - and not motors - are allowed. Kids splash in the shallows where the creeks - fed by the glaciers higher up - flow out of the forest. The beach is as sandy as any at the ocean, with tufts of marsh grass - and really large, ugly bugs. One of which landed on my shoulder and ended the bucolic mood somewhat abruptly.
My husband is my fellow adventurer, but he hasn't yet learned to appreciate the several hours of "doing nothing" required while the artist paints the view. I appreciate that he does the driving, so I compromise and take lots of reference photos instead of lugging out my french easel and paints. He finds it hilarious that I don't watch where I'm stepping when I'm on the hunt - muddy shoes and ankle-deep water don't register when I'm getting that perfect shot. Over the years I've learned a few tricks about taking reference photos: a single image never has enough information for a large painting. The perspective is distorted, the distance between objects is flattened, and if the memory card has enough space don't wish - when you're sitting back at home - that you'd captured the light on that distant tree or the clouds moving in the sky.
This is one of the things I like best about being an artist - the pure joy of being in the moment.
Don't let everything else get in the way of experiencing it.