As an artist I have a serious side and a fun loving side. My wildlife paintings make up my serious side, some of them taking hundreds of hours to complete. It can be a tremendous amount of work but the payoff is a tremendous amount of gratification. However I also have a more fun loving side and that is where my landscape paintings come into play. These paintings are completed on location, which gets me out of the studio and into the field. Knowing that I'll complete the painting in one or two sittings I can forget the details and capture the essence of the day. I have an absolute ball with this kind of painting, I can really let go and "make hay" with the brushes.
Bear Run is the stream of my youth and the stream that flows through the fields, pastures, woodlands and meadows that taught me far more about wildlife than I ever imagined possible. Winter Pool is the signature pool of this sweet flowing little stream. To the right the sharply rising bank is known as "The Cliff" and was, and still is, an overlook destination anytime I am "Back in the Woods" as we called our woodland forays.
In this painting I was initially attracted to the arc of the sugar maple arching out and over this quite pool. To the right at the water's edge, the concave bank nicely leads the eye into the intricate strength of the maple's root structure. Unfortunately not strong enough though, as the maple, along with it's immediate uphill neighbor, have long since slid into the pool to be swept away by floodwaters.
My good friend Carl Samson has the mate to this painting. We painted here in February and March of 1992. Ever the adventurer, Carl painted literally in the stream, balanced precariously on a small slab of limestone. I, on the other hand, opted for the higher ground. I seem to recall a foot bath or two on Carl's behalf.
And this is Carl's version. Never ceases to amaze me the different styles and approach that every artist has. You can view more of Carl's work on his website at carlsamson.com and I think you will enjoy this talented painter's abilities. copywrite carl samson
~ From a Private Collection ~
11" x 14" oil on linen
One clear, crisp, October morning many years ago while on a woodland hike with a sibling, we came upon this open field. The hillside ablaze with Autumn I announced that one day I would come back to this very spot and paint this spectacular scene. Quite a statement for a mere 9 year old showing, at least to that point, no artistic abilities.
Years passed by and, as a wildlife and landscape artist, December 1992 found me standing in that very spot, awestruck by the scene before me. Dashing home I soon returned with easel and paints and went to work. Setting my brushes aside after several hours of intense painting, I had captured the scene just as you see it now. I sat down in the tall, amber grasses to rest a bit when the forgotten memory of that youthful statement came flooding back. Unbelievably there I was having just painted where I had once stated I would, some 26 years earlier! But the story doesn’t quite end there.
From my earliest youth wildlife has been my entire life. I live it and breathe it. I always have and I expect I always will. I seem to have a special connection with foxes, both red and grey. I have some rather fascinating stories to share but for now
I’ll start with this one which picks up with the above story.
On the spot I named the painting “Grey Fox Country” for several reasons. All of the colors in this painting are the very colors within the coat of a grey fox.The golden rust of the grasses perfectly mirrors the underside colors of the fox. The grays of the woods are that of the fox’s general coat color and the darks of the tree trunks, that of the fox’s legs, muzzle, and the leading edge of it’s tail. But there’s another reason. Grey foxes love just this type of an environment: fallow fields with brushy edges, backed by mature stands of hardwoods. I hadn’t seen any sign of grey foxes in this area for a number of years but the cover looked so good, so grey fox-ish that the title was perfect for the painting.
A few weeks later a freshly fallen snow found me walking these same fields and woodlands. As I approached this field I came
upon a fresh grey fox track. And then upon another. As I entered the field I found it literally crisscrossed with grey fox tracks!
They had been absolutely everywhere within that field, exploring every nook and cranny.
Over the years, of the many fox tracks I have followed, of the many fox tracks I have happened upon I have never encountered, before or since, such an inundation of fox tracks as I did in that field on that day ------ Grey Fox Country.
~ From a Private Collection ~
Just down the road from me is the remnants of a vibrant working farm that has been caught up in the thirst for more land to develop. As of yet though they haven't gotten to the house, barn & out buildings of this iconic bit of Americana. But they will. That's why I find myself painting on location there on a frequent basis. I want to capture it before it's gone. This is one of the farms of my youth where I spent so much time exploring, and maybe exploring a little to thorough for as a teenager I spent many a blazing hot summer days bailing hay for the owners that farmed the land. But it was good work and I have fond memories of it's rewards.
OK with my landscape painting needs momentarily fulfilled, recess is over and it's time to get down to business and this is where my wildlife painting steps into play. In a landscape I'm after the spirit of the scene or the 'essence of the day' whereas in a wildlife painting I'm after not just the identity of the animal but its' individuality and a particular piece of the environment in which it lives. Something that really says, "Now thats where you'd see a Red Fox" or what ever bird or animal I'm portraying. This is the world the subject animal lives in and without the environment you have no wildlife. In my work, the animal or bird in that painting is interlaced and interwoven as an integral part of the composition and is positioned so. I like to move the viewers eye around the entire painting at different speeds. There are areas I want the viewer to stop, look and experience for a moment and other areas for you to smoothly move through. Very much like a stream with calm pools, bends, whirlpools and rapids, a constant change of visual pace and compositional flow with the emphasis on the animal or bird. Many areas of these paintings have surprisingly little detail, even within the subject of the painting, though that is not how they may appear. Still somehow they can take a ridiculously long time to complete. I think the best way to explain the difference between my landscape and wildlife work is that a landscape painting catches a little slice of a particular place and day whereas my wildlife paintings are a culmination of a lifetime of gathered knowledge and first hand experiences with the animal or bird and the environment that I've chosen for the painting. I hope you enjoy 'My World'. It's our natural world and it's pretty awesome out there!
36"x 48" acrylic on panel
FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION
This old car was abandoned to nature on the property where I grew up. I have very fond childhood memories of it: play-driving, mud-clod target practice, and a hangout place for my siblings and me.
The scene depicts a late December thaw in progress, a time when red foxes are on the move. For the fox the old car provides the perfect lookout for scanning the surroundings and testing the air.
The body of work an artist creates can be a looking glass into the life of that artist.
Drawing from a lifetime of wildlife experiences combined with memories of the woodlots, streams and fields of my youth, this painting is just such a looking glass. Of all the places cars have taken me, in some ways this old car has taken me further than any and I never once rode in it.
28"x52" acrylic on panel
FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION
In rural areas gathering firewood is an annual rite of late fall. Many a time, a day like this has found me easing down into a crisp dry bed of aromatic autumn leaves, leaning back into a stout maple and inhaling the world around me. The thinning warmth of a midmorning November sun gives way to the tranquil, oscillating drone of some far off woodcutter's saw, and lulls me out across oak ridges, sweet sparkling streams and golden amber meadows without ever leaving my place of sitting.