There are significant stretches of the National Seashore inaccessible by car. You have to hike out to them. This area is within the miles between Newcomb Hollow and Ballston Beach. I paint here a lot. It’s one of my places. Quite honestly, when I emerge from the trail through the woods and see this vista, I feel a little bit more alive.
The National Seashore was established five years before I was born, but I remember as a child my parents talking about it as being new. My mother started coming to Cape Cod as a child in 1936, and she first brought my father when they were engaged in 1948. To them, the National Seashore represented an act of preservation — and they were relieved to know that this land wouldn’t be developed.
This stretch of coast changes dramatically season to season, shifting from one kind of beauty to another. My friend, Patti, reminds me that our landscape is at its most colorful in the winter — when its palette ranges from the year-round blues and greens to the reds, golds and browns of resting plants. Yet, even within the growing season, the palette shifts between the yellow-greens of spring, the blue greens of high summer, and the gold/pink greens of fall. And herein is my problem.
Last spring, at the first blush of those yellow green leaves and grasses, I made a painting here. It sold recently, but was irreparably damaged. I’ve promised to make a replacement painting — similar but unique. However, the feeling of spring has passed, and so too has my reference palette.
I’m not a plein air painter, but I am an embodied painter. I spend a lot of time in landscapes I’m painting and rely upon the feelings I accumulate in the field when I return to the studio. It’s an act of visualizing, I suppose, since I am able to make paintings ‘out of season.’ Still, it’s more effective when I’m in tune with the season.
Yellow-green and gold-green.. so near and so far.
Field Guide: Walking & Painting on Cape Cod is a fundraiser to support Provincetown Commons’ artist studios, co-working facility, meeting spaces and exhibition gallery. Please donate at our website: https://www.provincetowncommons.org/fieldguide-walkingandpaintingcapecod