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Monday, May 25, 2009

The Institute Woods

Continuing to paint for the D&R Greenway Land Trust's upcoming plien air show, last week I was exploring The Institute Woods - a 589 acre tract of woods and farmland owned by The Institute For Advanced Study, the Princeton, NJ institution where Albert Einstein thought some big thoughts. There is an extensive trail system on the property and it's open to the public. The D&R Greenway folks were just one of the groups involved in the preservation of these lands. Here are 3 paintings from last week's explorations:

"Updike's Sky"
11x14 oil on canvas on panel

Although I love walking through the woods, it can be difficult to paint there - the overwhelming green and lack of any strong subject to focus on is not the makings of a good painting. When the trail left the dense woods, I found my subject - the sky over the historic Updike Farm whose farm buildings can be seen in the distance. The simplicity of the landscape and subtle interest in the sky really caught my attention. Across this field is the route that General George Washington took in the pre-dawn hours of January 3 to engage the British troops in the Battle of Princeton in 1777. There are a couple of granite monuments to mark the route:

"Cornfield Trail"
11x14 oil on panel

This scene is very near the location of the last painting, and the Updike Farmstead is across the field on the right side of this painting. This one was such a pleasure to paint because I was standing out in the open but in the most wonderful patch of cool shade the entire time. Simple pleasures are the best. :)

"Stony Brook"
8x10 oil on linen on panel

This spot on Stony Brook is on the other side of the Updike Farm. If the foliage wasn't so dense I think I'd be able to see the farmhouse to my right. I was confronted with that overwhelming greeness of being in the woods, but a creek can provide such lovely subject matter, I love doing scenes like this.

Further downstream on Stony Brook is the Swinging Bridge, and what an understatement that is! Walking across this bridge is more fun than an amusement park ride! Even walking at a slow pace, the bridge swings, it sways, it bounces, it creaks and it groans. But I trust that it was sturdy enough to carry me:
So if you're in the mood for a quiet walk in the woods, a ride on the Swinging Bridge, a walk through Revolutionary War history, then head to The Institute Woods!

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