Hikes for Artists, Part Deux

If you’re like me, you don’t plan vacations, you plan Inspir-cations and mini self-made residencies to inspire your work. This list of 10 amazing hikes from me and some of my amazing artist friends will give you some ideas for places to go and things to do this summer.

If Part 1 of this Hikes For Artists series brought you some inspiration, this week is sure to do the same with amazing art and images of inspiring hikes hand picked just for artists. If you’re like me, you don’t plan vacations, you plan Inspir-cations and mini self-made residencies to inspire your work. This list of 10 amazing hikes from me and some of my amazing artist friends will give you some ideas for places to go and things to do this summer.

  1. Lorraine GlessnerHike Location: Cohab Canyon in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
  2. You can probably sense a theme that Utah is likely my favorite hiking destination and you would be right! This hike was also introduced to me by artist friend Jeff Juhlin in my favorite National Park of Capitol Reef. Its only about 3 miles out and back and you really don’t have to do the whole thing to experience it’s wonderfulness, but those who do will have the pleasure of a dramatic overlook (pictured above). I should mention that this hike and the park itself is not just for painters-photographers, writers, musicians and especially sculptors will all find inspiration here-I have a suspicion that Richard Serra must visit this park often.
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  4. The park itself is unusual, the terrain and land forms are literally like nowhere else on earth, but this hike is a stand-out even here-it’s like an abridged version of many areas of the part all in one place. Jeff and I took our Desert Artist Retreat here last year and even though it was a drizzly day, there was so much to see and sketch, one could do this hike a thousand times and not see it the same way twice. I have literally taken thousands of photos here, these photos being the ones I reach for most often when making my photo montages and digital drawings for painting inspiration-one of these is pictured above. Unusual colors in the earth, lichen and foliage from green-gold to salmon-peach-orange to rich creamy gold, textures, swirls, pocks, painted and sculpted rock faces and many layered surfaces abound on this hike. Being in the canyon offers a hushed, almost eery quiet while you’re surrounded by windswept trees, black lava rock and otherworldly scenes around every corner. Wind, water, time, wildlife and humans have sculpted this unusual place. The history of the canyon is quite interesting and you can almost feel the energy of the spirits of the Mormon settlers who resided here. Unlike my favorite hike I described in Part 1, this hike is well traveled, but there are many hideaways carved into the rocks where you can sit and draw, meditate or just look around for hours undisturbed.

2. Linda Celestian

Hike Location: Graffiti Pier, Philadelphia, PA

I live 30 minutes outside Philadelphia in North Wilmington. My husband maps out a new adventure for our hiking group every Sunday. On a recent hike we parked for free at the Sugarhouse Casino hiked to Graffiti Pier and then down Frankford Avenue to form a loop of around 4-5 miles.

Brushstroke

There’s something exciting about going slightly off the beaten path and exploring a place that’s a little gritty and edgy. I love the exuberant colors and layering of different styles that cover every surface at Graffiti Pier-even the trees-you feel like you’re inhabiting an abstract painting. It’s like a museum of street art that is free to the public and constantly evolving as new artists leave their marks. From the end of the pier there’s a great view of the city. We ended the hike strolling through burgeoning Fishtown sampling coffee, beer, bagels and more street art at every turn.

3. Laura Moriarty

Hike Location: Baer Art Center, a beautiful seaside horse farm in Northwestern Iceland

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My favorite walk followed well-worn tractor trails around the farm that eventually came to a black sand beach. From the beach I somehow made my way into these vast, deep bands of loosely piled, moss and lichen covered stones that go on for as far as the eye can see. Walking into them was not easy on the ankles. An immense, otherworldly-looking Cape jutting out of the sea was the punctuation point at the end of my trail.

 

4. Rebecca Siemering

Hike Location: Morro Bay, CA. Black Hill is the end of a string of mountains and trails of extinct volcanoes. Fleming Loop from Las Tunas Road, to the Powerline Trial and then the Carmel Loops to the top.

When I was living in Morro Bay, I was living with my Aunt Joanne Hand, a weaver, for an internship. I worked on various looms then, however,  I do not weave as much today.  I am a fiber artist partly because I could see making a life and living pursuing art. I worked in the bookstore with my aunt by day, wove on my days off and at night.

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This hike can be taken off of Las Tunas Road in Morro Bay, CA or many other roads on the edge of town. In the late afternoon, I would hike up this small mountain or take a long walk down to the bay by Morro Rock. You can walk through the dunes full of jackrabbits and sand dollars. When walking up, the trail is filled with brush, scraggy pines, sometimes you see evidence of Chumash Indian caches. At the very top is such a treat. Looking one way, you see all of the ocean and the bird estuary below with cranes. Looking the other way, you can see back to the whole mountain range. If you are lucky, sometimes there is fog and it looks like it is just you in the clouds with the sun. Dress for all types of weather and in layers, the Bay is cold. However, ten miles inland in San Luis Obispo you are wearing shorts.

Photo Credit: Jenn Moore, Jenn Moore, Henry Hamm, Joey Gonzalez

5. Teri Bevelacqua

Hike Location: Olympic National Park, Hike to Toleak Point from Third Beach, just west of Forks Washington. Best done mid-week to avoid a crowd.

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It’s the kind of place you run away to. Part of the hike is on the beach and part is through the forest on the headlands-it’s beautiful and peaceful. The forest is old and has wonderful sight lines not common inland. The beaches are wild and remote with spectacular views- tide pools abound at low tide chock full of sea life and the ocean in many moods. Haystacks, private coves and much wild life on this hike. I’ve had many “Wild Kingdom” moments out there with orcas, hunting seals, eagles and hunting seals.  

Many, many thanks to Arden Bendler-Browning, Bridgette Guerzon-Mills, Dietlind Vander Schaaf, Jeffrey Hirst, Laura Moriarty, Linda Celestian, Rebecca Siemering and Teri Bevelacqua for taking the time to share with us their favorite hikes. I’m so grateful to all of them and to you for reading.

As always, I look forward to your comments, questions and suggestions-the comments section is located at the upper left sidebar of this post. I would like to make artist hikes/inspiring vacations a regular part of this blog, so please email me or leave a comment if you would like to share your favorite inspiring places in a future post.

Stay tuned for my next post still focused on summer and Inspir-cations, in which I will share with you my favorite portable art materials. I break down what is really necessary for me to take on the trail and in my suitcase when I travel. Even if you don’t hike or carry a backpack, anyone who travels away from home or even just commutes to work will find this post helpful. In the meantime, enjoy the lovely spring air!!

Hikes For Artists, Part 1

Looking for some painting inspiration this summer? Some of my artist friends and I share some of our most inspiring places along with the art inspired from having been there.

According to the calendar, spring has sprung, although one would never know it here in the Northeast. With this interminable winter we’ve been having here in Philly, I’m just itching to get out and do some hiking. I feel absolutely stifled when I can’t get out and immerse myself in nature’s inspiration and it shows in my work when I haven’t been outside for a while. One of my favorite quotes by Matisse suggests that no matter what kind of work one makes, nature is always filtered somehow through the artists mind…An artist must possess nature. He must identify himself with her rhythm, by efforts that will prepare the mastery which will later enable him to express himself in his own language.

The main source of inspiration for my paintings is from photographing and/or plein air sketching while on long hikes. I always like to explore at least one new place per year and usually plan extra days around my summer workshop teaching schedule to hike the area I’m teaching or I plan vacations around an inspiration hike. I was curious if other artists did this and apparently many of you do, so I decided to gather a few willing participants to write about their favorite inspiring places. Even if you don’t enjoy hiking, many of these places are drivable or just looking at the photos in this article, the art inspired by it and the artist’s web sites is inspiration decadence.

  1. Lorraine GlessnerHike Location: ‘The Knolls’ Teasdale, Utah

    I have so many favorite hikes, it was difficult to narrow it down. I chose ‘The Knolls’ (pictured the top of this article), the name granted by artist friend, Jeff Juhlin, who introduced it to me a couple of years ago and inspired by the odd earth forms that surround the area. It’s located just outside of the Dixie National Forest entry in Teasdale, Utah. Jeff and I have taken Our Desert Artist Retreat to The Knolls, but other than that, I have never seen another soul on the trail-all you hear is the wind and your own breathing.

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    The images I’ve shared below were taken on a cloudy day and even so, the earth shone a brilliant rust/red/orange/pink. To say the terrain is other worldly is an understatement, I have literally never seen anything like this place except in a Star Trek episode. The colors, earth, rock, trees, brush, flora all wind whipped into fascinating twisted, sculpted forms that keep me interested for hours. I hiked there alone on a stormy day last August and for many hours I climbed, photographed, sketched and wrote. I then went home and made some digital drawings from some of my photographs (one pictured above). Here is an excerpt from my journal that day…Rocks that grow out of the ground, trees growing out of rocks, rocks that seem to have teeth and fallen branches that look like bones. I keep trying to find a sound, but there is absolutely nothing to hear. This place defies all logic, but I never want to leave its magic.


2. Arden Bendler Browning

Hike Location: Drive-By’s in Australia

As I write this, I am traveling by motorhome with my partner and three daughters all around Australia.  As we drive, I paint while observing the landscape morphing through the windshield and out my side windows.  I have also revisited drawings made while outside and from window views of Sydney, hikes in Maui, and riding through the Sydney highways – I add layers from different locations and combine them together into one image.

Maker:L,Date:2017-8-24,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-Y

My previous road trip out west from Philadelphia resulted in numerous sketches made in this way (primarily watercolor and gouache on Yupo), and then large paintings were made back in my studio as I looked at the thousands of photographs from my trip, held in my hand as I made marks on my panels.
The drives, moreso than the hikes, tend to be my inspiration.  I am interested in conveying the yearning to take everything in, to be everywhere all at once, yet also considering the awareness that it is an absurd impossibility promoted by our own constructs.  To see everything means to miss something else – be that the slower paced time spent in one place,  the elimination of another route altogether, or simply existing more on the physical present moment This seems to echo the prevalent pace of contemporary life in the digital age… We are convinced that anything and everything is possible, if we just decide to do it.  Things are rarely the way we envision them, and real time of quite a different thing than a digital feed.  Additionally, I’m shutting out other aspects of my ordinary daily reality in order to move around the world.
During my current road trip, we drove the infamous Eyre highway across the barren Nullarbor plain.  The Nullarbor contains the longest straightest section of road in the world and is a vast flat terrain with zero trees.  There are very few settlements – just a few roadhouses and tiny towns many miles apart.  I have imagined this landscape while looking at maps for years, and was surprised by its beauty and drama.  It never
I painted this watercolor and gouache painting on a round sheet of handmade watercolor paper during the three days it took us to drive the main sections of the highway, from Port Augusta in South Australia to Norseman in Western Australia.  I layered and layered marks in response to the changes in the roadway and the surrounding terrain… Far more changes and detail than I could have imagined.  I kept thinking it was done, only to see that it wasn’t, and became entranced with the changes in what I was noticing along the way: the shadows of clouds moving over the road ahead, the random patches of red earth, the range of color in the immensely vast horizon.  I worked on this painting for hours throughout each of the three days we traveled on this lonely, intense road.
I’m excited to experiment with printmaking and animation when I get back to my studio, along with large paintings.

 

3. Bridgette Guerzon Mills

Hike Location: Ruby Beach and Second Beach, along the northwest Pacific coast of Washington on the Olympic Peninsula

As a naturalist and outdoor enthusiast, I have hiked in many different areas around the United States. My most favorite hikes are these two hikes through the forest down to the wild beaches of the Pacific Northwest.

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Ruby Beach trail is very easy, not really a hike as it is only .25 miles through the woods, but it can give you a taste of the wild Olympic coast. The more rigorous hike, but also a very do-able day hike, Second Beach is further south and is a 4 mile round trip from the trailhead. The Second Beach hike was my first hike to the Pacific Ocean and was eye-opening for me- someone who grew up on the east coast and spent childhood summers playing games and getting funnel cake on the boardwalks by the Atlantic Ocean among throngs of bikini clad people. The trail took me by tall Sitka spruce and a descent down to the log-strewn beach. As I got closer to the beach, the trees thinned out and I caught sight of the iconic offshore sea stacks. When I emerged from the forest and was hit by the blustery wind, I just stood in awe of such wild beauty and the gray on gray of the seascape and sky. I had never been in such a place and it was an encounter that I will never forget and has inspired my art over and over again- not just the actual physical beauty, but the feeling of wild, of longing, and of a very strong sense of place.

 

4. Dietlind Vander Schaaf

Hike Location: Tomales Point Trail, located at the northern end of Point Reyes National Seashore in California

Tomales Point is a beautiful space to see tule elk, birds of all kinds, and wildflowers. The hike is just shy of 10 miles roundtrip and follows the ridge crest of a narrow peninsula, offering panoramic views of Tomales Bay and Bolinas Ridge to the east, Bodega Bay to the north, and the coastline of the Point Reyes Peninsula, which stretches to the south. The parking lot is located at the historic Pierce Point Ranch, a remnant of the area’s early dairy ranching days. I have walked this trail a dozen times or so, but only made it to the end and back twice, both times with my friend Paul–once before I left San Francisco to move back to Maine, and then again last year. 

dietlindIn Winter I Found Quiet

It’s a bit of a drive to get to the remote trailhead at the northern-most end of the Point Reyes peninsula, past working dairy farms and long stretches of national seashore. Sometimes when I’ve been on the trail, the fog was thick, obscuring views of the sea, but mostly it’s clear and you’re pretty much guaranteed to see tule elk, a subspecies of elk found only in California. Conservation measures in the 70s have brought a dwindling population of wild tule elk back up to nearly 4,000.
Because there are few to no trees on this hike, it reminds me of the years I worked for the Appalachian Mountain Club in the huts, specifically the times I found myself hiking above the tree line between peaks. The eye can travel far on this trail–you get what I think of as the long view and I appreciate the sense of perspective this affords me.
When we reached the tip last February, Paul and I could see immediately that a large part of the cliff we had followed years before had fallen steeply to the sea below. There was no longer an easy scramble down rocks to the water’s edge. For some reason that felt appropriate, though it also made me a bit nostalgic, to think that where I had walked prior literally no longer existed.
It feels like something significant to complete this hike. I think of this trail as a place of pilgrimage, something sacred and infinitely beautiful, probably even more so now that I live in Maine and it is no longer a few hours drive from my apartment in San Francisco.

 

5. Jeffrey Hirst

Hike Location: Point Reyes Peninsula in Marin, Chimney Rock with elk reserve

I love to hike near water and when living in the Bay Area enjoyed visiting Point Reyes Peninsula in Marin for hiking and just to soak in the beauty.

Hirst.Red Aperture

The trail winds back and forth over the peninsula with spectacular views of Marin and the Pacific. There also is an elk reserve on the peninsula and it always seemed odd to me seeing the elk in that location. The terrain on Point Reyes is grassy with rocks and it’s a fairly easy hike and quite an adventure as you head out on the peninsula. While I don’t use the imagery in my work, it’s a great place to vacate and recharge your senses. Interestingly, I get a similar meditative feeling when hiking along Lake Michigan in Chicago, where I now live.

 

I hope you enjoyed this article and I am so grateful to my artist friends who participated in writing it, thanks so much! As always, I look forward to your comments, questions and suggestions-the comments section is located at the upper left sidebar of this post. I would like to make artist hikes/inspiring vacations a regular part of this blog, so please email me or leave a comment if you would like to share your favorite inspiring places in a future post.

Stay tuned for more amazing artist hike ideas in part two of this series. In the meantime, get out and breath the air.

My Fairy Tale Love With Encaustic

I confess, I am in love with the medium of encaustic. Just like any great relationship, it faithfully welcomes me as I enter the studio with it’s warmth, smell and luminescent glow. It always yields to my wishes without too much resistance and surprises me by doing things I didn’t even know I wanted it to do. Although we’ve had many tiffs and I have strayed to other mediums, I always return and our partnership gets better and better. We have a symbiotic connection, encaustic and I…yes, I am blissfully in love. But this wasn’t always so….

I confess, I am in love with the medium of encaustic. Just like any great relationship, it faithfully welcomes me as I enter the studio with it’s warmth, smell and luminescent glow. It always yields to my wishes without too much resistance and surprises me by doing things I didn’t even know I wanted it to do. Although we’ve had many tiffs and I have strayed to other mediums, I always return and our partnership gets better and better. We have a symbiotic connection, encaustic and I…yes, I am blissfully in love. But this wasn’t always so….

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there I was, a mid-thirties Fibers & Materials Studies Graduate Student at Tyler School of Art in 2001. I was working with ideas related to creation and the cyclic nature of life-imprinting, staining and marking as it relates to birth through to death and decomposition. More specifically, I was interested in the physical mark and pattern of this cycle on the earth and body. I began making visual comparisons using these kinds of patterns with images I took myself or found on the internet. Some of these were uncanny in their similarities as you can see below.

At the same time I was doing this research I was also looking for materials and processes that could replicate these patterns. Simply copying them or painting them didn’t work and looked contrived, I had to make these patterns via mark-making and process. One of my professors had taught with Christopher Leitch at the Kansas City Art Institute and recommended I look at his work combining organic printing processes and textiles. Based on the one paragraph and few images of his work that I found on the Internet, I developed my own process of rust printing and staining on textiles using decomposing organic matter and the results were more amazing than I expected. Using natural processes to depict natural processes also supported my content, it was astoundingly brilliant. I have included images of some of these fabrics below.

I came into the graduate program as an art quilter, hand dyeing my own fabrics and sewing large beaded and painted creations that included everything but the kitchen sink. I loved quilting and wanted to expand on what a quilt could be based on the simple definition, ‘three layers of material stitched together from front to back’. I used the fabrics I had created combined with papers, image transfers, mark-making, burning and lots of machine and hand embroidery. I spent the next year sewing very large, intricate quilts (which I later stretched and called paintings) for my upcoming graduate thesis show. These pieces are pictured below along with smaller quilt studies.

Even though they were a huge labor of love, I felt these quilts were just not enough. I wanted to show another side to these ideas and sculptural books were another thing that intrigued me. I wanted to work with anything skin-like. My quilts spoke very much to landscape and alluded to the body, but I wanted something luscious and something that could be touched. I experimented with melting Tyvek, plastics, crayons, layers of glue and although I liked some of these things, I didn’t find anything I could pour myself into doing. During a critique, one of my professors suggested encaustic. I had never heard of this mysterious and scary sounding thing. At the time, there were no books available yet and the images I found on the Internet of other encaustic work was done with an iron on card stock and was just not my kind of thing. I decided to experiment on my own and purchased a sampler of cheap encaustic colors, a bunch of beeswax and a pancake griddle. I also employed my Clover piecing iron that I used for quilting and I still use this versatile iron today. My first attempts were horrible, I had no idea what I was doing. I wasn’t ventilating properly, I wasn’t using Damar resin in my medium, I wasn’t fusing properly, my cheap colors were flat and muddy-I hated this crap and what I had made with it! I threw all of my paints, griddle and everything else encaustic into a closet hoping to one day sell it all on Ebay…And in that closet it sat for almost a year…

For the better part of that year, I continued sewing, making books, experimenting with materials, teaching and learning, getting ready for my thesis show. It turned out that the gallery where I was to have my show had a little room off to the side about the size of a walk in closet. Neither me or my gallery partner could figure out what to do with the space, so we tossed it between us for a few weeks. Finally, it landed in my lap and I was totally overwhelmed with what to put in there and I only a few weeks to figure it out. I started rooting through all the samples I had made to come up with an idea and I stumbled across those awful encaustic paintings…which surprisingly didn’t look so awful anymore. I attribute this change to two major turning points throughout that year.  One, was an amazing graduate level drawing course I took at the beginning of my second year. I had never drawn very well and was nervous about this course, but I was encouraged by my professors and fellow students to take it. This was not a typical drawing course, it was focused on mark-making and process-two ideas that were relatively new at the time and very new to me. This course completely changed the way I thought about drawing and making work in general. It completely changed my life in the studio and the way I taught my classes and I continue to carry those ideas into both parts of my life to this day. Two, was the writing of my thesis paper, for which researching and writing had played an integral role in marrying my content with what I was doing in the studio. For the first time in my life, my ideas and the work I was making were becoming one thing. I had grown immensely and knew myself and my ideas, I had become an artist and could look at the work I had made through that lens. The featured image at the top of this post is made up of two of the first experimental paintings that I hated. After rediscovering these two along with the other paintings, I began pairing them together and they were complete. This piece called Damage was the most successful and is now in the collection of one of my grad school friends, traded for a few glass pieces that he made.

One of the experiments I had done was to dip my stained and rust printed fabrics into encaustic medium and really liked the way it added depth and enhanced the marks on the fabric. Since I had been stretching the sewn pieces into paintings, why not do the same here. I mounted the fabrics using wax, only using minimal color and letting the stains and marks speak for themselves. I made ten of these paintings and hung them in the small room adjacent to the main gallery, which housed my large sewn pieces. The opening was in the gallery district in Philadelphia on First Friday so we had a packed house and there were so many people in that tiny room ogling my encaustic paintings, one could barely move. People were interested in the sewn paintings but it was sparse interest and they sparked no real discussion, everyone wanted to know about the luscious paintings in the tiny room. The icing on the cake was that I also sold one of the encaustic pieces to someone I didn’t know, wasn’t related to and was a museum curator. This was the first thing I had ever made that had sold, so I saw it as some kind of sign that encaustic is what I should be doing. The piece that sold is called Fulfillment, pictured below with images of some of the other paintings in the show.

I followed all the signs and immediately abandoned the sewn paintings to continue exploring the fantastic medium of encaustic which I have loved and made my own at the same time the medium itself was becoming it’s own. Over the years, I added more color, collage, image, hair, mark-making and investigated various ideas, although my core ideas have remained rooted in the earth. The rest, as they say, is history and encaustic and I continue to live happily ever after.

To see what came after this early work, visit my web site portfolio and begin with the archives here.

This post is a lot longer than I had intended so stay tuned for the next post focusing on the lessons learned in this fairy tale and some ideas that may help you in your own studio practice.