On October 9th my two oldest boys and I made our annual trip to Cades Cove which is in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee for some plein air painting and R and R for the boys.
On our way up US441 the boys talked me to take an 8 mile detour to check out Clingmans Dome. This was a great move, as we broke out of clouds about half way up. What an experience!
In the truck for 3 hours Joshua had to run
Some of the beautiful scenery
Best I could tell we were about 800 ft above the clouds. This was the first time I had ever see this in person. I always seem to show up late.
This is Joshua on the observation tower at Clingman's
The foliage was at peak on the mountaintops
The first 2 days were overcast and chilly, Joshua here at the camp where we shared a tent spot with my painting buddy Craig Fanz from Linville, NC.
Sorry to say I never made it out on the bike, too busy painting.
2nd cloudy day, I did this 12x12 oil. I realize the barn is a really boring shape, but I thought the light was interesting and did have some nice color harmony with reds and greens.
Next Craig and I painted this overcast vista, 12x16 oil, originally there was an interesting round hill to the left of the large tree group, I saw Craigs and realized my literal interpretation was not going to work, so I just connected the two hills together.
Crazy Bear in the top of this oak tree, this guy was big, the whole tree was shaking. Just about everywhere we painted, we saw a bear in the distance and sometimes up close.
On day 2 after dinner we thought the clouds were going to clear so we came upon this beautiful pasture. Didn't see any horses so we thought we'd just set up and do a little quickie.
The sun was low on the horizon and would create beautiful sun spikes on the mountains, but they were very transitory.
Craig trying to capture the last bit of light on the mountain.
If you can see in the distance, there is a herd of horses. Looking back on the event it was quite humorous, I heard my son say here come the horses, I looked over my shoulder and saw a big dust cloud and about 6-10 horses running full steam towards us, you could hear their hooves pounding the ground. I then remembered the warning sign about the horses biting and kicking. I thought OK, I got a nice start on the painting. what would a real cowboy do? So I stood my ground. Well needless to say, the horses won, you know I'm not a real cowboy, and actually have never ridden a horse solo. Thought it was time to move out of their territory when the horse started chewing on my jacket and blowing into my ear.
Here Craig considers abandoning his easel.
This one thought he had found a little feeding cup.
Found out the horses were more curious than anything. My son fed this one some grapes, every time he would eat a grape, he would shake his head up and down in approval. As you can see, he knew a few tricks.
Here the sky became golden for a moment, what fun it was to try to capture it!
Day 2 there was fog in the valley. I told Craig to pull over because I knew it was a good spot. As soon as we had set up the fog began to lift to unveil the most magical scene.
Doing a 6x8 with the brush flying
We only had about 20 minutes before the sun was full blazing.
Here are my color notes and that is all the information needed, I did add a few hay bales after this shot
6x8 oil, finished at home. Just cleaned up some edges and added a few highlights
Craig knocking his out
Here is a picture of my palette after my 1st one. you can see the economy of mixing as well as keeping the mixture thin.
After the 1st fog scene with hay bales I turned my head to find this one
It was changing fast
Here I did another 6x8 in the same spot just turning into the sun
6x8 oil of fog lifting, back lit
For the 3rd one we turn slightly to the south.
I chose a 12x16 as the light would linger a bit longer which would allow for a larger canvas.
12x16 oil finished at home
These 2 fellows stopped by to paint with us. They were artists from Knoeville, TN and Asheville, NC. The guy in the ball cap is Joe Parrott www.parrottprinting.com/paintings
6x12 oil 11am We saw a bear run across this field at about 25mph!
6x10 oil afternoon vista in glaring light, painted this one with my sunglasses on. I made the mountains appear more distant by making them a lighter value.
Photos by Caleb Boyle
I look forward to next year!