Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Easel on down the Road - Idaho

Idaho has treated me well. The drive over the mountains through Lolo Pass was stupendous! Highway 12 shadows the Clearwater River through the Clearwater National Forest and every turn presents gorgeous views of water rushing through tall pines. The route was established by the Nez Perce Indians, then followed by Lewis and Clark. I can hardly fathom the difficulties these people must have encountered more than 200 years ago; I feel so privileged to be traveling in my dinky little Honda Fit.

The Idaho painting will certainly be one of my favorites. Everything fell into place. I realize that where I stay has a lot to do with the success of a painting. It's all about comfort. Montana was beautiful and the home I stayed in was nice but the town was rugged, to say the least. I was woken up at least twice Saturday night by loud after-bar arguments. ("I've got a five gallon tank of gas in my truck and I'm gonna burn your ass.") I'm pretty sure gun shots followed this declaration. When I don't get good sleep, I don't paint as well.

In contrast, the Idaho Sportsman Lodge in Stites (population 226) is clean, simple and safe. The "neighborhood" is one street with modest houses backing up into a giant hill. I was eternally grateful to find they have air conditioning. By the time I arrived, the temperature had rocketed to 99 degrees.

On my painting day, I made strong coffee and left by 7:20 to beat the heat. I headed to the Selway River because it looked wild and remote on the map. The 45 minute drive there confirmed this. Soon, a campground in the Nez Perce National Forest appeared and I pulled into a shaded spot on the river. Wow!

I set up quickly. My heart raced with the fear of changing light and the inevitable onset of the day's blinding heat.  A professional mushroom hunter came down the path and assembled an inflatable kayak with which to cross the river. He has found over 700 pounds of morels this year alone!  

I began to draw on the canvas. The pungent pines twanged my nose and the shade remained consistent. The gurgle of the water's song was invigorating.  Charlie settled in as I mixed colors. This was a glorious day to paint!

I stayed all morning and packed up as the heat soaked through the trees. What an amazing experience! Idaho has been exceptional. Next stop - Washington.

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