Posted on Leave a comment

End of the Year Camping and Painting

Camping on the St. Joe River:

Last weekend we enjoyed our end of the year camping and painting adventure on the St. Joe River in Northern Idaho. We stayed at the Telichpah Campground, which is next to the river, on the south end of the Hiawatha Trail system. The campground is tucked away at the end of the road and at this time of the year is typically empty, which is why we go at this time.

The Hiawatha Trail system is an old train route, that was once used by the Milwaukee Railroad, and is now a spectacular mountain bike trail. The trail follows the north fork of the St. Joe river, where it ends at a small town called Avery.  The campground is at the end of the trail, and you travel through the three train tunnels to get to the campground. This is our favorite area to have our camping and painting adventure on the St. Joe River.

We arrived mid-week, and the campground was empty except for one other camper. By the time we left on Sunday, the upper section was completely full. I was very surprised to see so many folks camping this late in the season!  The lower section of the campground, where we stayed did not fill up. Besides us, there was only one other campsite in use, so it was very quiet.

Relaxing by the fire:

We had a fabulous time even though it was cool and threatened rain every day.  It rained a few times during each night and only one day. The brief showers helped to keep the dust down. At the end of each day, it was nice to warm up by the fire and sip hot cocoa.

 

Sitting by the campfire during our end of the year camping.

 


 

Cutting firewood for the campfire

 


 

 

 

Photographing forest flora and fauna:

The forest flora and fauna are favorite subjects of mine to create paintings from, so I’m always on the lookout for unique items, like pinecones and mushrooms, to photograph.

Pine Cone

 


 

Mushrooms

There were large mushrooms like these pushing up from the forest floor, everywhere! It’s amazing to see the strength of a mushroom pushing through the hard ground! The mushrooms were exceptionally large due to all the rain and mild temperatures.

Plein air painting the St. Joe River:

On Friday, the weather broke and it was only partly cloudy, so we decided to make it a painting and fishing day. We packed lunch and all our gear and hit the trail to our favorite location on the river. Upon arriving, I discovered that someone forgot to bring my tripod! I had to improvise my pleinair painting set up by using the back of the wheeler as a table. Luckily the tailgate is the right height and all was good.

 

Plein air painting the river

The scene I painted is a large calm pool just before a bend in the river. I love the emerald green reflections in the water and the large rocks in the middle of the river. The trees were just beginning to turn yellow so no feeling of fall to the scene yet.

End of the year camping and painting on the St. Joe River

Since I didn’t have my tripod I was at the mercy of the sun and had to call it a day when I could no longer see my canvas due to glare. I will finish in the studio using my reference photos and share the painting when it’s finished.

Plein air painting in progress

 

Success catching a fish:

My husband had a successful day fishing and caught a nice sized Cutthroat Trout!  After getting his portrait taken, the fish was set free. My husband was a happy camper, indeed! What a great day!

end of the year camping, painting and fishing

 

Dessert:

We arrived back at camp in time for me to bake a peach cobbler from scratch! I used a billy can as an oven by putting charcoal on top of the can, and forgot to take a photo of the set up; But I did take a pic of the final results:

Peach Cobbler

The peach cobbler was delicious and I can’t believe it actually worked using this method of cooking. I think its fun to experiment with cooking different foods other than typical camp food. Earlier this year I made a pizza from scratch while camping. You can read about it HERE.

All in all, our end of the year camping and painting  adventure was a great end to a wonderful summer! Fall has barely begun and we are expecting  snow down to the valley floor this weekend, so I’m glad we made the trip when we did.  I hope we don’t have too much accumulation and that this is just a little anomaly and not a sign of things to come!

Thanks for stopping by. Until we meet again, Much Love ~ Rhonda

Posted on Leave a comment

Camping and Plein Air Painting in the Forest

A couple of weekends ago we did a camp out and had a great time. It was a spur of the moment, “let’s do this!” kind of deal, and our destination was up in the mountains at an out of the way campground. We arrived late on Friday and never thought to make a reservation at the campground. To our dismay, the camp was full and without a reservation, things didn’t look good for us. So we asked the camp host if he knew of a spot to camp down the road, and as we were talking, the owner overheard our conversation and came over to us with a wonderful idea! He said they had one spot in the overflow section and if we didn’t mind not having a campfire ring, we were welcome to use it. He cut the rate since it wasn’t a full on campsite, and we were over joyed.

We ended up in a secluded part of the campground near a multi event area which wasn’t being used and the whole situation turned out perfect. We set up camp, made dinner and settled in for the night. The next morning we rode out in the UTV, with the goal of finding a spot for me to paint, and my husband to fish. We rode all over the mountains looking for a place called Mirror lake, and never found it, but did however find a spectacular spot at the top of the mountain and the view was awesome! At 4200 ft. elevation it was a bit cool, and there was still snow on the higher peaks, so I was glad I brought a coat.

The wildflowers were abundant and beautiful and had just begun to bloom. The hillsides were covered in patches of daisies and poking up through them were these beautiful vibrant red flowers.

After, driving around all morning, and not finding the lake, we settled on a spot for lunch next to a creek in the dark and scary forest.

This is Latour Creek and you can see where some folks had camped and left their trash behind. This is just so annoying to me. “Pack it in, Pack it out” is written for a reason! The forest is not the city dump people! Geez.

Anyway, after lunch I brought out the gear and my plan was to fill the panel with a complete underpainting before I lost the light. The dappled light highlighting the stream was absolutely beautiful.

 


 

It was very cool and quiet, with only the sounds of the running creek and an occasional ATV driving by. The creek was too shallow for any fishing so my husband did a bit of hiking while I painted. All was going great, and then the inevitable happened… no, not rain… Mosquitoes. Seriously? For some reason bugs love to eat me and when the mosquitoes discovered I was tasty, my painting session ended, as I was rudely bitten on the chin. I took reference photos and made some sketches, then packed up the gear.


 

We arrived back at camp in time for dinner, and on the menu was campfire pizza and a nice glass of wine. So yummy. I made the dough at home and cut up the veggies at camp and didn’t even know if this would work, but it did.

I don’t know what it is, but camp food just tastes so delish. This pizza had onions, mushrooms, red pepper, tomatoes and Canadian bacon. After we ate, we sat around our little camp stove and gazed upon the fire, sipping our wine and having chocolate for dessert. The clouds moved in to give us a spectacular sunset and it sprinkled during the night which was so nice to listen to.


 

I’m having to paint from my reference photos since I wasn’t able to complete my under painting, and made some adjustments to the composition:

Composition changes

Don’t worry, I didn’t mark up the painting. This is an acetate overlay I use to make sure elements aren’t “dead center”.  I use a dry erase marker to make notes for the changes. This piece will take me longer since there are so many rocks in the scene, and I want to get the dappled light just right.

I will be taking some time away from the easel and blog posts, as I work freelance for an architect and he has sent me some new plans to work on. If you want to stay in the know about when I put up a new blog post, you can sign up for weekly emails, which are delivered on Friday mornings whenever I write a new post. Click HERE to sign up.

See you next time!

Much Love,

Rhonda

Posted on Leave a comment

What I’ve Been up To ~

I’ve kind of been awol for the past few weeks, since spring has begun. I had cabin fever really bad and was looking forward to getting outside, and was so eager to plant my garden that I started my seeds indoors a month too early! Had to re-pot my seedlings to larger pots twice before it was time to plant outdoors. But all is good and the veggie garden and greenhouse plants are all thriving. I’ve been spending a lot of time working in the garden and my husband built me a very cool potting table. It was painted with my favorite colors, cerulean blue and lime green. Here’s a little video:


Last week I was able to finally paint plein air whilst on a three day camping trip with my husband. We had a great time but had to cut the trip short due to a change in the weather.

We had the campground to ourselves, since tourist season and camping season doesn’t get into full swing until Memorial Day weekend. We go every year to this beautiful spot on the St. Joe River in Northern Idaho; in the spring and then again in the fall after Labor Day.

The river was running so fast it was class 4 rapids due to all the snow melt, so fishing didn’t happen this time around. But we rode the trails in the UTV and a great time. We found a nice spot where the river was a little slower and I decided to paint after our picnic lunch. It was cloudy, so no lovely contrasts in lighting. I’ll have to use artistic license in the studio.




I was able to block in all of the under-painting before the dark clouds rolled in and threatened rain. I took reference photos and a video in order to finish in the studio. I’m pretty happy with the initial results:

“The River” oil on 8″x10″ panel

After we arrived back at camp, we bbq’d dinner and finished just as the rain started. The first two nights, it only sprinkled at night, which was lovely. But by the third day a huge thunderstorm rolled in right at dinner time! My husband had to bbq dinner over the fire, in the pouring rain and we ate inside the easy up tent. By the time we finished dinner, the easy up was leaking rain, and the water from the down pour was creating a huge mess! Luckily, there wasn’t cloud to ground lightning, just rolling thunder and no huge winds, which I was really grateful for. We were sleeping in the truck camper, so there weren’t any worries about lightening or getting soaked in a tent. As my husband says, “This builds character”! Indeed it does. 🙂

It rained all night and the next morning we awoke at 5 am to pouring rain and decided to pack up. So, we dawned our rain gear and got the job done and were on the road by 7 a.m. It’s been windy and cold ever since, with more rain on the way for the next three days, so I’m really happy we at least got one camping trip in this spring. I’ll share this painting when it’s finished, and another I started a month ago of my daffodils, which are now gone.

Thanks for stopping by. If you want to keep in the loop as to when I publish a new blog post you can sign up for weekly updates. I’m not a daily blogger and only publish when I have news to share, so if you become a TMS member, you’ll be in the know! ~Rhonda

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.