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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

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“Fishing on the St. Joe”

“Fishing on the St. Joe” is an 8″x10″ oil on panel that I painted last fall while on a camping trip with my husband. I started it on location by laying in all my values, then finished in studio. It was a cold and windy day in late September when I painted it and so didn’t get as far as I wanted to because I was freezing! I’m a light weight when it comes to extremes of temperature.

Anyway, I use my husband as a model but he tends to not stay in one place long enough for me to really capture him. I always have to use my reference photos to finish.

I sat in our UTV to paint this scene, to try and stay out of the cold wind and when I looked up from my work, he was gone!


Plein Air Painting


Now this is a huge pet peeve of mine because number 1, I don’t know where he went. Number 2, I don’t like to be left alone in the forest. What if a bear came? Seriously? Or what if some unsavory characters came by? Or what if he fell and got hurt and I had no idea where he was? Number 3, what if I was ready to leave but couldn’t because I had no idea where he went? I mean really! This is a big issue with us. I always say to him, “Stay in eye contact with me”. He says okay, but then always disappears.

So this year I plan on getting us some two way radios. Then when he disappears, I can call him and find out where he went. Or if one of us gets in trouble we can call for help. Mind you, we aren’t young, anything can happen! Plus I have a wild imagination and it makes my fears bubble up and get the best of me. I’ve had some eye opening stuff happen while I was out plein air painting alone, and won’t go by myself anymore. One time I was alone by the shore of a lake in the tall weeds and turned to grab a roll of paper towel only to find a man standing behind me watching me! I never heard him walk up and thankfully he was a park ranger, but it could have been a bad situation.

Anyway, I fussed and fussed with this painting and finally said “I’ve had it…I’m calling it done!” It’s been sitting in my studio since October waiting for me to “fix it” but I don’t want to work on it anymore. It’s good enough for me.

I’m ready for some new adventures and have cabin fever really bad! I’ve been cleaning the studio and getting my plein air kit ready to go in a moments notice, so when the warmer weather finally arrives, we can hit the road.

So here you go – the fourth in the Fly Fishing series with more to come. What do you think?

~ Rhonda 😊

“Fishing on the St. Joe”

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“Fly Fishing” oil on panel

 

Fly-Fishing

Standing in a creek casting a fly in hopes of catching the big one is the ultimate fun! This painting was a joy to paint and is lovely to gaze upon with all its dark jewel tones. It’s truly one of my favorite paintings!