December 2013 - Winter Painting

With the onset of December here in the northeast I'm reminded of a plein air trip I took in December of 2013 with two colleagues to do some winter painting in the vicinity of Cooperstown, New York, staying in a home near the village of Mt. Vision.  We had two reasons for making this trip, one of which was to spend a week painting scenes along the Susquehanna River watershed.  The other was to hopefully have the opportunity to paint a few landscapes with at least several inches of fresh snow covering the ground.

Luckily the area received a good inch of snow the day before we arrived, and then steadily kept dropping a fresh inch or two every day for the rest of our week's stay, so having snow on the ground for our paintings was never a problem.  What became problematic for us were the air temperatures and the resultant wind chills, typically staying in the teens and single digits for the vast majority of the week.

Two of us, my friend Brian Eppley and myself, were well prepared for these types of extremes having packed several pairs of thermals, flannel shirts, sweatshirts, thermal socks, heavy canvas lined outerwear, insulated gloves and boots, and an assortment of headgear.  On the days with the coldest wind chills I outfitted myself from the neck up with a scarf, a full-faced covered ski mask, an oil cloth ball cap, and a fur-lined mad bomber hat, making me look pretty much like a backwoods version of Darth Vader.  Appearances aside, I was able to keep myself just barely warm enough to be able to focus on my painting rather than worrying about how long I would be able to tolerate the cold.

Our other buddy will remain anonymous as he was completely unprepared for winter painting and spent all of our colder plein air sessions that week painting from inside his blue Saturn SUV with the engine running and the heater humming along in concert.

The painting pictured here with this post is the very origin of the Susquehanna River, shown here as just a small stream as it flows out of the southern end of Otsego Lake at Cooperstown.  Only the beginning of it's long journey west to Binghamton, where it turns southward to eventually run past Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Three Mile Island, York Haven, Marietta, Columbia, and Wrightsville, and then flowing into the Chesapeake Bay at Havre De Grace, Maryland.