A Brush With The Past

A Brush With The Past

As we move closer to warmer days ahead, the smell of spring is already in the air and the warmth of the sun feels a little bit stronger. It's fun to start thinking of spring and the budding of trees and beautiful blooms of color, that this great new season brings. But before that happens, my mind is gearing up for one more rendezvous with the winter landscape. 

With its views of farms, rivers and covered bridges, nestled among majestic views of Mount Mansfield, Lamoilee County Vermont has long been a gathering place for painters. The towns of Jeffersonville, Waterville and Cambridge have been painted by the likes of great painters; Emile Gruppe, Aldro Hibbard, Chauncey Ryder and Tommy Curtin, just to name a few. Painters continue flocking to the area to paint.

A few years ago, painter, Stapelton Kearns organized the Jeffersonville Winter Rendezvous, inviting painters to come to Jeffersonville for some camaraderie and painting together in the mountains. Many of the artists stay at the Smugglers Notch Inn, where the old timers used to meet-up after a long day of painting. It will be a fun opportunity to go and paint with artists I know and to make some new friends along the way.  

I have my own history with the area. My first trip to this painting mecca, was in the fall of 1993, with my friend and mentor, George Carpenter. By the time I went with him, George had been making yearly pilgrimages to Jeffersonville for a lot of years. In fact, he once lived in nearby Cambridge and owned the house that Tommy Curtin had lived in. George had painted with Gruppe and a host of other well known painters and so, as you can imagine, I was excited as ever to make the trip. George knew ALL the painting spots and filled me with story after story about Gruppe, Curtin, Hibbard, Ryder, Connaway and more.

George and I were driving to a painting spot a couple of days into the trip and we came across a group of painters in the area where we were going to paint. That was my first introduction to painters, Paul Strisik, Alden Bryan, Ron Straka, Dale Movalli, Doug Higgins and a couple more, who's names escape me. Charles Movalli was on this trip as well, but was painting at another location. They were all going to be celebrating Alden Bryan's 80th birthday that evening and George and I were invited to the party. It was such a thrill for this 34 year old plein air painter to be up in the mountains and have a chance to paint and celebrate with these artists. Its a great memory, and I have pictures from that time.

After that initial trip, I made trips there with George on many occasions and after Pam and I were married in 2000, we would go up there every year to paint, sometimes in the fall and sometimes in the winter. We would meet George and his dear wife, Ginna and it was always a special time. There was one year around this same time of year, that we went up with some good friends for a full week of painting and the weather was so perfect that we drove home when the week was up, and came back with our daughter Jen and our son Ben, who wanted to paint up there. They were 11 and 13 years old at the time. We had one fantastic weather day of painting snow, dressed in only light spring jackets, only to wake up the next day to a surprise snow storm, that kept us in our hotel rooms for a full day and a half! 

Fast forward to the present day and I haven't been to Jeffersonville for quite a few years. Time has a way of changing things and putting obstacles in our way. It's time to reconnect with a place I remember fondly and to be a part of the tradition of artists painting together alive and well. 

And it's the maple sugaring season. I cant wait to paint some sugar shacks!