Last year, inspired by both Vivien Blackburn and Kurt Jackson, I began the Waterways Project adventure. My original thoughts last year were to find a way to connect with the area I'd lived in for over 30 years and to improve my work. I had no idea at the time, how passionate I'd feel about landscape painting and this wet,flat, waterlogged region. The seasonal inundation of the Des Plains and the almost (but not quite) oceanic feel to Lake Michigan inspire me every time I visit.
I pass over the Chicago River every time I go to work. Seeing this humble river surrounded by tall buildings and learning about the efforts of the Friends of the Chicago River inspire me to do more painting and help with conservation efforts.
The three of us have visited Illinois Beach State Park several time over the year and we love it up there. Seeing it each time feels like we are visiting an old friend. We discover new things about the place and soak up its peace and natural beauty.
I have many more watery adventures planned for the summer. I'd like to hike along the Illinois River near Starved Rock. I'm looking forward to painting the textured, richly colored limestone walls that abut the river. I'd like to travel down the Mississippi River,visit other Great Lakes, travel by Metra Train to the Indiana Dunes.
So here is a best of tribute the the project's first year:
Wilmington Ice Dam January 08
Something really clicked for me in January. (Oddly enough, this work was nine months into the project.) I think I started to relax and to allow myself to exaggerate forms and be more expressive with my use of color.
Chicago Lake Front July 07 (Inspired by Kurt Jackson)
Indiana Dune June 07 (A detail of this adorns the banner of this blog)
Des Plains River June 07
Chicago River Bridge House in May 07
Everybody loves a before and after picture. I'm posting this one to show you were I started in April.....Those cotton ball blossoms make me wince every time I see them now.
Des Plains River Trail April 07 (Hiking with the Sierra Club)
Now, I'd like to ask for your help. I'm currently reading Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi and loving it. Here's another person completely besotted with a river. Any suggestions for other river literature, poetry or films?