Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Digging the Black Dirt

In the Black Dirt. Oil, 8x24

What a treat I'm giving myself! I'm in New York for most of the week, painting in the Black Dirt region. And having a ball.

Last week, when I came to take down my show at the Wallkill River Gallery in Montgomery, I found myself with a few hours to spare. I drove to the Black Dirt area to see if there was a painting there. I figured there wouldn't be, as it was winter, but what the heck, I'd look.

To my amazement, there were paintings galore! There's stuff growing out there, even now! Onions, mostly, is what I assume. And sod, also. But there are plenty of swaths of that gorgeous black dirt, as deep and rich and fertile as growing soil anywhere. According to the Internet, it's the richest farmland in New York state, and looking at it, one would be hard-pressed to argue.

The region was once a huge glacial lake, says the Hudson Valley Network, and over time, it drained until it became, in essence, a swamp. Layer upon layer of peat and silt built up there, and for a long time, farmers stayed away. The land flooded far too easily. But immigrants from Germany and Poland arrived, saw opportunity, and found a way to take advantage.

It's just a painter's paradise, especially now, with many of the fields empty.

But it is cold! Yesterday, I painted with Shawn Dell Joyce and Gene Bove, on the grounds of the Gurda onion farm. I wore a sweater, a jacket, a thermal shirt, flannel-lined jeans, a hat, gloves and a scarf and still, I was chilled to the bone by the time I got to our empty house in Cuddebackville. Today was warmer, but I made two paintings and am just starting to feel my fingers again.

I'm hoping to paint here for a few more days. It's feeding my hungry, hungry soul.

1 comment:

Rick Wojnilo said...

Hi. I just saw this post and thought I'd drop a comment. I saw you mentioned that you had a blog follower that you didn't know, figured that must be me. I actually found your blog because I was searching for local CT artists and somewhere came across your blog. Don't recall exactly where. Your style of painting caught my eye so I thought I'd keeping looking. I really like the fact that you leave some of your canvas unpainted. I actually did that on one of my paintings, thou it was just small enough to go unnoticed. Have a look at this and see if you can find the small spot: http://wojnilo.blogspot.com/2007/12/alcazar-garden.html Anyway, I look forward to your posts. Regards, Rick