Digging In

This month I've been digging into my project on the Johnson farm, walking the land, drawing and taking notes, and painting many studies.

I've discovered beautiful Maidstone State Park, where I can camp after a long day working at my "farm job", rather than drive the two hour commute back home.


And I've learned that it's nice to bring Roscoe the lab for companionship--though he does sometimes refuse to get out of the car on a hot and buggy day, unless it's for swimming in the Connecticut River...

Farmer Cy Nelson's corn is tall and emerald green. I've been spending quite a bit of time painting in one particular field where crops bound a wetland, looking at what happens when these two zones meet.

Sometimes the two zones merge, as in these low spots on a farm track. The permanent puddles seem to have their own ecosystem, including bear tracks!

I'm still exploring where these farm tracks lead, and what I can see along the way. Making a simple map helps me get a more organized sense of what's here, and internalize this sprawling, complicated landscape.

And often I am surprised by what I find on my treks, such as this: a peek of the Connecticut River at the very edge of the farm, at the end of the last hay field.

I'm finding too that summer's lush growth makes it hard to experience the wetlands other than from afar. I need to bush whack through high grass to see the watery places that were so visible when I first came in May. But I can sense these oxbows and marshes by a subtle change in colors and shapes as I look across the green fields. And in a few places, I can get close enough to see cat tails and pools.

On my last visit to the Johnson Farm I stayed late enough to paint in the "golden hour", when light and shadows are at their best. The marsh grass was spotlit for just a few moments before the sun was hidden behind the mass of dark trees.

As I drove back down VT 102 in the last light, I thought about how this project will be about growth and change--the land's through the days and seasons of the coming year, and my own, as I look, learn, feel, and record.