In 2001 from March through November Janet and I worked at Skyland, a resort in the Shenandoah National Park. While there we had lots of time to explore the Park, walk the Appalachian Trail, and explore Virginia. We took lots of pictures. When we arrived home, I painted seven works from photographs of our stay there. Following are the paintings with a brief explanation of each. I had some difficulty taking the pictures of my art work. Some turned out much better than others. I’ll keep on trying to get better ones.
While driving to West Virginia on Highway 250 near the small Virginia town of Monterey, we saw six turkey vultures sitting on fence posts. We thought this was really interesting and neat so we stopped and took a photo. This painting is based on that photo. I did add the large turkey vulture in the dead tree in the foreground. I submitted this painting at a show and the judge criticized it because he said it wasn’t realistic as one would never see six turkey vultures like that. Interesting as the painting was based on an actual photograph. While in Virginia we took many side trips. One was to the Eastern Shore. While there we visited Assateague Island. We were very fortunate to see the Chincoteague ponies made famous by Marguerite Henry’s novels. We were hiking on a trail and there they were.
They didn’t seem afraid of us at all. We were very surprised that we could get that close. In fact, we were so close that we could have actually touched them. There were several of them, but I chose to paint only three. Great experience! While at Skyland we saw many beautiful sunrises and sunsets. We enjoyed driving early in the morning or at dusk to one of the many scenic overlooks and watching the sun rise or set. Deer were as abundant in the Shenandoah National Forest as squirrels are in the Quad Cities. One had to be very careful on Skyline Drive as they were often on the road.
This painting is based on a photo taken when my daughter, Lisa, and her family visited. The grandchildren enjoyed pretending that they were stalking the deer. They could actually get up quite close. Another animal attraction at Skyland was the black bears. They were quite numerous in the Park. We were so excited when we saw our first bear. They were harmless unless a mother felt threatened. We never had any problems and didn’t hear about anyone else having any either. Most of the time they didn’t pay much attention to us. Just kept on doing whatever they were doing.
Once while hiking on the Appalachian Trail I walked past a bear that was digging around a stump for grubs. We were only about fifteen feet apart and saw one another at about the same time. We both were startled. We stared at each other for about thirty seconds and then I slowly moved away and he or she went back to looking for food. Janet was about twenty yards behind me and thought the whole episode was funny. We have many bear pictures. I chose this one to paint because it was my favorite. Hawksbill was one of the mountains that we climbed. Actually, we didn’t really climb it; we hiked a trail to the summit. The National Park Service is concerned that Peregrine falcons don’t stay in the Park. They are trying to build a Peregrine falcon population at Shenandoah. They release the falcons on Hawksbill, but within a few years they are gone.
They are now putting transmitters on their legs so they can track them. They found out that they are going to the cities as life is easier there. There is shelter and a constant supply of pigeons for food. We did see some of them soaring. Great to see them in flight. Janet has always liked scenes with cattle in them. While in Virginia we saw beautiful farms and have several photos of them.