Since taking my new position at work and starting the studying for my AAP exam I have not painted very much at all. The longer hours, the summer heat, and the joy of moving rocks around on Amos Creek seemed to have kept me from chasing waterfalls. I never made a decision to not go out to paint, I just didn’t go. Creekscaping relieves stress, is creative, and apparently gives me my fill of negative ions. I do not post many picture of my cairns and rock mosaics because they are always a work in progress, but the process of moving, sorting, and stacking them continues to be blissful. I really do hope that someday I will have property with my own creek passing through it so I can spend time at it daily.

I was not able to visit Amos Creek this weekend, but I guess it was a blessing in disguise because it inspired me to get back out to paint a waterfall. It had been over four months since the last time I hiked out to paint one and I felt a bit of trepidation as I got ready. Snakes, bears, and stinging caterpillars have made appearances since the last time I went bushwhacking and somehow I did not feel up to blazing a new path. I decided to go back to the trail off Seller’s Road (FS 89A) that I know fairly well and has a good selection of falls. I headed towards Tranquility Falls because I have only painted it once before and I did not remember it as being very difficult to get to.

Tabor Falls was the first waterfall I visited using GPS coordinates instead of following a trail back in March of 2019. That first time the trail was so faint that I had to be very focused to not miss my turns. That is no longer the case. The path is now very well-used and someone has spray painted trees to mark the way. The creek crossings felt a bit different but it was easy going to Tabor Falls and then on to Lower Tabor Falls. I had gotten a later start than I meant to so I did not stop at either. After Lower Tabor Falls the path was faint like I remembered and I lost track of it for a while but followed the water down to where I needed to cross and start back up the other fork. The way up to Tranquility Falls was a little rougher than I remembered, but not horribly so. The falls themselves were just as lovely as I remembered with a dramatic rock face right next to them. I spent almost two hours painting.

Tranquility Falls

Right before I accepted my new position in March I had been working on a new series where I was attempting to combine my plein air painting with my studio work. Some of the images showed some promise, but overall I was struggling with finding the right combination of contrast and subtlety. I had been working on larger panels and the transition from on-site to in-studio had been difficult as well. This afternoon I decided to work on paper and at a size I felt I could cover in one visit. I also sketched the outline of a figure on a couple of sheets before I left the house. Once I was set up I picked the one that seems to make the most sense compositionaly and painted the waterfall around and on it. I am very pleased with how this worked and plan to try the same process again soon.

Tranquility Falls, Acrylic on Paper, 11×15″, 9/12/2021






Hiking out was a little more eventful than I would have liked. I took a slightly different route back to the trail but found it again right by Lower Tabor Falls. When I got up to the top of Tabor Falls I decided to stop for a minute to drink some water and take in the dramatic view down the cliff. When I shrugged out of my back pack it slid a little and though it didn’t go far my water bottle got loose. My red Klean Kanteen that I have carried with me everywhere, every day for two, maybe almost three, years rolled right over the edge. The urge to try and go after it was strong, but my respect for the slipperiness at the top of waterfalls is stronger. It was not safe to try from where I was. From the comfort of my living room it is easy to think I should have gone back down the trail and found a safe place to descend and then look for it from the bottom, but at the time I was thirsty and tired and ready to get home. Building rock sculptures that will be washed away by the next heavy rain continues to be a lesson in impermanence and letting go. I am not going to let myself get all deep or poetic writing about a water bottle, but the loss does feel significant. Mr. Bezos can have me another here by Tuesday, and make it blue, but well, you know…

One thought on “Tranquility”

  1. A nice blending of art and philosophy; beautiful, Goldsworthyish patterns.

    I’m sure the flask will find an equally appreciative owner someday.

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