November 21, 2011

My First Hunting Trip

Schuman Farms, oil on canvas 9×12

Deer season opened this past weekend in New York State and I was a part of it. While the majority in our group hunted for white-tail deer, I hunted for a place to paint. I had concerns of being outdoors in a wooded area on a day where most people sharing this day would be armed with a rifle. The scene played out several times in my head for a few days leading up to this trip and in each scene I was outfitted like a convict in an orange jumpsuit-an effort aimed at preserving my life.

After many years of declined invitations, I gave in this year when my brother-in-law asked again. On Friday evening, I picked up my 18 year old nephew and headed out for our 4-hour car ride into upstate New York. Our destination was a house my wife’s family owns in Delaware County which is used primarily during hunting season and throughout the year as a retreat from the routine of everyday life. A location so remote, there is no cell phone service from at least the town over to where we’ll be. We arrived by midnight to find a quiet house and found our way to the beds that had been set aside for us.

The next morning (4:30 am), the hunters began stirring and getting ready for the day ahead. They all assembled around the kitchen table for their morning breakfast and as I joined them, I saw the group for the first time. We totaled 17 people and 1 dog and just as quickly as they gathered to eat, they ran in different directions in flashes of camouflage and bright orange as they began completing their outfits. They ranged from traditional Elmer Fudd plaid to the prison-orange jumpsuits from my earlier premonitions.

Did someone call Hazmat?
Thankfully, I was spared the prison uniform but I’m not sure crossing guard is my look either.

I was loaned a vest in case I found myself in a wooded area and was spared the jumpsuit. I painted the above painting in the morning. Although I received a good reaction from anyone who has seen it, I was not pleased with it. I almost abandoned it but I remembered what Greg Manchess once told me: It gets ugly before it gets better. So I kept going despite setting up with harsh light on my canvas making it hard to determine paint coverage due to the enhanced texture of the canvas. I also couldn’t open my bottle of painting medium. After I was confident I did the best I could, I packed up and headed to the house for some lunch. On the way, I found another spot that I could come back to in the afternoon.

Field Stream, oil on board, 12 x 12

My second session of painting of the day seemed to go better. For starters, I went back to my usual masonite instead of canvas and after breaking the cap of my bottle of medium I felt comfortable with the consistency of my colors.

The evening was filled with all hands helping to prepare the feast that would be dinner amid stories of each hunter’s experience. Afterward, dessert was the highlight. My nephews decided to surprise their father for his birthday (which was actually that day) and ordered a special cake for him from Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, NJ, the bakery made famous by TLC’s Cake Boss. The detail was incredible and the cake was delicious.

The Cake Boss cake with a figure which looks exactly like my brother-in-law.

Pizza boxes make fantastic wet-painting carriers. Some double-sided tape or tape loops help to secure the painting.

By the time I hit the road for the long drive home on Sunday morning, the totals were 2 deer, 1 bear, a coyote and 2 paintings.