I just got home from a visit back east to see my mother, on the occasion of her 90th birthday. I spent a lot of time in New Jersey when I was younger and the word that comes to my mind to describe the the winter environ is ‘bleak’. This is especially true of the trip along the New Jersey Turnpike to the airport. Under the best of conditions, that scenery is bleak in the winter.

The trip to see Mom had a kind of rhythm and tonality to it. It began on the high notes, with the familiar smile with which she greeted me. I stayed with her in her apartment during my visit, which tempered my joy as I saw how she struggled to move from one place to the other. She could do none of this by herself and, even with help, she had a hard time. She was very aware of her condition. “One day I was walking and the next I couldn’t walk at all,” she told me.

There is no image that better expresses bleakness than the wintry trees alongside the salt-dusted NJ Turnpike. This was the starting point for today’s watercolor study. I wanted to express the feelings of the end of my visit to see Mom and my concern for what lies ahead.

The gray, featureless sky presses down on the tree line. The foreground, mostly featureless, defines the beginning of the forest sticks.

Watercolor: Bare Tree Horizon with Snowy Foreground and Tracks

9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

The dark marks traversing the foreground, messy as they are, inexorably lead to the horizon. In this case, an undiscovered country about which Hamlet speaks.

2 thoughts on “Bleak

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