Wednesday, August 7, 2013


NEW HAMPSHIRE SCENES: Finally, Owl's Head!

I did it!
If you've followed any of my blog, or know many White Mountain hikers, you know about the forty-eight 4,000-footers. (See the Oct 10 Blog)
Owl's Head is reportedly the most difficult. I concur completely, though not because it's the longest (18 miles round trip), or the highest (it isn't, it's only 4,025), or has several water crossings that even the experts say are"quite difficult in high water, and even in moderate water"(water crossings are not my favorite thingl)  with alternate bushwhack options to circumvent the two most difficult crossings. (Ugh!)
What made it both interesting, not to be missed!, and difficult,  is it's wilderness nature!  Owl's Head is located in the Pemigewassat Wilderness, and therefore subject to US National Forrest regulations. Designated wilderness areas are not permitted to have man-made structures of any sort, no signs, blazes, and even cairns.

It starts out quite innocently on the Kank with a wide, flat logging-road trail which narrows and steepens, gradually climbing about 1500 feet in 8 miles. And here the fun begins!! Owl's Head might be more aptly described as a densely covered, very very steep mound, about a mile long and1500 high, flat topped with two mounds perhaps 10 feet above that general elevation that are designated as the "old" and "new" summit! (also unmarked) The route most hikers use to reach the summit is called "the slide," an area where boulders, rocks and stones move and slide when you put your foot on them; but, because of the relative openness of the area it does give the illusion of a path!
The Slide (actually only a portion)
pastel, 12 x 16

Endless   Pastel 20 x 26
This path is not visible from the brookside trail, but may be marked by a small cairn, which it was on the day I went. At the upper end, the slide splits and is so dense in foilage that I heard voices, called to the two women and got a response, but never did see them. Above the slide is, boulders and stones, intertwined with trees managing somehow to spread roots up, down and around enough to get the necessary nourishment for continued, but not necessarily abundant growth. In my mind as I climbed, almost always with 3 points of contact, the word, "endless," kept repeating itself. It was a mile with 1500 elevation gain...The guide books call it treacherous.  It is!

And, finally the top. Yes!  As with the rocks and vegetation on the way up...unkempt, jumbled, definitely a wilderness with its own beauty. Not recommended as your last hike, it is still worth the effort and the experience. If nothing else, it made me much more aware of the tremendous amount of volunteer work and donations that have gone into maintaining all of the other trails I have hiked in the Whites, in pursuit of the 48, and as much, in pursuit of beauty and landscape material. 
So...I have now hiked the last of the 48, but, that done, I know that my "obsession," as a few of my hiking friends call it, never was truly an obsession. Owl's Head was not my "last" mountain. Rather, I consider the entire experience as an introduction to the Whites. Chasing the 48 took me beyond the well known "Presidentials," beyond mere "peak bagging" and that "been there, done that" check list attitude. Chasing the 48 has led me to a feeling and sense of the grandeur and uniqueness that infuses these wonderful Whites, and to a familiarity that now I am comfortable on the sides, the ledges and the ridges, though that comfort grew as gradually as the Owl's Head trail gained elevation during the first 8 miles!

The painting possibilities are endless, and if I had a wish to be granted, it would be to be a resident artist in each and every hut in the Appalachian Mountain Club system. The huts made some of the peaks more accessible, but they are also a way to meet other hikers and discuss possibilities and experiences. Meanwhile, it is enough that I have a light weight camera that fits in my pack-belt pocket, and memories that go far beyond the photo's I take. I now have memories that come to life again in my studio every time I step up to my easel. 

My other wish is that you who view my paintings get to feel some of what I feel as I experience and re-experience these New Hampshire Scenes.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

SCENES FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE: Waterfalls and Boulders

Spring and snow melt are synonymous in New Hampshire, along with 
Golden Grotto Pastel 18X24  
Mud Season (Very muddy, it can  render driveways and dirt roads unusable.)
followed by Black Fly Season (Gnat sized huge with the jaws of a barracuda. )

I tip my hat to these seasons. They exist. But as a hiker and painter I'd like to introduce a new name for Spring. To me, as the snow is melting on the peaks, the streams are rushing and rippling.
 Welcome Season of the Waterfalls. 
Last week, warm enough for plain air painting, I visited two waterfalls for plein air experience (one at the framers, one still on the studio easel) and visited "Golden Grotto," scene of a studio painting I'd finished over the winter from photos.

Mountain stream staircase
Pastel 9x12
Since I don't have a packhorse, I often depend on memory and photos for the paintings done higher on the mountains, from the tops or in difficult places to access. Stream crossings are tricky enough without 10 pounds of painting equipment and the necessary safety items (water, first aid kit, extra layers of clothes and rain gear). I do like to check my scenes though, particularly if they've produced paintings I like. 

Snow on Imp Trail last week: 
What I love about many of our NH mountain streams is the way the streams, often eight to ten feet wide or wider, riffle down the mountain through enormous boulders, often forming pools below some of the steeper drops.  

"Golden Grotto" is such a place located on Imp Trail, a loop hike with two trailheads on Route 16, a mile or so north of Pinkham Notch. There was still snow on the trail, but we did get to the grotto I had painted. This time I took a picture of my hiking friend and her dog, standing behind the tree which was actually growing ON the large boulder in the painting.The other photo was taken from upstream looking down towards the boulder. My grotto wasn't quite as golden on this day without the sun shining, but  it had its own beauty, surrounded by the large boulder, to the left, the boulders and fallen trees further downstream and the stony beach to the right.
The "Grotto" as seen from upstream.
Carol and Perry standing behind the tree
 at the top of the boulder in
"Golden Grotto."

Check my website  for more paintings of streams and boulders.

Contact me at Barbaramcevoyartist@me .com with questions ad comments.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Lily, Cathy and Margaret!
My March 29 post had flower photo's of Spring in Bethlehem, PA, Including a clump of bluets, with a promise of paintings of bluets when they arrived in my New Hampshire neighborhood.
Here they are, finally...

Bluets have arrived, in my own 
New Hampshire neighborhood.

And they've come 
in their own New Hampshire fashion. 

Notice the bluets' surroundings, 
and what I love about living here!
Lichens and mosses 
 in myriad shapes and colors
festoon everything.
Notice the twig in the lower left corner.
The lighter patches, barely visible,
are small patches of lichen.
And next to the twig, 
the silver green bit of lichen,
part of what is sometimes called
Grandfather's beard. 
Last year's oak leaf 
and the grouping 
of three distinguishable pine needles,
and other grasses...
All this is part of the complexity 
of patches of forest 
and "lawn" floors...

Stepping back for a larger view of this particular "lawn,"

notice the flatness, the stones and sand intermixed with the patches of bluets, and the pine and birch trunks in the background. 

A little about my neighborhood to explain the bluets 
and their surroundings. 
A bit of geology helps as well.
South of where I live, the highway signs on route 16, also called the White Mountain Highway, welcome travelers to the Lakes and Mountain region. 
"Notches to the North"  

When the great ice sheets came from the north, covering the Presidential Range (the Whites) and creating the notches, they transported rocks and stones, grinding as they came over and through the mountains, digging out the basins that make up the lakes regions, south of the mountains. As the ice sheets retreated, the southern half of NH was left with lakes and outwash regions.

It is true that Freedom, a nearby town has "more civilized lawns" that include grass and the more "typical" flowers we associate with Spring. But it's the more natural parts that attract my painterly nature... my friends (Lily the 8 story pitch pine, Cathy and Margaret, the 4 story red maples) and their undergrowth. 
Check my website for other paintings and under  "writing painting" projects to read about "First Friends."
"Lily, Cathy and Margaret"
Pastel 9x12

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Choosing a favorite painting...
This, being my most recent "finished painting" is in my current TOP 10.
Last Scramble to Jackson Summit    Pastel 18x26
Boulders on the North Twin TrailPastel 9x12
Painting rocks is difficult. My first and present plein air mentor, Michael Chesley Johnson did a recent blog on painting rocks, well timed for my purposes since I was on the fourth brush out of this painting.  In the blog Michael related that, upon showing his mentor a rock painting, he was told to go out and paint rocks for a year. Living in the Whites, you know I have been painting rocks, starting personally with "Little George," who still provides practice, and onward. Rocks are definitely hard, as in hard, solid, with mass, and that is not easy to represent. Rocks are a challenge to paint, but as with scrambling on them, there is a certain satisfaction. Good thing since they come in many forms here in the Whites from river pebbles to giant erratics, and they fit together quite well to form the bedrock substance of the 4,000 footers, even if the summits are not all like Jackson,Liberty, Washington, etc.

Something there is about climbing these 4,000 footers...a certain exhilaration on reaching the top, on the getting there in fact, possibly induced by the rock scrambling often (but not always) necessary.
Yes, I have seen mountain goats, and people I consider mountain goats, go up them standing, but I seem to need three points of contact, hand over hand, on many of these peaks, or at least parts of them. 
I am, as the saying goes, up close and personal.
Thus, I fully appreciate the myriad lichens and moss that festoon the rocks and boulders, as well as the ledges, the nooks, the cracks and crevices.
And then there is the glimpse of the next mountain top, or the extension of the one I'm on. Maybe krumholtz (crooked wood)...what trees do near the tree line. 
So here is Mt. Jackson peak...which may not look this way to others, but to me below, looking up, wondering if there was more peak after what I could see (sometimes there is), it was beautiful and bold and delicate! 

All this I wanted to capture. 

I'm not sure I did...I want to go back and see it, climb it again...a different trail perhaps, different season too. 

Notches to the North   Pastel 12X18
My third favorite painting also has rocks (also brushed out many times before I reached semi satisfaction). Here the view is from North Moat looking north to the notches. (See April 10 blog for another view)

So the question it a favorite painting because it was a memorable hike, or because the painting of it presented challenges overcome?

If you enjoy hiking in the Whites, or even traveling through, check out my website for more paintings of vistas, trails, and .

Saturday, April 13, 2013

NEW HAMPSHIRE SCENES: Favorite Painting/Favorite Hike

A recent viewer of my website asked,
                    Which is your favorite painting?  Tell about it!

Favorites change, depending on our mood, the weather...
                even who we are talking to or thinking about can have its subtle influences,
and I expect with painters it must relate to  our emotional attachment to 
              WHAT we are painting, 
                WHY we are painting it, 
and quite possibly to the fun or trouble we had with the actual painting.

That said, my very first favorite painting choice would be:

Franconian Ridge Trail: Lincoln to Lafayette (and Greenleaf Hut)
If you look closely you can follow the trail...from the foreground on the left where the trail emerges onto the ledge of Lincoln, across the front of the painting and out of view in the center, then reemerging, disappearing and reemerging as it drops down into the saddle and then ascends Lafayette. 
This particular view was momentous because from here we could see our evening destination, Greenleaf Hut, 1.1 miles down the left (west facing) side of Lafayette. Look closely to see the white dot of the hut roof, a very welcome sign.
Hiker on the trail!

Why is this my favorite painting (at the moment, anyway)? 
It's a wonderful trek. And painting  it gave me a chance to live the trek vicariously.
Walking ridges above the tree line is exhilarating and humbling. Hikers are just specks on the trail from this perspective, but we can feel the heft of the mountain, see its ridges and "ribs," and explore the lichens, moss and wildflowers that survive, even flourish, in this unique, alpine and sub alpine environment...right here in NH! 

Falling Waters Trail is only the start! 
On this particular trek, I was with a group of eight women, intent  on bagging several of the  intrepid 48 4,000 footers in the Whites,  (see Oct 10 blog, Chasing the 48) and making  use of the Appalachian Mountain Club huts on the way. 

We started from Franconian Notch State Park, climbed Falling Waters Trail to the ridge and Little Haystack Mtn, then proceeded north towards Mt Lafayette and down to the Greenleaf Hut. 

Check my website under paintings/White Mountain Trails
for more paintings.
Follow this blog for coming entries on favorite paintings and trails in the Whites.
Looking south, Lafayette to Little Haystack

Wednesday, April 10, 2013



Only a week ago,
this was the scene at Bretton Woods. 
Snow enough to ski,
And Mount Washington was still wearing its white mantle.

Mount Washington from North Conway.
 But only 20 miles south,
really related more to elevation than latitude,
the snow was definitely going!

Patches of snow 
rather than patches of rock and ground,
were the new ground designs...

(see previous blog for another version of this rock)
And so, although the diehard skiers
are still finding places to ski, perhaps, 

Hikers are thinking of favorite trails  
View from South Moat looking towards Middle
and North Moat, and on toward the Notches.

 whether they are south facing,   and thus,
 more likely to be clear of ice and snow
 or north facing 
(possibly requiring micro-spikes),

or better left 'til later in the season!
In my own readiness to get hiking again,
(without snow shoes and full winter gear)
I spent time vicariously painting one of my favorites, The Moats, 
and too hastily had it framed 
behind glass
before  its photo session,
which diminishes detail and color...
(See it in person at  The Met  gallery and coffee shop.)

Beech youngsters stubornly hold their leaves
through the winter. 

Painters are thinking of Plein Air Painting,
Outside at last,
 to sketch and paint nature in real life.

And some of us
are lucky enough to be both painters and hikers....

Check my website, Barbara McEvoy, Artist.Com for my new emphasis and recent paintings...

Saturday, March 30, 2013

NEW HAMPSHIRE SCENES: Last Week and Soon, Maybe!

Steps to a friend's house! 


From this scene

                     And this scene

                                  only ten days ago,
Steps to a friend's back yard!

                To Snow Drops
and Crocus
                 and Bluettes 


It's the miracle of Spring!

I admit, 
I had to go south 
of the White Mountains
to get photos of the 
Snow Drops and Crocus and Bluets
that snow is melting,
and beneath it all
with green tips poking bravely upward
are the bulbs we planted 
and millions of wildflowers,

Just waiting!

I promise a photo and three paintings
of bluets, 
when the ones near home appear.

I'll paint the rocks that
heat in the sun
uncover first.

Because rocks too, have something to say
about Spring!


Thursday, March 21, 2013

NEW HAMPSHIRE SCENES: It didn't go yet!

"Be careful what you wish, for," has been said often.
My last blog, "Snow going,"  ended with,  "Maybe one more storm." 
The ground patterns I had been watching around the trees
have entirely disappeared. 
The snow came back!
But the temperatures are still below freezing at night (12 last night) and well above during the day (40 at the moment). 
We are left with confused icicles! 

And confused people...
It's the first day of Spring, but looks like winter, feels like winter in the morning,
and turns to Spring by afternoon...the old case of March 
coming in like a lion and out like a lamb.
March is definitely in transition. 

Sap is still rising, however, and sugar shacks are still boiling,
so for those of us whose creativity is aligned with the weather, we can move onward with our projects.  If Spring doesn't appear to be here in full force, at least it is wavering and showing signs of approaching, despite the "backslide" into winter.
Admittedly, ground patterns had me thinking about Spring, but the snow pushed me back to winter thoughts and I've used it to advantage. Artists can find patterns in any season...

Check out my changed home page at ...
I've switched to White Mountain emphasis, have two new paintings of winter, two categories added to my web (Can you tell which are the new ones?) and a few last comments on winter as well. 

Patterns   Pastel   9x12 
Do I dare say it?

 "But, maybe, perhaps, we could have one more snow storm? "

Thursday, March 14, 2013



Lily in her blossoming glory of snow.
January brings snow and resolutions!
We may make our resolutions in January,
or even think about them in December, 
but how many of us really carry them out.
by February we have lagged, if we even managed a decent start! (I didn't!) 

In the White Mountains of New Hampshire
 some of us know the reason! 
Some of us are aligned with nature!  

That white snow is a blanket, covering, protecting, beautifying, and giving rest to the land. 
Wood piles ready...
Of old, we spent summer and fall storing our food, stacking our fuel, working against the winter to come.

Winter, then, is traditionally the time of resting and reflecting and using that wood for cozy fires 

Snow going
snow to some of  us is skiing ,  snowboarding,
snow shoeing, ice fishing...

but those are rest in their ways
They are ways to wait for the snow to  go...

When we see the tell tale signs of the snow piles shrinking, 
of the ground patches spreading around the trees and rocks, 
Wood piles shrinking, along with the snow!

we know what is happening, 
we know what time it is. 

When the temperature is above freezing during the day,
and below freezing at night,
buckets come out.
The land is waking 
and rising to the call of spring...
It's sugaring time...

And, if we're aligned with nature, perhaps we can now move forward on our resolutions.

But, maybe, perhaps, we could have one more snow storm? 

(For paintings of NH snow scenes and "Lily," visit my website Barbara McEvoy, Artist.Com)