When we went to the ridge to paint, the place was so interesting I found it hard to sit down and paint. This is a constant problem for me when I’m outside 🙂 I had to take a short walk down the ridge, finding many spectacular viewpoints, a bold gathering of poplars, and finally a path (animal trail) heading down a leafy slope. Then I found an amazing thing.
A large outcrop of rock, split vertically in two, makes a long stone corridor or cave. One second you see nothing but a rock wall, the next you are looking into a scene from Indiana Jones. Sunlight plays through holes in the outer wall, filtered through the leafy canopy outside.
Looking back to the entrance I came upon first. The kids help show the scale. Best guess is that the cave is about 60 feet long.
It is a little scary to realize that the one wall has cleaved off the other. Each curve and crack in one wall is mirrored across the way in the other, and the outer wall is so thin it has buckled and broken without the support of the inner rock. Not only that, halfway into the cave is a little alcove where, if you duck in up to the back, you can stand up with your head in a black gap where the wall you thought was solid has begun to split apart just as the “outer” wall has.
The exit at the far end. The matching curves are very clear here. I’ve just noticed the image of Squire Somebody at the top of the opening. He has curly hair, a trim mustache, a funny little top hat and is that a monocle?
It took one walk through for me to decide that I had to paint in a cave! It was a great subject for a sketch, with rocks and light, those lovely curves and lots of atmosphere. Besides, not everyone can say they’ve painted in a cave. But first, I scrambled back to get Judy and the young ladies in the first picture to show them this great spot. It was duly admired and photographed.
I did a quick pencil sketch, but when I came to paint I found I needed to move up a few feet to where a skylight shed a little more light on the situation.
My skylight. North light, as it happens.
But then, of course, my sketch was off. I had gone closer and upwards a few feet. So I would load up with paint, step backward and, with the wind blowing so hard it whipped right through my nose and mouth, I slopped paint on paper in the mostly-dark, then climbed up for a look in the light and a reload before backing down again. It was quite exhilarating.
I also had the pleasure of seeing other people see the cave for the first time. The girls acted tour guides, delivering people to the opening where I could look back and see the dropped jaws and looks of wonder. Of course when they showed up it felt like recess and I dropped the paints and went exploring some more 😉
Painting had to go quickly and spontaneously for other reasons. The light changed rapidly, coming as it was through small gaps in the rock as well as past trees bending in the wind and clouds scudding by. Each time I looked, more intense colours came out in the rocks, the light and the leaf litter. I began painting from a picture on my camera, but then I thought I should focus on the real scene before me, which was quite different from what the camera captured. I can’t show you the reality, but I can show you a second version of the shot.
Warmer colours; less green, blue and pink.
So I got a sketch, not a masterpiece. Still, it’s a pretty little mess, and I think it captures some of the Indiana Jones adventure atmosphere of the place. I like it – it’s proof that I have painted in a cave! Here it is. I took the picture in the mostly-dark.