Sunny Birch on Lower Cascade | 12×16 | Oil on Linen Panel

Inspiration for Sunny Birch on Lower Cascade

I started Sunny Birch on Lower Cascade en plein air while traveling and painting with the talented TJ Cunningham. TJ hails from Vermont, so the few times I’ve ventured that far northwards, he’s been my companion and guide. The small Cascade Lakes of upstate New York comprise a beautiful, easily accessible stop right on Route 73. Picnic tables and a simple bathroom facility make it an inviting place to enjoy a peaceful meal surrounded by nature. Hiking trails and a kayak/canoe boat launch also entice those more athletically inclined! The opportunity to paint lakes, boulders, and mountains personally lured me on this occasion: hard-to-come-by subject matter in the southeast! The brilliant white of the birch trees also presents a beautiful contrasted to my mostly pine and live oak-dominated landscapes. 🙂

Natural Talent and hard Work

My buddy TJ has a natural talent for painting in general, and plein air painting in particular. I learned a lot watching him on this trip! Now although I say he has natural talent, he also worked very hard to hone his skill. Hard work trumps raw talent 98% of the time in my estimation! Notable exceptions to this rule might include Mozart (on the musical side) and John Singer Sargent (on the visual art side). But in all honesty, while they were definitely savants, we also know they both worked very hard at their crafts. Mozart might’ve had the natural skill to compose a symphony by age 8, he still had to sit down and put fingers to clavier and pen to paper to do it!


Pensacola, FL