Friday, June 1, 2012

Blue Licks State Park

In late May I visited Blue Licks State Park just north of Carlisle, KY on US 68. It's a relatively small park but steeped in American history and staffed by a super friendly group of people. Talk about southern hospitality!
"Buffalo Trace" Blue Licks State Park 8"x12" plein aire sketch on Wallis sanded  paper
Did you know that wooly Mammoths and musk ox once roamed Kentucky and created trails to the salt licks. Then the bison followed those same trails, followed by American Indians who were hunting the bison. Soon the settlers were also following those wide trails through the forest and eventually the easiest way to create a state highway was to follow that same trail. So US state route 68 follows that trail.

At Blue Licks State Park you can find a lovely history museum that traces the history of the area - they even have a stuff musk ox - it's going to be a drawing soon - can't resist that face.
"Licking River Trail" Daniel Boone escaped down this trail to cross the Licking River to safety
During the revolutionary way British raiders allied with Indians were attacking the settlers in this area, even though a treaty had been signed. Daniel Boone and 150 others soldier/settlers came from Bryan Station (near Lexington) to attack the British but were defeated and had to retreat back across the Licking River. Thus ended the last battle of the Revolutionary War.
"Foggy Morning at Tanner Station" 8"x12" plein aire sketch on Wallis sanded  paper
A settler named Tanner created a small fort to protect the salt lick from Indians. It took 850 gallons of salty brine water to boil down to create a few pounds of salt. Eventually a lovely hotel was built on site and the water was bottled and sold as a cure for all kinds of ailments. During the Civil Way the hotel was burned but was replaced with two smaller hotels.
"Licking River bottom land" 8"x12" plein aire sketch

Carter Caves State Park

The Kentucky Department of Parks gave me a hotel room grant so I can go to 9 state parks this year to do pastel drawings of each park.
My first park visit was to Carter Caves State Park which is located 5 miles from the Olive Hill exit off I-64 in Kentucky. 
On my first afternoon, which was a bit damp from a morning rain, I stopped at the visitor's welcome center to get a trail map and talked to Sam, one of the park naturalists, about the most picturesque hiking trails and the best places for sunrise and sunset. 
And yes, Sam followed my request and did "think like an artist, Sam" Thanks so much. You were right on about these beautiful locations.
I'm expecting that each park will have it's own distinctive topographical features and Carter Caves is full of running water - beautiful streams that gurgle along the surface of the land and then disappear into a cave only to reemerge later along the trail.
"Laurel Creek"-disappearing into a cave  8"x12" plein aire pastel on Wallis sanded paper

Carter Caves has over 25 miles of hiking trails that traverse the hilly cave region. In comparison, Blue Licks State Park has only 5 miles of trails but is immersed in historical information. I'll be talking about Blue Licks in my next blog.
An unexpected feature of Carter Caves is the small fishing lake, Smokey Valley Lake. 
"Smokey Valley Lake Sunrise" 8"x12" plein aire sketch

I was drawn to the sunrise and sunset colors soften by the mist over the lake. I think each park will have a visual surprise that I did not anticipate which makes creating artwork from new areas both a delight and a challenge.
I'm in Cincinnati getting ready for Summerfair Art Fair and when I get back home to Lexington I need to check the names of these creeks - may need some correction. Right, Sam?

"Laurel Cave Creek Bridge" 8"x12" plein aire sketch