Friday, June 1, 2012

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