The White Mountains have had a glorious role in American art. They've played host to historical greats like Albert Bierstadt who is best known, perhaps, for his large, romantic canvases of the American West as it opened up in the early 1800s with paintings of the Rockies and the Sierras. Bierstadt sojourned in the Whites Mountains and completed several paintings of familiar mountains. My favorite is his painting of Moat Mt. with White Horse and Cathedral ledges in the foreground (you can google it by searching for Albert Bierstadt Moat Mt.). The view is from across the Intervale and is stunning. Benjamin Champney of the Hudson River School was another painter who visited the White Mountains often and, although he focused on Mt. Washington, left spectacular paintings of the Franconias. I once owned a really small Champney painting of Mt. Lafayette but traded it for another painting I liked better . When I was a kid in North Conway I was often hired to mow the lawn of Dick Packer in exchange for a large bowl of tapioca pudding and the opportunity to hang around with Dick in his studio. The painting above, of Mt. Chocorua, was and still is my favorite. It was painted in the mid-1950s. The colors, the way he got the colors, are lovely. Gale Packer, his daughter and one of my classmates at the North Conway elementary school and a dear friend, graciously gave me permission to show the Chocorua painting, and the three that follow, in the blog.
Dick was industrious and painted a lot of canvases for his roadside art studio in North Conway. He was always painting! Pictures of Mt. Washington were extremely popular including this one which is a view from the top of the Wildcat ski trail. He painted the same scenes time and time again and was famous for being able to paint the Mt. Chocorua motif upside down. But being an excellent artist he also painted one-of-a-kind things that he loved. The painting below is one of those and another favorite of mine.
This affects me as much as the Chocorua painting above for the light and colors. When I whine about not being able to a paint the lovely patterns of late afternoon sunlight and shadows on February snow this painting is what I am thinking of. Dick helped me, over the years, to "see" and he validated my "eye" for things like color and texture. It's a nice legacy. He was a very important person in my life. North Conway was blessed with several painters when I was there. Mim and Lew Hodgkins, and Dave Baker along with Dick, were the ones I knew best and sometimes took lessons from and who offered me parts of themselves, their kindness and generosity, and particularly their love of beauty.
This painting of the upper Dundee Road in Intervale (Bartlett) is a bit schmaltzy, perhaps, a quick study, but I love the colors in it, like the Chocorua painting, that are so evocative of New Hampshire and the White Mountains and it reminds me of Dick and his ease and expertise with light and how he was able to 'get" it like on the birches to the right. I'd love to be able to do that.