© Gail Bunting 2006

Walking the Woods: An Artists’s View

--In these western foothills of the Catskill Mountains, today’s woods shade yesterday’s pastures, still bound with the stone walls laid up by the people who farmed this land. In reclaiming it, Nature embraces the mementos of those brief tenants, making them part of the natural landscape, as they are part of the story of these hills. It is an area of transition; a twilight between civilization and wilderness that contains evidence of both in a certain poetic harmony.
--I walk these woods with my sketchbook, finding inspiration and subjects for my paintings. I walk here for the pure joy of Nature, but I feel also a measure of reverence for those who preceded me on the land. The occasional farm dump, now softened with lace of dewberry or virgin’s bower, affords a glimpse into a way of life now gone, and I find weathered relics among the lichened stones of walls and foundations.
--I haven’t always included these things in my compositions, but once I did the images seemed more compelling. A painting of a woodland flower, alone in its natural setting, evokes the spirit of the place, but the addition of a rusted implement or length of vintage wire tells a story of these woods. And more than that; because these things are vestiges, receding, as Nature slowly reclaims this land, their inclusion in a painting makes it a portrait of her quiet but indomitable power.
– Gail Bunting