Even though for painting it was about a “one” in comfort, my day along the Sky was a “ten” in inspiration. As an outdoor painter I don’t normally think of warm clothes, rain gear, hat, and gloves as painting equipment but on this December day they were. Thus outfitted, I spent a wonderful hour and a half parked along Highway 2 painting. With my easel in the open back of my SUV and me somewhat out of the wet under the hatch, the scene before me was remarkably inspiring. Considering the spot was chosen because there was room to park and see the river the view seemed spectacular, but there are probably a hundred views of the river along this stretch that are equally inspiring, plus as many lovely mountain views on days you can see them.
My painting had a lot of what I felt: river enthusiasm and energy and movement, and subtle exquisite color. Only when it was finished did I realize I was really cold.
The entire day was a reminder of why living in the Pacific Northwest is particularly delightful. I was only an hour from home, yet immersed in spectacular natural beauty and stimulation. I was also a few minutes in either direction from a hot cup of coffee and a restroom. My choice this day was to go on up the highway to Der Baring Store & Cafe for a cup of their well-known prime rib & veggie soup. They heated it for me on the stove. How charming is that, and it gave me time to chat with the warm, friendly locals who gather there.
Thus fortified, I drove eight miles to Skykomish which has seen changes since my last visit. The old Molly Gibson Hotel is closed, but Cascadia Inn just up Railroad Ave. was open and welcoming. I made a mental note to come back planning to stay in this lovely setting where I painted snow scenes in years gone by. Next I drove around town revisiting interesting places remembered from before.
I skipped driving up the pass in favor of a stop in Index in low afternoon light, heading first to the end of Avenue A where the river view is spectacular. I have fond memories of Index: great painting days, family picnics, meals with fellow artists at historic Bush House, now undergoing renovation, as I look for future painting sites.
As I drive back to Seattle I am filled with the joy of a day away, the joy of a good painting, and the hope of more of everything next time.
For more information about Catherine Gill and her work visit http://www.catherinegill.com/ . This story is told by Cathe and edited for this publication by Warren Carlson, Skykomish Historical Society
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