Down the Intervale #13: Fall Coming On…

by Alden Cole on December 5, 2012 · 0 comments

(Oil on primed mdf panel – 6″ x 36″ – framed in antique mission oak – 8″ x 38″ – in the collection of Victoria Nevins)

Down The Intervale #13(Click image to view larger.) One of my favorite locations “in all the world” is a piece of Saco River intervale behind the farm where I grew up in Dayton, Maine. On page 3 of Moby Dick, after writing about mankind’s universal draw to the sea, Melville adds “But here is an artist. He desires to paint you the dreamiest, shadiest, quietest, most enchanting bit of romantic landscape in all the valley of the Saco.” I am that artist. Having grown up with a very enchanting bit of landscape along the valley of the Saco, just a few hundred feet from home, down rolling fields to the river’s edge – and only a few miles inland from the river’s mouth into the Atlantic, between Biddeford and Saco – it tickles my fancy to think that Melville might possibly have known and trod, in the mid-1800s, those very haunts that were my own childhood playground, “down by the river,” known and trod by me in the mid-1900s. Doubtful but possible: there are many such idyllic spots along the Saco. Nevertheless, when I read that sentence from Moby Dick for the first time 2 months ago, I was thrilled, wondering if Melville was referring to a particular artist of his acquaintance, or if he knew I was coming along a hundred plus years later to fulfill his vision.

This panoramic view of that enchanting landscape is my 13th visitation to the subject. Back in 1973, at age 29, when I was just beginning to paint, I devoted my 2nd oil to the scene – painted plein air. Shortly after moving to Philadelphia in 1986 I painted another in the studio, a small but highly detailed watercolor of the sceneĀ  – a reminder of what I’d left to live in a city apartment. In the early 90s, I started another studio piece which sat unfinished for two decades, until last year. I didn’t return to painting the scene plein air until the fall of 2009, the year my parents died. Since then, I’ve painted the scene numerous times, both on site and in studio.

This version of the intervale was a studio piece, inspired by a series of photographs taken two years ago, AND a gorgeous mission oak frame found in Vermont while emptying a barn of its contents. I cut and primed a panel for the frame soon thereafter, but it wasn’t until last fall that I got to work by painting in the sky. In that state it sat until this past spring when I polished it off in 2 days. While preparing it for a show in New Jersey at the end of May, my friend Victoria Nevins stopped by, eyeballed the painting, and bought it on the spot. 2nd sale of the year! Wahoo!

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