Monday, January 11, 2010

Shawnee National Forest - Camel Rock

Camel Rock, oil on panel, 8x10

The Shawnee National Forest is one of my favorite places to hike and sketch.

If you travel into the Mid West a person is immediately struck by the vast flatness of the region, great for corn farmers, not very inspiring for artists. As you wind your way through Illinois ”The Prairie State”, to it’s southern tip, the landscape takes on some dramatic changes. Here eons ago, great glaciers stopped and deposited their debris, then add in some massive geological events and you find yourself inside an entirely different landscape called the Shawnee National Forest.

The Shawnee is 284,000 acres of forest, wetlands, swamps, bluffs, and canyons with unique rock formations. A great destination for camper, backpackers, hikers, rock climbers, horse back riders and the adventuress Pochade Box Artist.

The park contains eight National Natural Landmarks, all worth seeing. However my favorite (and muse) has been The Garden of the Gods Wilderness Area, noted for its main canyon, spectacular views and towering rock formations with names like, Monkey Face, Anvil Rock, Devils Smokestack and Camel Rock.

We have made many trips to hike and sketch the area. And the rock formation called Camel Rock has become an obsession of mine to paint. My intentions are that once I complete a series of Pochades, I will produce a large studio piece of this landscape.

Our last outing was late last summer and as usual we ran into other outdoor enthusiasts, hikers and photographers. Unknown to us one of the photographers was working on a project sponsored by a local University to document the Shawnee. Which published a book titled, “The Shawnee Forest – Illinois’ Hidden Gem” and set up a multi-media website journaling and documenting the beauty of this unique forest.  We purchased a few books as holiday gifts for friends and to our surprise found ourselves inside its pages.
I am working on this oil sketch of the Camel Rock and Linda snapping photos. A great giggle for us, considering how special this place is to us, and a nice way to end/start the year.
 It’s also inspirational for me when my philosophy of synchronicity works.

Enjoy Jim.

 For more information check out these links.

Shawnee National Forest
The Shawnee Forest - Illinois' Hidden Gem  the multimedia website
Photographer Bobby Samart  a must see... great work.
And for the backpacker/hiker
The Unofficial Shawnee Trail Guide