Winter in the Valley of the Mohawk
cold and snowy January afternoon. It focuses on two hunters
on snowshoes who have been out all day looking for game. I wanted them
to look cold and tired. To enhance the frigid atmosphere I used a vibrant
shade of blue to simulate the luminosity that sometimes seems to radiate
from patches of fresh fallen snow at nightfall. I did not want the painting
to be altogether bleak; after all, the hunters had worked hard and managed
to catch a wild turkey. Contrasting color is sometimes an effective means
of communicating temperature differences, so I painted the longhouses bathed
in the red-orange glow of some unseen campfire. The warmth of the light
exaggerates the conditions of the cold winter night and also promises the
men a reward for their work. By placing the source of the light outside
the image area the viewer is encouraged to imagine the rest of the scene.
In the final painting I added a female character. She is concerned and
has been waiting for some time. Upon noticing the returning hunters, she
excitedly announces their return to the rest of the camp.
This is not a painting that deals with the spiritual life
of the Iroquois. It does however, attempt to communicate to the viewer
the love and dedication people have for each other, which is not diminished
by even the harshest conditions. This is a simple truth that transcends
time and culture. It is the bridge of human emotion that transports
the viewer back to that long ago village overlooking Big Nose. This is
the common denominator of the human experience that binds us all together
and allows us to imagine ourselves in this painting.