I painted “The Not So Muddy Mississippi” while setup on the beach in Pettibone Park during “Between the Bluffs Plein Air” 2022 in La Crosse, WI. It was a chilly September day, yet a few kids rolled up their pants legs and ventured in. Their mom watched from the towels on the sand.
As cute as the little rascals were, it was the crystal clear river that captured my attention. I was especially drawn to the subtle upside down rainbow of colors in the water. The distant shore appeared purplish, then turned bluish. I noticed a small transition of green next to this beautiful jewel-like gold area where the sunlight lit up the shallow water. The wet sand was a rich combination of orange and purple.
At the top of the painting, the river weaves between forests with a bluff peeking behind. The Mississippi River Valley has distinctive bluffs that turn blue as they recede into the distance.
I grew up hearing people call the big river both “The Mighty Mississippi” and “The Muddy Mississippi”. But as I painted along its shores, I was pleasantly surprised at how clean and clear the river is right now. It still is mighty, but it certainly wasn’t muddy. That’s why I called this painting, “The Not So Muddy Mississippi.”