Shoe Factory Road Prairie

Cook County, Illinois
Oil on canvas
24 x 48 in. (61 x 121.9 cm)

Artist's collection

“Shoe Factory Road Prairie is a dry to dry mesic gravel prairie perched on the crest and slopes of a glacial deposit or kame of sand and gravel.” – read more from the Illinois Nature Preserve Commission’s preserve webpage.

Slightly subdued in the dim light of dawn, wild quinine, grey-headed coneflower, and obedient plant, are prominent in this July 2015 view from Shoe Factory Road Prairie. A glowing sky and fog-shrouded viewshed compete with the flora for the viewer’s attention. Although the composition is based on photographs and a field study (see below) it doesn’t strictly replicate the morning’s observations. First, while onsite with the camera I chose a viewpoint that offered an uninterrupted view of the post glacial contours, avoiding portions of the hilltop that were once mined for gravel. Later, in the painting process, a few trees were slightly relocated to strengthen the composition while some distant buildings were deleted to allow the scene to more easily exist in any desired time frame. From this lightly edited viewpoint, with hundreds of acres of restored prairie and oak savanna spreading out in the mists below, it’s not so hard to imagine the prairie vistas of past centuries.

Exhibition History