I had been hiking all morning in a dark green tunnel of rhododendrons and Mountain Laurel. The forest is dense here in the Smokies, and everything that touches me is wet from the fog and the mountain’s breath. Even the dead leaves and moss are alive once again, exuding their pungent scent of earth, of peat and dirt and minerals. It all returns to the mountain, I thought, or down in the valley if a stream takes it there. These were my childhood trails, and the circle of life is right here before me.
I pressed onward and upward, determined to reach the end of this endless tunnel. Suddenly, a shaft of light pierced through the darkness and I was delivered into the clearing.
It is a moment or place like this which fascinates me, where dark meets light, or where death become life. I have always looked for contrast, ever since my father taught me to paint my darkest dark next to my lightest light.
- Alan Shuptrine