Pencil Sketch for Ink; May Creek Truck

I’m in the mood to break out the old Rapidograph ink pens and do some drawing.  I have accumulated a thick file of research on the ancient vehicles scattered about the Copper River Basin in the Wrangell-St. Elias wilderness Alaska.  Few roads exist in this area and through the years folks kept using trucks and cars way beyond their life expectancy, robbing parts from one wreck to keep the other running.  Some of these vehicles have a long, colorful history.  I am fascinated with all of them.

One year after break-up in early May I took a scouting mission along the backroads to find as many old abandoned autos as possible.  Hidden by foliage during summer I found many rusting treasures ensconced by alders and willow, denuded branches entwining  themselves through any possible opening, sprouting through bent grills, missing floorboards, and shattered windows.  Each a treasure once upon a time, their useful lives ended to erode someday back to dust.  I’ve painted and sketched a great many of these jewels, and searching through my reference file has stimulated my imagination to begin another.  This sketch is of the work-horse truck that has survived many lives at the wilderness retreat of May Creek, deep in the heart of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.  I’ve pictured it against the hand hewn workshop, carefully built many years ago by an old friend of mine.  Our family traveled to the abandoned Chittitu gold mine in the back of this truck in 1978.  I was honored to see this vehicle live and well, thirty years later, during my artist-in residence for the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in 2008.

Gail Niebrugge, Alaska wilderness artist

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