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Capturing the Beauty of Details

Posted by Jessi Loerch at Oct 05, 2018 03:05 PM |
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Artist Elizabeth Ahlem Clark talks trails, art and inspiration.

Elizabeth Ahlem Clark is a Bellingham artist. See the full version of this painting, as well as her other art, at

The Rock Trail in Larrabee State Park is beautiful, especially if you’re a detail lover like me. It doesn’t send you up to a summit, or even a high point, really. It’s not very long, the highest point is the start, and hikers begin by descending. These major differences from other trails appeal to me, maybe because I grew up in Michigan, where the forest is generally the destination. And the Rock Trail’s forest is stunning! The moss on the large rock forms, the supremely lush undergrowth, and the tall trees that allow light to filter through make me feel like I’m swimming underwater.


I really enjoyed mixing the mineral pigment hematite into my other paints to render the rocks on this trail. Hematite granulates in a very heavy, geological way when it dries, perfect for those substantial stone formations.

Trail painting for me is a way to document and appreciate a place. I prefer painting scenes from midway along a hike, rather than at the destination or summit. I think the character of a trail comes from what you see along the way. Capturing both the details and the overall feel of a place are important to me. I am drawn toward using calm tones and subtle texture, usually working in loose watercolor and another more defined medium like ink or colored pencil.


The Rock Trail is one of WTA’s signature projects. It was built from scratch thanks to WTA’s enthusiastic volunteers and partnerships with various organizations, including Larrabee State Park and Chuckanut Conservancy.

Distance: 2.4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,200 ft. 
Peak Elevation: 1,820 ft. 
Map: Chuckanut Mountain Recreation Map
Permit: Discover Pass
Dogs: Leashed