Local artist's paintings compiled in book
By Tim Karan
Published: Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, 1:51 p.m.
Sixteen years ago, when Elizabeth Township artist Karen E. Howell began following the Mon Yough Trail to find inspiration for paintings, she had no idea it would one day lead to her first published book.
“Back in 1997, when we were having Youghtoberfest festival near where the trail sits, I decided that I wanted to add something fresh to it,” said Howell. “So when the Boston Shoppes were opening, I did a watercolor painting of it. Then I just began painting more and more of the trail.”
Since then, she unwittingly became a documentarian of sorts, capturing scenic views along the river and the march of time through its neighboring communities.
“It kind of became a pictorial diary or journal of the trail,” said Howell. “I have paintings of things that were moved or torn down — like the Coal Company Store in Van Meter and the Tastee-Freeze in Sutersville. Going through all the paintings, it really shows how things have changed over time.”
Howell had considered turning the paintings — all watercolors — into a calendar. But around last January, she decided it could be something more. With captions by trail historian Bob Cupp — who already had 14 of the original paintings hanging in his North Huntington Township home — Howell put together the pictorial “River Reflections: Watercolors of the Yough River Trail.”
The book contains 24 paintings arranged geographically starting from Confluence and ending in McKeesport.
Some of the paintings took Howell only hours to finish, others took weeks. But all of it was a labor of love.
“The trail has always been a part of my interest since its conception,” she said. “I would often put my portable easel into a backpack, go out onto the trail and paint whatever appealed to me.”
In fact, she made sure that as the book was being planned, its dimensions would make it compact enough that riders on the trail could pack it in their own bag and take it along.
Published by the Alvah M. Squibb Company in McKeesport, the book is available by e-mailing Howell. You can also pick up a copy from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday when Howell will be signing copies at the Mon Yough Trail Council visitors center near the trail head in Boston.
But to Howell, the fact the book exists at all is reward enough.
“It's really about putting together a legacy for my family,” she said. “I wanted them to have something they could keep.”
However, MYTC member Judy Marshall said Howell has done much more than that.
“All of us who work to maintain the trail often think we're the only people who see the beauty along the trail,” said Marshall. “So we feel a real kinship with Karen. She may think she's done this for her kids, but it's really a legacy for all of us.”
For more information, e-mail Howell at email@example.com.
Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- West Mifflin business joins forces with East Allegheny students
- Elizabeth council seeks $500,000 state gaming grant to aid flood recovery
- White Oak residents can sign up through borough police for county’s new registry
- Local Episcopal priest sentenced in child pornography case
- North Versailles magisterial judge “retires” but remains on bench
- Prescription Drug Take Back Day to be observed locally
- West Jefferson board approves bids for multiple projects
- 2 South Allegheny students earn accolades for environmental awareness artwork
- Mon Valley public works crews begin patchwork on pothole-filled roadways
- Pleasant Hills chicken limit questioned
- McKeesport crews prep for new KaBOOM! playground