North Elba was David Coughtry's first large-scale oil painting, and shows a view looking toward the high peaks of the Adirondacks across a meadow known as the Plains of Abraham. Behind it, Mount Marcy and surrounding peaks are cropped by gathering storm clouds. The only evidence of human habitation is the road leading into the distance at the left. The exquisitely rendered, finely detailed drawing is based on studies done at the site over the course of six weeks. Coughtry likes to research his locations thoroughly, form a personal connection with a place, and then use the natural scenery as a metaphor for the spiritual. In their somber mood of solitude and reverence, Coughtry's landscapes are reminiscent of the romantic realism of the earlier Hudson River school painters, particularly the work of Frederic Edwin Church, an important early influence. The painting was the Albany Institute Purchase Prize for the 1984 Exhibition of the Artists of the Mohawk-Hudson Region.