Making Panels for Oil Painting

I have been trying out different materials and seeing what I like. Recently I’ve been painting on linen panels with an alkyd primer.  I really liked the way the oil paint behaved.  But they are way too expensive for my painting habit so I’m making my own….

I went to a big box store, bought two 4×8 sheets of masonite, and had them cut it in specific sizes.  The guy was great and I came home with a pile ready to paint. We did this project it out side. We?  Marcus (my hubby)  took charge… and wow – two of us did it really fast.

 Marcus is a real professional .  He painted the oil primer on the panels.  Fine with me.  I carried the panels to lay them in the sun to dry. Sherman Williams is 7 miles from my house, they sell the primer .

Here is the drying area.  We had a thunderstorm in the morning so the blue tarp on the wet grass created a nice drying “table.” As you can see the sun is moving fast. 

Ok, Here we are getting a little closer to finishing!

Evening is here , all the panels have 2 coats of primer on the front side and tomorrow we put a layer on the back to seal the panel.  Thanks to Stapleton Kearns for sharing his system! 

Spring in Cundy’s Harbor

Cundy’s Harbor is a small harbor a little way down on the peninsula from Brunswick, Maine.   The sun was warm in this spot and we were protected from the breeze off the ocean that was chilly.

I set up on the back lawn of the public library. No leaves on the trees yet so I could see the harbor pretty easily .
This is the view looking south down the length of the peninsula toward the open ocean. A few boats were in the harbor.  There were many empty moorings. I did a quick 20 minute sketch. 
Behind me was a dock that had a stone tank built along side it . I think its for holding lobsters before taking them market. I’ve never seen one of these before – no one was around to ask.  This harbor is not busy year round. 
 Here I am starting a sketch of a dock on the north side of the harbor.
Here’s the sketch on its way to being finished, 8×10 oil on panel.  This was it for the morning location. After this I packed up and headed over to Abner’s Point for an afternoon of painting.

Willek’s Pochade Box

Willek, Marian and Dennis drove up to Maine to paint surf with me along the Marginal Way in Ogunquit.  Willek is a Renaissance man which I sort of suspected and Marian confirmed.  She’s been painting with him for maybe… 15 years?


 

When we finished our morning paintings decided to head over to Perkins Cove.  Willek went to his car and fetched this priceless little item that he had made.  He wanted to give to me. Here he is showing me how to use it.  
Tis a simple wooden cigar box.
Open it and you are gazing at a palette with a thumb hole.  
Behind the palette is a black mirror with value viewer, a miniature copper brush washer, an adjustable  brace to angle the lid/easel to your specifications, a plastic one hand flip bottle to hold your mineral spirits, a big clip to hold your panel on your easel/lid and plastic wrap to put over your wet paint on the palette when you need to move to another location!


Here is this little cigar box pochade in action holding one of my 6×6 square panels.  Do I love this or what? !!!!!!

Of course here is Willek using his cigar box while sitting on the dock and half in a dory in Perkins Cove in the warm afternoon sun. He’s one of a kind ! I love this guy ! 

Vermont & Upstate New York

When I take a trip in the early fall through Vermont and upstate NY I’m always looking for some autumn color and hoping I will hit it right. Its so weather dependent. Temperature and moisture determine how vibrant the color is, when it starts and when the leaves fall. Its always earlier than the color on the southern Maine coast so I usually come home and have more great scenes to paint.

On my way over the mountains from Williamstown into NY I pulled off onto a dirt road in Berlin, NY. This farm looked quiet, possibly abandoned, but all the fields around it were planted with corn.
There had been a hard rain the day before so the dirt road was full of big puddles in the low spots where the tractors had driven. This valley was edged with the Taconic Mountains.
When we headed north into Vermont the next morning and then east to get back home to Maine there were maples turning red on route 9 just outside of Bennington in the Green Mountains.
As route 9 headed up higher into the Green Mountains near Wilmington the whole hillside was turning a faint golden yellow mixed in with dark late summer greens.

We stopped in Brattleboro along the West River in the late afternoon. It was mostly green with the fields of corn turning golden brown. The hills across the river in NH were a vivid blue. I love that town and the way it is tucked in along the river with those steep hills on the NH side. I used to live there. It is really a nice community.
All sketches are marker and watercolor on 60 lb. paper.

Harpswell Boatyard

Harpswell, Maine is down east of Brunswick on the end of one of the southern most long fingers of land that compose midcoast Maine. Its gorgeous and I always feel like I am coming home.  I traveled to South Harpswell as a child for our summer vacation. 

The boat yard is full of big guys being fixed or waiting for attention before the summer season. I love how big and tough they are when you are up close and personal.  No romantic little specks bobbing in a blue summer harbor. 

This is the view looking east at South Harpswell.

I was parked in between the water’s edge and some big boats. I sketched the white boat as it moved around the harbor. They always move, pick a spot and put them in it I always say…
Here’s the start of the sketch. If I like it tomorrow I’ll work on it more in the studio.  8×10 Oil on panel.   
Behind me was the Henry A., a boat I have fallen in love with.  Its so big and sturdy.  I think about this boat being the only thing between me and the sea when out fishing in rough weather.  

Here’s an earlier portrait I started of Henry A. when I first saw him in February. The snow was all melting around him as the pavement was warming up in the  sun.  I shortened him to fit him on the panel – think I’ll get a wider panel and paint him as big as he really is.   Its 24×36, oil on panel.

Jungle & Creatures of Myakka

We spent a day in Myakka River State Park, 57 square miles of wetlands, woodlands and prairies; a short drive from downtown Sarasota.  On a bright, sunny day it was dark, cool and gloomy in the forest. The wide variety of different landscape was interesting.

  
 
Here’s Marcus (my husband) as he heads down a trail into the forest.

Here we both are walking on a brighter part of the trail.  Parts of the trail were underwater so we had to walk through rust colored water up to our ankles.  It was cool and refreshing.  
We crossed a walkway in the canopy of the trees that led to a high tower.  This is the view above the forest with the Myakka River in the distance. 


Wild boars were running around in the forest.  

This resident turtle climbed out of the river for a few minutes too look around. 

A bird few up to a tree limb above me as I was painting. A pelican? 

Here I am  comfortably situated with my sketch books and watercolors recording the exotic flora and fauna.

A palm tree growing nearby. Ink & watercolor 90 lb paper.

It was great to find a picnic table in a nice area to use for working.  I was traveling with six guys that day so they just picked it up and moved to a good spot in the shade… 
I painted this tree with Spanish moss dangling from its branches.Marker & watercolor on 90 lb. paper. 

 I didn’t notice Marcus taking pictures of me as I was busy sketching while the rest of the gang (7 or 8 people – it varied from day to day ) were off biking on trails in the wilds.

A classic cluster of palms and palmetto. Ink and watercolor on 90 lb. paper
A large tree with spanish moss was growing along the lake front. It was a quiet, pleasant, place to spend the day sketching. 

On the Gulf of Mexico

When I am in Maine I paint harbors and villages along the Atlantic coast. I decided to spend the day sketching at the bay front park in downtown Sarasota along the gulf coast.  It was gorgeous and a great comfortable temperature.

I sketched a tiki hut restaurant and a few selected boats that were moored at the dock on the point. Watercolor 9×12 on 90 lb water color paper.

I set up under a small tree with a great view of everything. 

 A row boat was sitting at the edge of the small cove in front of me. Ink and watercolor on 90 lb watercolor paper.

I kept moving around the tree to stay in the shade but I didn’t have to go to a new location – I could just turn my head and see a new subject to sketch.

Another row boat that sat quietly in the shallows.  There are no waves and little tide on the west coast of Florida. Ink and watercolor on 90 lb watercolor paper

This harbor is full of old hippies living on their sailboats. They moor out in the bay.  Here is a guy who was visiting friends and giving his dog a boat ride.

 I did a sketch of him heading out into the bay to the sailboats . Ink and watercolor on 90 lb on watercolor paper

The Ringling Museum & Mansion

During our trip we visited the the Ringling Museum collection in Sarasota, FL.  It is impressive.   The Ringlings were really into collecting huge major pieces.

This is one of a group of four Rubens that are hung together in one room.

 The Ringling’s mansion is a short distance away on the water. I walked over there to sketch.  

The wind coming off the gulf was 25mph that day. The palm trees were feeling it.

Here I am tucked into a corner out of the wind with a new student from Bern, Switzerland (Jon one of my 5 brother-in-laws).   The other nice guy quietly watching us paint is another brother-in-law Tom, our 5 star tour guide. 

The furniture was clustered against the railing to prevent it from blowing away, the umbrellas were tightly closed.

The clouds were tearing through .  Ink & watercolor sketch on  90 lb. sketchbook paper

As you can see no wind touched us where we sat.  It was the only place where we were protected. People were surprised to find us there. They could barely walk the wind was so strong and there was surf on the gulf ! 
   

Another watercolor sketch of a blowing umbrella on the plaza.  90lb sketchbook paper. 

The Stars at Night in Sarasota

It was a great tip from my friend Robert Simone that got me over to the opening at Gallery M. It was the opening for Scott Burdick and Susan Lyon.  They were doing a demo from 6- 9 pm.
Two tango dancers performed for us before the demo started. They were great! 

For the view she wanted Susan sat up on the platform with the model. She wore a visor so she could see while sitting in the bright lights that were on her model.
It was a warm evening. The model held the pose under 100 degree lights.  It was cookin…

Scott worked in oils.  Here is the start of his painting . The place was a mob scene. Everyone wanted to see the action and the paintings.

Susan worked on her drawing in pastel and pastel pencil.  It was great to be there and see their paintings  and demos.  

Plein Air & Custom Sketchbooks

I cut a bunch of 100% cotton paper and divided it up into 1 inch thick stacks, took it to Fedex/Kinkos and had it bound into sketchbooks.  I got the idea from a discussion on Plein Air Artists .
They have coil binding and simple black covers.  The paper is Rives BFK 140 lb, Somerset 140 lb,
and Fabriano Aquarelle 90 lb. 
The sizes range from 6×12 to 9 x12 depending on the paper I had around.  I had 7 of these bound for about 5-6 dollars each not including the cost of the paper. 
Here’s a sample of what I did on one of the pages. Its a 6×12 sketch on the Rives.
 
Here’s what the sketch would look like if I decided to cut it out of the book and frame it. These books make it so easy for me to just pick up and go paint something.  It keeps it casual and immediate and I might just end up with a sketch I like.
And as for what is happening in plein air …these blooms are right outside my studio, this is what has happened these last few days after warm weather came to Maine !