Watercolor Workshop en plein air at Canterbury Shaker Village

I have a few workshops coming up in some gorgeous places….

The first one is The Sketchbook Journal – sketching and painting with watercolors in Canterbury Shaker Village, Canterbury, NH. 
The workshop is May 22nd & 23rd.  

This workshop is great for all levels.   

You will get a chance to try a number of techniques. Materials list available.

  The setting is spectacular with great open meadows, interesting architecture, and big sky action. 

Of course these pictures were taken a few weeks ago, when we are up there painting all the leaves will be out, the flowers will blooming and sheep will be dotting the hillsides…

Come paint some juicy paintings !  

To see more samples of some of plein air watercolor sketches check out  Field Sketches
You can get all the details for the workshop at  Canterbury Shaker Village

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 ! 

Wet Paint & Thick Paper

I am trying out new materials to see how they behave.  I am used to doing watercolor sketches on cheap 60 lb. paper.  I liked these papers so much I just had 7 sketchbooks made out of stacks of my paper at Kinkos. So great!   So I will be sketching and painting on cotton this summer.  Here are a few tests I did on 140 lb. and 300 lb. Arches, Somerset & Rives BFK paper.  Paints are Daniel Smith watercolors.

Rocky coast & pines, Schoodic, ME. on Rives BFK 140 lb.

Catching some wind on the Damariscotta River, Damariscotta, ME. on 300 lb.Arches.

Golden grasses & scrub pines on Drakes Island, ME. on 300 lb.Arches.

Rain clouds at sunset, N. Berwick, on 300 lb. Arches. 

Bright sail on John’s Bay, South Bristol, ME on 300 lb. Arches. 

Winter Painting on the Water

Sometimes when storms are coming there is a relative calm and the wind dies down. Its fairly unusual to not have wind either off shore or on shore along the coast.  Its warmer and easier to paint with out the wind. This day was one of these rare quiet days . I grabbed my paints and headed out in the late afternoon to see what I could find.

The first place I stopped was at the mouth of a small river in Cape Neddick where it opens into a bay . You can see how cold it is, the salt water has ice on it.  But there were too many big snow banks to find a place to park.

I decided to go to York Harbor which is often very windy .   It was peaceful and calm – so rare.  

As you can see I was minutes after new snow. Fresh snow was on everything forming nice patterns and forms. A row of empty docks looked like a little train. 

Way out over the ocean was a band of yellow light where the sky was clear, the heavy bank of clouds hadn’t reached it yet. 

I did a quick sketch of that warm light and the river bank before it got too dark. By the time I took this picture the clouds had moved in. It was starting to snow. Have to grab these moments when you have them.

Painting on Harris Island

I live about 15 miles from Harris Island. It’s a great area in York Harbor , ME where two of the town docks are located. Now that the bridge is being repaired on route 103 the road is closed into town so its a perfect quiet place to paint with only a few cars and trucks driving to the docks.
It was a warm sunny morning with snow clouds moving in from the west around midday. Here I’m looking east out to sea with a view of the tip of the island at low tide. The deepest channel forms a curving river pattern in the sand. I did a sketch here.

On the other side of the road there is another bay. I turned and painted this about an hour and a half later. It was filling up fast with the incoming tide.

Here’s the sketch I did before the tide and dark clouds moved in.

Shortly after 4:00 pm I moved to one more location a bit farther up the road.There was this large piece of snow on the western side of this small tree covered island in the marsh.

I set up and quickly painted a 20 min study. I had only a small amount of time as I had to head off to teach a sketch class that night.

Here I am still set up in the last bit of light before I packed up and drove off. 

Think this might be some of the last snow on Harris Island for this winter. I’m not holding my breath, its March and we do get big snow storms in March. Here’s the sketch with a bit more paint on it. Still not finished.

Big Storm, Big Waves

We just had a monster storm in Maine with rain & 90 mph winds here along the coast. We had 7.5 ” rain in the coastal plain over night, inland they got hit with heavy snow. The big wind and the water combination was wild! 150 roads were closed in our county.

Two days after the storm departed it still kept sending bands of snow and rain in off the ocean. I went over to Israel’s Head in Ogunquit to paint the surf. This is the surf at the mouth of Perkins Cove as the tide is going out.

There is usually some wave action on the rocks on the Marginal Way. Today it was quite lively and even a bit too rough for the usual surfers. Nobody was out on their boards. It started to snow heavily so I moved inside the car to do some sketches.

View of surf hitting the point from Perkins Cove. This one is watercolor pencil & watercolor on 90 lb. paper.

The point awash in foam. Never seen so much beautiful white frothy foam – made you want to jump in it. This sketch is ink, water color pencil & watercolors on 125 lb. paper.

More rocks and foamy waves.

A big one hits the ledge and delivers a sloppy foamy crash.

After the foamy crash, now pulling back into the briny deep.

The following day the clouds were beginning to break up so I went to Moody Beach and Wells to see what was happening. The weather was better – no sideways snow so I could set up and get a painting in before dark.

It was low tide and still the surf was crashing.

Here’s a quick wave sketch I did.

As I packed up the sun was peaking through tiny openings in the clouds as more of that big storm headed out to sea. Its really nice living& painting in this land of big sky, big water and big weather!

Sketchbook Class At Sanctuary Arts

Sanctuary Arts & Green Foundry is an art school and foundry in Eliot, Maine. The school offers great classes for adults and children. The foundry is a fine art sculpture and teaching facility that is famous for fabricating the Robert Indiana HOPE sculpture for Obama at the Democratic National Convention.

This is where I am teaching a sketchbook class for the winter semester. The main building was a church. Christopher Gowell a well known sculptor, owns and runs the school.

Here is the main entrance to the class rooms and studios . Steven Lee sculpted the head planter near the door.

Here is the large studio where I hold my class. The windows are 2 stories high. There are lots of sculptures in various stages of completion.

Here are my wonderful students hard at work. They are sketching with ink. This class prepares them for sketching and painting while traveling or out and about in the world. It’s about how to do art while smack dab in the middle of your life and end up with something nice. The class helps one establish good habits for sketching and painting. Its about learning to see and developing a good critical visual sense.
This is a multi stage exercise using parts of landscapes images to depict form and compose a design. Here the students were using watercolor on ink sketches completed earlier.

Here we are doing an exercise that we would do after coming in from a day of traveling and sketching when we couldn’t paint on location. We add color or water to ink or watercolor pencil sketches using our notes and fresh memories of what we sketched that day for reference.

These exercises are fun and require their full attention. And water soluble, move able ink is one of the best things an artist can use for quick, great value sketches. Here is one of those great watercolor pencil sets with 100 + colors. For color notes on location it can’t be beat… unless you have the time and a spot where you can to set up and actually use your paints!

Snow, Salt & Plein Air

I headed over to Cape Neddick last week to paint the ice on the river before it all melted. Its tidal so its dramatically different as the tide rises and falls.

Here is where I set up along the road. I am looking east down the river toward a small harbor, the open ocean is just beyond. It was a beautiful day.

My friend Heather lives in the neighborhood. She took this picture of me doing a small sketch looking west up the river with the sun dropping lower in the sky.

Here is the river and its collar of ice as it heads up into the woods. It is so difficult to paint facing into the sun but I wanted to do it as I know there are only a few days left before these spring like temperatures melt all that great ice.

I am really concentrating here trying not to let the glare off the snow blind me. It was so brilliant that sometime I could barely see my pallette or painting. When a cloud floated by I’d try to see if I was getting my color relationships to read.

Here’s the sketch I did in the field. I have’t worked on it in the studio. I’m thinking I might use as a reference for a larger painting.

Cape Neddick is right next to Ogunquit so I went over to the Marginal Way next to see what was cooking.

The snow on the rocks was gorgeous. There was big surf crashing as the sun dropped down behind the trees. I was running out of light so I did a quick sketch . The temps were dropping fast and the wind was picking up.