The Sketchbook & the Bullet Journal


This is a watercolor from my sketchbook series. I am in the process of reviewing all my sketches and watercolors for a new project I am working on in 2017.  I love that I have these piles of visual diaries of everywhere. What a treasure trove! “Red Fish Shacks”. 6×8 watercolor. Original $175. Limited Edition Prints $35  Available.Photo: Mary Byrom

BULLET JOURNALS & SKETCHBOOKS: GETTING ORGANIZED FOR NEW YEAR !

Its so early in the new year it doesn’t feel real yet. I always go through this when I’m writing the date in my bullet journal. I don’t know if I’ve talked much about it but I love my “bullet journal.” Over the past year it has brought me full circle and it’s really keeping me organized. I love that it’s analog and is so organic that I can design it to fit my needs and my always changing life.

THE BULLET JOURNAL IS DIFFERENT
I discovered the bullet journal on my instagram feed. All it took was seeing one picture of it to grab my attention. There was something about its old school approach that brought everything back down to earth. It is almost meditative to keep one. In contrast to the sped-up electronic gadget world that we live in this feels positively organic! I have a field sketchbook that goes every where with me and now, and I have a bullet journal that accompanies it!

THE PROCESS

I kept a daily journal when I was 6 or 7 years old  But I never used it to keep track of things. I used it to report things after the fact. Keeping a bullet journal is the opposite, I design how I keep track of things, how my life activities are organized and then review everything to see how it turned out. Thoughts and perspective are still part of the process but is sure feels good to have a track record that I can look any time I want to evaluate how I’m doing.  I list everything I think I need to keep on track from simple daily and weekly stuff to long term, big picture stuff. The bullet journal is full of ideas, tasks, structure and total freedom. How’s that for the perfect tool for a creative type?

I tape things into my bullet journal that I’m sure I will need again. Like the name and size of the multimedia board that I want to reorder. Photo: Mary Byrom

THE RIGHT BOOK
I love this process.
Right now I use 5.5 x 8.5″ Canson Universal sketchbook for my bullet journal. It is a perfect fit for me. I draw and sketch all the time in my bigger sketchbooks with heavy multimedia paper in them, so I can paint in watercolors, gouache or acrylic if I feel like it. I sometimes draw every day  in the big sketchbooks and I now write every day in my bullet journal. I don’t journal or use the small sketchbook the way the urban sketchers do. I’m not recording or journaling my day in pictures in these small books. I’m using them for thinking and creating form and structure in my life. Bullet journaling helps me direct and harness the unending creativity that pours out of my mind and keep track of all the many helpful things I encounter and would forget it I didn’t write them down. It helps me manifest my ideas into 3D reality. Not one of the electronic apps I used for the past several years could ever work as well as this does. It was eye opening to experience the benefits of the process. I totally understand why it is so popular with so many people.

THE BULLET JOURNAL CAN BE DESIGNED TO WORK FOR YOU

I’m getting freer with my design of my bullet journal this year. I’m including more open, unplanned space in it to think things out. This is what I love about this. I used it one way for the past year and noticed that I needed more space for thinking and development of ideas. What I learned was that as an artist I do many more things per day (that need listing) than someone who has a basic 9-5 job. All my work and life details go into my bullet journal. It’s headquarters for keeping everything on track. I couldn’t believe the difference it made in my increased productivity last year. I also noticed I didn’t have the feelings of overwhelm I sometimes have when I’m so busy that I’m just going from point to point to get things done.  I am beginning to have more down time as a result of my bullet journal. Now as I’m reviewing last year and deciding on priorities for 2017 it is really making a difference in how I’m making my choices.

NEW PRINT RELEASED THIS WEEK … on my site on Fine Art America

“Deliverance” is now available in a variety of sizes as a high quality giclee.

If you wish to purchase prints of my paintings, they are being posted on my page at Fine Art America. You can follow my page on Fine Art America for notification of the release of new paintings into print editions.
A select collection is available now and more will be posted soon on a regular basis. I will be releasing small studies and reproductions of some of my larger paintings.

NEW STUDIO CLASS STARTS JAN 10TH.
I HAVE ONE OPENING AVAILABLE NOW

YOU CAN REGISTER NOW FOR THE STUDIO SESSION OF THE WINTER CLASS – STARTING JANUARY 10TH

Class meets WEEKLY on Tuesdays 10am  – 1pm.
The 2017 session will be focused on drawing perspectives, developing design, developing your color “voice” and painting large landscapes from plein air studies.
Register for 6 week STUDIO CLASS here.

If you are interested in joining the class that begins January 10, 2017 and have questions, please contact me here. 

UPCOMING EVENTS

LIVE DEMO AND Pop Up – NEW YEAR SALE & CELEBRATION – HAIKU EXHIBIT ~

I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO MY DEMO & POP UP IN JANUARY!
I will be hosting a painting demo, artists talk and pop up sale in the quiet, beautiful time of the year – January !  (I’m watching the long range weather reports – which may or may not help on choosing the date…we shall see!)
I will have small paintings from my haiku series and selected plein air landscapes available for purchase at unbelievable price points! If you are looking for paintings of the seacoast region – you will find them here.
This will be a fun & wild pop up happening!
If you love tiny paintings, adventure, unusual locations and hot chocolate this event is for you.
If you would like to receive the date, location and time of this festive event please click here! 
This event is by invitation only. Get your invite here ! 

Warmly,

Mary

You are What you Consume

Everything you hear or see goes into your mind.  It stays there even if you “forget” it. 

Watercolor Plein Air Sketchbook Acadia, ME

Its like sound waves in a wall. The sound from Beethoven’s music he played in a concert hall in 1800 are still in the walls. What does this say about what is in our minds?
Watercolor Plein Air Sketchbook Acadia, ME

One time when I was out painting with a group a fellow painter wanted me to paint standing behind him.  I told him I wasn’t  interested in painting that specific view. 
Watercolor Plein Air Sketchbook Acadia, ME

 He responded by saying that the intent of his suggestion was not for the landscape but to provide me the best view of his easel and what he was doing.

Watercolor Plein Air Sketchbook Friendship, ME

He thought hat I could learn a lot by watching him paint.  Now this is a very kind and generous thought. But…

Watercolor Plein Air Sketchbook Friendship, ME

 …what if I do not want to paint the way he does, or want my paintings to look like his… 


I was thinking about having all this extra unwanted stuff in my brain… 
 I’m having trouble enough trying to paint what I do want to paint … without adding all this other stuff to the mix. 

I also don’t watch TV…but this probably doesn’t surprise you.


Captains, Cranes, Boats and a Bridge

Sometimes you have a perfect day.

That happened last week when I set up to paint in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
I’ve been having a great time painting this winter.  For the past 8 weeks I’ve been in Portsmouth, New Hampshire painting subjects that I’ve never painted before…

…man made objects, buildings, machines, ships, bridges, metal, industrial things….dark,  gritty, heavy, non-cozy, non-pastoral stuff.   
Not really what you’d call friendly, or human-sized, it’s the substance of big industry. 

I’m painting this industrial landscape with fellow painter Barbara Carr who is just as interested in this new subject as I am. 
We pick a general location every week then scout around to see what has shown up. Portsmouth is a busy seaport, the setting changes all the time.
 Right now the well-known and well-used Memorial Bridge, an aging drawbridge, is being removed so a new one can be built in the same location.  

    
Unusual looking tug boats have appeared to move the barges and cranes for the workers as they dismantle the bridge.

Its a big deal. Hundreds of people love this bridge. It’s the only one you can walk across to get to Kittery, Maine. Everyone comes by to see the “de-construction”.  
We were lucky to find a quiet corner.  

Barbara wasted no time locating her spot and setting up.
I sketched in my design.

It wasn’t easy. Not only did the barges move around while we were painting…

…but the reason they were moved soon became apparent. A huge ship needed to get up the river, and one barge was in the way.
It looked like a tight fit getting through the channel.

 The ship was so big that the tugs had to keep the barges and cranes in place as it passed.

All kinds of frameworks are being put in place to dismantle the remaining sides of the bridge.
A visit from Captain Leo Smith of the tugboat “Miss Stacy” made our day! How often does the captain of your subject visit you? 

Then as if that wasn’t enough… the next group of experts to arrive were from the barges. Emmanuel Jefferson(on right) is the operator of the monster red crane I was painting ! 

These ironworkers usually work in the Chesapeake Bay region and wanted to see what these northern artists were painting. 

Heck ! The pressure was on. Get those painting done. Back to work!
Its a real party scene down by the bridge. People pour in all day, looking, chatting, taking pictures and watching everything the workers do.
Jeff Weaver stopped by after finishing a painting he started the day before when the crowds were so thick he couldn’t even find a place nearby to park. 
We kept painting until sunset. 

The scene on the river keeps changing. Tugs, cranes and barges move around.



 When they stopped work for the day the two tugs tied up on the barge anchored in the middle of the river. They were all lit up. It looked like a small industrial island.

Painting While Driving

Drawing and painting landscapes in a moving car is a challenge and quite fun. 
Snow,Rocks & Trees Watercolor Sketchbook
The view is right there in front of you for a few seconds then… zip its gone !
When I drove from the Maine coast into the White mountains of New Hampshire the other day I encountered a variety of weather along the way. It was raining along the seacoast. I settled into the passenger seat and organized my materials.
My carefully chosen weapons for the battle… an ink pen, mechanical pencil and 98 pound multimedia sketchbook paper.
Sturdy Pines Watercolor Sketchbook

I have a method for sketching from a moving vehicle. I stare hard at the subject, remember what I saw and sketch very fast. Its an excellent memory exercise.


I placed my sketchbook on my lap, unpacked my small watercolor set and my lightning-fast Niji water brush. This water brush is the best thing for fast painting in tight quarters. 
Snowy fields Watercolor Sketchbook
It helps when you need to mix colors rapidly. You just squeeze water through the brush tip to clean it. You don’t need a jar of water handy to clean the brush, which could be a problem in a bumpy car ride on uneven road surfaces.

The weather was fierce. It rained, sleeted and ice froze across the windshield as we drove north. The heat turned up high melted the ice off the windshield. The higher we climbed into the mountains of New Hampshire the colder and icier it got.
Boreal Forest Watercolor Sketchbook
When we crossed the high ridge of mountains in the middle of the state and started driving down into the valley toward Vermont and the Connecticut River the freezing rain turned to rain.
It was 10 degrees warmer in the river valley.
The White River Watercolor Sketchbook
The White River meets the Connecticut River at White River Junction, Vermont. After the big floods Vermont had last August the White River has a number of sand bars and a newly shaped river bed.

Road into the Mountains Watercolor Sketchbook

The precipitation stopped completely in Vermont. Low clouds were tearing across the mountain tops and sky holes made it brighter. 

It was easy to sketch the view. I just kept looking and moving my hand at the same time. Painting in colors was more difficult. I could only get one good look at the colors of a specific location, then in seconds it was gone.
Snowy Rocks and Pines Watercolor Sketchbook
There was more snow in Vermont than any where else we drove through, especially on the high ridges.
It was a blue, violet and slate gray day. The trees were dark mauve and deep blue against the distant snow fields.

Whaleback Mountain Watercolor Sketchbook
Everything was looking very dramatic.

 
The dark bottomed clouds and dark trees made the snow look whiter than ever. The snow covered ground was the brightest spot in the landscape.
The Tree line Watercolor Sketchbook
Winter is the best time to paint out doors. The contrast and shapes are wonderful!
Each open area that was edged with trees has a different look and feeling.

Snowy Ledges Watercolor Sketchbook
A mundane location that you would never look at in the summertime all of the sudden has dramatic shapes and colors. 

Farms & Snow Fields Watercolor Sketchbook
In hilly and mountainous areas the white snow covered fields created a patchwork of pines and hardwoods.
In this winter wonderland a simple red brick building became a warm spot of color in the cool white and blue landscape.

Road on the Ridge Watercolor Sketchbook
As the afternoon moved toward sunset the dark violet blue mountains were a deep cool contrast against the nearby green pine forest.
It reminded me that it doesn’t have to be a sunny day to be beautiful. 
The Connecticut River at Hanover Watercolor Sketchbook
Days like this have a peaceful quiet mood and subtle rich colors that are very satisfying to see. 

Water, Color & Town Dock #1

I am painting every day in the late afternoon.  I’ve been doing this for a few weeks. 
I can’t resist the subtle colors of twilight. The winter solstice is almost here with its beautiful velvety mood and twinkling night time lights.
8X6 Sketch pen, watercolor


After many nights out I was bound to run out of steam at some point… it happened the other day at the town dock in York Harbor. 

This was a day time painting excursion…
4×4 Study, pen, watercolor

I arrived, looked around for a subject to grab me and… all I wanted to do was sit somewhere and sketch what was in front of me. 

I find sketching a very relaxing, zen-like experience.  The pen or pencil slides and floats smoothly on the surface of the paper. 
4×6 Sketch, pen, watercolor

I slow down to capture what is in front of me…… which is often a subject arriving or departing for somewhere else.

I found that if I am sitting down I can just look at something and imprint it in my memory. 

I haven’t got a clue as to why sitting down makes such a difference.
4×6 Sketch, pen, watercolor

When I paint I always stand up. I can’t paint sitting down…I like to keep moving, walking around, looking at what I’m doing from different perspectives. 

On a day like today it was perfect to sit and observe from a quiet spot.  

It was also very warm and comfortable for a mid November day. 

I sketched in black ink and added color with watercolor pencils.

Did I forget to mention that it also started raining every now and then?

I was sitting under a pine tree.

It didn’t seem to be raining on me so I just ignored it, sat there and continued sketching.

Sure enough after a few minutes the rain stopped.

My sketchbook pages were dry with just a raindrop here and there.
8×6 Sketches, pen

The boats started coming in, the lobstermen were pulling up to the dock with the day’s  catch.

This harbor isn’t very crowded now. In the summer it has a lot of pleasure boats.
4×6 Sketch, pen, watercolor pencil

Now you can see the working boats easily, they are the only ones left on the moorings. 

Its peaceful and there is plenty of parking all along the two town docks.
6×8 Sketch pen

The bustle of summer is over. The big summer cottages along the river are mostly empty now.

I actually like it more than in summer. September, October and November are my favorite months on the coast.
4×6 Sketch, pen, watercolor pencil

When the snow and cold arrive I paint really beautiful pictures but its usually too cold to hang out like today.

The season is changing really fast, almost daily I notice variations in the landscape.  It’s really so nice to take a day and slow it way down. 
4×6 Sketch, pen, watercolor


PAINT EAT SLEEP  

Weekend Warriors at Fort McClary

A battle of the The French and Indian War was reenacted at Fort McClary on Kittery Point, Maine this past weekend. 

When we stopped at the Kittery Point town dock a very strange looking vessel was pulling away from the wharf.  It was a replica of a “Jolly boat”. It had four rowers and a sail!  Its was flying a plain white flag…the flag of the naval ensign of France in 1754. 

They were sailing to Fort McClary over on the right side of the harbor where a small encampment of white tents could be seen on the grass above the rocky shingle beach…
3×4 watercolor Rives BFK

The fog was rolling in off the open ocean, obscuring the forest behind the fort’s block house. On the water visibility was fine for the invaders.  The boat landed on the shingle beach. Cannons blazed away. The harbor was filled with a volley of “booms”! It was quite exciting.

By the time we arrived at the fort the battle was almost over.  Maybe that was OK as the cannons are really loud !  As we walked down from the fort a very official looking commander was lining up the troops for the audience to inspect. 

He was an impressive looking colonial officer with an elegant uniform, a huge sword and polished knee high leather boots…

He invited the ladies in the audience to come in closer to inspect the troops; announcing loudly that some of these fine looking men were single…
These officers and soldiers were wonderful models! When they weren’t in a battle of some sort they were sitting around their encampments, relaxing or preparing meals. They were reenacting what live was like in the 1700’s …life then was very slow. 
Colonist. 8×11 watercolor on Rives BFK

Sketching these actors in their period costumes was great! Several of the French sailors had their wives traveling with them. This delightful French colonial woman explained everything she was doing as she set about preparing dinner, a stew cooked in a dutch oven over an open fire.

The sailors had a nice dinning tent with wooden furniture, hand carved wooden dishes, goblets and utensils. Everything they used was a custom made replica from the 1700s.

A new recruit was learning how to present arms. These rifles are working replicas of guns used during the French and Indian War. 

I found a wonderful sketching spot with excellent views of the fort and the sailors’ camp. 

I did a quick sketch of the block house and put in some color notes.
6×12 watercolor on Rives BFK

The weather changed rapidly. Sunny blue sky one minute and low clouds of cold, damp fog a few minutes later….

After sketching for a while my models wanted to see what I was doing…

Their costumes are custom made, historically accurate, colorful and very interesting.
French Sailor. 6×12 watercolor on Rives BFK

The conversation was fascinating.  I learned a lot about colonial life in the 1700’s, the nature of the Seven Years’ War and why these participants love doing these historical reenactments. 

Enactors camp out over night in beautiful locations and live like colonists did in the 1700’s, with no electricity, no TV, no internet. Evenings are spent with interesting people, wonderful conversation, great food, and stories of other historic encampments. Slow living! What fun! 
6×7 French Sailor. watercolor on Rives BFK

The block house at Ft McClary.
6×12 watercolor on Rives BFK

As we walked to another French and Indian camp on the other side of the fort we passed an old cannon sitting above the harbor on the ramparts. 

The French soldiers were cleaning their firearms. Everything must be ready for the next battle. They have to prepare all the gun powder packets by hand. 

The view of the harbor was intermittently obscured by fog.

Fort William and Mary in New Castle, New Hampshire sits across the mouth of the Piscataqua River from Fort McClary. These two forts were active in colonial times.  

The French sailors gathered for dinner as the tide rolled in and the fog came with it. 
Kittery Point harbor as the fog rolls in.  
3×7 watercolor on Rives BFK

Spring Showers & Flowers

Winter arctic air has a sharp, clean scent. It is dry air and offers a clear view of the stars at night. Spring air is moist and humid. It has a earthy scent combined with chlorophyll and fragrant blossoms.
With lots of rain showers in Maine these past few weeks the moist air has arrived and everything is growing. The azaleas have fat fuchsia buds on them…
The rhododendron have big green buds…

The lilacs have tight violet buds..
The daffodils are in full bloom…as well as the grape hyacinth. 
The Tsukubai in the tiny side garden sits in a cluster of daffodils. I made this basin when I designed the gardens.
8×12 watercolor, Rives BFK

I found a nice spot to sketch in the shade with a view into the meditation garden… 
Polished granite and marble stones form the walkway by a second Tsukubai… 
…that sits on the edge of the grassy central island of the garden. My garden is an intimate walled space with old and new plantings  and small water features. 
8×12 watercolor, Rives BFK
There are a couple hundred narcissus growing around my studio.

They are planted in waves along a border of mature lilac bushes.
8×12 watercolor, Rives BFK
They blossom in successive displays; each group has their debut opening day ….some are species with an exquisite scent that fills the air with fragrance…
The azaleas were the exact match for my Derwent watercolor pencil “magenta”.
I sat close to the shrub and sketched the tiny bright buds on the woody stems.

I marked all the notes in watercolor pencil as I moved about capturing the multitude of blossoms surrounding me… 

 I have a great love for plants, outdoor environments and botany. In college I had a double major in botany and art. I might easily have become an architect or garden designer. 
 8×12 watercolor,Rives BFK

White and blue violets poked up through the paving stones in the garden.
Pansies crowded a pot by my studio door…


8×12 watercolor,Rives BFK
A small birds nest made of clay and straw was discovered in the wisteria vine when we were pruning. I have no idea what kind of bird builds a nest of clay…many birds raise their families in this garden every spring.
8×12 watercolor,Rives BFK
More pansies leaned into the afternoon sun by the back door.

8×12 watercolor,Rives BFK
The azalea buds burst open after a series of afternoon showers. The rain even knocked some of the flower petals off. Every day brings changes. Everything is growing fast! The garden is a lovely little space for reflection and respite in this big bustling world.
 8×12 watercolor,Rives BFK

Spring Greens and May Gardens

It’s still chilly here on the Maine coast. It always is cooler here in spring and summer than the rest of New England.
With longer hours of daylight and liberal rain showers everything is turning green!
Bright green!  There is so much green its hard to adjust your eyes to it.  Plenty of yellow too. A huge meadow in Berwick, Maine was filled with about a million dandelions.
I stopped to sketch the view.  The farmer stopped by to see what I was up to. He thought I was an agricultural agent taking notes…I guess sketching looks like note taking!  He wasn’t too happy to see a million dandelions growing in his newly seeded meadow. 
This property is part of a very old farm.  A row of ancient maples on the edge of the  road were turning a bright chartreuse green.
I wanted to visit a number of different locations today, so I sketched and colored as we traveled. 
I used my water color pencils to mark some color notes. These pencils are great for quick studies. I get the basic info down while I’m on the go. At the end of the day I pull out my watercolors to fill in my notes.
The clouds moved in and out all day. 
2×3 watercolors, Rives BFK
Hamilton House  in South Berwick had misty green veils of leaves everywhere.  Everything was thriving and budding.
It has been a rough winter.  The barn at Hamilton House was missing three panes of glass from its high loft window.
The cherry tree in the barn yard was beginning to blossom.  
Big old trees that were growing near the house last summer are now gone. It made the house look bleak and a bit like “Wuthering Heights.”
I sat down to sketch a cluster of tulips in a small walled garden.
 Three clusters of red tulips bloomed in a warm protected area near the stone wall.
The hum of a lawnmower filled the air. At the edge of the formal garden a landscaper mowed the steep hilly lawn.
The house and gardens overlook the Salmon Falls River. The river is tidal in this area below the falls.  It is often windy and cold here.
Clouds and steeple. 2×3 watercolor, Rives BFK 
Dandelion meadow. 3×4 watercolor, Rives BFK
Old maples. 3×4 watercolor, Rives BFK 
Island pond. 2×3 watercolor, Rives BFK 
Salmon Falls River at Berwick. 2×4 watercolor, Rives BFK 
Tulips. 3×4 watercolor, Rives BFK  
Salmon Falls River Island. 2×4 watercolor, Rives BFK 

Lambs, Rams & Ewes

Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, Maine was shearing their sheep this week.  In spring, the sheep get their warm wool coat removed before hot summer weather.
Pineland is an educational farm located on 5,000 acres of rolling fields and forest. Its a non profit with a mission to encourage farming in southern Maine.
When we arrived clouds were casting patterns of light and shadows across the high open meadows. 
Sketchbook, pen & watercolor  – 4×6 Rives BFK
It doesn’t look like at all like a Maine farm with its white fences, it reminds me of horse farms in  Kentucky bluegrass country. 
The barns are all brand new. No crumbling antique barns on this spread.  
 We headed directly to the sheep pastures and barn. The stars of the moment are the new born lambs! 
A couple of moms had triplets. They spray paint a number on them to make sure everyone is getting enough milk.
New lambs are born daily. They stay with their moms in the barn.  
Its still too cold for them to be outside. We are having an unusually chilly spring.  Sketchbook 6×8 
This little freckle faced cutie was friendly and curious. She kept coming over to me while I was sketching. 
These new families will stay in the barn and until it gets warmer and the lambs are sturdy and strong.    
The sheep were all shorn this week. The sheep shearers are in great demand. They travel from farm to farm shearing the sheep.
I like the black faced sheep. They have lovely almond shaped hazel eyes. Sketchbook, 8×10.
Since this was our first visit to the farm I wanted to make sure we checked out everything so we went next to visit the cow barns.
Sketchbook, 4×6 Pen & watercolor on Rives BFK
Every barn has a sign in front of it.  
Most of the cows were in the barn laying down after lunch. A couple of big bruisers were out side.
Sketchbook, 6×8 Rives BFK
This silo is the only thing left from the original farm buildings on the property. 
It was cold. The wind was blowing about 40 mph so I stood in the shade and sketched . 
Sketch book 4×6  Rives BFK
A brand new tractor was parked in front of the hay barn.
The rolling meadows are trimmed with white fences. 
Sketchbook 6×6 Rives BFK
The clouds dropped a bit of rain for a few minutes then the sun came back out. 
It was so great to visit a place that is focused on supporting the farms of the future and locally grown  food.
Sketchbook, 6×6 Rives BFK.

Snow, Mud & Maple Syrup

When spring arrives in New England the maple sugar houses are a beehive of activity, with the collecting and cooking of maple sap. This year the sap started rising in the maple trees in early February.

Our early spring cycle of warm days and cold nights has created ideal conditions for the maple syrup harvest.  

There was plenty of warm sunshine, melting snow and mud when we headed up to visit sugar houses in the small town of Newfield, Maine.

On our drive north through Shapleigh, Maine we spotted a small sugar house by the side of the road.  The sap lines from the maple trees up on the hill behind it were delivering sap directly into the cooker.

The sap was boiling away, creating thick clouds of sweet, warm fragrant steam….

High up on a beam near the roof vent sat a line of old sap buckets.

The fire in the cast iron fire box under the sap cooker was kept stoked.  Cords of neatly stacked wood sat nearby. 

A line of syrup containers sat on a sill above a window.

There was little time to set up an easel to paint on this fast moving tour. This was a sketching trip ! We were covering a lot of territory in an afternoon.  

The snow melted in patches on the south side of Bond Mountain. 
6×9 watercolor sketchbook

At Sugar Hill in Newfield they started the sap cooking season with 16 cords of wood. They were running out of wood with only a few cords left in the storage space next to the cooker.

The snow still sat in big drifts on the north side of the hill while there was bare ground and mud on the south side.  
6×8 watercolor sketchbook

Some farmers used the traditional buckets and traveled through the woods collecting the sap with a tractor and wagon.

I  sketched as fast as I could at each location.  There were throngs of people visiting every sugar shack.  

Hilltop Boilers only used buckets to collect sap.  
6×8 watercolor sketchbook

It was great to see the metal pails being used. I remember these from  my childhood when I saw them each spring all over the woods in western Massachusetts. 

Sap buckets. 
4×8 watercolor  sketchbook

Hilltop Boilers had a sharp new sugar house.

Sugar Hill 
6×8 watercolor sketchbook

 
This maple sugaring tour was a first for me. I’d never seen so many different sugar houses in one day.  It’s been a cold spring here in Maine so it is nice to see that chilly weather has created this bountiful maple syrup harvest. These farmers are happy with this great syrup season!