MASTERY & PAINTING IN THE DARK

Island sketch 6×8″ oil on board. I set up to paint in the dark as the sun set. I laid out my colors, took out my headlamp and painted a house in the trees on a small island as I waited for darkness to fall and the moon to rise. My plan for the evening was to paint a lot of quick sketches as the light and the scene changed. The tide had turned, high tide was coming in.

This past week I discovered that what I did everyday had a name…the process I go through day after day and week after week is called mastery.  Wow, was that a surprise. I knew what I set out to do wasn’t easy but I didn’t know that I had so many kindred spirits out there on the same path doing the same process. Its great to encounter this.  The four things I do in my painting process are 1. Practice  2. Persistence  3.Patience  4. Perseverance.  5. Repeat #  s 1- 4 over and over.

Full moon sketch #1 5×9″ oil on board. The moon rose so fast I missed it coming over the horizon. It was still so light from the setting sun that it didn’t even grab my attention. It seemed to move as I painted it. Thin wispy clouds passed in front of it in a variety of patterns. I could still see lots of landscape colors.

On You tube I bumped into a series of book reviews about a book by George Leonard titled “Mastery” presented by an artist/educator named Jeffery Watts.  You all know how the internet wander goes…I googled videos on painting with gouache and Jeff’s gouache video came up at the top of the list.  I’d been thinking about bringing my gouache out to paint en plein air so I wanted to see how some one else did it. He had a great video on hassle free traveling with gouache instead of oils (and all the solvent issues).

Full moon sketch #2 6×8 oil on board. The boats were moving all over the place, they were appearing to make big clusters and shapes that were linking together in value as it got darker. The moon was moving, the tide was moving and it was getting dark. It was now harder to see different colors in the landscape.

I also noticed that he had a number of other videos on You Tube.  Watts runs an art school in California and generously provides informational videos of all kinds for students who are looking for an art school/atelier education and are interested in learning real skills, like how of how to paint and draw. This school is filling in a niche for teaching solid skills that most of the mainstream colleges have dropped or trimmed since the 60’s.

Full moon sketch #3 5×9 oil on board. The boats were still moving , the moon was beginning to move in an arc and climb over head. It was so dark the shades of green in the landscape were turning blue. The path of moon light was moving across the harbor. I finished one more sketch and called it a night.

When I was in college there were a few drawing classes that were good but as soon as I started painting courses it was “express yourself”.  My professors were very nice but didn’t offer much guidance.  I was on my own figuring out how to paint. After college I took classes with individual artists in order to learn figurative, portrait and landscape painting.  Now there are a number of schools/ateliers that offer a substantial art education, are vetted and can be found on the Art Renewal Center list. I was really on my own for a long time trying to put together what I was missing. I was painting in the dark often “inventing the wheel” on my own.  It sure would have been easier to have someone share what they knew. Things have certainly changed in the the past few years. And we are all benefiting from it.

AUTUMN PLEIN AIR  &

NEW ! STUDIO CLASS STARTING

AUTUMN PLEIN AIR CLASS
Now is the perfect time to get out and paint !
Students are welcome to join the Tuesday plein air class.
You can come to a single class or the full 6 week session.
All levels are welcome. Email me or see Info in the link below.

NEW SEPTEMBER PLEIN AIR CLASS  ~ TUESDAY AFTERNOONS ON THE SEACOAST
This class started Tuesday, September 6th, 2-5pm, and runs for 6 weeks.  If you want to attend this plein air class  Please email if you want to join us.   Space is limited. Six week session~ $220
Locations : EACH WEEK A NEW LOCATION –  Beautiful locations in southern Maine and New Hampshire Seacoast region. Register for 6 week session here.

 

NEW STUDIO CLASS STARTING OCTOBER 18TH !
Class meets on Tuesdays 10am  – 1pm. Focus this session will be design and painting large landscapes in the studio.  Register for 6 week session here.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Jay Goldsmith Exhibition at Discover Portsmouth Museum
OPENING RECEPTION: FRIDAY ART ‘ROUND TOWN
NOVEMBER 4, 2016 : 5-8 PM

I am included in this show of portraits of artists by Jay Goldsmith.
My portrait by Jay Goldsmith and several of my paintings will be on display.
I hope you can come!

Warmly,

Mary

Outdoor Painters Party


It is definitely summer when painters gather under a tent and friends and spouses sunbathe along side on the grass. Doesn’t this look like a contemporary plein air party ? Painters are hard at work and significant others come along for the trip to a pastoral destination.Photo: Marcus Gale.

You can tell summer is coming when painters are out in groups and they have tents to shade them. Now why didn’t I ever think of that? I’m always thinking of what can I do to lighten the load.  I wouldn’t think to bring anything that requires a Sherpa or beast of burden. The plein air painters of the 1800’s brought tents and gear. Why not? We now have cars to carry them rather than horses. So when I painted with my friends Will, Barbara, and Marian this week on Peirce Island in Portsmouth NH, Will offered to set up a tent for us so we could paint comfortably in the hot sun. What a treat!  We painted in the lap of luxury on a soft green lawn with cool breezes washing over us in the shade of a lovely white tent.  Three of us decided to paint the view of the shipyard and the river and we fit nicely into the shade of the pop-up tent that Will carries everywhere.


Marian set up on the causeway with a view of a neck of land that jutted out into the river. She stained her panel and worked with a knife. She had lots of visitors. We could hear them talking to her but couldn’t see her through the trees.   
Photo: Marcus Gale

It could only have been better if we had snacks and ice tea delivered during the afternoon.  I am always covering up when I’m out painting. Sunscreen, long sleeves, pants, socks and my permanent hat are always part of my daily attire. I get a sunburn in 15 min. I even burn in winter when the glare is strong on the snow. I do best in a foggy, cool climate, so the fog shrouded, misty days on the coast are some of my favorite ones.  Rainy days are nice if it isn’t pouring and I’ve had some of my best days painting with acrylics in light mist.


When I arrived on location the sun was baking the rocks. It was toasty warm. I needed my umbrella to keep me and my palette cool and shaded. Photo: Marcus Gale

Can we talk and paint when we are painting in close quarters? Well, that’s debatable.  Marian went off and found a spot  close to the water on the causeway to Four Tree Island. The rest of us laughed and shared painting experiences, plus a few other tidbits.  One of the nice things about painting with other painters is to see how they choose colors, design their painting and interpret the motif.  Barbara painted a large painting with negative shapes on a stained panel, Will did a grisalle on a medium panel and I painted three small ones on mixed media board one stained and the others white. The conversation was lively and animated. I rarely if every talk and paint so it was a challenge to switch concentration, but I was working small so it was easy to finish a painting a thought and then answer a question. Did we manage to paint anything that we liked?

  Will mixing colors after he finished his under painting.  Photo: Marcus Gale

I was happy with two of them and the last one I didn’t quite finish as we were packing up. So I just dashed in the shapes and called it a wrap. I needed to get out of the way as the tent was coming down. What a delight it was painting under a tent. I’m thinking about getting one. It does require 2 people to set it up and take it down. So it would be a group thing but I noticed I wasn’t as tired as I am after spending the day in the hot sun.  It was nice to be so comfortable painting and having a cool breeze refresh you. It actually got chilly late in the late afternoon!

 SUMMER IS HERE AND ITS GOING TO BE SHORTER THAN YOU THINK !

SUMMER PLEIN AIR CLASSES

THE SUMMER PLEIN AIR CLASSES HAVE STARTED.
CLASS SIZE IS LIMITED.
2016 summer classes “en plein air” are in a groove. Jump in and join us for a session. We are painting at beautiful locations, a different one each week.   I am teaching a new easy plein air method in a 6 week block of classes. This easy method really helps beginners get comfortable with plein air painting and it helps experienced painters improve skills dramatically. It’s a tried and true method and its great to see how fast students are improving.

SUMMER PLEIN AIR SESSION DATES
SESSION 2     JUNE 14- JULY 19
SESSION 3     JULY 26 – AUGUST 30
SESSION 4     SEPT 4  – OCTOBER 11

AUTUMN PLEIN AIR
SESSION 5  OCT 18 – NOV 22

SIGN UP HERE FOR ONE 6 WEEK SESSION.

SIGN UP HERE FOR ONE SINGLE CLASS 

DEMOS  &  A PLEIN AIR WORKSHOP AT YOUR LOCATION:  I am visiting art groups and associations giving demos and plein air workshops. If you or your group would like a workshop please don’t hesitate to ask for details and available dates for summer and fall.

THE PLEIN AIR EXPERIENCE ~ If you like to spend time in nature and are interested in painting outdoors but are not sure you will like it a good way to check it out is to attend a plein air demo. Some people like to paint or draw but feel shy about doing it in a public place. Others don’t have the equipment and want to see what it is like before investing in a lot of stuff they might not end up using. The best way to find out is to watch someone and see how it is done. Come to one of my plein air demos and see for yourself.

JUNE EVENTSPLEIN AIR DEMO & INSTRUCTION
JUNE 16TH    4-7 pm
Location : GOVERNMENT STREET,  DOWNTOWN KITTERY, MAINE
$15 NON-MEMBERS
$10 MEMBERS
Hosted by : THE KITTERY ART ASSOCIATION

This is a great chance to see how I paint and how I design a plein air painting. If you think you’d like to paint outdoors come to this event. It’s a great sampler of plein air painting. After the demo I will answer questions and share experiences.
SUMMER & FALL WORKSHOPS IN MAINE

JULY 9  10-5
AUGUST 6  10-5
SEPTEMBER 10  10-5
OCTOBER 8  10-5

All workshops are in southern Maine in the coastal towns of Kittery, York, Cape Neddick, Ogunquit, Wells, Kennebunkport and Cape Porpoise. Painting locations include quintessential Maine places including beaches, rocky coastlines, harbors, marshes, farms, historical homes and classic small villages.
These are one day plein air workshops. All workshops begin at 10am with a one hour break for lunch. The day will start with a demo and a short talk on the specific aspects/advantages/challenges of the location.  Guidance will be given on choices of subject matter tailored to each student’s individual painting experience. Students can expect to complete one or more paintings.
Register for a workshop here. Price: $100.

Join my email list for the latest scoop.
See reports from the field here.
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I look forward to seeing you!

Mary

Perfect Time for Painting in Maine

I'm painting a demo in Perkins Cove, Ogunquit. the harbor is a perfect spot to paint. It was so great to see all my friends, fans and collectors.
Painting a demo in Perkins Cove, Ogunquit. The harbor is a perfect location to paint. Its intimate and packed with boats, sailors and fishermen coming and going.

Why do I feel like its the perfect time for painting in Maine? Its Labor Day weekend and even though there are piles of visitors relishing this gorgeous weather, it is the last hurrah of summer. This is the beginning of the golden days, my favorite time of year in Maine.

Yesterday I did a plein air demo in Perkins Cove in Ogunquit. It was sublime! The temperature was warm,  the air was fresh and sparkling and the colors were gorgeous.  A wonderful , educated crowd of art lovers, fans and friends arrived and were a delight to converse with.  Above us on the board walk another crowd gathered, watching and listening as I painted and explained what I was doing.  There was this nice flow and graceful rhythm the whole time.  The cove no longer had the intense feeling of mid summer. The afternoon light on the water was golden.  It feels like we have turned the corner on summer.

This is the perfect time to get out and paint.  We are now beginning  the lazy, lingering days of late summer/early fall here on the southern Maine coast when it’s warm enough to take an ocean dip in the afternoon and cool enough at night  to cozy up under a wool blanket.  Its heaven.

JOIN US! Now is the perfect time to get out and paint ! Come and paint with the Brush & Sketch Club! Details here. The Brush & Sketch Club will be painting on location till Oct 28th.

NEW STUDIO CLASS ! I am now registering students for a new studio class I am starting in October.  There will be a limit on the number of students, early registration is suggested, the class is filling. You will be put on a waiting list when class is full.   For details click here.

OCTOBER STUDIO CLASS  ~  COLOR, STYLE & BRUSHWORK

ALL LEVELS WELCOME : Beginner to Intermediate

COLOR, STYLE & BRUSHWORK ~ TUESDAYS 10AM -1PM    BEGINS OCT 6TH.

Class is ongoing in 6 week sessions.
Class size is limited so early registration is suggested.

Join my email list for the latest scoop.

See reports from the field here.

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Summer in Maine

Kittery Point Plein air
A bit of the rocky coast. A small plein air demo of wild sweet peas, rocks and pines painted on Kittery Point, Maine. 6×8 oil on panel.

Summer in Maine is at a full tilt boogie. We are in the midst of the dog days of summer where the muggy, hot, humid temps are hitting the high 80’s and low 90’s. In August? That’s shocking when normal highs this week are usually in the low 80’s.  It does cool down at night and it might feel like early autumn in couple of weeks. This week its perfect for plein air painting, swimming, drinking iced tea and eating ice cream. (And not necessarily in that order) If you want to come out and paint with me  check the schedule here.

Join my email list for the latest scoop.

See reports from the field here.

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A Hint of Something Big

"Evening Clouds" 4x4 oil on canvas panel
“Evening Clouds” 4×4 oil on canvas panel. Study

When I am out painting pictures on location I often get a hint of something big when I’m working. I can be forced  to work small as its getting dark or  a storm is coming or I’m traveling and have to reach a destination by a certain time. When I have time limitations like this I just pull out a small or tiny canvas and paint really fast. Often I paint a series of them back to back, recording the light as it changes.

Low Tide at Cape Porpoise, 4x6, oil
Low Tide at Cape Porpoise, 4×6, oil. Study

I love doing this as its like having painted postcards from a trip. I like that they are loosely painted. This is the mood I’m feeling while immersed in this spot  and I’m painting the things that strike me most noticeably at that moment.

" Harbor Islands", 4x5 oil
” Harbor Islands”, 4×5 oil. Study

We are now in the middle of winter here in Maine. This year it feels like  we are actually living in the tundra ! Its been snowing almost three times a week for the past several weeks and when its not snowing the temperatures plunge below zero.  I’m deep at work painting everyday in the studio. I’m painting something big from all these tiny paintings that surround me.  I’ll share a few of the big ones with you and you can see how much I took from the studies and how much I added from my memory of the place.

Don’t worry I’m still escaping outside to paint in the snow. The open sky is still the favorite roof over my head at any chosen moment. I should have been born a cowboy or a sheep herder living in one of those tiny wagons, sleeping out in the big open spaces under the stars. Or maybe I was one and that’s why I want to paint outdoors so much !

 

Last Light of Day

7 NOCTURNE 10 The last light of day is often the best light show there is. I love painting after sunset when the light is bouncing all over the clouds and the atmosphere is glowing. One of my favorite painting locations is in York Harbor, Maine on the banks of the York River just west of where it flows into the ocean.   The sunsets are glorious. The lights on the docks and in the houses all start to come on along the shore line as it get dark.

Last Blaze of Glory, 8×10, oil. “A Pictures Worth” Gallery, Exeter, NH

The Three Bridges

9 NOCTURNE 20As I stood on the river bank looking up stream at Kittery and Portsmouth the lights on the three bridges twinkled and glowed in the blue twilight.  This was a fast one. I painted this as the last light faded. The tide was going out and the rocks along the rivers edge created patterns in the bright reflecting water.  I was painting from the lawn on Pierce Island and as it got darker the temperature dropped rapidly. “Night Light on the River” oil, 11×14. Available @ “A Pictures Worth”, Exeter, NH

Painting as Fast as I Can

6 NOCTURNE 16The light in the sky is blazing, the trees and land are turning violet, the water is reflecting the sky and clouds and I’m painting as fast as I can. I really love doing this. I set up my colors and prepare for the light show that will change every couple of minutes. I have several panels near by. I paint the different stages of evening as it unfolds in front of me. I love painting this fast. No time to go back. Hit it with the right color note and move on. “Last Blaze of Glory” oil, 8×10. Available @ “A Pictures Worth”,  Exeter, NH.

The Days Grow Shorter

3 NOCTURNE 18When I am out painting as the days grow shorter and the darkness expands I notice I look to see where the house or street lights first show up in the landscape. When I am looking across a large landscape during the daylight it can be hard to see where villages, streets and houses are. As soon as the light dims I can see subtle shapes and clusters of land forms. When its dark enough and the lights turn on I can see the streets, villages and neighborhoods.  River Twilight, oil, 11×14, Available @ A Pictures Worth, Exeter, NH.

Painting People, Portsmouth Picnic

couple ports 2Last year I started painting people on location. I really like doing it . They remind me of lobster boats as I never know when they are going to just get up and leave. I have a strategy I use, the same one that I use for painting boats and animals. When subjects keep moving I sketch a lot. I do a pile of sketches with all the different movements the model makes. This cements the image in my brain. When I find one that I like, that is the one I paint. So even if they move around or get up and leave I have a master plan to work with. Plus I work small,  so I can be sure to finish in 20 -30 minutes or less.