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Spring Training

I was in Sarasota, FL last week sketching and painting landscapes that are a bit of a change from my local harbors, ocean and mountains.  I went to my first base ball game !  What a change of scenery.  I discovered I loved sketching baseball players in action.

It was a night time game, brights lights, big sky, and fat clouds blew over as a full moon rose. 7 fly balls tried to hit us where we sat behind 3rd base. I almost got hit by one ball but I ducked and my brother in law was happy to catch it.  

It was a Yankees & Orioles game.  This is a one minute sketch of Yankee Nick Johnson #26.

Yankee #2 Derek Jeter paused for 3 seconds for this one.  #13 Alex Rodriguez  on the third baseline & Yankee #29 Francisco Servelli waiting for the pitch. 

Yankee Alex Rodriguez did not hold this pose for me I remembered it. #27 of the Orioles paused before he pitched that ball.

My sketching got so fast and furious that I began to forget to write down their name and team number.

  I loved the Yankee pitcher huddle on the mound my only “large mass” and it lasted for a long time- maybe a whole minute!   

I saw many hand signals and body language that were intriguing…  a special secret baseball code. In the end these guys – the best of them reminded me of ballet dancers and were gorgeous to watch in motion, especially when hitting the ball.     

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A Hint of Color

On this trip I sketched and painted my way across Massachusetts, part of New York state right along the Mass. border and up into Vermont from Williamstown. If I had more time I would have continued north on Route 100 inVermont . I used to live in that area, it is gorgeous.

This farm in western Mass was perched on the the top of a ridge that over looked a valley filled with old farms. Its pasture was filled with ledges of granite poking through.

On the way north into Vermont from Williamstown you instantly know when you are in Vermont. The place has a different feel. I pulled off on a dirt road that ran into fields near the race track and the view of the surrounding mountains was beautiful ,quiet and peaceful.

The valley opens up to long views of the mountain range that runs north to south to the west. There were spots of early trees turning yellow and orange.

The field grasses were all that golden color and you could feel fall in the air.

The road would rise and twist as it made its way through the valley.
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Ashfield Farms

The sky was overcast as I set up to paint from the edge of route 116 in Ashfield, MA.

The trees were just beginning to turn colors and the the late summer greens were still bright in the meadows.

The farms along this route are over 100 years old with great big barns, stone walls and large mature sugar maples.

The farms are clustered in this valley and from above look as if they are a little village or neighboorhood of Ashfield itself which is very rural. There must have been a lot of ash trees around here originally or they might still be here .

The sky would get bright and the sun would almost come out . The colors were so bright with the leaves changing that it didn’t feel like an overcast day. Fall in new England is like this – it never feels gray until the leaves drop.

This farm had a huge barn that was very old. They have a small herd of Belted Galloways. The pastures were liberally sprinkled with the favorite crop around here – boulders; that get pushed to the surface every spring.
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On the Way to the Berkshires

I took a short trip out to western Mass to visit family and friends and paint the early fall views.

It was late summer but in the hills the nights are cool and the air has a fall chill in it. Horse tails spread across sky.

Laurel Lake in Erving forest was beautiful. A few trees were turning bright colors. All the cottages were closed up for the winter .

As I was sitting sketching a bus full of boys drove up. They all ran across the beach, jumped into the lake and swam across it. They were taking a swimming test. The air was so chilly I was wearing a jacket.

As we headed west on route 2, I stopped at the French King Bridge to paint the Connecticut River as it flowed south out of the hills of Vermont. Along the banks some of the greens were just turning gold.

By evening when we reached Ashfield on the edge of the Berkshires it was beginning to get cloudy and misty. The trail led into the trees along Ashfield Lake. It was warmer by the water so the trees were still mostly green.

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Schoodic Pennisula

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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.
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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.

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Water’s Edge

In late spring the coast of Maine is chilly and brisk. You need your winter weight wool when you are on the water. This visit to Acadia National Park was no exception.

I stopped on the park loop road, got out of the car, looked north and south and did several quick sketches. This is looking south toward Otter Cliffs. I used gray scale markers and water colors in my sketchbook.

I turned and looked to the north toward Great Head and saw layers of all kinds of clouds moving out to sea. The afternoon light was turning them pink & gold.

When I looked at Otter Cliffs again just before I left the tide had gone out even farther and more rocks were exposed.

The next day the view from the mountain road looking over Frenchman Bay was incredible. It was calm with no wind on the water. So the water was that iridescent blue green and the island reflections were perfect.

By the time I drove to the Blue Hill overlook the wind out over the bay was starting to pick up. You could see the color of the water changing to a deeper blue and patterns on the water surface shifted and changed shape.
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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!
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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!