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Dramatic Skies over Maine Farms

One of the great things about fall in New England is the dramatic, changing weather. 
In southern Maine it’s been a sunny warm fall with the trees turning colors in start and stops…
The turning leaves have been bright and colorful in some neighborhoods and dull in others.  Some trees are bare while others still have their green leaves.
Marcus and I went out for an afternoon drive to check out some of the neighboring farms.
We parked at the golf course and I set up to paint.  I wanted to try for a few sketches of the quickly changing light on the landscape.
The Dunn farm is one of those rare small dairy farms that are still in operation. I love this farm!
I used my large Gloucester easel because there was a strong wind from the west and my other easel wouldn’t have a chance in this steady onslaught…
The cows moved in slow motion across the pasture as clouds raced across the sky, alternately lighting and darkening the landscape. 
I moved briskly as I put colors on my palette.
It looked like mother nature had plans for a change in the weather.. the clouds kept building.
Ooh… it was getting pretty nice out there, the farm was face-lit, the trees and cows had nice shadows behind them and the distant trees were a deep wine color in the cloud shadows. 
Late afternoon low light offers such a nice dramatic contrast.  I was hoping there would be enough big sky holes so I could keep getting glimpses of sunlight on the farm.
The clouds got thicker, and soon everything was in shadow. 
I sketched in the outline of the farm.
The cows kept moving in and out of these great patterns across the meadow. I really like the challenge of painting cows, as they rarely stay still in one spot.
I had my panel set up facing the sun, so the light on it and my palette stayed consistent.
I put in more colors as spots of blue sky appeared overhead.
All the great dramatic contrast of shadows and light had disappeared from the meadow.
Hey, that’s the nature of plein air painting…here one minute, gone the next.  That’s what I love about it!
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Painting the Landscape with Confidence

The 20 minute field sketch…or how to get a sure fire handle on painting en plein air.

So many  people go outdoors to paint and get overwhelmed when on location. 

That used to happen to me when I first started painting outdoors.

It wasn’t easy being in the middle of my subject! 

Not to mention the wind, tides and the light changing all the time. 



I really needed some guidance. 


I registered to take some workshops with some of the top landscape professionals in the field…only to be wait listed…

Then one day the tide turned. I was accepted ! I went to Idaho to study with Scott Christensen for 10 days… It was painters boot camp! I returned to New England with a different perspective.  

The night after I arrived home I drove to the York River to see what I would do with this paradigm shift. After sunset I painted a very quick painting of the York River.  
York River Autumn, oil 6×12. 

In this class I will share what I learned.
  
The 20 Minute Field Sketch ~ Painting the Landscape 
Plein Air Class
Half Day Outdoor Class
MEDIUM: Oils, Acrylics, Watercolors
LOCATIONS: Southern Maine & New Hampshire Seacoast 
DATES: October 15th to November 12th ~ 6 Weeks ~ Saturdays 
TIME: 1:00 ~ 4:00 PM 
TUITION: $180  
LEVEL: Beginning Plein Air to Intermediate 
CLASS LIMIT ~ 12
INFO: & Registration: Great Works River Studio: MARY BYROM; info@marybyrom.com 
CONTACT: Mary Byrom, Great Works River Studio, 102 Wells Street ~ North Berwick, Maine 03906 ~ 207-676-9933
This class will hone skills and improve painting and decision making abilities. Each week the class will be in a different location (seacoast, woodland, marshes, ponds, farms, village) to learn the specifics of working with diverse settings, subject matter, light, and changing weather. Each class will help you to learn to think on your feet through the process of making choices and decisions of subject matter and design that are influenced by location, light and weather.
This class is for anyone with some experience painting with oils (in plein air or the studio) who wants to improve their skills.  We will paint at different locations and situations that might be challenging on your own. 
We will follow good, solid procedures using the guidelines of the fundamentals of landscape painting en plein air. The more you understand the fundamentals of making good paintings the more you will be in control in the field.
We will learn and practice 6 steps for use on location to guide us in making decisions. We will ask questions, make decisions and work deliberately as we focus on rendering the motif. We will learn to study outdoors, learn to design and to make deliberate choices. We will key paintings, mix colors and select elements to make a good design. 
In each class we will be painting at a new location covering the specifics of the motif, lighting and weather for that day.  This will give the student good tools for painting in all seasons and all kinds of weather. 
Suggested canvas/panel/sizes (6×8, 8×10, 9X12).  Paper sizes can be larger.
If you are a beginner, intermediate OR experienced painter you will gain confidence and skill. 


Materials list provided upon registration. 


QUESTIONS? Email me !  mbyrom@maine.rr.com

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Extreme Painting

Plein air Magazine has a feature called Extreme Painting.
.  My good friend Jane Ramsey came up to Maine last November to paint with me.  She had never been to Maine before…so I took her all over to paint in as many locations as we could in 4 days. She took my picture while I was painting in strong winds on Parsons Beach. She sent it in to the magazine. They published it this month – what a surprise !

Thank you Jane! 

  
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Vermont Cow Portraits

I parked the car at the edge of the field.  As I began to set up the entire herd ran toward me.  Did my Easy L look and sound like their feed box ?

I’m glad there was a fence and a ditch in between us…


They stayed all lined up in a row looking at me… 


sniffing and snuffling a bit, but not wandering off.


 I started talking to them… 


…telling them to stick around till I finished.


They did pretty well, even with the occasional car passing. 


It was great entertainment for the neighbors and I could barely stop laughing. 


Then of course there was the “great noble one”.


Who wanted me to paint him all alone.


He parked himself right in front of me and held the pose.


I worked as fast as I  could. 

The entire herd was young males.  They had these big tufts of spiky hair on their heads. I found out later they are a hardy breed of cattle from Scotland known as Ayrshires. 


Soon they all wandered off. 


And I called it a day.
For more Paintings & Sketches  ~ Paint Eat Sleep
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A Quiet Corner of Vermont

  Every fall I go on a painting trip in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts and southern Vermont.  
  Late one afternoon I found myself exploring the countryside north of Bennington.  The rolling hills, open meadows, bits of autumn color and 70 degree temperatures created a mellow mood.  

 While looking for a place to park I spotted a a small, side road with a red covered bridge over a river with the Dutch sounding name “Battenkill”. 

A white grange hall was next to the bridge. It looked like a church. The trees on the hill behind it were turning orange.  The setting sun was golden.  It was a perfect Vermont scene. 

A white farm house sat nestled in the valley across from the grange with an artists studio behind it. It seemed familiar.  “That’s Norman Rockwell’s house!” I said.  I remembered the studio from a picture I’d seen of it in a book.  Sure enough, when I backed up to get a better look there was a sign on the front lawn indicating that Mr. Rockwell had lived and worked there. 
  
I knew he lived in Vermont but didn’t remember the name of the town. This was the first time I’d visited this quiet little corner of the state.  What a surprise and delight! 

Vermont is full of treasures you never know what you’ll find here!
Twin Maples Barn, 6×12 watercolor, Rives BFK 
More paintings & sketches at Paint Eat Sleep