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Maine: By the Dock

In a Row, 6 x 8  Watercolor, 98 lb aquarelle


I am so lucky, I live in southern Maine on the seacoast. A favorite spot in my neighborhood is the cozy hamlet of Cape Porpoise. It’s a small harbor that is active year round. In the summer all the cottages are full of happy vacationers.  At this time of the year it’s just me, the fishermen and their boats. I made this watercolor sketch looking down at the rowboats on the dock at Cape Porpoise, Maine.
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Boats & Blossoms in Kennebunkport

Its been a cold spring along the Maine coast.  Spring is arriving in bits and pieces. The marshes along the Mousam River in Kennebunk are still brownish yellow. 

The trees are covered with red buds and still no leaves are in sight. 
6×8 charcoal & watercolor, Rives BFK

The weather is so changeable.  Sunny one day, cloudy the next . Its nice and warm then its windy and cold. 

The harbor in Kennebunkport is beginning to fill up.  These guys don’t fish all winter.  A month ago there was one boat out in the river.  

The clouds overhead dropped rain every now and then so I focused on fast and furious sketching. 

My water brush delivered the perfect speedy color notes.

Mechanical pencils and my little Koi water color set are perfect for a quick set up when you are trying to dodge raindrops.


Moored, 6×10 watercolor on Rives BFK


Plowed fields and blooming forsythia, 3×5 watercolor Rives BFK

It was very quiet on the harbor. No fishermen, no parked trucks, just me sitting alone on a bench painting.

The quiet was broken by this strange, black lobsterboat.  I’d never seen anything like it. As it motored by to me I saw it was the secret service; a retired president is in town… 

Mt Agamenticus and moored skiff, 3×5 watercolor, Rives BFK

Across the street from the harbor a little shop was open for the season.  They were celebrating with blossoms of all colors piled in front on the sidewalk.  A delightful vision of spring and reminder of what is ahead ! 

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The Weather Outside is Frightful…

 Who cares?  I’ve had way too many times when I questioned my judgement while heading out to paint on one of those gray, moody days with all kinds of things threatening … then I saw the most amazing things!  So we packed lunch and headed out on a dark day to paint…

Parsons Beach treated us to some great frothy surf and big wind!

On the other side of the dunes the colors of the grasses and old drift wood were lucious.

Jane stopped right in the road and started to sketch.  

The tide was rolling in filling all the marshes around us. 

The wind picked up and the temperature really started to drop.  Jane’s water colors froze …BUT… the artist is the master of invention.. Jane put her paper and paint on the hood of her warm car and viola nice workable paints and a nice dryer to boot!   

With four hours of daylight left we went to a favorite spot on Pine Point. 

Nice, with summer over ….everyone is gone except the occasional painter and a few fishermen.

The harbormaster’s office looked very quiet. 


The rain and the fog rolled in making for even a nicer mood. I was painting with my easel inside my car with the tailgate open.  Jane found a nice over hang on the deck of the Rising Tide that kept her out of the rain.  

The tide was now going out, fog was rolling over the marshes and the boats which were floating in the water when we arrived now rested on firm sand.

The wind changed direction. The rain started to blow. Jane moved into her car to paint…

…a cluster of boats moored off the dock.

Our last stop before we left was at the Pine Point Fisherman’s Coop. They packed up a nice box of lobsters for Jane to take back home for all those family members longing for a taste of Maine… 

I love my neighborhood ! I can always count on the seacoast to offer color, mood and fast changing weather. Paintings from this trip to be posted soon on PAINT, EAT, SLEEP.
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Plein Air at The Kittery Town Dock

I have been teaching plein air classes in my neighborhood since May. This session is once a week from 6- 9 pm. We have great late light and awesome weather!  
Kittery, Maine is a beautiful small town on the southern most point of the state.  If you live in Kittery you have a number of great places to go swimming if you can stand the cold water. 

The town dock is packed with dories and skiffs and the harbor is stuffed with boats, both working and pleasure.  

Everybody set up in their favorite location on various levels of the docks and set to work sketching and painting. Lisa looked for a shady spot under the docks as she had already been painting out in the sun for hours before class started.   

The activity at the docks was bustling as people came in from their boats and others had just arrived and set up to fish off the docks. The air was cool and refreshing. The Stripers are running.  

Here’s Marcus on a lower level dock sketching away. He’s an absolute beginner and so proud of what he is doing that he shows it to everyone who will look. The complete opposite of most beginners!

Here he is trying out some water colors – I had to really encourage him to try them as he has never used any watercolor in his life and is just starting to get used to sketching en plein air with ink and markers. 

More of the dozens of dories & skiffs. On the other side of this wharf are about a dozen pontoon motorized skiffs.

Late light on the lobster boats and sail boats in the harbor. To the east behind the boats is Fort Foster that guarded the mouth of the Piscataqua River and the port of Portsmouth, when this whole area was part of the state of Massachusetts. There are very old forts all along the coast of Maine and New Hampshire. 

Nancy was set up nicely up high on upper level of the dock painting the dories below her and the view to the east.
The last pleasure boats were coming in and packing up their sails as the sun dropped low. We painted till it got dark and the salt mosquitoes came out.  They were the worst! Need to find a super repellant for them the regular stuff didn’t work. 
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Harpswell Boatyard

Harpswell, Maine is down east of Brunswick on the end of one of the southern most long fingers of land that compose midcoast Maine. Its gorgeous and I always feel like I am coming home.  I traveled to South Harpswell as a child for our summer vacation. 

The boat yard is full of big guys being fixed or waiting for attention before the summer season. I love how big and tough they are when you are up close and personal.  No romantic little specks bobbing in a blue summer harbor. 

This is the view looking east at South Harpswell.

I was parked in between the water’s edge and some big boats. I sketched the white boat as it moved around the harbor. They always move, pick a spot and put them in it I always say…
Here’s the start of the sketch. If I like it tomorrow I’ll work on it more in the studio.  8×10 Oil on panel.   
Behind me was the Henry A., a boat I have fallen in love with.  Its so big and sturdy.  I think about this boat being the only thing between me and the sea when out fishing in rough weather.  

Here’s an earlier portrait I started of Henry A. when I first saw him in February. The snow was all melting around him as the pavement was warming up in the  sun.  I shortened him to fit him on the panel – think I’ll get a wider panel and paint him as big as he really is.   Its 24×36, oil on panel.
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On the Gulf of Mexico

When I am in Maine I paint harbors and villages along the Atlantic coast. I decided to spend the day sketching at the bay front park in downtown Sarasota along the gulf coast.  It was gorgeous and a great comfortable temperature.

I sketched a tiki hut restaurant and a few selected boats that were moored at the dock on the point. Watercolor 9×12 on 90 lb water color paper.

I set up under a small tree with a great view of everything. 

 A row boat was sitting at the edge of the small cove in front of me. Ink and watercolor on 90 lb watercolor paper.

I kept moving around the tree to stay in the shade but I didn’t have to go to a new location – I could just turn my head and see a new subject to sketch.

Another row boat that sat quietly in the shallows.  There are no waves and little tide on the west coast of Florida. Ink and watercolor on 90 lb watercolor paper

This harbor is full of old hippies living on their sailboats. They moor out in the bay.  Here is a guy who was visiting friends and giving his dog a boat ride.

 I did a sketch of him heading out into the bay to the sailboats . Ink and watercolor on 90 lb on watercolor paper
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Day I ~ The Plein Air Painters Invitational ~ Kennebunkport

The Maine Art Gallery hosted the Plein Air Painters Invitational as part of Arts in the Inns in Kennebunkport, ME. Thirteen painters arrived from all over the country to paint for 3 days in the Kennebunks and Cape Porpoise. My day’s painting schedule started with a bright location in the marshes at Rachel Carson.

For a sketch at Parsons Beach at midday the light and clouds were already changing.

When I parked in the afternoon to paint on the Mousam River it was overcast.

While painting a quick sketch of the Pineapple in dry dock the sun peaked through around 6pm.


I started my last painting of the day at the mouth of the harbor in Kennebunkport at 800 pm. During the day I painted 6×8’s, 8×10’s and 9×12 ‘s. It was a long day.