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Painting Subtle Grays

Evening Mist, 16x20 oil on panel, The Acadia Centennial Show, The Capital Building, Augusta, ME.
Evening Mist, 16×20 oil on panel. I love the grays that are created by the thick clouds of mist and spray from the waves crashing on the rocky shoreline of Maine. This painting is in the The Acadia Centennial Show, The Capitol Building, Augusta, ME.

I really love painting the subtle grays of late fall. There is a certain mood when most of the green leaves are gone and lovely blues, mauve and browns move into their place. The color of the bark of the branches and trunks of the trees takes on importance when all the foliage is gone.  I begin to notice so much when all the leaves are gone. What appeared to be a heavily wooded area in summer now reveals itself to be a large open field behind a thick row of trees that hid it when they were in full leaf.  I can see the curve and slope of the land easily through the bare branches.

Subtle sensitive grays are mixed intuitively.
Subtle, sensitive grays are mixed rapidly and intuitively by students in my studio class.

The best time to see rich grays in the landscape is during fall and winter.  I’m taking full advantage of the natural colors of the landscape and the specific type of light that comes with fall and winter to teach understanding and painting intuitive color. The students are mixing some beautiful colors and painting some rich combinations in this process.

Mixing grays from a variety of primaries.
This is the start of mixing intuitive, sensitive grays from selected primaries.

Enrollment is now open for students for the Winter Studio Class. It begins on Tuesday, January 5th, 2pm-5pm.  If you spoke to me or emailed me regarding a spot in my filled morning studio class please contact me ASAP if you would like to be in this afternoon class (2-5pm). If you work with oils, watercolors, gouache or acrylics and are interested in joining us please send me an email.


ALL LEVELS WELCOME : Beginner to Experienced

Class is ongoing in 6 week sessions. There is one make up class every session for (sick/ice/snow days) if needed.
Class size is limited so early registration is suggested.


PLEASE NOTE:  Class size is limited. The response was immediate when I announced a class opening. This notice is going out to my email list and blog. I will start advertising to the public a few days after this announcement.  Please contact me if you want to be in this class as registration is now open. Please note: if you are already on my wait list you will have first option to register for this class.

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Ten Weeks of Color! Starts March 1st

Ten week Color class starts Tuesday, March 1st.  6-9 PM.  All levels welcome. Beginner through Advanced.  All Mediums ~ Oils, pastels, acrylics, watercolors – any medium that uses color.  A Small class for individual attention.
Color is mood, feeling, cold, warm, bright, dark, light, dim, weak, strong…it can mean a number of things and evoke many feelings… learn how to see and handle color. 

Learn about color relationships and how you can develop an eye for color.

Learn how to mix color.
Work with hue, chroma, and value….

…warms, cools, analogous and complimentary…

Gain an understanding of the strength of color gamuts.

Work with harmonious color.

Learn to mix clean colors and beautiful grays.

Vaughn Island Fog 
6×8, colored pencil, gray marker, watercolors on Rives BFK

10 Week Class   $295 

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The Nubble, Motif #1

For class we sketched and painted at a beautiful location this evening. It is the most photographed light house on the Maine coast…maybe in the world! 

You can get really close to it. There is a deep chasm between the mainland and the island. 

We are having a hot July here, its in the 80’s and 90’s .  Lisa got there early and set up right away and got to work.  

Here’s Deb sharing and reviewing her sketches from the past week.

Lisa showed the work she did during the week.

We look at each others work from the past week and discuss the challenges and our individual process before we start painting . This way everyone can get some feed back on difficulties and how they approached their individual plein air situations.  

  The discussion is getting in depth. These students are doing a lot of fast sketches in plein air involving people and animals. Real challenging! Everyone gains so much from viewing  all the different styles and approaches.

The light was changing fast as the sun set.

The clouds and sky were taking on all sorts of great color. Love these long summer evenings! 

Here’s Marcus in deep concentration sketching. He’s working on drawing in these classes as he’s had much less experience than the others.

Lisa and Marcus moved to a new spot for a different view.   We are on the eastern side of a high rocky peninsula tucked down on the lower rocks. 

Deborah working away as the light departs.

Looked like she was alone. Right?  Ha!  There were piles of tourists from all over the world who were very quietly and politely watching what the artists were doing. 

Nancy is deeply focused on capturing the moment. 

Here’s what the audience was viewing from behind Deborah. 

A whole group was behind Nancy getting this view and whispering and tiptoeing around her.  These guys all did a great job concentrating and painting in the midst of all this attention. Its not easy! 

The end of the day. And it just kept getting better even as it got dark.
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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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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!