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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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Loosening Up in Kennebunkport, Turbat’s Creek & Cape Porpoise, Maine

Early evening on the lawn of the Breakers I did a quick sketch to focus and decide on the motif of my painting. It was a beautiful, calm evening, a pleasant temperature, with a bit of sunlight hitting the trees. I was looking north into the harbor with clouds along the horizon.

There was a large party closeby on the lawn under tents and I wanted to do a 20 min field sketch. I knew I’d have interruptions and knew I’d also loose my light real fast!

I started out following the sketch. I painted on a 6×8 panel. I was about 15min into it placing a couple of boats in the fore ground when I decided the detailing of the boats was making the composition look cluttered. I was getting more onlookers at this point and people were starting to chat so I put a few highlights and accents in and called it a wrap. Here’s the finished pochade. (Kennebunkport Harbor Evening , 6×8, o/p SOLD)

The next day I went to Turbat’s Creek to paint and the place was awesome – a piece of old Maine seacoast tucked hidden in Kennebunkport! I walked around and looked at all the different views. There were many paintings to be painted at this great location.

The top sketch is of some of the fish cottages on Turbat’s Creek. My focus was the great looking fishing shacks.

The lower sketch is looking out to sea at the mouth of Turbat’s Creek.


These two sketches also made at Turbat’s Creek were looking north out across the creek toward Vaghan’s Island and east toward the tip of the island and the mouth of the creek.

A week later, I decided to do a color exercise with the black and white sketches.

I usually use the sketches on location as I paint my oil field studies but here in the studio on a rainy day I limited myself to a different palette of colored pencils. It was a great exercise. And it really makes the mind work when the color you want is not available to use nor can you mix it!

Checkout the difference in the colored pencil and black and white sketches above – these are the original sketches with color added.

It was a challenge to not have my usual three colors (yellow, red & blue) at my disposal to mix any color I wanted. It was also a great way to see how I think in color and how I use color. I was stuck with using a pencil of a fixed color to try and substitute it for another color I would normally mix to get the effect and mood I was after. It was fun and liberating to do this exercise !