Posted on 3 Comments

Friendship, Maine in December

It was a cold and gray Monday morning, a chilly 14 degrees as we headed up the coast of Maine.

When we arrived in Camden there was ice on the harbor and the schooners were wearing their winter coats. 
In the summer you can’t see the water in Camden harbor because it’s so full of pleasure boats…not true in winter.
The docks were quiet and the sky, land and water colors were muted and silvery.
I stopped by Camden Falls Gallery for a visit.  My paintings will be shown there this summer. Its namesake is a crashing waterfall at the head of this picturesque harbor.  
On our way down the peninsula to Friendship, Maine the road twisted and turned as we passed farms and rolling fields covered with fresh snow.  

In Cushing, Maine I spotted this incredible old farm. It looked like no one had touched it since the 1950’s. It is in the neighborhood of the famous Olsen farm from Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World.”

Even on a gray winter day there is nothing as beautiful as a midcoast Maine pennisula.

Friendship has a great harbor with lots of large and small islands. 

All along the edge of the harbor are docks and buildings for lobstering.

A change was coming in the weather. After an overnight snow storm and frigid morning, a warm wind started blowing off the water. 

The bright colored lobster traps glowed in the muted light.  

I walked around sketching different views.

Whitecaps appeared in the harbor. The wind really started gusting.

I knew I couldn’t set up on the docks to paint. 

The dock community in Friendship is amazing. There are all kinds of buildings on the docks out over the water.  

I parked my car near the town landing. I found a perfect spot to set up my easel out of the wind.  

Some of the fishing shacks on the docks are brand new and well kept. 

I did several sketches from the view in front of me . 

I wanted to paint the soft colors of the small islands in the harbor.

The clouds were breaking up and the sky was getting brighter.

I kept it small and simple.

There were stacks of traps everywhere with their colorful floats tied up in bunches near them.

The floats were very interesting to look at. Their colors were eye popping…

…compared to the muted blues and grays of their surroundings.

To my eyes It felt like their colors were lit up from within especially after looking at all the subtle grays of the landscape.
Even the traps which are very colorful, looked slightly grayed next to the psychedelic float colors.
The afternoon started getting brighter with spots of blue sky holes in the clouds.

The wind was still totally wild. But I didn’t care.

It was warming up. I kept painting.
There are many scenes waiting to be painted in this neighborhood. 
 A fishing shack had rows of floats hanging from the ceiling.
The docks reach out into the harbor one after the other all the way down the point. 
It looked warm and cozy inside the small lit buildings. 
Some of the shacks were heated like little houses.
Others were simpler, more like storage sheds.
It really feels like a little fishing village out there, though no one lives on the docks.

The sun set just after four.  The best and brightest light of the day came right before twilight.
As we left Friendship the Christmas lights were coming on in the village.
Someone had taken two of their boats out of the water, parked them next to their house…

…and dressed them in holiday finery !
It’s time to celebrate Christmas in Friendship, Maine.

Posted on 2 Comments

Water, Color & Town Dock #1

I am painting every day in the late afternoon.  I’ve been doing this for a few weeks. 
I can’t resist the subtle colors of twilight. The winter solstice is almost here with its beautiful velvety mood and twinkling night time lights.
8X6 Sketch pen, watercolor


After many nights out I was bound to run out of steam at some point… it happened the other day at the town dock in York Harbor. 

This was a day time painting excursion…
4×4 Study, pen, watercolor

I arrived, looked around for a subject to grab me and… all I wanted to do was sit somewhere and sketch what was in front of me. 

I find sketching a very relaxing, zen-like experience.  The pen or pencil slides and floats smoothly on the surface of the paper. 
4×6 Sketch, pen, watercolor

I slow down to capture what is in front of me…… which is often a subject arriving or departing for somewhere else.

I found that if I am sitting down I can just look at something and imprint it in my memory. 

I haven’t got a clue as to why sitting down makes such a difference.
4×6 Sketch, pen, watercolor

When I paint I always stand up. I can’t paint sitting down…I like to keep moving, walking around, looking at what I’m doing from different perspectives. 

On a day like today it was perfect to sit and observe from a quiet spot.  

It was also very warm and comfortable for a mid November day. 

I sketched in black ink and added color with watercolor pencils.

Did I forget to mention that it also started raining every now and then?

I was sitting under a pine tree.

It didn’t seem to be raining on me so I just ignored it, sat there and continued sketching.

Sure enough after a few minutes the rain stopped.

My sketchbook pages were dry with just a raindrop here and there.
8×6 Sketches, pen

The boats started coming in, the lobstermen were pulling up to the dock with the day’s  catch.

This harbor isn’t very crowded now. In the summer it has a lot of pleasure boats.
4×6 Sketch, pen, watercolor pencil

Now you can see the working boats easily, they are the only ones left on the moorings. 

Its peaceful and there is plenty of parking all along the two town docks.
6×8 Sketch pen

The bustle of summer is over. The big summer cottages along the river are mostly empty now.

I actually like it more than in summer. September, October and November are my favorite months on the coast.
4×6 Sketch, pen, watercolor pencil

When the snow and cold arrive I paint really beautiful pictures but its usually too cold to hang out like today.

The season is changing really fast, almost daily I notice variations in the landscape.  It’s really so nice to take a day and slow it way down. 
4×6 Sketch, pen, watercolor


PAINT EAT SLEEP  

Posted on 2 Comments

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 ! 

Posted on Leave a comment

Spring Comes to Perkins Cove

It was a typical spring day on the coast.  A  huge fog bank drifted in over the land then moved out to sea along with the tide.
Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, Maine is shifting gears from its quiet winter season…

…to the popular summer hot spot it has become.

Everywhere, boats were getting ready for the season.


I  was so busy sketching I didn’t notice the name on this sail boat until Marcus pointed it out…”Quick Draw”.  
This tiny protected harbor has a fleet of lobstermen who are active all year.

The boats were returning from their morning run. 


Traps were piled on the docks. Lobstermen were loading new traps onto their boats.

Freshly loaded and ready to go for tomorrow morning!


Perkins Cove was created by connecting a man-made trench from the Josias River to the sea.

I sat on a bench sketching on Fish Cove, the original harbor the fishermen used. 

Fishermen liked Perkins Cove, and so did artists. In the 1890’s Charles Woodbury founded a popular summer art colony in Ogunquit. His great grand children still live near the cove. 

Perkins Cove used to be busy with fishermen and artists working and selling their art to summer visitors.  Now the former fish houses are little tourists shops.
Marginal Way. 6×6 watercolor, Rives BFK

This is my watercolor kit for the day. Two small color sets and a tiny water jar. I can carry everything in one hand and my pocket.

There are so many tourists in the summer that artists can only easily paint in the cove off season… the town limits the amount of time you can park here during the summer. 

Using my water-filled brush makes quick sketching easier.
Rocks, Perkins Cove. Lobstermen Parking
6×6 watercolor, Rives BFK.  

The S.S. Crusher is the town’s ice breaker. What a face! It is used on cold winter mornings to open the harbor so the boats can go out. In winter the cove freezes overnight because there is so much fresh water flowing into it from the river.
The landing above the docks offered a great view of the cove.

Fred, the harbor master, built his own boat last winter. 
I quickly sketched a few boats. 

The cove has a pedestrian draw bridge. It is the only user operated drawbridge of its type in the US.

The sun came out for a couple of hours drying the watercolors nicely !

Moored in a row. 4×6 watercolor, Rives BFK 
Michelle V. 6×6 watercolor, Rives BFK.
Baby Jess. 6×6 watercolor, Rives BFK.

Posted on Leave a comment

Lobster Boat And Fish Shacks

 I’m looking through all my sketch books and using them as the starting point for paintings…  trying out some new approaches to handling oil paint.  I’m in this place where I like sketches more than “finished” paintings… will this lead to “looser” paintings ? Which of course require more thought…We will see where this goes…


Looking west across the cove in Cape Porpoise you can see a street with these old fish shacks. I parked my car on the edge of the clam flats, sat down on the rocks, opened my sketch book and did a bunch of quick sketches. 
6×8  Cool Gray marker & watercolor on Aquarelle 90 lb 
Posted on Leave a comment

A Taste of Portsmouth & Sagamore Creek

Sagamore Creek is a great area for painting tidal water, islands, marshes, lobster boats, and historic houses…
Jane & I went for a walk around Creek Farm then headed next door to the Wentworth Cooldige  mansion where we set up… 
The house built in 1696 was the home for the first Royal governor of New Hampshire , Benning Wentworth. Its very odd looking as pieces were added on to the original structure.
The sun was warm… Jane set up on a bench on the lawn…
…with a  big view of the creek looking across to Newcastle.
Portsmouth harbor is tucked around the corner behind a piece of Newcastle that juts out into the creek.
I painted the island behind me…
….and had to set up facing the sun to keep the glare off my painting and palette or else when I get back inside the colors will be wrong…
I didn’t notice it but this ship’s anchor was huge!  Jane said “Look at the size of that anchor next to you !” I was busy painting (and keeping warm).
Since we had some daylight left we went promptly over to Prescott Park and the Portsmouth docks for another painting session.
There was loads to sketch and paint. The lobster boats were coming in for the day. 
The sun was setting behind the Strawberry Banke neighborhood.
Before it got too dark I started my sketch of the houses back lit by the yellow sky and Jane hurried to finish her sketch of the buildings on Marcy Street.  As the sun went down the temps started to drop really fast. We were happy to call it a day and head home to a nice hot dinner.
Posted on 2 Comments

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.
Posted on 2 Comments

Big Wind on Bailey’s Island

My friend Jane Ramsey arrived a few days ago for her first visit to Maine.  Where do you take someone who has never been to Maine?   We had only 4 days. I tried my best. 
 Everyday we painted at 2 different locations.  Every night we returned to base camp at my house on the southern seacoast. We headed out early and painted till dark. We painted marshes, harbors, fish shacks, historic neighborhoods, rocky coastline and big weather.  Mackerel Cove on Bailey’s Island is a favorite spot of mine. There’s this little tiny house on the edge of the cove that is a perfect summer getaway.

Its right on the the beach. The full moon high tide left seaweed tracks up on the front lawn. 

The fishermen pull their boats out of the water and park them on the edge of the beach  at this time of the year.  The weather is getting too rough for the small boats. 

The wind was so strong this day the lobster boats hadn’t gone out.  If you got behind a pile of traps you could paint, there was no wind!   Strange… you could hear the wind whistle through them.

The 2 sides of the house away from the water still had paint on the shingles.  If you live on the water you have to paint the ocean side of the house often, the weather just wears it out. 

The wind got stronger. This was Marcus’ first time out painting in high wind conditions.  He had to set up and sketch behind the open the car door the wind was so strong.   

The owner of these dories came by and told me how he used them to fish for herring in the coves.  These boats are huge. The look like the dories in Winslow Homer’s paintings ! A company in Rockland Maine makes them out of fiberglass.  

Jane and I were set up behind our cars.  The wind was blowing at least 30 – 40 mph. We were fine if we stayed in our 4 ft wind free area. 

The weathered shingles….

The temperature started to drop after lunch.  Jane was working in watercolors, I was painting with oils. Her paints began to freeze. She took out hand warmers and placed them under her palette to thaw them out… it worked. 

I’m laying in my sketch of the house. I have ear warmers on under my sun hat…I’m warm and cozy… 

The rough sketch in burnt sienna…  

The wind started changing direction.  I was laying in color, the light was changing fast and I was not about to stop.  I had to grab my easel when a gust hit it. 
Marcus went out on the beach to sketch a good view of the dories.

The front came plowing through, we finished our paintings and headed over to lands end for sunset sketches. So much to paint and so little time!
Posted on Leave a comment

Loaded with Traps

The fishermen are hauling their traps out or putting them in according to season. Now as winter is heading our way I see more of this activity. This boat was ready to lay the traps out. 
Cape Porpoise 8×10 watercolor, Rives BFK 
PLEIN AIR IN MAINE, VERMONT &  NEW HAMPSHIRE 
Posted on Leave a comment

Painting the Perfect Maine Island

The ferry ride from Rockland, Maine to the island of Vinalhaven is about an hour and 15 minutes long. When you get there you feel like you’ve traveled back in time about 30 years.
You can’t figure out why. Its a funny feeling you can’t quite put your finger on.  First of all there are only about 1300 people on the whole island…. the town is full of old New England houses and the views are quintessential coast of Maine. 
 
I went here to paint as a friend recommended it as “untouched”, “the real Maine”.  I’ve been to Monhegan painting … this is the real deal…a Maine plein air  paradise!
  There was so much to paint.  It was a visual overload.  Every view had that wonderful Maine flavor.  Old granite docks, fish shacks, houses clustered against the rocky hillside, a multitude of  tiny islands strewn across the bay and those spiky pine trees everywhere.  
When we arrived on a Monday afternoon- the Main Street was quiet & empty…  No people, no cars.   The ferry terminal gave us a map so we could find our way around.  Good thing as there was no one to ask if we were lost…
The town dock and the harbor were the only places that showed signs of life.  Boats were coming in with the day’s catch and  pickup trucks were all lined up at the dock waiting for their owners.  

I headed off immediately to scout out painting locations.  The island is sprinkled with old granite quarries. It’s famous for its granite. The Washington Monument, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine are built of Vinalhaven granite.
It has this wonderful variety of islands of all shapes and sizes. 
Pointy dark green pines grow on any bit of earth on top of all this rock. 
Docks and wharves are built of solid granite making you think you are walking on land then you realize its a man made peninsula…
Every jagged edge of coast line around the southern protected harbor is full of fish shacks and busy docks. 
Big round boulders of granite sit on ledges and are scattered across islands.
Every paved road turns into a dirt road that becomes a dead end with a gorgeous view of a harbor, another island or the mainland.  
At low tide Carvers Pond empties into Carvers Harbor and makes a sound like the rapids of a big river. 
When evening comes the town is dark and quiet, only one third of the houses light up.  That’s when you see how few people there really are here…