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Showers on Great Salt Bay

I just painted through sunny, cloudy, and rainy weather all in one four day stretch. I didn’t care.  I stayed close to Great Salt Bay in Damariscotta, Maine, loving every minute. 
   
One day I painted a row of large pine trees …
Great Salt Bay Pines, 8×16 oil on canvas
The next evening I painted a pond and meadows as the sun set behind the distant ridge.
Sunset Study, 8×16 oil on canvas
Another evening a huge bank of clouds moved in and the pond had such gorgeous colors…
Evening Study, 9×12 oil on panel

 I love August ! There is a deep summer atmosphere going on. Even on a misty showery day it is very subdued.
I stayed near my car in case the clouds decided to drop a lot of rain.
It was bright, and the air was thick with moisture. 
The clouds moved steadily overhead. It sprinkled for a few minutes. 
I kept painting, laying in the muted soft colors I saw in the meadows, trees and distant ridge. 
Every now and then the sun poked through so I kept my hat on to prevent a sun burn.
By mid-morning I finished a painting of the hilly meadow with the trees.

Great Salt Bay Farm has a mile of waterfront. Walking trails cross all over the property.  I  planned to walk down to the shore to paint, but it started to rain.  
I always carry my binoculars with me….so out they came. They are so handy in a situation like this.
I could paint my chosen subject and stay right next to my car !
I worked on the composition by painting in all the masses of trees, bushes and grass and leaving my lightest water and distant shapes unpainted.
I love painting this way because this is how I actually perceive everything… 
as interesting arrangements of shapes, lines and masses of different colors.
A visitor ! My best friend Libby arrived bringing a basket of blueberries hoping I would pause and have lunch with her. It’s not raining, therefore a perfect time to sit and munch.

Then it’s back to the binoculars and paint brushes. 
I look through the binoculars and stare intently at the trees. I memorize what I see. I put the binoculars away and paint. Gustav Klimt did this for some of the landscapes he painted. That’s where I got the idea.  
It’s still threatening to rain, but I know I have go paint at Oyster Creek before I pack up the brushes for the day. 
I park near the bridge looking up the creek at a farm on the distant bank.
It is getting late now and I know I have to move fast on this one. I sketch in the shapes on a 16×20 panel.
The tide has turned, it is just starting to go out.  
I mix a batch of colors. I place the color notes and values, picking and choosing as I go, painting with a large brush so I can get this scene down fast! 
This creek is way up at the top of the Great Salt Bay. It’s tidal but the land around it looks more like inland Maine.   

It’s almost evening but I still have enough light from the high overcast sky.

I like the feeling of this open expanse of water. I wish I was painting this view on a bigger panel so I could put in more details .
The breeze started to pick up and create patterns on the surface of the water.  Is this a sign of rain coming?  
I put in a few more colors, packed my car and hit the road. I have enough blocked in to finish all these paintings in the studio.  And I’m coming back here to paint in October… guaranteed! 

FOR MY NEW FALL CLASSES see… PAINT EAT SLEEP
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Tall Pines Late Light

I’m really beginning to think about why I paint en plein air… why, after 5 years of painting all most exclusively out doors its so hard to come back indoors… 

I get to be in the most awesome places… often with very few people around and with a great variety of wildlife. Once upon a time you only found fishermen and hunters in these places … its clear to me that for them the “sport” aspect is only part of the attraction…


When I go out painting for a week or more, I don’t bother with the news or internet. I call home daily to report on my travels and painting progress. If I’m not too tired, I read art books before I fall asleep.  I don’t have a habit of watching TV.  Did I mention that I don’t watch TV at home either? I don’t miss it . Ever.


When I return home from a painting trip I can catch up on everything important in about 30 minutes…the bank crash of 2008 happened when I was out west in Idaho painting in the Teton Valley with Scott Christensen’s advanced group… someone heard about it one night and told the rest of us the next day…


Did it affect our painting?  Can’t say it did. We were totally immersed in painting the land and the challenge of doing it every day, trying to grow beyond our limitations…the world with all its information didn’t disappear, it was waiting for us on our return home.

The perspective I gain from this process of entering and reentering the landscape is one that is a connection that lasts beyond the temporary…The earth is old. It was here before I was  and will be here after I’m gone, I’m visiting for a short while … 

I am very lucky. I can leave my house, drive 10 or 20 minutes in several directions and arrive in a quiet place where nature dominates the landscape. I’m not saying I don’t like painting in cities. I sometimes do. Its just that on life’s journey I somehow ended up in this beautiful place called Maine.
  
And I’m glad I did.

The photos above are from my recent trip to Vinalhaven, an island off the coast of Rockland, Maine. The last twilight picture is a view from the west side of the island looking toward the mainland with the first lights coming on in Rockland, Maine. 
Tall Pines field sketch 11×14, oil on canvas panel.

More paintings at PAINT EAT SLEEP 

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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…  
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A Nor’easter ~ Surf & Salt

I had to wash my car yesterday. I couldn’t see out of my side view mirrors. They were  covered with salt!  It was like looking through dry fog.
  Sheets of driving rain hit the car as I sat parked at the town dock in Vinalhaven, Maine working in my sketchbook…

There was big surf in the well sheltered harbor.

The sideways driving rain soon stopped. The winds were still whipping around.    The ferry had not run all day.  Everyone at the dock waited for the captains decision.   


Yes, that’s how it works, the captain decides if its safe enough for the ferry to run. We boarded the first ferry of the day, and were happy with the steadily improving weather conditions. 
 This nor’easter had moved in from the west the night before when I was up painting at Browns Lighthouse. 

That was my last day of a week painting on Vinalhaven, an island off the coast of Maine.  It is an hour and 15 min ferry ride from Rockland, Maine. 

The island is the real Maine thing packed with views just waiting to be painted ! 

The town of Vinalhaven has a working harbor with lobster boats and fishing trawlers. 

When the nor’easter hit it really made everything screech to a halt.  The fishermen did not go out.  The harbor was full of moored boats. The ferries stopped running. The waves were too high and dangerous.


My friend Libby and I were sitting in my car during the ferry crossing.  I was going to sketch – forget that !   When the waves hit the boat, the bow lifted skyward and the cars shook like jello. It was better to be out standing on the deck.  There we had fresh air and  a clear view of the waves as they hit us !

 I was happy.  I just put my back to the wind and waves and kept my eyes on the distant islands that didn’t jump up and down.  When we passed Owls Head we were on the home stretch. The captain kept tacking till he got us to the ferry dock.  I love the drama of extreme weather ! It reminds me of those great Winslow Homer paintings of the sea. However much I wanted to capture the scene, its  difficult to draw in a bobbing sketchbook and impossible to paint in a 45 mph wind! 



More paintings & sketches at: Paint, Eat, Sleep
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Mackerel Cove

I spent the afternoon painting in Mackerel Cove on Baileys Island. This is a busy working harbor, all year round it is packed with boats going in and out all day. 
I set up on Abner Point Road and had a good view of the wharf and lobster coop. 

It was sunny and warm when I started to block in the wharf and small cove.
Soon the wind picked up, the temperature dropped, I could see my breath and I pulled on a wool sweater(& my wool mitts).  I had to stand behind my car and paint to stay out of the wind. 
At the top of the cove there was a tiny beach and park that local families came to walk and sail kites. Boats were pulled up on the beach.
This small shack sat on the edge of the cove.  I fell in love with it.  It was so old and hadn’t been touched in years. 
Here’s a quick sketch I did of it in my book.  Marker & watercolor 60 lb. paper.
For my last painting of the day I decided to paint a boat that was moored at the wharf. 
Here’s the beginning of the sketch. The boat was driven off while I was painting it.  Typical and not the first time my subject was taken away while I was painting it in plein air! 

This is the view of Mackerel Cove at sunset from Harpswell Island Road as I was getting ready to head back home.  

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Spring in Cundy’s Harbor

Cundy’s Harbor is a small harbor a little way down on the peninsula from Brunswick, Maine.   The sun was warm in this spot and we were protected from the breeze off the ocean that was chilly.

I set up on the back lawn of the public library. No leaves on the trees yet so I could see the harbor pretty easily .
This is the view looking south down the length of the peninsula toward the open ocean. A few boats were in the harbor.  There were many empty moorings. I did a quick 20 minute sketch. 
Behind me was a dock that had a stone tank built along side it . I think its for holding lobsters before taking them market. I’ve never seen one of these before – no one was around to ask.  This harbor is not busy year round. 
 Here I am starting a sketch of a dock on the north side of the harbor.
Here’s the sketch on its way to being finished, 8×10 oil on panel.  This was it for the morning location. After this I packed up and headed over to Abner’s Point for an afternoon of painting.
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South Bristol & Pemaquid

The mid coast area has all these great fingers of land, islands and lots of little harbors with those craggy rocks poking out everywhere. I made my way down to South Bristol where I crossed “The Gut,” parked just south of the draw bridge and did this quick sketch of some dories at the town dock.


I made my way down to South Bristol where I parked just south of the draw bridge and did this quick sketch of some dories at the town dock.

August in Maine is peak summer tourist season and is usually crowded, this day it was so hot that everyone was out on the water or at the beach. I had the place mostly to myself with a few locals stopping by to have their lunch or on their way to work. This tree was on the left bank at the edge of the channel.

I turned to my right and painted this view of channel marker # 3 right before the entrance to the drawbridge . This channel is deep and very narrow and the draw bridge goes up every 5 minutes when the lobster boats come in with their haul.

By the time I was ready to head out to the lighthouse on Pemaquid it was mid afternoon and the parking lot was full. Everyone was trying to escape the heat. No ocean breeze. I painted in the shade. Looking south the view was of those famous rocks, pines and crashing surf .



The water is too dangerous (and too cold) to swim off Pemaquid Point as it is on a huge rocky shelf with big surf. The place is beautiful. In the late afternoon clouds were building in over John’s Bay as white sails dotted the water.


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Damariscotta and Pemaquid Point

These watercolors are from my midcoast 6 day trip. My good friend Libby lives next to a dirt road that leads down to acres of meadows and forest along the Damariscotta River. Here is the view from a lower meadow.

From up behind the church in the center of Damariscotta I could see the boats in the harbor. While painting there a lady came up and gave me directions to a tiny cove in Round Pond where she said I would find a beautiful place to paint. I went the next day and she was right!
It was a perfect summer day. The Damariscotta River was filled with boats. These are some that were sailing up and down the bay as I was looking across toward Boothbay.
This sketch is of the boat shed in South Bristol where Pete Seeger ‘s boat “The Clearwater” was built. As I was drawing this scene a man came by and told me his father said the day they launched The Clearwater you could walk across the water from South Bristol to Boothbay on the beer cans floating in the river! It was a huge celebration!
Later that afternoon I went out to Pemaquid Point. Behind the light house I noticed this out building way across the lawn at the edge of the pine woods. It was in a nice, shaded, cool spot on a hot summer day. It was in the 90’s that day with no sea breeze.

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Monhegan & John’s Bay

I’ve been in the studio for the past two months painting from my summer plein air studies. This past year I did a ton of watercolors ! Surprised me as I just tried it outdoors for a lark. They are so easy to use compared to oils. There is no set up. I just pull this tiny Koi color box out of my bag and paint in the pages of a notebook.

This trip was for 6 days down the peninsula from Damariscotta to Pemaquid Point and out to Monhegan. Here is a fish shack in South Bristol.

On Monhegan I painted the harbor from Fish Beach.

The day was sunny and gorgeous with horsetails in the sky over Manana.

I settled for lunch on the rocks along the harbor and painted this view of the town dock where everybody comes in their battered, half alive pick up trucks to pickup visitors and their luggage. Its a mob scene !