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Green Ice & Muted Mauves

St John’s, Newfoundland in iceberg season is a place I’ve always wanted to visit. I love icebergs . One day in the Portland Museum I saw Rockwell Kent’s paintings with all that ice and snow up close and personal… and I fell in love with them…   

There is ice up here in Maine and New Hampshire. But it is small pieces of ice… beautiful in their own right. Marcus & I  headed over to Durham Point on Great Bay to see the ice as it was breaking up into mini icebergs.  When we arrived at Adam’s Point it was a study in blues, greens and mauve……the colors were soft, the air was still and it was just high tide.

The sea water was pouring into the bay on the western side of the peninsula. 

Cakes of ice were floating around the inlets.

The bright green color of the ice submerged in water is amazing.

At first sight the bright green color is startling…

We parked near the boat launch on Adam’s Point Road, between two bays.There is water to the east and west.

The ice was breaking off and floating along on currents moving in two opposite directions, south along the shore and north toward the middle of the bay.

I set up and mixed my colors…The weather started to change. The heavy cloud cover started to move out over the ocean. 

In only half an hour the sun was burning through and the entire scene had changed.  The moody soft colors were gone. Poof! 

I kept blocking my colors into the scene from memory…


The difficulty was that the light kept getting brighter and it was hard to see the original colors in the scene I had chosen when it was overcast. 
The sun dropped lower in the sky, the wind picked up and flocks of Canadian geese flew in for the night.  

The sun was getting so bright I decide to stop and call it a wrap.  I could barely see the panel and reflections were bouncing all over the place.

Horse tails scattered across the sky. Then the big wind came! It came in hearty gusts, blowing my easel and everything else around. 

I set my tripod legs for windy conditions and that stabilized the easel. But it was  even hard at this point to keep my hat on. 

With 25 – 35 mph winds I’ was ready to pack it in. Strong wind is the hardest thing to deal with when painting. Its so distracting!  

Green Ice, 11X14 Oil on panel
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Snow & Ice on Great Bay

A partially sunny afternoon with temperatures in the 20’s made it a nice day to paint on Great Bay.  This is a 6,000 acre salt water bay and one of my favorite places to paint along the seacoast.
It is one of the largest estuaries on the Atlantic Coast and at 10 miles inland is one of the most recessed. It is an amazing place.
I’m setting aside a day each week meeting up with a few friends to paint. This is a change for me. I often paint alone, wandering from spot to spot.  I usually paint out of the back of my car if possible. 

This takes a little more planning and I like the new locations, perspectives and painting gear I am exposed to by painting with others. Todd Bonita and I painted together this day.

I was using my 8×10 light weight set up. I wanted everything to fit into one medium sized back pack as we were walking in a short distance to our location. This is Judson’s 8×10 pochade box. 

Todd is trying out new equipment.  This is his half size French easel. He carries his paints, brushes and medium in a small wooden box.

A brand new addition that he was testing this day was a Richeson French Mistress;  an expanding palette that triples your mixing space. Or you can also use it like a table top and park brushes and small gear on it….

True to the nature of experimenting I did my sketch with a different medium than the ink or cool gray markers I usually use. This day I used charcoal pencil. I noticed that Phillip Koch does plein air sketches in charcoal so I thought I’d try it for a change.
Todd was testing an expandable view finder that he could adjust to the ratio of the exact size of panel he was using. 

I keyed in my painting and blocked in my darks and masses in the approximate chroma, value and temperature I decided on. 

 I am using a limited palette of titanium white, cadmium lemon, cadmium red, french ultramarine and burnt sienna for my sketch.

I set up facing toward the sun so my panel would cast a shadow on my palette and keep my panel and paints in the same lighting conditions. 

Its hard enough painting with all that snow bouncing the light all around so I didn’t want to add direct sunlight to the mix. Here’s the 8×10 sketch, oil on canvas panel. Todd kept working away till dusk.
I’ve got a new paint I’m going to try – underpainting white. Todd was using it and it was setting up really fast, even in the cold temperatures.
Of course the best colors showed up as the sun went down and each phase only lasted for about 3 minutes. 
Next week we are thinking of setting up and painting a pile of (5×7’s and 6×8’s) 10 min sketches to capture the color changes as they occur.  This should be fun and doable with enough premixed colors waiting to be used….stay posted !
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Plein Air in Canterbury, NH

New Hampshire is gorgeous in the summer!  I live near the ocean in Southern Maine but…a short drive from my house takes me into the foothills of the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
We headed up to Canterbury, NH for the afternoon. 
Marcus decided to come along with me to do some sketching.

Here’s the view of the top of the meadow where we parked the car. 

I started to set up and Marcus got down to work a right away.  He’s working on perspective and sight measuring.

He decided to sketch my pochade box all set up and ready to go. He is experiencing the difficulty of designing the landscape to make it interesting and hold your eye.  All that editing.  Much harder than a still life or person.  So at this stage in his plein air experience he picks a specific object or person to sketch and is doing really well.  

Of course here we have 2 sketch books with totally different focuses and purposes. 

 I’m well into the my first field sketch.  I’m painting with my back to the scene to keep the moving dappled sunlight off my canvas and palette.

Here’s the 12×12 , oil on panel. 

The big cross road behind me had a road sign for every destination these roads will take you to – yes, it goes to 
 Boston!  Note the granite post. Up in these hills we see pasture fence posts made out of granite.

A granite watering trough is near the sign. This is a spot to stop and water your horses. The road was once a highway(1700’s?). Its now a country road.   

Here I am taking that step back to see if the design is making sense on my second start.

Here is the cross road behind me that goes to Lake Winnipesaki.

I’m laying in some paint fast on the 16×20 panel. The light is changing, the clouds are flying and  I’m moving fast!  

 As we packed up to head back to the coast heavier clouds moved in over the meadow.  What a great day!