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Painting in the Dark



There’s nothing quite like painting in the dark. You can’t really see anything. What color is that sitting on the left side of my palette?  I thought I put all my mid gray paints lined up on the left near the top. They sure look like blue in this head lamp.

It’s a total immersion adventure painting in the dark.  I  just get really comfortable trusting my values to do the work.  Making sure I’m hitting my darks and lights right. And holding down the fort with midtones of the right temperature.

In this darkest time of the year up here in the north land I always promise myself that I will get out to paint after dark. It’s the perfect time to grab the sparkling lights and long lingering  darkness of night that moves into our afternoons. At 3 pm it’s looking like dusk.   I’m reminding myself that this is the mystery time, the time I love and it will be gone soon. I’d better grab it while I can.

On that note after an afternoon of painting in the studio I went out yesterday at dusk (3pm) and painted till dark (6:30pm) and I only stopped because it started raining and water was flooding my palette.  My umbrella was packed away somewhere in the dark. Next time I’ll have it near me.

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Painting at Night in Castine

sketching at nightI love painting at night!  It is one of my favorite times to paint. It takes me back to my childhood when we spent long summer evenings outdoors catching fireflies or going fishing.

Night hse

It is so mysterious and fun to be outdoors after dark . Painting at night has the same quality. It’s outside the boundaries of “regular” painting times.

painting at nightThe owners of a fabulous, grand old house in town stopped by to visit me on the beach at sunset. They had just arrived in town and were excited to see painters were everywhere. I told them I was painting a nocturne and they offered to light up the whole house so I could paint it. When I saw it I couldn’t resist!

night hse finalI sketched and laid in the painting starting around 9 pm. It was getting pretty dark by 10. The blue in the western sky was dim and the trees loomed huge and dark. The house glowed like a birthday cake. Passing cars slowed down to look. I laid out my  colors so I could see them with my head lamp. I painted values in the dim light. It looked finished when I packed up sometime after 11.


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A Big Landscape on a Small Canvas

nubble 1Last week when I was out painting I toned a bunch of small canvases. I started to think about painting a big landscape on a small canvas.  I want to paint a series of small landscapes of the big open spaces around me.nubble 3

I  often paint with a group of painters from Plein Air Painters of Maine.  When I’m out painting with them I usually have a plan. I use the outing to learn something, paint subject matter I don’t usually paint or try out new things.   My new thing is experimenting with different surfaces, treatments and approaches to applying paint. I’m painting on canvas, linen, paper, museum board and panel. Some of the surfaces are treated with acrylic gesso others are alkyd or oil and some are toned a medium value with a thin coat of oil paint. nubble pnting

I can see that I am painting very fast on these toned surfaces. The oil paint goes on easily and it looks great.  I’m in a groove with these small ones. And I used to dislike painting small! Interesting how things change.


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Painting Big from Field Sketches

I paint out doors all the time. Sometimes I’m out painting in the field everyday for weeks, it all depends on the weather and the season. Then…I’m back home painting the big paintings  in my garden or in my studio from the small plein air studies…
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Plein Air at Wolfe’s Neck

Two plein air paintings I did at Wolfe’s Neck Farm are for sale this week at the farm.

 Early Summer Tide
OIl on panel 10×28 

Grazing at Sunset 
Oil on panel 9×12

To buy now contact : Wolfe’s Neck Farm
….or you can attend the Art Fest and take part in the SILENT AUCTION on June 18th.
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Extreme Painting

Plein air Magazine has a feature called Extreme Painting.
.  My good friend Jane Ramsey came up to Maine last November to paint with me.  She had never been to Maine before…so I took her all over to paint in as many locations as we could in 4 days. She took my picture while I was painting in strong winds on Parsons Beach. She sent it in to the magazine. They published it this month – what a surprise !

Thank you Jane! 

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Watching Ice Melt…

A really great thing happens when you are out doors painting…stuff just happens and you roll with it. 
Hey, we know the rules of the game: its gets hot, its gets cold, it gets dark, the wind stops blowing, the wind starts blowing, the tide comes in, the tide goes out, it starts snowing, raining, sleeting or…it gets sunny!  
A guy comes home from fishing and rows away in your “model dory”, a really big boat docks, blocking the view of your subject…or a guy drives up in a pickup truck, gets out a chain saw and cuts down the tree you are painting!  Really – it happens. 
My 5 star event was getting caught in a cattle drive in Targhee Canyon … 

This day was peachy…the stars were aligned.  
For more adventures see FRESH PAINT FRESH AIR

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Salt Water & Green Ice

A quiet, moody morning on Adams Point was the perfect place to set up and paint.  As winter moves into spring the changes are rapid. A couple of days of warm temperatures  can make a huge difference. I really love watching the ice break up and move around as spots of open water take over the once frozen bay . 

Adams Point on Great Bay 

For more photos, details and to view the painting go to FRESH PAINT FRESH AIR
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Rocks & Foamy Surf

 The Maine coast is a few miles from my house.  I  recently realized how much time I’ve spent near the ocean… walking on the beach, along the rocks or up the York River walk. Often, I would go for a walk every day after work.  Before dinner was the time for my husband and I to get out of the office or studio for some fresh air and exercise.  
During those walks I looked at the land, sea and sky. Not with focused concentration but enough observation to notice changes in mood and light every day… and the colors of things… 
Sea Foam, Pen & watercolor. 6×8  on 80 lb. sketch paper.
When I started to sketch waves in en plein air I realized how much I was really observing those days I was walking.  I know much more about a wave and what it does than I thought I knew. When I set up in a spot to paint them, they were familiar!
Marginal Way Rocks, Oil on panel 5×7
 And when there is big surf I know just how connected it is to the recent weather that just blew through or is off shore… 
Looking Toward Ogunquit, Oil on panel 8×10

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Big Wave, Ogunquit

This is the time of the year is when we often get a good amount of storms.  I am delighted by them, place myself on the edge of the granite bluffs and get to work sketching and painting!  I’m in my element.  Would you believe long before I painted in plein air I would choose storms as the perfect time to go for a walk?  Once when my sister and I were walking in a blizzard on York Beach (in runs in the family) a car slowed down to stare at us in disbelief… we were covered head to toe in white flakes !  It was great to go  home to hot tea!    

And who helps me with my storm/surf watch?  Why its those guys in those dry suits….
who are out there just like I am….BIG WAVE WATCHERS…