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YOU ARE INVITED To a Plein air demo!

To a Plein air demo in the Garden

Tea in the Garden ~ Mary Byrom Demo
Hosted by the Hartwell House Inn
312 Shore Road
Ogunquit, Maine 03907

And if you can’t make it to Ogunquit on Saturday afternoon you can watch it live on Facebook!  Here is the link to watch it.

Ocean Park Art in the Park
WET PAINT SALE  ~ Wednesday July 19th
14 Temple Ave
Ocean Park, ME 04063

Castine Plein Air Festival
WET PAINT SALE ~ Saturday July 22nd 4-6pm
Castine, ME 04421

PLEIN AIR CLASS ~  Meets Tuesdays 2-5pm
Let me know if you’d like to join us !

IN THE NEWS : PLEIN AIR MAGAZINE is publishing a feature article about me and my paintings!
It will be in the print edition and online. I will let you know when it hits the news stands!

Yes, we are organizing for the pre-launch!

I am launching a new online landscape & plein air painting course.

Preview videos will be posted on Facebook & Instagram & Youtube pages.

* Video: How you start a painting determines your success
* Video: How to make solid design decisions

PHOTO Credits:
“Late Afternoon Surf” 4×8″ oil.
Mary Byrom painting in plein air

MY NEW PAINTINGS are on display at:
A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words, Exeter, NH
Shore Road Gallery / Beth Ellis Cove Gallery, Ogunquit, Maine
Kennedy Gallery, Portsmouth, NH
Mast Cove Galleries. Kennebunkport, Maine
Beachmere Inn on the Marginal Way! You are welcome to visit and see them in the bistro. Available for purchase at the Inn.



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For five years I painted outdoors. I didn’t like painting in a studio.  
 I was so happy to be able to walk and hike and be out and about in natural places. I appreciated every minute of being in a wild place no matter how cold or warm it was.
Evening Lights Study, 8×16 oil

 In 1988 I was injured after being hit by a car while standing in a cross walk. For 10 years I was unable to walk for any length of time. A surgeon repaired my broken bones but the damage I sustained was extensive.   
Maine Field & Pine, 4×8 oil
I spent eight hours a day in physical therapy. I swam three miles a day to build up my endurance.  In 1998 I started practicing a spiritual cultivation practice called Falun Dafa. After practicing every morning for a couple of months all my injuries healed and I could run, jump and hike again! I had my health and life back!  It was great! 
Island Study, 6×12 oil

When I was in physical therapy all those years  I’d have visions of landscapes. When I started to paint again the first thing I painted were landscapes. 
Lake Night Study, 8×10 oil

 The first year that I painted outdoors I went once a week with a good friend.
Autumn Marsh Study, 8×10 oil 

Later that summer I traveled with my husband Marcus on his concert tours and brought my paints with me. I discovered that I really liked painting alone.
Three Bridges Study, 6×12 oil

 I soon went out to paint everyday. I loved to go on “painting wanders”. I’d hop in the car and drive any where I felt like going.  
Red Sky Marsh Study, 8×16 oil

I’d see a spot, stop, park the car and paint. It was like being in heaven…healthy and free at last.  
Rockland LIghts Study, 8×16 oil

I know how lucky I am. 
Salt Bay Farm Study, 8×16 oil

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Painters at Turbat’s Creek

Turbat’s Creek in Cape Porpoise is a piece of southern Maine coastline that has the same look as 40 years ago. The cluster of traditional fish shacks is still there. The water in the creek is cleaner now than it was then. 
It’s a favorite spot for painters. When you visit you will know why.
Island View, 16×20, oil

At low tide the creek is so shallow you can wade through it and walk out to the nearby island.

All kinds of old dock pilings poke out of the sand on the edge of the creek near the fish shacks.
It was sunny and warm on this day. I chose this location for a meeting of Plein Air Painters of Maine. When I arrived Ellen And Flo were already busy painting.
Flo had a big solar umbrella that kept both her and the easel out of the direct sun, so she could see her colors clearly.
Barbara arrived and tucked herself in under the shade of some small trees for a good view of the back of the fish houses.
Carol went out on the pebbly beach near the harbor. Painters were all over the place! It was a hub of productive activity on the creek today.
I spied a nice patch of marsh grass with tidal pools looking toward Vaughn’s Island. 
I sketched my design in pencil.
Next I painted in the view on my panel in burnt sienna. I marked my dark areas and looked at the shapes I was placing. 
I put in colors and kept building the shapes in a three dimensional form as I went.
The day started out perfectly clear. In the early afternoon clouds began to fill the sky. 
It was actually nice to have some relief from the sun. The cast shadows made the landscape look more interesting.
When I had arrived at Turbat’s Creek in the morning the tide was low and still going out.
Recently I’ve been painting larger on location. Today I was painting a mid-size painting and finished most of it on site. 
My husband Marcus arrived by mid-afternoon and set his easel up by the boat launch near a fish shack. 
Painters arrived and departed all day long, some came early, others came late in the day depending on their preference for lighting conditions.  Suzanne arrived to paint the late afternoon light from a nice vantage point on the the rocky beach. 
There were many visitors coming by all day. It was great! I saw friends I hadn’t seen since last summer. I’d stop to talk to them then continue on with my painting. 
The sun dropped lower in the west, and the colors on the land, sky and water were beautiful. This is my favorite time of the day to paint. 
Long shadows stretched across the sand.
I had recorded enough information to call it a day. I can finish the painting in the studio.
I went to over to the beach to tell Suzanne I was heading home.  She and I were the last painters left. 
Suddenly a police car and big red truck towing a boat pulled into Turbat’s Creek Road. I  had to move my easel out of the boat launch area – fast!  
The police launched the boat in the water and took off for Vaughn’s Island – hot on the trial of some outlaw reported to be over there. 
It was an exciting day at Turbat’s Creek. I was happy to head home with an almost finished  painting! 
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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! 

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Waterfall on the Wildcat

  This summer I am having a love affair with waterfalls. 

It started a week ago at the Mill Yard in Amesbury MA. where Marcus performed a music concert

…and a nice crashing waterfall (that once powered the mills) cooled the summer evening air as I painted it.

The following week I discovered a number of waterfalls on my way to painting locations in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. 

 Early Saturday morning on my way north to Pinkham Notch I stopped in the village of Jackson, NH. 

There the rushing waters of the Wildcat River flow over rocks and ledges creating Jackson Falls.

 This is a popular spot and has been since since the 1800’s. A bathing pool was built into the river for summer visitors to enjoy the cool waters.
 The river runs right through the center of the village and is designated a national  “Wild and Scenic River” .

The Jackson Historical Society is located in the village near the river.  This old snow roller was sitting right next to the river. 
 I knew what it was ! I first saw one of these in a painting of a winter scene by Rockwell Kent.  Interesting how much you can learn from viewing art. 

The trail to the lower falls of Jackson Falls is well marked and cared for by volunteers. 

A little gazebo sits in a park on a grassy spot along the trail.

As you walk closer to the falls the land gets rocky.  A small bridge crosses over a stream of water that was diverted into a channel away from the center of the falls.
The water is cold, sparkling and crystal clear.

When I reached the end of the trail to the lower falls, I was looking up at gushing plumes of white frothy water cascading over a huge sloping wall of rock.

To paint I had to balance and carefully prop myself in between a couple of large boulders.  
The falls created a lovely sound of rushing water.
I was practically sitting in someones very nice back yard! The trail provides a public right-of-way along the edge of private property.
I was safely tucked into an area full of deep cracks and crevasses in the rocks. I had to wedge my gear carefully between the boulders and set my watercolor box on top. 
The water was several feet away from me, constantly splashing, bouncing and flowing by.  

It was very peaceful to sit still and concentrate on capturing the moving shapes of the water.

People climbed out on the rocks above me from the upper falls. The more adventurous ones climbed up and down the falls jumping from rock to ledge. 
For myself, I had enough to focus on painting and staying balanced on the boulders…and not fall down in between them!

I was careful to not make sudden moves that might send my supplies down into a narrow deep crevass.

Sitting was best in this situation.There was really no obvious place to set up an easel in a spot that I liked. The grassy level spots are all further down the river. 
I loved the place. So do a lot of other people…there was a flow of visitors enjoying the falls the whole time I was there. 
Jackson Falls, 9×12 watercolor on aquarelle.

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Wild Water Lilies

On a back road between my house and Ogunquit, Maine there is a place where the Ogunquit River crosses under the road on its way to the ocean. The river is still and dark in this one spot. Beavers built a dam here so the river is slowed down enough that water lilies are growing in profusion.    

Water lilies are sweet, mysterious flowers. They hold their proud heads up above the river’s surface on sturdy strong stems.
Wild Water Lilies, oil on panel 20 x 20
I saw the lilies just starting to bloom a week ago.  I decided on the size and shape of the painting before I even went on location to paint it.

The river has changed so much since the beavers moved in. It still has a strong current  but it isn’t noticeable in this one area. 
Along the banks where the current is very slow the water lilies cluster and grow in profusion. 
In an area that once looked more like a meadow all kinds of water loving plants have taken root. Shrubs and thick bushy plants now fill the open space.

The only spot available to set up to paint the view was right above a culvert on the very edge of the water.  This isn’t a problem for my Gloucester easel which is sturdy and stable.

I started painting around 5:00 PM. I wanted very little direct sunlight and muted colors for this painting. 
I premixed a number of my colors so I could work really fast.  I didn’t want to spend time mixing color as I needed to paint quickly in the dimming light.  
The mosquitos and ticks were horrid. There were tons of them. Two minutes into painting a tick jumped on my ankle. I grabbed him, threw him toward the water and continued painting. 
Something happened to the mosquitoes shortly after that. They all disappeared. Not one even stayed behind. Also the ticks disappeared. I was delighted! 
A few gnats dove into my wet painting but didn’t touch me. I didn’t have any bug repellant.  I’m going to restock the car studio with a big stash of it for the summer painting season.  
The river bank was very steep where I was standing. I couldn’t step back to see my painting. I’d have to stop painting, look carefully at the ground, and then walk back along the guard rail to get a distance away from the easel.
I always have to step back periodically to see if my painting is working. I loved the mood of the greens as the sun dropped lower in the sky.

The flat water lily leaves reflected the slight blue light of the sky overhead. 

The sky at this time of the evening became many shades of yellow, green and blue. 

At 8:00 PM I called it a wrap. I packed my gear and headed home. I have enough information to finish this painting back in my studio! 

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Ocean Breezes at Wolfe’s Neck Farm

The morning air was fresh and cool as we headed up the coast to Wolfe’s Neck Farm. This place is gorgeous.It is on a penninsula east of Freeport, Me.
I’m one of eight painters participating in a plein air event at the farm for ten days in June. There is a multitude of subject matter to choose from. I could paint here for a week and not run out of great views .
This is an old working farm. A little blue tractor was parked in the driveway when we arrived.

Across the road a pasture full of buttercups was the home of a small herd of Belted Galloways.

Down the road a bit the open view of the bay with islands sprinkled across it was spectacular !

On the opposite side of the road was a view of a small tidal river,open meadows, woods and farm houses on the hills in the distance.

There was so much to choose from and so little time. I set up and started painting a view of the bay.  I liked the feeling of the huge expanse of water and sky.

The tide was coming in fast. Marcus set out to explore the edge of a cove.
It was so quiet. No one was around. We were surrounded by fields, woods and water. It was  hard to believe how close we were to Freeport the shopping mecca and the headquarters of L.L. Bean. 

I blocked in my design choosing to paint the tide half way in.

The air was filled with the songs of birds that filled the meadows and trees. 

The sun was moving high overhead in the sky toward noon. I had to keep moving my easel so the panel and my palette were in the shade. The light was really bright.  
Marcus returned from his hike and settled into a comfortable chair to do a drawing of the dirt road and high, hilly meadows on either side. 
I kept developing the painting, adding more color notes.

The light and shadows on the trees and rocks along the edge of the cove was really nice before noon.

Shortly after noon we were suddenly surrounded by visitors. My quiet spot was a hub of bustling activity.  A small group drove by quietly and slowly to view my painting…

 A grandfather out for a walk on the beach with his little grandson stopped to chat and look at my work. 
The next door neighbor of the farm brought her dog for his daily swim.  She came by to see what I was doing.  
I kept painting, getting all the information I needed. I was no longer in a secluded, quiet place. It was the rush hour for recreation!

A man arrived with a folding boat on his car. He set it up, loaded his lobster traps in it and set off down the creek out into the bay.

As the tide came in a large group of horse shoe crabs swam in on it and gathered along the edge of the creek. It was a spot they really liked.

I stepped back to get a good view of my painting. When I’m painting I always step away from the painting to give me a better perspective on what I’ve done. I saw I had enough information on my panel to stop. Now I could bring it home and put the finishing touches on it in the studio.  

I thought it would be a good time to drive around other areas of the farm to scout out painting locations for the rest of the week. As I looked up the river the tide was almost all the way in.
The buttercups in a meadow across from the barn were amazing.  This meadow has millions of them this year. Usually there aren’t any at all here. 
A farmer brought in a new group of Belted Galloways in a big truck.  After they were unloaded he walked around the meadow with them talking to them. He was  helping them get comfortable in their new location. 
I sketched at different locations all over the farm until the sun started to drop in the western sky. 

The tide was going back out…it was so nice to see the patterns in the acres of sand.

The islands formed moody clusters in beautiful muted colors. Everything was in shades of gray blue, violet and rose.
As the sun sunk below the distant trees we called it a day and headed down the dirt road toward home.

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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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Traveling, Sketching & Painting in the Great Outdoors

When I arrive at my painting location I always grab my sketch book and start to look around. 
After a bit of wandering something usually grabs my eye so I stop and set up my gear. If its at all possible I like to paint near my car, then I don’t have carry a bunch of stuff and I can set up in minutes and get started.
I do two or three sketches right away. I use ink, gray markers, charcoal and now my latest newest sketching tool is a mechanical pencil! I love how smoothly it moves over the surface of the paper. 

I paint in watercolors, acrylics and oils. I learn a lot by painting the same subject in different mediums. 

After I do several sketches I like, I usually pick one and use that one as the “map” for my oil painting.

It isn’t unusual for me to go home after a plein air outing and paint a watercolor after I’ve finished an oil painting on location. 

I think the most important thing I’ve learned from painting in plein air is that my eyes always see everything differently than the way a camera does.

I never got into a habit of painting from photographs so when I decided to paint landscapes I just went out side to do it.

It was a shock to go outside at first. I didn’t have any painting equipment so I just grabbed an aluminum easel from my studio and threw my paints in a canvas bag and lugged the whole thing out on location.

When I saw the potential of painting outside, and thought I might really like it,  I broke down and bought the cheapest gear I could find.  I found a Julien french easel on sale for half price.  

Little did I know I would become totally hooked on plein air and I would only want to paint outdoors !

I didn’t sketch when I first painted en plein air.  I was always in such a hurry, afraid the light  would change and I’d better grab it fast.   
At some point I started sketching. 

The sketches evolved from a way to get familiar with a location, to a way of seeing the location intimately, to seeing the sketch as a unique part of the whole outdoor process and a finished statement in its own right. 

I went from painting exactly what I saw, to interpreting what I saw, to transforming what I saw…

I really like to go out and paint in all kinds of weather and lighting conditions…

I look at how other painters handle winter scenes, lighting conditions, rainy weather… 

I especially like seeing how artists painted the same or similar landscapes  that I paint…
So of course I love looking at any of the great painters who lived in or came to paint in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts.

And I love looking at the Russian painters work as they  painted some great winter scenes…

They painted some snow scenes that make my locations along the coast look like a temperate climate… 

I’ll often be on a location and think of another painter who painted long ago in the exact same spot I’m standing in… once I was in the White Mountains looking for a place to paint so I pulled off into a road side rest area to look around.  I glanced up at the mountains above me and saw a totally familiar sight, but I knew I’d never been there before.  As I stood there staring I realized I’d seen a painting of the scene in front of me that had been painted in that exact spot 100 years ago…
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These Old Houses

We had a true Nor’easter yesterday and it delivered piles of fresh snow and a sunny, quiet day today.
Nothing beats snow for the best plein air experience.  On a clear day the air is crisp…
…the shadows are blue and the snow is a brilliant warm white.
I headed over to Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth, NH to meet to friends who wanted to paint old buildings in winter light. The collection of old buildings in Strawberry Banke is excellent! 
Meet Chris Volpe and Todd Bonita!… who were all set up and in the thick of it when I arrived.  It was about 20 degrees. These guys were set up painting in the shade as if it was a summer day!   
Todd was painting a view of a small building in a sunlit patch of snow that was rapidly being swallowed by the shadow of a big house.  He was measuring carefully to make sure his drawing and perspective were correct.

Today was the first day of a trial run for a new plein air set up, a Julian half size french easel.
It was a second hand special and missing the palette.  This is the new replacement palette a woodworker at the Button Factory made.  It is very handsome.
Todd used a neat custom made maul stick to get his lines straight on the edge of the building and windows. Don Demers was the artist who passed on this neat idea. Its great to learn and see these unique tools painters use. 
While these guys were painting I was walking around sketching a number of views…

And I dropped into the Banks Gallery up the street near us to see the contemporary American paintings and talk to Jamie the owner.
We had very nice visitors pause on their way through the lane. The Museum is closed until spring.  Many people in the neighborhood enjoy walking through the quiet lanes. 
The afternoon sped by and soon the whole area was in shadow.  The sun was dropping below the horizon and it was beginning to get chilly.  Todd put the last notes on his sketch.
The sky became a peachy color after sunset and the half moon and stars came out.  It was a nice ending to the first plein air outing of the new year.