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Spring Greens and May Gardens

It’s still chilly here on the Maine coast. It always is cooler here in spring and summer than the rest of New England.
With longer hours of daylight and liberal rain showers everything is turning green!
Bright green!  There is so much green its hard to adjust your eyes to it.  Plenty of yellow too. A huge meadow in Berwick, Maine was filled with about a million dandelions.
I stopped to sketch the view.  The farmer stopped by to see what I was up to. He thought I was an agricultural agent taking notes…I guess sketching looks like note taking!  He wasn’t too happy to see a million dandelions growing in his newly seeded meadow. 
This property is part of a very old farm.  A row of ancient maples on the edge of the  road were turning a bright chartreuse green.
I wanted to visit a number of different locations today, so I sketched and colored as we traveled. 
I used my water color pencils to mark some color notes. These pencils are great for quick studies. I get the basic info down while I’m on the go. At the end of the day I pull out my watercolors to fill in my notes.
The clouds moved in and out all day. 
2×3 watercolors, Rives BFK
Hamilton House  in South Berwick had misty green veils of leaves everywhere.  Everything was thriving and budding.
It has been a rough winter.  The barn at Hamilton House was missing three panes of glass from its high loft window.
The cherry tree in the barn yard was beginning to blossom.  
Big old trees that were growing near the house last summer are now gone. It made the house look bleak and a bit like “Wuthering Heights.”
I sat down to sketch a cluster of tulips in a small walled garden.
 Three clusters of red tulips bloomed in a warm protected area near the stone wall.
The hum of a lawnmower filled the air. At the edge of the formal garden a landscaper mowed the steep hilly lawn.
The house and gardens overlook the Salmon Falls River. The river is tidal in this area below the falls.  It is often windy and cold here.
Clouds and steeple. 2×3 watercolor, Rives BFK 
Dandelion meadow. 3×4 watercolor, Rives BFK
Old maples. 3×4 watercolor, Rives BFK 
Island pond. 2×3 watercolor, Rives BFK 
Salmon Falls River at Berwick. 2×4 watercolor, Rives BFK 
Tulips. 3×4 watercolor, Rives BFK  
Salmon Falls River Island. 2×4 watercolor, Rives BFK 
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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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Fresh Air & Frozen Water

It was one of those drop dead gorgeous early spring days… 

We headed up to Mousam Lake in Emery Mills, a small town in the “lake district” of  York County, Maine.  This area near New Hampshire is hilly and sprinkled with small, granite rimmed  lakes. 
I’ve been painting larger pictures in my studio so for this outdoor plein air adventure I brought a 30×40 canvas panel and my large easel. 

This place is empty at this time of the year, so I parked right on the edge of the marina with a great view down Little Mousam Lake.

The small patch of open water was edged on one side with large white pines. 

Recently I realized I don’t like the conventional sizes of manufactured canvases and frames. It doesn’t match my intuitive sense of dimensions for a painting.
I decided I’d use this large canvas for a number of small paintings. I sketched in 5 different sizes I liked. I wanted a variety of sizes and different views of the scene in front of me.   

Of course one of them would be a sky scape…the clouds were huge and interesting, rolling steadily across the sky.  

I really enjoy the challenge of painting several scenes at one location. It’s liberating and flows naturally like sketching in a sketchbook except its bigger…  

I gave myself three hours to paint the studies and moved fast to get the paint on the canvas. 

It was chilly with a stiff spring breeze blowing right up the lake at me. 

I  love having my car near by while I am painting.  When I need extra supplies I just have to turn around and reach for them in the “car studio”.

I needed 2 bungie cords to hold my canvas on the easel. But the easel didn’t even budge in the wind.  I LOVE this set up !  

As it got later in the afternoon the wind began to die down.

It may not look like it; but I am racing along with these paintings. One of the things I didn’t have to think about was the tide changing, which is a nice thing about fresh water, it doesn’t disappear every six hours …   

I only had to think about the clouds, light and sky changing. 

As the sun dropped lower in the west the reflection on the water next to me was blinding. 

The shadows of the trees were stretching across the ice.

Pretty soon the sun went down behind the hills and the lake was all in shadow.

The clouds changed into a big,solid,misty bank that looked like it was dropping bands of distant snow showers. 
I managed to block in most of the five studies and get enough information so that I can finish them in the studio. That felt good!

As evening moved in the wind disappeared completely and these perfect reflections appeared on the surface of the water.   

For videos see: PAINT, EAT SLEEP
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Lions and Lambs

Spring is here. Its snowing every other day…March came in like a lamb and is leaving like a lion. Its now that in-between season. Every other day snow and ice change to water and mud.  Rubber boots are good footwear for this time of year! 
In South Berwick, Maine the snow disappeared from the open fields this week and the farmers were out and about on their tractors. Subtle hints of green were showing in the golden grasses.

 It was a typical New England spring day. In minutes it went from warm and sunny to chilly and cloudy.

We headed out to paint a nearby farm as we knew we only had a couple of hours before the next snow storm moved in.  Marcus drove to the golf course parking lot where we set up in an open sunny spot next to the car. 
As I was opening my easel a big ominous cloud bank started to move in on the western horizon. Marcus quickly got down to business sketching. He kept his back to the wind, the sun kept him warm.

I sketched the scene in charcoal.

I made notations with watercolors. 6×8 on 98 lb. mix media paper.

 I needed to face the sun to keep the glare off my panel and palette.

I made two more charcoal sketches.
I didn’t have a canvas to paint a panorama, but that’s not a problem with a sketch book. I just draw the size and shape I want my picture to be. That’s why I love them, they are so versatile.   
3×7 watercolor on 98 lb. mix media paper 
Today I planned to paint my oil sketch in sensitive grays. 
I usually have an objective when I go out to paint.  I’m currently teaching a class on color so I wanted to use colors and relationships we are studying.

The wind was blowing steadily now, bringing that weather change in from the west…

The light kept getting paler and cooler.

I placed the color notes quickly and kept moving. 

Soon a thin sheet of clouds covered the sky with just small bits of blue peeking through.  

With the sun gone the temperature quickly dropped. This year it feels like a real old fashioned spring with chilly nights and warmer days.  The sun is bringing out the red buds on the tree branches and mud season is truly here. Crocuses are in bloom in on the south side of my house. It may not feel like it now but before we know it everything will soon be green! 
       6×8 Charcoal & watercolor on 98 lb. mix media paper. 


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Spring Fever

Its happened ! Even here up north where we still have 3 feet of snow in the woods and all over our lawns…it was 52 today and the snow is almost gone from the marshes…

On the Mousam River in Kennebunk, ME the high tide left bits of ice stranded up on the edge of the marsh. The open ocean is just on the other side of that small peninsula.
I decided this afternoon was perfect for sketching. It was so beautiful I wanted to go to as many locations as I could. 
When we stopped at the Rachel Carson marshes in Kennebunk it was low tide.  
It so nice to be out when its  peaceful and calm. There was just a hint of breeze coming up the mouth of the river from the ocean.
Sketching with charcoal on multimedia paper is my latest thing. I like to try different materials and mediums. I’m going to paint these sketches with watercolors back in my studio.
The tides this winter changed the shoreline of the river. Small islands are forming along one edge. Nice shapes…I’m going to paint these for sure! 
Sketching trips like this are great.  I get to scout old and new locations, see the changes and see what catches my eye.  My equipment and supplies are so compact I can carry them in one hand. 
I am a student of the sketching /drawing school..I can never sketch or draw enough.  It is such a liberating activity… free of the pressure to have to make something…
…and I end up really seeing things, sketching them over and over and seeing them differently each time…   
You get to to know your subject intimately, all the nuances of light, weather, temperature, chroma, value… 
It becomes something of yours…something beyond a depiction of a place.  
Marcus drove us around on this sketching expedition. We were traveling instinctively. He turned down a road that took us to the end of the peninsula we earlier saw from the marshes.

At low tide you could walk out to Strawberry Island.
I set up my paints for a quick oil sketch of the sun on the water.
Marcus sketched leaning against the side of the car.

The challenge of this situation was the back lighting and unbelievable reflection on the water.  It was blinding.
I wanted to do a small sketch with just yellow, red, blue and white and mix all my lovely sensitive grays from them.  I’m teaching a color class and want to show them what a limited palette can do.

The last stop on our wander was the town dock in Kennebunkport.

The parking lot was empty. In summer this place is packed with trucks. It was quiet, the harbor was empty, almost all the lobster boats were gone…in dry dock somewhere.
 The tide was coming in and the moon was rising.  It feels like spring.


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Perkins Cove

Perkins Cove is just south of the village of Ogunquit.  Its a tiny harbor that is well protected and active all year.  Marian, Willek,  Dennis and I set up facing west along the harbor.  

Here is the view that was right in front of me as I set up.

The boats were coming in for the day and the lobster men were mooring their skiffs on the docks below me.  Willek went down to check out the view from water level.    
Marian and Dennis set up to paint on the walk way above the docks, a nice place with benches running the length. They had plenty of space as its off season. In summer its crowded with tourists.   
Willek asked the guys if he could sit with his feet in their boat. No problem.  The dock he was on was constantly moving. 

Here’s a picture of my painting as I was getting ready to work on the water. 

Right after I took this picture all heck broke loose.  A sport fishing boat pulled in, tied up right in front of me and about 10 or more guys got off with about 300 (or more) pounds of fish. It was chaos. People were swarming around me.  Piles of fish on ice were being loaded into big coolers on the dock.  Big guys were hauling the coolers up the stairs to their truck.  I had to move my easel.  Packed it up for the day. Marian, Willek, Dennis, Marcia and I headed off to dinner at the Old Post Road.  Awesome food!    We had a good day. Sketch is on canvas panel  8×10.   

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Painting on Marginal Way, Ogunquit, Maine

Marian, Willek and Dennis headed up to Maine to paint for the day with me.  We were hoping for big surf as our subject matter.  This is the view from Israel’s Head looking south on toward Perkins Cove.   

No such luck!  It was as calm as a lake.  Such is the life of plein air painters 
Marian set up facing north looking toward the rocks with Ogunquit Beach in the background. 

Willek & Dennis of course went out farther into the big craggy stuff and set up on the edge.

Willek is down on the rocks on the side of a crevice which in rougher weather would be dicey.

Dennis was on the side of the path tucked into the hill side. A least he could step back and not worry about falling off. 

A couple of big guys who were walking by were so impressed with Willek’s start that they wanted his biz card so they could see the painting when he was finished.

Here Marian is working away .  It was calm and peaceful so she even had her umbrella up! 

I decided to paint this view of the rocks. 

Here is my start. See Marian holding her hat? Well, a big wind came in and blew her umbrella inside out and then it was gusty for the rest of the time. A front was coming in.

This is where I decide to stop on this painting.

I went and found Wilek packing up .

And Dennis cleaning his palette. We then headed off to pick up some lunch and set up in our afternoon location, Perkins Cove.  
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Lands End on Bailey’s Island, Maine

On Bailey Island if you keep driving by Mackerel Cove and go straight you will end up at the southern tip of the island.
It was getting late but I was so close to lands end I had to go and get in a few sketches and maybe a few nocturnes before I headed back up to Brunswick for dinner. (There is no food to be had unless you go up to Brunswick.)  
It was lovely at lands end- it was very quiet, just us and a local elderly couple sitting and watching the water from their truck. 
The sun had set and the light was gorgeous.  I walked around and sketched rocks, land, water and any shape and arrangement of forms that caught my eye.
This statue is out on lands end, in memory of all the lobstermen who have such hard lives on the water.  I have a deep place in my memory bank for this lobsterman.  What a classic. Its bigger than life size.  Every time I see him he’s so familiar…that’s what you do with something you first saw as a youngster.  

 I am so at home in this place. The way the land reaches out into the water, the way all the paths of water travel up into all the bays and coves on the land.   I just want to stay here and set up my studio.  Ok now I have to photograph all the watercolors I did of this place and post them! 
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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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Schoodic Pennisula