I went on a road trip last week to the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts. It was a quick trip that took me into a slightly warmer zone where spring was having a head start compared to my Maine neighborhood. It was lovely to see the red tree buds on the hill sides and Magnolias in bloom in the valley gardens. I love the hills and fields of western Mass. where I grew up in a college town. I brought my water-based paints and sketchbook with me on this trip as I knew my primary objective was to visit family and I would only have little bits of time to paint. In the past I’ve found that road trips can be a mix of irregular weather (yes, this definitely happened), a packed schedule (ditto), and not enough or just enough time to get everywhere and do everything planned. So when I knew I was making this quick trip I packed my sketchbooks, markers and water-based paints.
“Roof Tops” Haiku series. Ink & watercolor. 4×7″. Photo: Mary Byrom.
We started our trip in the morning. The sky was blue on the coast and grew increasing cloudy as we headed west. While in the passenger seat, I began sketching and painting as we entered the central part of Massachusetts. There I noticed the gray trees had changed to vibrant reds, greens, and oranges. As we drove through the city of Lawrence I first saw the masses of budding trees changing the color of the landscape. It was amazing! All the tree covered hills seemed to be subtly glowing. I drew what I saw and quickly applied water colors. I had to paint fast. I really like doing this. Its a great memory exercise and its very quick. No time to linger or second guess anything. No correcting or fixing. Its painted and then its on to the next sketch.
Spring in the Mountains”, Haiku series, 5×7 ink & watercolor. Photo: Mary Byrom.
As Route 2 climbed into the hills near Orange, the long views of the Berkshires came into view. The colors here are so different from what I see on the coast. The skies were filled with clouds and the distant mountains turned a muted violet blue. The nearby rolling hills turned a deep wine color. The stands of hardwoods glowed in warm tree bud colors punctuated with spikes of tall green northern pines. I used my tiniest Windsor Newton watercolor set, a water brush and my multimedia Canson sketchbook to draw and sketch. All these sketches were drawn and painted with my sketchbook on my lap while riding in the car.
“Spring Buds”, Haiku series, 5×7, ink & watercolor. Photo: Mary Byrom.
THE PLEIN AIR EXPERIENCE ~ If you like to spend time in nature and are interested in painting outdoors but are not sure you will like it a good way to check it out is to attend a plein air demo. Some people like to paint or draw but feel shy about doing it in a public place. Others don’t have the equipment and want to see what it is like before investing in a lot of stuff they might not end up using. The best way to find out is to watch someone and see how it is done. Come to one of my plein air demos this summer and see for yourself.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE A DEMO OR A PLEIN AIR WORKSHOP AT YOUR LOCATION: I am visiting art groups and associations giving demos and mini-sampler classes. I’m traveling and giving plein air workshops as well. If you or your group would like a workshop please don’t hesitate to ask for details and dates. I have available dates for summer and fall.
PLEIN AIR DEMO –
MAY 28TH 4-6 pm
2016 SEASON OPENING FOR BETH ELLIS GALLERY
Location: BETH ELLIS GALLERY
294 SHORE ROAD
PLEIN AIR DEMO & INSTRUCTION
JUNE 16TH 4-7 pm
Location : GOVERNMENT STREET, DOWNTOWN KITTERY, MAINE
Hosted by : THE KITTERY ART ASSOCIATION
CLASS SIZE IS LIMITED.
2016 summer classes “en plein air” begin on May 3rd. I will be teaching a new easy plein air method in a 6 week block of classes. This easy method really helps beginners get comfortable with plein air painting and it helps experienced painters improve skills dramatically. It’s a tried and true method and its great to see how fast it works.
MAINE SUMMER WORKSHOPS
JUNE 18 2016 10-5
JULY 9 10-5
AUGUST 6 10-5
SEPTEMBER 10 10-5
OCTOBER 8 10-5
All workshops are in southern Maine in the coastal towns of Kittery, York, Cape Neddick, Ogunquit, Wells, Kennebunkport and Cape Porpoise. Painting locations include quintessential Maine places including beaches, rocky coastlines, harbors, marshes, farms, historical homes and classic small villages.
These are one day plein air workshops. All workshops begin at 10am with a one hour break for lunch. The day will start with a demo and a short talk on the specific aspects/advantages/challenges of the location. Guidance will be given on choices of subject matter tailored to each student’s individual painting experience. Students can expect to complete one or more paintings.
Register for a workshop here. Price: $100.