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Plein Air Demo in the Cove

mary demoYesterday I gave a “plein air” painting  demonstration hosted by Beth Ellis Cove Gallery in Perkins Cove, Ogunquit, Maine. It was a mob scene when I set up on the docks overlooking the harbor. Summer has arrived in our neighborhood, and there were lots of people walking around, sitting on benches, eating lobster and arriving and departing in sail boats.mary demo3



I painted three paintings in a row. There were two groups of viewers. The first group was mostly artists and they asked very technical questions about materials and procedures. When I finished they spontaneously burst into applause. Pretty funny!  As I was cleaning up my palette the second group arrived looking sadly at the finished paintings on the dock and asking if they were too late.  I assured them I had 30 min left to paint another demo, so they smiled as I started a third painting.

That morning I packed a good selection of small panels in my gear so I could show a series of small finished field sketches to the group, not once thinking that I would have two different groups watching. That was a first.

demo 2 boats

What I observed during the demo is that some people think it’s easy to paint. They believe that you are a born, gifted genius and you just pick up a brush and do it instantly.  (Not true!)  One group murmured “Magic” when the image emerged after a series of brushstrokes. This session was just a warm-up for the big crowds that will gather next week and for the following 10 weeks. Summer is here and the season doesn’t stop till October !

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Beach Day at York

york beach1It was a great beach day at York Long Sands, big surf, sunny skies and lots of people. I headed over to the beach to meet three artist friends. We had to grab parking spots as soon as we saw them. The tide was going out so vacationers were coming in droves to grab a spot on the sand at midday. I painted small 4 sketches of people enjoying the beach.

Mary York beach

I stayed near my car as the wind picked up and it offered a bit of protection. Toward the end of the day the other cars were gone and I did have to grab my easel as it was lifting off the ground. The temps dropped into the 60’s and we needed to put on layers to stay warm. Its the nature of early summer in Maine!

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Painting Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, Maine

mary painting  Summer is here! Oh yes. The day before yesterday I was painting Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, Maine. The place was sublime. People were drifting about like they were in a dream. It was that perfect.Boats in Perkins Cove

The water in the cove was quiet and the reflections were fantastic ! Did I paint the lobster boats? skiff paintingNo I focused on a tiny skiff. Directly below me. I had to race to get that paint on the panel as the tide was going out and that little boat ended up sitting high and dry on the rocks.  Ah, the joys of painting on the ocean, you know its going to change but you just don’t know what that might look like !


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Beachmere Inn on the Marginal Way

Beachmere 2I am really lucky.  I am the artist-in-residence during the summer at the Beachmere Inn on the Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Maine. Beachmere 3

The inn has this incredible long view of Ogunquit Beach and the shores of Wells, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport beyond. Everyone exhales when they see this view.

IMG_1026People come from afar to walk on the Marginal Way, one of the few traditional coastal paths still open to the public in Maine.

6x6 Crashing surf
“Crashing Surf” 6×6, oil. Available at Blue Hill Bay Gallery.




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A Perfect Marginal Way Evening


It was a perfect Marginal Way evening. I headed over with all my painting gear to the Beachmere Inn. When we arrived  the tide was high and the waves were foaming around the rocks as I set up my easel just off the foot path on the Marginal Way. I really like painting at this location late in the day.  If the tide is right and the sun is out the colors are wonderful.


It was a quiet evening with thunderheads on the far distant western horizon. It was still and there wasn’t even a breeze off the water. People stopped to chat with me as they strolled along the path on their way to dinner in the restaurants in Perkins Cove.

Easel on MW

The rain clouds stayed in the distance, they never arrived at the coast. Right before sunset the clouds cleared and the sun lit up the rocks, waves and beach just before it disappeared behind the horizon.

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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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Maine Paintings of Big Maine Weather

Storm ClearingThe weather in Maine can change in minutes. Things don’t linger here on the southern coast. Its one of the things I love about this region of Maine.  The coastline in my neighborhood is often hit hard by weather blowing in off the ocean. We don’t have islands off shore blocking the impact of the weather and protecting us from full impact.

I like weather. I like to experience stormy weather.  I like to paint the drama that unfolds before me. Some of my best paintings  happen when the wind and water are pounding. It isn’t easy to paint in these conditions.  If I have done my homework I can paint in almost any extreme conditions. Its that preparation that makes all the difference. Its all about being in a certain mental state and having all my tools and equipment close at hand.

“Storm Clearing”, 16×20. oil Available. $2500. Info Here.


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Big Sky Summer Paintings ~ Maine & New Hampshire

Summer Day

There is something dreamy about a summer sky. When I was little I used to lie down on open lawns and in country meadows to watch the sky. I was happy lying in the grass with the smell of wild flowers and songs of crickets all around me. The clouds would billow and break as they drifted above me. Summer was a long, lazy vacation of wandering and exploring nature. Do you see why I love painting skies?

I’m thinking these days about how I paint and what I paint.  I’m thinking about painting in a “flow state”. Its like diving into a river. More on this in my next post.

Summer Day”  14×18. oil. Available. $2,000. Information here

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Big Maine Paintings – Big Wind, Big Clouds


We are in the middle of classic spring weather here in Maine. Its cold, windy and it changes fast. Storms race through, drop rain and clear out fast. The cloud patterns are gorgeous ! The clouds blocking the sunlight create beautiful contrasting colors across the landscape. The wind can be wild on these days. Sometimes I have to take cover behind any structure I can find. Here is a start of one of my newest paintings. I set up my easel behind a barn on the edge of the marsh. At least in this location the easel didn’t fly into the air. It is so great to be out painting!

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Cherry Cake Downtown

Cherry Cake

Most of you know that I spend a lot of time painting outdoors. This new food painting series has taken me indoors. It’s exciting and so much fun!

I’m accustomed to people stopping by to see what I’m doing at the easel outdoors. But sitting next to me having dinner while I paint?

Music is playing and the room hums with conversations.  I’m standing there in the midst of it all making a painting. Concentration. Focus. Mental acuity.  I start the painting, I build it, I finish it, I pack up and walk outside… then I exhale.