Yesterday 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.
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.
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 !
It 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.
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!
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.
The water in the cove was quiet and the reflections were fantastic ! Did I paint the lobster boats? No 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 !
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.
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.
Last 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.
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.
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.
Yesterday was gorgeous. I decided I was painting till dark in Ogunquit on the marsh. I went to the Footbridge Beach parking lot and set up as the sun was going down.
I wanted to paint three small paintings of the marsh as it changed in the late light.
I painted marsh painting #1 in bright light. The sun was shinning fully in my face and across the grasses. It was golden and glorious.
Marsh painting #2 was painted after the sun was behind the trees so I was standing in their cast shadow.
At this point I had a visitor, a man who lives nearby and recognized me from last summer. People are really friendly and often say hello when they see me out painting.
The sun went down behind the horizon and my favorite time to paint began. I love the many stages of dusk until dark. The colors were amazing, subtle and steadily changing – I mixed them totally intuitively and it worked.
The 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.
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