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PAINTING ON LAKE IN THE MOUNTAINS

In the morning light the lake and the mountains gave off subtle, misty colors. It was so perfect. My morning demo was a scene of a nearby peninsula with the lake and and the distant shore behind it, dotted with white boats and cottages. Photo: Marcus Gale
In the morning light the lake and the mountains gave off subtle, misty colors. It was so perfect. My morning demo was a scene of a nearby peninsula with the lake and and the distant shore behind it, dotted with white boats and cottages. Photo: Marcus Gale

PAINTING ON A LAKE IN THE MOUNTAINS

This week I presented a plein air workshop at a beautiful lake in the mountains of New Hampshire. If you have never visited this area, it is a beautiful region of mountains and valleys with lakes sprinkled throughout.  There is a wonderful variety of things to paint. On this summer day we painted at a private lakeside residence on a small cove of a lake with gorgeous, distant views of the mountains and sky. The oil painters, acrylic painters and water colorists attending this workshop were great!  They all did well even though it was one of the hottest days of the summer. We were lucky there were plenty of shady spots on the property and we had great views of the lake and the mountains everywhere we set up.
I painted two demos, one of the lake in the hazy, atmospheric morning light and the second after lunch when fresh, fluffy clouds started floating over. Clouds!  After a night of rain the hot sun was beating down on the mountains and they were making clouds just for us to paint !  The cloud shadows on the pines on the opposite shore and mountain range were awesome.  Could I be any happier?   It’s been a while since I last painted in the mountains and I really missed them! I love painting in this region and I will be going back soon.
The rest of this month I am wandering around painting where ever whim and weather takes me. I’ll be painting on the coast, in the mountains and at the lakes. The last days of summer are here and fall is not far away so I’m enjoying it ! Which reminds me… my September Plein Air Class on the seacoast is starting on Tuesday, September 6th ! For more information see below.

"Cloud Shadows" 9x12 Oil. When the clouds started to appear during lunch they were casting moving shadows on the opposite shore and across the mountains. I knew I wanted to paint them. I paused before I had lunch to clean my palette and to set up the colors that I would need to paint fast. The clouds were moving steadily across the sky. Cloud painting requires preparation and speed; those clouds keep moving, changing shape and drifting out of sight! Photo: Marcus Gale.
“Cloud Shadows” 9×12 Oil. When the clouds started to appear during lunch they were casting moving shadows on the opposite shore and across the mountains. I knew I wanted to paint them. I paused before I had lunch to clean my palette and to set up the colors that I would need to paint fast. The clouds were moving steadily across the sky. Cloud painting requires preparation and speed; those clouds keep moving, changing shape and drifting out of sight! Photo: Marcus Gale.

STARTING IN SEPTEMBER !  NEW PLEIN AIR CLASS SESSION STARTS SEPT 6TH !

NEW SEPTEMBER PLEIN AIR CLASS  ~ TUESDAY AFTERNOONS ON THE SEACOAST
This class starts Tuesday, September 6th, 2-5pm, and runs for 6 weeks.  If you want to attend this plein air class Please let me know ASAP to reserve your spot.   Space is limited. Advanced registration is suggested. Six week session~ $227
Locations : EACH WEEK A NEW LOCATION –  Seacoast region. Register for 6 week session here.
After the demo I paused to answer everyone's questions. While watching closely the students had questions about what I was doing and why I was doing it. They wanted to know what I was thinking, why I was making the choices I made and the timing of those choices. Painting is 90% mental and 10% physical! Photo: Marcus Gale
After the demo I paused to answer everyone’s questions. While watching closely the students had questions about what I was doing and why I was doing it. They wanted to know what I was thinking, why I was making the choices I made and the timing of those choices. Painting is 90% mental and 10% physical! Photo: Marcus Gale

AUGUST EVENTS

BY THE SEA  BY THE SEA GARDEN TOUR
SUNDAY AUGUST 28TH
3:30-7:00 PM
MARGINAL WAY PRESERVATION FUND
OGUNQUIT, MAINE
A small group of plein air artists will be painting in selected locations along the Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Maine. A wet paint sale will be held on the lawn of the Beachmere Inn, Ogunquit, Maine from 3:30-7:00 pm. Tickets to the event may be purchased here.

OCTOBER PLEIN AIR CLASS IN NH LAKES REGION

A 6 week plein air class in the NH Lakes region (Laconia area) is beginning in early October. Dates and details will be coming soon.  If you are interested please contact me.

The color key of my afternoon painting! Photo: Marcus Gale.
The color key of my afternoon painting! Photo: Marcus Gale.
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New! NH LAKES REGION PLEIN AIR WORKSHOP

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PLEIN AIR WORKSHOP IN THE NH LAKES REGION

ONE DAY WORKSHOP
AUGUST 11TH
ALL DAY – 10-5 PM
LOCATION:  PRIVATE LAKE FRONT PROPERTY  BELMONT, NH
HOSTED BY THE LAKES REGION ART ASSOCIATION
FEE: $135
REGISTER HERE

This is the perfect opportunity to paint in a heavenly location in the lakes region of NH…

The Lakes Region of NH is beautiful. Sparkling blue lakes, mountains, islands and big summer skies are waiting to be painted. There is nothing like spending a nice summer day painting under towering pines, breathing in fresh country air and watching the sun change the colors of the mountains. We are painting all day in a private location on a lovely lake. I can hardly wait to paint at this beautiful house in Belmont, NH on the shore of Lake Winnisquam !

This day long workshop will help the student slow down and focus on completing one painting on location. This workshop is at a beautiful, private, lake front location. The day will start with a demo and a short talk on the specific aspects/advantages/challenges of the subject/location. I will be teaching fundamentals, values, design, color and brushwork. Individual guidance will be given based on each students individual painting experience. Students can expect to complete one or more paintings depending on experience. All skill levels are welcome. There will be a group discussion/critique session at the end of the day.  Registration is through the Lakes Region Art Association. Fee for a one day plein air workshop is $135. Please register soon.There are only a few openings left.  REGISTER HERE.

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Outdoor Painters Party


It is definitely summer when painters gather under a tent and friends and spouses sunbathe along side on the grass. Doesn’t this look like a contemporary plein air party ? Painters are hard at work and significant others come along for the trip to a pastoral destination.Photo: Marcus Gale.

You can tell summer is coming when painters are out in groups and they have tents to shade them. Now why didn’t I ever think of that? I’m always thinking of what can I do to lighten the load.  I wouldn’t think to bring anything that requires a Sherpa or beast of burden. The plein air painters of the 1800’s brought tents and gear. Why not? We now have cars to carry them rather than horses. So when I painted with my friends Will, Barbara, and Marian this week on Peirce Island in Portsmouth NH, Will offered to set up a tent for us so we could paint comfortably in the hot sun. What a treat!  We painted in the lap of luxury on a soft green lawn with cool breezes washing over us in the shade of a lovely white tent.  Three of us decided to paint the view of the shipyard and the river and we fit nicely into the shade of the pop-up tent that Will carries everywhere.


Marian set up on the causeway with a view of a neck of land that jutted out into the river. She stained her panel and worked with a knife. She had lots of visitors. We could hear them talking to her but couldn’t see her through the trees.   
Photo: Marcus Gale

It could only have been better if we had snacks and ice tea delivered during the afternoon.  I am always covering up when I’m out painting. Sunscreen, long sleeves, pants, socks and my permanent hat are always part of my daily attire. I get a sunburn in 15 min. I even burn in winter when the glare is strong on the snow. I do best in a foggy, cool climate, so the fog shrouded, misty days on the coast are some of my favorite ones.  Rainy days are nice if it isn’t pouring and I’ve had some of my best days painting with acrylics in light mist.


When I arrived on location the sun was baking the rocks. It was toasty warm. I needed my umbrella to keep me and my palette cool and shaded. Photo: Marcus Gale

Can we talk and paint when we are painting in close quarters? Well, that’s debatable.  Marian went off and found a spot  close to the water on the causeway to Four Tree Island. The rest of us laughed and shared painting experiences, plus a few other tidbits.  One of the nice things about painting with other painters is to see how they choose colors, design their painting and interpret the motif.  Barbara painted a large painting with negative shapes on a stained panel, Will did a grisalle on a medium panel and I painted three small ones on mixed media board one stained and the others white. The conversation was lively and animated. I rarely if every talk and paint so it was a challenge to switch concentration, but I was working small so it was easy to finish a painting a thought and then answer a question. Did we manage to paint anything that we liked?

  Will mixing colors after he finished his under painting.  Photo: Marcus Gale

I was happy with two of them and the last one I didn’t quite finish as we were packing up. So I just dashed in the shapes and called it a wrap. I needed to get out of the way as the tent was coming down. What a delight it was painting under a tent. I’m thinking about getting one. It does require 2 people to set it up and take it down. So it would be a group thing but I noticed I wasn’t as tired as I am after spending the day in the hot sun.  It was nice to be so comfortable painting and having a cool breeze refresh you. It actually got chilly late in the late afternoon!

 SUMMER IS HERE AND ITS GOING TO BE SHORTER THAN YOU THINK !

SUMMER PLEIN AIR CLASSES

THE SUMMER PLEIN AIR CLASSES HAVE STARTED.
CLASS SIZE IS LIMITED.
2016 summer classes “en plein air” are in a groove. Jump in and join us for a session. We are painting at beautiful locations, a different one each week.   I am 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 students are improving.

SUMMER PLEIN AIR SESSION DATES
SESSION 2     JUNE 14- JULY 19
SESSION 3     JULY 26 – AUGUST 30
SESSION 4     SEPT 4  – OCTOBER 11

AUTUMN PLEIN AIR
SESSION 5  OCT 18 – NOV 22

SIGN UP HERE FOR ONE 6 WEEK SESSION.

SIGN UP HERE FOR ONE SINGLE CLASS 

DEMOS  &  A PLEIN AIR WORKSHOP AT YOUR LOCATION:  I am visiting art groups and associations giving demos and plein air workshops. If you or your group would like a workshop please don’t hesitate to ask for details and available dates for summer and fall.

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 and see for yourself.

JUNE EVENTSPLEIN AIR DEMO & INSTRUCTION
JUNE 16TH    4-7 pm
Location : GOVERNMENT STREET,  DOWNTOWN KITTERY, MAINE
$15 NON-MEMBERS
$10 MEMBERS
Hosted by : THE KITTERY ART ASSOCIATION

This is a great chance to see how I paint and how I design a plein air painting. If you think you’d like to paint outdoors come to this event. It’s a great sampler of plein air painting. After the demo I will answer questions and share experiences.
SUMMER & FALL WORKSHOPS IN MAINE

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.

Join my email list for the latest scoop.
See reports from the field here.
Share good news with friends!

I look forward to seeing you!

Mary

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Plein Air Adventures in New Hampshire

 


A double demo. I painted the same scene with a slightly different focus to show my students the difference between painting on a toned panel and a white panel with the exact same color key. Photo: Mary Byrom.

Though it is perfect for plein air painting I have been really busy the past two weeks finishing and delivering paintings, traveling and lecturing.  It’s been a blast and I am catching my breath right now. This is the first day this week that I am at home. Everything speeds up when warm weather comes to New England. It’s natural for everyone to get out and about, wanting to do all sorts of things.  A few days ago I headed up into northern New Hampshire to give a talk about plein air painting to a group of artists who have studio experience but not much outdoor experience. The small group of plein air painters in this area are hoping that more of their friends will join them outdoors. I was invited to introduce a large group of them to plein air painting and tell my story of how I went from being a studio painter to becoming a plein air painter and how it affected my life and my work. I can really sympathize with studio painters who like the solitude and the calm, controlled painting experience the studio offers. But nothing has changed my painting so much as painting outdoors for the past 12 years. I loved it so much I couldn’t paint indoors until last year when I made a concerted effort to return to the studio. And wow, what a surprise it was to paint indoors. I painted totally differently in the studio than I did before and I brought indoors a whole bunch of skills I gained by painting en plein air.


Plein Air  Gear Show & Tell: I set up a display of some of my watercolor sets, brushes, water color pencils, pochade boxes, value markers, palette knives, sketchbooks and plein air sketches (oil, watercolor, acrylic) so people could look closely at everything and touch it. It is a very different experience to see it in 3D than just a picture of it flashing by on a power point. It was like a mini museum experience. Experience is where it is at, it sticks in the brain. 
Photo: B. J.

When I was invited to give this talk I thought about the huge difference there is between painting indoors from a photo and painting from nature and how these landscape studio painters would love being outdoors if they tried it. The studio paintings they made from their plein air field sketches would be a world away from anything they painted from a photograph. I decided not to do a power point presentation about my tools and gear as that would be removed from the original content; just like painting from a photograph removes you from contact with the landscape. Instead I unloaded some of the gear from my mobile car-studio and brought it into the lecture hall so everyone could see it and touch it . I did the same thing that happens when you go out to paint in plein air. Everyone was able to  have up close and personal contact with the supplies and sketchbooks. They were able to hold them, turn them over, open things up and look at them as long as they liked. Talk about excitement!


After the talk I invited everyone to come over to the display. It was great to see the response. My sketchbooks really helped people see how the different tools made it  easier to work in different time frames, outdoor conditions and weather situations. There were involved discussions right up until we had to scoot out the door.
Photo: B.J.

Did it make a difference!  After I gave a talk on how I encountered plein air painting (and how my friend Sue got us outside to paint and how we started in winter!), I invited everyone to come over to the table and to see the wide variety of tools I use when I am sketching and painting outdoors.  I have 12 years of trying out different types of easels, mediums and substrates ( To be sure I am a very solid supporter of the art supply business.) People could compare the tiniest starter kits to the more elaborate set ups. Some painters already had easels that they were unhappy with and wanted suggestions for other easels on the market.
I knew what they were referring to and why they didn’t like certain products. I ran into the same problems. Artists wanted to know my opinion and my experiences with different easels, substrates, papers, paints and everything I used. I thought about how I would have appreciated this conversation earlier in my career.  This week wrapped up with teaching my plein air class in a totally gorgeous location. One the students invited us to paint on her property along the Bellamy River in Dover, NH, just upriver from where it enters Great Bay. What a perfect spot for afternoon light. The tide was going out and the clouds were sailing through from the west, it couldn’t be better.


My rock star plein air students setting up to work/play on location on the mud flats along the Bellamy River where it flows into Great Bay in Dover, New Hampshire. Photo: Mary Byrom

DEMOS  &  A PLEIN AIR WORKSHOP AT YOUR LOCATION:  I am visiting art groups and associations giving demos and plein air workshops. If you or your group would like a workshop please don’t hesitate to ask for details and available dates for summer and fall.

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 and see for yourself.

MAY EVENTS

PLEIN AIR DEMO –
MAY 28TH    4-6 pm
2016 SEASON OPENING FOR BETH ELLIS GALLERY
Location: BETH ELLIS GALLERY
294 SHORE ROAD
OGUNQUIT, ME
860-338-3996

JUNE EVENTS

PLEIN AIR DEMO & INSTRUCTION
JUNE 16TH    4-7 pm
Location : GOVERNMENT STREET,  DOWNTOWN KITTERY, MAINE
$15 NON-MEMBERS
$10 MEMBERS
Hosted by : THE KITTERY ART ASSOCIATION

This is a great chance to see how I paint and how I design a plein air painting. If you think you’d like to paint outdoors come to this event. It’s a great sampler of plein air painting. After the demo I will answer questions and share experiences.
SUMMER PLEIN AIR CLASSESTHE FIRST PLEIN AIR CLASS STARTS MAY 3RD.
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.SIGN UP HERE FOR 6 WEEK SESSION.SIGN UP HERE FOR ONE SINGLE CLASS 

MAINE SUMMER WORKSHOPS

JUNE 18   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.

Join my email list for the latest scoop.
See reports from the field here.
Share good news with friends!

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Why does it feel like Late Summer?

Sometimes the perfect moment is fast. July 4th. Fireworks on the coast of Maine. You can look north from the Marginal Way in Ogunquit and see the fireworks in all the towns up the coast.
Sometimes to capture the perfect moment  you have to move fast. July 4th. Fireworks on the coast of Maine. If you look north from the Marginal Way in Ogunquit you see the fireworks in all the towns up the coast. This was painted from the Beachmere Inn lawn. It is in a private collection.

It is moving toward late summer. I can feel it in the air. A few leaves are turning and we have had some cool nights. I’m looking forward to the perfect painting weather August gives us! August session of the Brush & Sketch Club starts Wed Aug 12th  3-6.

If you want to join us shoot me an email.

PS. Don’t forget to join the mailing list so you can see plein air locations and get invites to special friends and fan events.

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Winter Kisses Spring

Winter kisses Spring?  Where did that come from? It must of floated in from some remote spot in the woods where you can hear the river gurgling underneath the ice.

Walk in the Woods
Walk in the Woods, Study,  8×10 oil. Unframed. $325 Available.

These next few weeks will be the best days for painting winter scenes. The temperature is moderating, its above 20 degrees in the day  and the sun is warming everything up. Of course my first concern is where do I need to go to paint the snowy spots before they melt? Its like taking a giant land thermometer and thinking what warms up first?  Of course anything out in the open and facing south will melt first.  The northern side of  the hills and deeply shaded woods will hold the snow a bit longer.

And Through the Woods
And Over the Fields, Study, 5×15 oil, unframed. $225 Available.

If I want to be in the marshes before they melt and  all look muddy and brown I might have to put them at the top of my list.  Some of my best marsh paintings were painted during snow storms when it was very cold and not necessarily the happiest time for oil paint to behave nicely.  Sometimes to capture that picture and wonderful mood I have to just ignore the weather and deal with whatever it delivers.

Winter River
February River, 16×20 oil $2500 Available.

For the most extreme weather I carry a thermos of very hot tea. Hot tea works wonders after painting for hours in tough weather.  The added benefit of painting in crisp cold air is your mind feels super sharp and like it is washed clean of all the hum drum of modern life. It  totally blasts out cabin fever or any cobwebs in the corners of your mind. I think I’d be quite happy to spend a winter painting in the remote areas of Yellow Stone National Park.  I’m very happy painting along the sparsely populated seacoast of Maine in the winter. It’s often just me, big empty spaces, a lot of big open quiet spaces, flocks of birds, some fishermen here and there and a dog walker passing by once in a while. Its nature at its best.

NEW PAINTING CLASS/WORKSHOP ~  If you would like to get out to paint soon let me know. I’ll be starting a spring class  – 6 sessions. On Thursday afternoons, 1-4pm  We will be outdoors weather permitting. Send me a note if you are interested. I’ll post dates soon as the weather is warming up.

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Sign up for Spring and Summer Classes and Workshops here.

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Painting Snow in the White Mountains

Painting at the edge of a snowy forest.
My easel is set up at the edge of a snowy forest near a ski area in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

There is nothing like painting snow. It is magical, beautiful and sublime. When I am on location deciding where to set up my easel the first thing I always notice is the temperature and the direction of the wind. If it is a calm day it makes it easier to choose where I set up. If its windy I always paint near my car or behind my car. It makes  a big difference to be protected from the wind when the temperatures are in the teens or lower.  Twenty degrees seems to be the tipping point where the paints start to behave differently. When it is above 20 degrees my oil paints are normal. Below 20 degrees they start to get stiff and I add more medium to get them to flow. I also get different effects with the paint when its colder.

Through the Woods, 6x6 oil. Available.
Snowy Forest, Study, 6×6″ oil. $275 Available.

 

I love the mood of a snowy landscape. The air is fresh and cold. The light reflecting off the snow is intense. It is brilliant and blinding. It can be difficult to judge the color of paint when you are out in the middle of a bright snowy field. I wear my broad brimmed hat on sunny days. If I can, set up in the shade to paint. It makes it easier to see.

Fresh Snow, 5x7 oil. Available.
Fresh Snow, 5×7 oil. Available.

When we’ve had a lot of snow the most difficult thing is finding a place to park my car. Often the parking lots and pull offs that are easily available in the warmer months are not plowed. My favorite locations aren’t often available during the winter. I often find new spots in urban and village areas that are usually plowed.

In the past 3 weeks a large area of New England received up to 80″ of snow. It is more difficult to find plowed areas with a view. Everybody is just focused on keeping the streets clear.  The piles of snow on the edges of parking lots are now over a story high. Might just be time to get out the snow shoes and the toboggan and hike in a bit.

If you’d like to take a fun painting class, I have a new class starting in March. “COLOR & BRUSHWORK” ~ Level:  Beginner to Intermediate Fee : $180  6 classes  March 5th – April 9th. Class Description here.

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Plein Air Painting in Winter

Cloud study after sunset.
Cloud patterns after sunset.
Cloud patterns after sunset.

There is something incredible about plein air painting in winter. Winter is a wonderful time to paint outdoors. Its actually one of the best times. There a magical quality to everything. Tonight everything was still and quiet.  I watched a full moon rise over the white landscape and had a thought… how many more full moons will we have on this white snowy landscape? Maybe March will have snow,  but April is doubtful. Spring will be here sooner than we think.

Painting in softly falling snow on the harbor in Portsmouth, NH.

The winter landscape is peaceful and a feeling of solitude envelopes everything. The dry, cold air makes the stars seem brighter and crisper. Even on cold days the sun is toasty and warm. The light is great all day long with the low sun in the sky creating perfect shadows at any time of day.

We’ve been having a series of storms here on the coast. The snow is piling up. I’m loosing track of how many storms and how much snow we have. I just know its up to my waist in the back yard. The snow is deeper than the back deck, the driveway is looking like a small canyon and its been snowing every few days. The weather reports keep changing.  I can’t plan my outings ahead of time so if the sun is out for a few minutes  I grab my paints and paint nearby!

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Painting When it’s Cold Outside

clouds NC Painting when it’s cold outside is not a problem for me. I was painting in the White Mountains a couple of days ago in North Conway, New Hampshire. It was one of those perfect winter days with big clouds rolling across the sky above the violet blue mountains. A wind was blowing in from the west over the towering mountains and across the open valley in front of me.
The sun was low in the sky. It’s always low in the sky in winter up here in New England.  At 2 o’clock in the afternoon the shadows were long. I set up my easel behind the open hatchback of my station wagon using my car is a windshield. This is what I do when I’m in a windy spot either on the coast or inland. It was a perfect day for painting with lots of great subject matter. After I finished my first painting a couple walking their dog came by. They said hello looked at my painting and the man said” I really admire you painting out here on a day like this.”
I said “Time is fleeting. There were only be so many more days when the sun is low like this and winter is here. Soon the days be longer, the snow will be gone and it will be summer. If I don’t get out here and grab it now I’ll never get out here to do it.” He said “That’s right, soon it’ll be summer and it will be warm again. I really can’t stand summer!” We all laughed.
They continued on their walk and I took out another panel and started painting the last light on the slopes in front of me.NC
There’s nothing like painting in winter. I’m going to grab every minute I can of this cold weather with its clear, sharp, clean arctic air, the blue shadows on the snow and the crisp, bright , twinkling light of the stars at night.  When I head out I bundle up with all my extra layers of clothing. I adjust my thinking and painting medium to make my paints behave and I go out into that big, quiet space when all of nature in this northern climate is alive in deep, quiet places getting ready for spring. The days are already getting longer.

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When the Tide is Turning

Dusk 3_edited-1

You don’t always know when the tide is turning. Especially when you are in the thick of it, busy  with your life and don’t really notice the first signals. It can be subtle. Everything has come to  stand still and you don’t feel like you are moving forward. It doesn’t look like anything you’ve seen before.  Its not like graduating from something or a big change in your course. Its not obvious like moving or getting a new job.  You are deep in your daily life, same schedule, same location and one day it seems as if you don’t quite see everything the same way.  You are in a totally familiar place but  it seems to have turned into a slightly different territory with no trail and no trail markers. You feel like a traveler with a compass but no idea where the nearest bit of civilization is.
It was in Soho, NYC,  in the early 1980’s that I distinctly remember thinking “this modern art scene” is over.  The stuff in all the galleries was looking the same; empty, hollow, meaningless and lost. The hot shot NY art scene was over. I was watching its death. A slow death; it looked like the husk of a plant left in the field after harvest and the first winter frost would be soon arriving.  When I left NYC that Sunday and drove back home to Vermont I remembered that was the last time I looked at the contemporary art scene as if it was a live viable community of interesting vital ideas. There might have been a few people searching  to create something personal and original but most everyone seemed to be more interested in being the next “hot artist” and making a pile of money before they were 30.  The work didn’t have too much content, just a lot of posturing and attempts to be different. Very few visual pieces could be understood with out a translator or script.
All this “modern” contemporary stuff began to look very passe. It was so easy to make it. It didn’t require much skill or depth. I could invent it in my sleep.  It was going nowhere. I realized I was departing from this whole art world concept.  I began to overhaul what I was thinking and doing.
That weekend I realized this whole modern art thinking that I had been exposed to in college was nothing I wanted to be part of.  I started following a path out into the uncharted territory. It took me out of Vermont, south to the coast of Maine. And I only went there because a jeweler I met told me this was a very happening place. He was right. It was Portsmouth, NH. There was a thriving arts scene there with an old factory full of studios. Artists, photographers, architects, wood workers, antique restorers, jewelers, potters and weavers were everywhere. This was my kind of neighborhood. Everyone was re-locating to this area. It was gritty and beautiful.
To be continued…

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