This morning the temps were in the teens at 7:00 am and 35 by noon. A perfect late winter day. It was gorgeous! I headed over to the York River after our errands in York Village were finished. A friend came by to sketch with me . Good company and spring weather made it feel like a party.
It’s late February and I could have hung out in a lawn chair in the toasty sunshine. That is as long as I stayed out of the wind. The tide was going out the entire time we were there. We parked the car with the nose headed up stream and I stood behind it with my easel. It was perfectly wind free in the spot behind my car.
For me the big challenge was there was no snow along the river. They had a rain storm here last week while we had a snow & ice event at home. No luscious blue shadows anywhere. I had to hang for a bit and look around at the midday light on a brownish landscape. See how spoiled I am? With sharp blue water, dusty ocher marsh grass and inky green pines this scene would be drop dead gorgeous to anyone else wandering upon it. And I’m looking for patches of snow!
Truth is there were a ton of things to choose to paint. Its just that I’m emerging from of a month of nocturne painting and my mind is still thinking about soft, dim landscapes. Maybe instead of going out so early in the day to paint I need to paint more of that nocturne series. We change the clocks in 15 more days. I might be the only person dreading that. These nice early sunsets help me keep my work day shorter.
It was about 30 degrees when I started painting today. I promised myself this morning I was going out to paint. It was -11 at 7:00 AM. I worked indoors until it warmed up. Then I headed out to the marsh to paint snow and shadows. Oops, no snow on the marsh. So we went up the road to Laudholm Farm. There was a bit of snow there and some nice shadows. And it was an hour or so till sunset.
I think the big problem with winter is we don’t get outside often enough. It makes you feel good to to spend a few hours in fresh air. That’s why kids have recess. Adults should have it too. When I was going outside to paint everyday in January it was great. As soon as February rolled around I slid back into my habit of diving into the pile of “things to be done.” Now I’m focusing on not doing that. I’m shaking it up and moving plein air into my schedule. If I put it in my “to do list”, I will go out.
This past month has been a challenge. Not just to paint every day but to fit in time to paint into a day full of dozens of other deadlines. I managed to do it this past month. I scheduled painting and blogging into my day ever day. I have completed this challenge of painting 31 paintings in 31 days in the past . I have painted 100 paintings in 100 days. But I’ve never shown them to an audience every day nor have I written about the daily experience of painting. Writing about painting every day was a real eye opener. I remembered more about my experience as I was writing about it immediately after I finished the painting.
This past month I noticed I made some big changes with how I painted and what I painted. Temperatures in the single digits forced me to use different mediums, different brushes and a different substrate. I started the month with linen panels and after very cold temperatures made my oil paint act like concrete, I didn’t touch linen again the rest of the month. I continued with oil paint, changed my substrate to mat board,multimedia board, canvas panels or gesso board. I changed my brushes to medium and soft synthetics. I used OMS and just straight oil paint, no medium. I painted at dusk or after dark when compositions were really interesting. Then things really began to come together nicely. So nicely that on some days I painted more than one painting.
The painting Dusk Lights is from one of those days when things were going so well I painted another painting after the first one was finished.
Little did I think this afternoon that I was going to get home so late from running errands. I pulled into my driveway after 5pm. It was dark enough to know I had missed all the last light and dusk views.
Then, as I was walking around the back yard checking out the different views and looking for a spot to set up my easel, I saw a brilliant star in the west. I walked up onto my back deck and saw the crescent moon shinning through the big pines trees behind the studio. By the time I had my easel, paints and brushes, the moon had climbed above the trees and was moving south west toward the bright sparkling star. This star was so bright I realized this was not a star but a planet. It was Venus. It was quiet and peaceful. No wind and the temperature was still a warm 35. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be outside painting this lovely evening as the waxing crescent moon and Venus were meeting in the sky. Last night and tonight are the only times this happens this year. What a delight!
I started painting just before the sun set this evening. I could see the houses clearly in the rapidly declining light. I knew one thing was for sure. I had to paint the structures fast before they disappeared as the light dimmed. Suddenly the overcast sky was not so gray. The sun must have found an opening in the clouds and had dropped to that spot where the light was bouncing back up into the clouds. I saw a slight pink, then a violet , then more pink and peach. It was so quick. Maybe I saw it for 3 minutes before more clouds moved back in. It was enough time for me to paint it.
I love times like this. The whole scene was warm and rosy. Cars drove up and down the street and people parked cars into their driveways. I could see headlights and red tail lights at different houses here and there. Then the house lights came on and it was time for dinner.
Today was lovely. A quiet, warm, sunny day before another snow storm tonight. No wind. This view is of the neighborhood from the field behind my studio. It was a race to get the slice of light before it all moved on to the east and disappeared. Skies with clouds are one of my favorite subjects. Because a fast storm is moving in overnight I had all kinds of cloud shapes to work with. The big challenge was to grab them before they disappeared. I really like the mood of these evening paintings. There’s no hustle bustle. It’s all about lingering light and coming home at the end of the day.
Tomorrow we are promised a snow storm dropping an inch and hour in the morning. It will clear out by midday and then the sun will show up. And the temperatures will drop. So I will have fresh sunlit snow to paint tomorrow! We shall see how accurate they are with this prediction.
Today was a lucky day. I was planning to go paint at the historical society where there are big open fields and hopefully no big snow piles to block the view. Before heading out to paint I needed to stop by the church to check out the room specs for my class there next week. When I walked back to my car after the meeting I noticed the light on then snow and the barn next door was gorgeous. I decided to stop right there and paint from the parking lot. As I was taking my easel out of the car I noticed the back lit pine tree on the edge of the driveway. With about 20 minutes left before the sun set behind the trees I painted the pine and snow shadows.
As I finished the first painting, the light was getting even better. It was after sunset, the sky was a bright golden color and the snow was lavender blue reflecting the sky above. I painted the elementary school with the lights on in some of the classrooms. It was a very fast painting. I didn’t put on my head lamp. I just guessed at the colors. I used a slick substrate and one soft dagger brush to paint it . I think I’m going to try some more paintings on slick surfaces with soft dagger brushes.
It snowed off and on the whole time we painted. What a great afternoon! I was happy I had my umbrella in the car. As soon as it started snowing I put it up. I had a sneaky feeling that it was going to snow off and on all afternoon. And it did ! Every few minutes a new snow squall would blow through.
Here is a peek at how I start my painting of a sugar house on a snowy late winter day.
Would you like to see more tips and short cuts to improve your paintings? Click here!
I hope you are all well and thriving …and not getting too buried in the hustle bustle of the holiday season. It is good to pause and appreciate the quiet time of the year. We have truly entered into winter. Its a peaceful day today with snow falling gently making everything fresh and white. The muted blue and violet colors of this overcast winter day are beautiful.
It feels like it was just a few weeks ago when summer insisted on lingering until Thanksgiving. I’m not complaining I was happy with that extra long summer ! Its rare that we have empty beaches, parking lots and warm weather. I took advantage of it !
I was buried in work till the end of my season, delivering paintings to galleries and hanging a holiday show. The summer season which is my busiest time of year stretched with out a pause into December this year. So when all deliveries were made it was time to celebrate and shift gears. I took a week off, then eased back into work with a bit of attention to planning my schedule for 2018.
Christmas is rounding the corner and almost upon us with the New Year right behind it! Here are some highlights 2018 !
FRESH NEWS !
DECEMBER 5th ~ JAN 7th
HOLIDAY & WINTER SHOW Wylers,150 Maine Street, Brunswick, ME
My holiday and winter show will be up until Jan 7th. Pieces from my haiku series, food series and harbor series are on display.
COMING UP IN 2018 … !
OILS, ACRYLIC & GOUACHE PAINTING
STUDIO CLASS ~ 5 WEEKS
STARTS ~ TUESDAY, JANUARY 2ND
5:30- 8:30 PM
York Adult Ed, York, Maine Register here!
ART ADVENTURE ~ THE TRAVELING SKETCHBOOK
PLEIN AIR CLASS ~ 6 WEEKS
STARTS ~ WEDNESDAY, MARCH 7TH
10:00AM- 1:00 PM
York Adult Ed, York, Maine
Registration coming soon!
JUNE – 5 DAY PLEIN AIR WORKSHOP
JUNE, JULY, AUGUST ~ PLEIN AIR PAINTING CLASS – TUESDAYS 3-6
JUNE, JULY, AUGUST ~ PLEIN AIR SKETCHBOOK CLASS – WEDNESDAYS 2-5
SEPTEMBER – 5 DAY PLEIN AIR WORKSHOP
ECOURSE – Prelaunch Videos of my new ecourse subscribe to my YouTube page and be notified immediately when they are released.
ECOURSE – Prelaunch Videos of my new ecourse. Subscribe to my YouTube page for immediate notification.
NEW ONLINE eCOURSE COMING SOON!
Yes, we are readying the pre-launch!
I will be sending out special emails only to folks who sign up to the ECOURSE list for the new online landscape & plein air painting course. Sign up here for ECOURSE UPDATES!
* Video: 5 STEPS TO A PERFECT START ~ How you start a painting determines your success
* Video: 4 SOLID DECISIONS TO CREATE AN UNFORGETTABLE PAINTING ~ How to create a solid design
PHOTOS: Cloud Haiku series, Night Time Haiku Series, Cloud Haiku Series
Photo Credits: Mary Byrom