Friday, June 24, 2016


10"x10" oil on cradled panel 

My second painting for the Tidewater benefit is called Watermelon. I liked the idea of the round subject from the pie, and thought that pulling out a piece would improve the composition. And then there are the colors, red/pink and green are complimentary, which is a great combination.

When you read this I’ll be in London, and will be off on Sunday night with members of the Wapping Group of Artists, on their summer painting trip to France. I joined them in 2012, and am looking forward to this year’s trip. I’ll try to post from France.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Blueberry Pie

Blueberry Pie
10"x10" oil on cradled birch panel
$200 at the Taste of Tidewater Event in August

As I’ve said before, I enjoy painting for a cause I believe in. Tidewater Farm in Falmouth Maine and its community garden is one of those causes. Their Taste of Tidewater event is coming up in August 20th, including a sale of over a hundred paintings from local artists. Last year I did well with a food painting, and so I’m continuing that theme this year.

My first painting for this year is of a Maine specialty, blueberry pie. I made the pie using a recipe from our cousin Ann, and was dismayed to find that I’d used the wrong one. Like any good Mainer, Ann has two blueberry pie recipes, one for a topless pie, and one for a pie with a top crust. The scribbled recipe I found stuck in the front of our New York Times Cookbook turned out to be for the more juicy version with a top, not what I had in mind for this composition, where the missing piece of pie is key. I was ready to make a new pie, and then had the idea of putting this one in the freezer on a tilt. It worked! Sorry about the bad photo, I'll replace it with a better one once the painted sides dry and I can stand the painting up for another shot.

And for even more fun, I’m teaching a plein air class at Tidewater farm again this year, It will be on Tuesdays, August 9th, 16th, 23rd and September 6th and 13th, 9am – 12pm. Check it out here.

For those of you who can’t make a class every week, I’m also teaching a plein air workshop for River Arts in Damariscotta on July 13 and 14th. More info on that is here.

Monday, June 20, 2016

House on Monhegan

House on Monhegan (finished)
8"x10" oil on canvas panel
click here to buy

How she looked when I left Monhegan

At the end of class last Wednesday

That's me

A couple of weeks ago I painted on Monhegan Island with Mary Sheehan Winn and Carol Douglas. What a blast we had! I completed a couple of small oil on paper sketches and two paintings on the island, but I wiped one of the paintings and should have done the same with the other one. I brought back three unfinished paintings to work on at home. Henry Isaacs once said that starting a painting on location is the most important thing. I can see his point. If you can stop before you loose the freshness, you can regain the wonder that began the painting and hopefully not overwork it when you aren’t pressured for time.

This was my last painting of the trip, started while we waited for the ferry to take us home.

The top image is the finished painting, the second image shows my initial work on Monhegan, and the bottom painting image shows work on the painting during last week’s painting class with Rob Abele (see previous post about Rob). I finished it the next day.

A visit to Monhegan is in some ways a trip back in time, as there are few vehicles on the island beyond the pickups used by the inns and lobstermen. And even fewer televisions available to guests. There are only a few places to get something to eat, and only the Island Inn and the Trailing Yew serve dinner on weekdays. To finish my tourist guide, my favorite place to stay is Monhegan House. It’s a historic rooming house, absolutely charming, one of the cleanest places I’ve ever stayed, and they have a fabulous breakfast. And it’s a great bargain. If you are heading to the island alone, do ask for one of the rooms on the 4th floor, the garrets as Mary calls them. Wonderful!

Monday, June 13, 2016

A Good Teacher

Pomegranate with Square Brass Pot
6"x6 oil on Raymar panel

I’ve taken a lot of art workshops, with some very good teachers. And often they're teaching along a similar vein. But sometimes we have to be at the right place to hear it, or maybe we need to hear it many times. This spring I decided to try and find a teacher near me, whose work I admired, who appreciated the same painters that I do, and from whom I could learn over a period of time. And I think I’ve done that with Rob Abele. I take a weekly class with Rob, and as new people join the class, it’s great to hear him very consistently giving the same advice to each of us, whatever our level. Whenever he does a quick demo for someone, I wander over and watch too. Twice I’ve had a private lesson, which is very helpful. In those lessons Rob sets up a killer still life that will take me out of my comfort zone.

Below is my painting at the end of our session of still life #1.

Below is Rob’s. Note that we are painting at the same time, so we don’t have the same viewpoint.

I love the gestural way that Rob paints!

Below is my painting of still life #2 after “improving” it at home. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo at the send of the session. One thing I've learned is that I'm best painting alla prima, and finishing the painting in one sitting. Going back in, I usually muck it up.

And below is Rob’s version. Wow!

I was a whiner on this last one, having somewhat of an aversion to the fun house mirror aspect of the reflection in the rounded brass vase. So when I got home I set up and painted the still life shown at the top of the post, including the shiniest object I could find.

I know I’m learning something with Rob's approach and the consistency that studying with the same teacher over time brings. Thanks Rob!

Sunday, June 5, 2016


8"x10" oil on canvas panel

There are some things that are hard to paint from life, and this is an example. Even if I was able to set my painting gear in a boat running parallel to these guys, they’d surely tack and head off in another direction before I finished the painting. So this one was painted from a photo. And more important, it was painted upside down. Turning a photo upside down is a time-honored approach artists use to paint shapes rather than “things”. And it works.

Here’s a progress shot of my second attempt at this painting, which was done right-side up. At this point, I wiped it off, it just wasn’t good enough. The first attempt had been wiped off at the drawing stage. And the third attempt also. That’s when I turned the whole thing upside down. What a difference, don’t you agree?

Second try at Sparkle

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Doubling Point Light House

Doubling Point Lighthouse
8"x8" oil on Raymar panel

Don’t you just love lighthouses? I do. It’s easy to imagine them lighting the way in a storm. And then there's the solitude of the lighthouse keeper’s life. That would probably last about a day for me! Lighthouses can also be fun to paint. They show different faces as the sun moves across the sky and the tide ebbs and flows. When we’re out on our boat, I always have the camera ready when a lighthouse comes into view.

A few years ago my niece and I took a road trip with a goal of visiting as many lighthouses as we could. This little gem, on the Kennebec River, just south of Bath, Maine, was one of our favorites. It was commissioned in 1989, fifteen years after the founding of Bath Ironworks, just upstream. It’s not much taller than a person, and is just exquisite. You can walk out and around it, over the water It’s easy to get to by road, and the lovely people who own the property will likely let you park, but please ask first. Or, you can see it from one of the tour boats that operate out of Boothbay Harbor, along with several other lighthouses. It's a great boat ride. This painting was done from of several photos I took as we went by on our boat a couple of years ago.

Here’s some more information about the lighthouse, and about the boat tours.

And by the way, I painted this one mostly upside down. More about that in a future post.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A Decorative Lobster Buoy

Usually I paint paintings, not decorative objects. But I like to contribute to projects near to my heart, and the Maine fisheries is one of those. So I was happy to paint a lobster buoy for the East Penobscot Resource Center in Stonington for their upcoming benefit. The last time I painted a lobster buoy, it was one I found on the beach, and I painted it Christmas green and red, and added it to a wreath which I hung on our shed. A week later a local lobsterman told me he nearly drove off the road laughing when he saw it hanging there. I hope this one does a better job!

Here are a few photos of the process I used on the wooden buoy supplied by East Penobscot Resource Center. 

Buoy after filling cracks (thanks, Mike!), gessoing, and drawing the lobster based on a previous painting. Note there are two lobsters, one on each side.

Close-up of the drawing on the buoy.

Buoy after the lobster was painted in oils.

Buoy with background.

The final step was to gesso and then paint the stick with acrylic paint. Thanks to Carol L. Douglas for the midnight pick-up and for delivering the buoy for me. The lobster buoy event is on August 1 in Stonington, Maine.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Sleeping In

"Sleeping In"
12"x12" oil on Raymar panel

The wind on the coast of Maine comes up in the afternoon and generally dies at sunset. Early in the morning it’s usually very calm, and that’s when fisherman (lobstermen included) go out to do their work. But not always. We’ve run into some interesting situations, cruising the coast in our boat over the last 25 years. 

For example, why is no one lobstering on Sunday? I’m always taking pictures of lobster boats, and especially like to see them working. But in the summer they don’t appear on Sundays. Maine state law explains why: 

Closed Period - Title 12, Section 6440
It is against the law to raise or haul any lobster trap during closed periods.
  • It is unlawful to haul lobster gear from ½ hour after sunset until ½ hour before sunrise between June 1st and October 31st.
  • It is unlawful to haul lobster gear after 4:00 pm Eastern Daylight Savings Time, Saturday until ½ hour before sunrise the following Monday morning from June 1st to August 31st, both days inclusive.

Who knew? Now I know why these boats are sleeping in!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

"Stonington Green"

"Stonington Green"
8"x16" oil on Raymar panel

 Under painting for "Stonington Green"
Note that I widened the lobster shack and the pier and added the lobster boat.

There are a number of iconic scenes in Stonington, Maine, at the bottom of Deer Isle. Many painters have enjoyed painting them, and they hang in fortunate houses across our country. It’s a beautiful place to visit, and I feel lucky that my first few visits were by boat. That’s the way life should be.

This house, with its green paint and matching lobster shack on its wharf is one of those scenes. This particular view is from the shore side, and you can see it if you walk from Billings Marine into town as we often do. I have a lovely painting of it by Alec Richardson. He stood out on the rocks a bit to the right of this view. I started this painting over a year ago, toned the canvas and did a pencil drawing. And it sat. And I looked at the view again as I walked by last summer. And the other day it reached out to me and said “It’s my turn! Paint me.” And so I did.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Painting "My Dream of Maine"

Everyone has a dream of what Maine means to them. For some it’s the lakes, for some it’s Katahdin, for others it’s the shore. For me, it’s the boats and harbors. The first time I saw these houses in Cozy Harbor, I’d been to a paint out with the Plein Air Painters of Maine and the Plein Air Painters of the Southeast. Plein air painting, popularized by the impressionists, means painting outside in the landscape, painting the scenes around you. We’d had a great time doing just that at Hendricks Head Light on Southport Island, near Boothbay Harbor. Someone remembered Oliver’s Restaurant in Cozy Harbor, and so we headed over there for lunch. Oliver’s is great, I recommend it.

One of the great things about painters getting together is the sharing of not only ideas about painting, but also places to paint. And so we moved on to a part of Cozy Harbor I wasn’t familiar with, the road that goes to Pratt’s Island. And once over the bridge to the island, looking back we saw the red lobster shack and houses. Several paintings were done on the spot, but there wasn’t room for all of us. I came back the next week, and set up my gear. My first painting focused on the red lobster shack.

 “Cozy Harbor Inlet”
11”X14”, oil on linen panel, 2014

As I was finishing my first day’s session, the most beautiful gaff rigged catboat sailed up to the little dock. And it had a red sail! I snapped a quick photo, and I knew I was going to have to do another painting of this scene, and include the boat.

“Bright Sail, Cozy Harbor”
16”X20”, oil on linen panel, 2015

I love this scene. The houses on pilings, the reflections of the pilings, the abstract arrangement of the roofs, the little red shack, the idea of boats coming by, people getting on with their daily work, and enjoying living by the sea. So last fall, I started looking for another view, and found it while standing on the bridge. Only quick photos were available from that vantage point, and I came back several times to view it at different tide levels. Armed with the previous paintings, and my new reference photos, I painted a third version, and I’m not sure that I don’t like it best of all. I’ll probably be back there again this summer, and who knows what might happen?

“My Dream of Maine”
20”X24”, oil on canvas, 2016
Available at Yarmouth Frame and Gallery