Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Painting Large in the Marsh

OK. Time for true confessions. A while back I used to paint large abstract paintings indoors in a studio.  Then I went out doors to paint landscapes - all the time.  When I studied for two years with Scott Christensen  I painted small paintings - "starts" - hundreds of "starts" outdoors. 

Last year a friend of mine, Stapleton Kearns suggested I paint large paintings again - outdoors.  Plus, Marcus had been bugging me forever to paint large again....so I started to think in that direction. Well, one day it just happened... I was painting in Wells Harbor in the afternoon. As it was moving toward sunset I liked the misty light on the marsh.   

 I parked along the edge of the marsh on Harbor Road. I set up my easel. It was so peaceful and quiet Marcus decided to practice Falun Gong. Here he is doing an exercise called Falun Cosmic Orbit, it is a series of slow, smooth movements. He's standing near me in a nice spot with a view of the salt pans.

I looked at the view then pulled out a small 9x12 panel, then a 11x14 then I dug deeper into my car studio and pulled out my BIG panels!  Oh no! The only one that would fit on my Easy L was  the 15 x30. So I went with it and threw on the paint fast, with a big brush. 

What a relief it was to paint on a large canvas out doors. There was enough room to say something!

I was having a really good time. So of course the wind picked up and my little easel started to sail away...I had to move it in closer to the back of my car out of the full blast of the wind.

The sky started to do some nice things.  Then I heard a voice behind me taking about me . I glanced around and saw a trolley stopped right in middle of the road. The driver was explaining to the passengers what I was doing  and everyone was leaning out of the open sides looking at me and the painting.   

A guy yelled from the back of the trolley, "I'll buy it!"  I yelled back, "It's not done! "  I turned and went back to painting. I was loosing my light so no time to hang out and chat. 

The sky just kept getting better!   A few moments later a van pulled up and the driver - called out, "Acrylics?"  "No", I said, " oils".   He then said, "Alla prima?  You are good! " (Now I'm getting the educated passerby, I'm thinking... I paused to ask him if he was a painter; no, high school art teacher)

I love painting big ....but I'm finding it does cause traffic to stop... more tales to come...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Big Paintings Need a Big Easel

I didn't need a studio for about five years. I just painted outdoors,  brought them home and put them on a table in the garage to dry.  I couldn't stand painting indoors. When I started painting in plein air after years of being in a studio I wanted just the sky as the roof over my head. 
Things change. I just bought a Beauport for painting outdoors and on Friday a local painter wanted to sell a large studio easel. Since I'm painting larger these days I thought I'd better get it. I went to Janet's studio to pick it up. 

Marcus came to help me.  We brought tools to take it apart. No need ! It fit easily into the Subaru.    

The only piece we had to take off was the pole. 

Marcus was very happy we didn't have to use the half mile of rope we brought with us!

The hatch closed easily and the trip back to my studio was a leisurely cruise.  Just not liking moving stuff to my studios in my 20's. Then it was always a hair raising adventure. 

Marcus could practically do this himself.

It came with extra parts to telescope the pole even higher.  No need for that right now.  

Here's a 30x40 canvas sitting on it.  Theres plenty more room for a bigger canvas

And here is the poor old easel that was sitting in my studio with that larger canvas on it.  It just about filled it up .   Marcus eyed this lonely little easel with a delighted look on his face. I can see he will be using it soon.  Next, he will want to move into my studio to paint next to me.  Good thing he has a job and won't be around all the time ...or I will have to build a bigger studio! 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Plein Air in Canterbury, NH

New Hampshire is gorgeous in the summer!  I live near the ocean in Southern Maine but...a short drive from my house takes me into the foothills of the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

We headed up to Canterbury, NH for the afternoon. 

Marcus decided to come along with me to do some sketching.

Here's the view of the top of the meadow where we parked the car. 

I started to set up and Marcus got down to work a right away.  He's working on perspective and sight measuring.

He decided to sketch my pochade box all set up and ready to go. He is experiencing the difficulty of designing the landscape to make it interesting and hold your eye.  All that editing.  Much harder than a still life or person.  So at this stage in his plein air experience he picks a specific object or person to sketch and is doing really well.  

Of course here we have 2 sketch books with totally different focuses and purposes. 

 I'm well into the my first field sketch.  I'm painting with my back to the scene to keep the moving dappled sunlight off my canvas and palette.

Here's the 12x12 , oil on panel. 

The big cross road behind me had a road sign for every destination these roads will take you to - yes, it goes to 
 Boston!  Note the granite post. Up in these hills we see pasture fence posts made out of granite.

A granite watering trough is near the sign. This is a spot to stop and water your horses. The road was once a highway(1700's?). Its now a country road.   

Here I am taking that step back to see if the design is making sense on my second start.

Here is the cross road behind me that goes to Lake Winnipesaki.

I'm laying in some paint fast on the 16x20 panel. The light is changing, the clouds are flying and  I'm moving fast!  

 As we packed up to head back to the coast heavier clouds moved in over the meadow.  What a great day!  

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Antique Cars in Plein Air at Par Sem

I was invited to be the artist-in-residence at an antique car show for a museum in Maine. What a delight!  The Parsonsfield Seminary Museum is a treasure.   The place is sublime.
The museum grounds were packed.  It was a perfect summer day. 

Antique cars arrived from everywhere.

The lawns filled with all kinds of cars...

And trucks!

The deep cool shade of the old maples was fully appreciated by the visitors.

The cars of the sixties are very popular among collectors now. 

Hot rods were fancy and in wild colors.

There were over 150 cars all parked in groups of ten year spans. 

This was a new plein air experience for me.  Wow! I'd never see so many antique cars in one place before.  Which ones to sketch?  It was overwhelming.  How to choose? So many great models . So little time! 

This convertible sparkled in the sunshine.  Did I forget to mention these cars are so clean and shiny they look like mirrors?

Here was the first sketch of the day .  I did it in ink and watercolor.  Fast.  Good lesson, I  knew I needed to the do the next ones in pencil so I could correct lines if needed as I was having to move fast and wasn't familiar with the different lines and shapes.  Plus onlookers gathered fast, even before I could get started. They were interested and excited.  

Next, I decided to just stop, "park" myself in the shade and get going.  Here's the setup.  The antique cars had complex shapes and curves. 

Here's the little 1930's car I sketched. 

I was sketching just across from  the gazebo where a great band was playing. Live music all day!  Imagine an artist in plein air serenaded all day- it was delightful. 

I sketched this car after the owner came and visited with me while I was painting the sleek convertible on the other side of the campus.  What a sweet car! Such personality. 

I stayed in one spot, just kept turning my chair and sketched next car.

Everyone began to gather for the awards ceremony.  

This car won a blue ribbon! The husband of Wendy Newcomb  is the owner, what a blast!  He knew what I was dealing with painting en plein air.

This was the oldest car at the show.  A 1917 Model T.

In late afternoon the museum campus sits with a few cars left after everyone else has headed home.  The only hint of the big event were a few tire tracks left on the grass.