Friday, January 28, 2011

Snow, Salt & Canadian Geese

The sun was warm on the piles of snow across the Piscataqua River from Portmouth, NH.

I headed out to my old neighborhood in Kittery,ME for some snow and water views. 

 Darlene Furbush Ouellett and Todd Bonita were meeting me today.

This is a perfect quiet back street location right in town that is on the river.  

Looking north west we could see the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge.

A flock of Canadian geese are settled in here on this bit of marsh for the winter. They think this is Florida !

I scoped out the options and decided on a water view for my painting.

It was warm (35) compared to last week but still cold enough to need pliers to get some of the paint tubes open.

I did a sketch of a finger of water reaching into the marsh. I really like sketching in charcoal.

A second charcoal sketch is of a small peninsula across the inlet from me.

 Darlene set up her paints...

I laid in the design with Burnt Sienna on my panel.  I set up behind my car out of the wind that was coming down the river. 

Darlene set up behind Todd's car and Todd parked himself out in the open.

I'm putting in the first color notes...

Darlene working fast as the light changes.

I'm adding more color, starting to shape the scene...

Todd painting with a determined stance... looks like he might be fencing with that brush.

I'm keeping my focus, more colors notes are added ...

I was dealing with a tidal situation.  The low tide was the most interesting composition so I painted that in early and ignored the high tide...except for the interesting ice chunks it was sending my way...   

Getting close to calling it a wrap... the light was going and the temps were falling...

Its amazing how noticeably colder it gets on a winter day as the sun get lower in the sky.  Of course the colors get really nice at this time so its a matter of knowing how to dress really well so you can stay and paint a little longer. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Snow & Ice on Great Bay

A partially sunny afternoon with temperatures in the 20's made it a nice day to paint on Great Bay.  This is a 6,000 acre salt water bay and one of my favorite places to paint along the seacoast.
It is one of the largest estuaries on the Atlantic Coast and at 10 miles inland is one of the most recessed. It is an amazing place.
I'm setting aside a day each week meeting up with a few friends to paint. This is a change for me. I often paint alone, wandering from spot to spot.  I usually paint out of the back of my car if possible. 

This takes a little more planning and I like the new locations, perspectives and painting gear I am exposed to by painting with others. Todd Bonita and I painted together this day.

I was using my 8x10 light weight set up. I wanted everything to fit into one medium sized back pack as we were walking in a short distance to our location. This is Judson's 8x10 pochade box. 

Todd is trying out new equipment.  This is his half size French easel. He carries his paints, brushes and medium in a small wooden box.

A brand new addition that he was testing this day was a Richeson French Mistress;  an expanding palette that triples your mixing space. Or you can also use it like a table top and park brushes and small gear on it....

True to the nature of experimenting I did my sketch with a different medium than the ink or cool gray markers I usually use. This day I used charcoal pencil. I noticed that Phillip Koch does plein air sketches in charcoal so I thought I'd try it for a change.
Todd was testing an expandable view finder that he could adjust to the ratio of the exact size of panel he was using. 

I keyed in my painting and blocked in my darks and masses in the approximate chroma, value and temperature I decided on. 

 I am using a limited palette of titanium white, cadmium lemon, cadmium red, french ultramarine and burnt sienna for my sketch.

I set up facing toward the sun so my panel would cast a shadow on my palette and keep my panel and paints in the same lighting conditions. 

Its hard enough painting with all that snow bouncing the light all around so I didn't want to add direct sunlight to the mix. Here's the 8x10 sketch, oil on canvas panel. Todd kept working away till dusk.

I've got a new paint I'm going to try - underpainting white. Todd was using it and it was setting up really fast, even in the cold temperatures.

Of course the best colors showed up as the sun went down and each phase only lasted for about 3 minutes. 
Next week we are thinking of setting up and painting a pile of (5x7's and 6x8's) 10 min sketches to capture the color changes as they occur.  This should be fun and doable with enough premixed colors waiting to be used....stay posted !

Friday, January 14, 2011

These Old Houses

We had a true Nor'easter yesterday and it delivered piles of fresh snow and a sunny, quiet day today.
Nothing beats snow for the best plein air experience.  On a clear day the air is crisp...
...the shadows are blue and the snow is a brilliant warm white.
I headed over to Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth, NH to meet to friends who wanted to paint old buildings in winter light. The collection of old buildings in Strawberry Banke is excellent! 
Meet Chris Volpe and Todd Bonita!... who were all set up and in the thick of it when I arrived.  It was about 20 degrees. These guys were set up painting in the shade as if it was a summer day!   
Todd was painting a view of a small building in a sunlit patch of snow that was rapidly being swallowed by the shadow of a big house.  He was measuring carefully to make sure his drawing and perspective were correct.

Today was the first day of a trial run for a new plein air set up, a Julian half size french easel.
It was a second hand special and missing the palette.  This is the new replacement palette a woodworker at the Button Factory made.  It is very handsome.
Todd used a neat custom made maul stick to get his lines straight on the edge of the building and windows. Don Demers was the artist who passed on this neat idea. Its great to learn and see these unique tools painters use. 
While these guys were painting I was walking around sketching a number of views...

And I dropped into the Banks Gallery up the street near us to see the contemporary American paintings and talk to Jamie the owner.
We had very nice visitors pause on their way through the lane. The Museum is closed until spring.  Many people in the neighborhood enjoy walking through the quiet lanes. 
The afternoon sped by and soon the whole area was in shadow.  The sun was dropping below the horizon and it was beginning to get chilly.  Todd put the last notes on his sketch.
The sky became a peachy color after sunset and the half moon and stars came out.  It was a nice ending to the first plein air outing of the new year.  

Monday, January 10, 2011

Big Dog's Blog: Laundry Day

Big Dog's Blog: Laundry Day: "As you may or may know I live in a swell house in Maine with my pal Marcus, the singer guy, and Miss Mary, the artist girl. Since they are..."

Friday, January 7, 2011

Mountain Snow & Roast Lamb at the Hodge Podge Lodge

 There was plenty of snow in the White Mountains when I packed up my gear and loaded it into the car.

The sun drifted in and out of the clouds, making the mountains along the Kangamangus Highway look mysterious . 

Main Street in North Conway, New Hampshire was sunny and warm, the sidewalks were packed with tourists.

The road up to Cranmore Mountain was packed with cars. 

It looked like everyone was on vacation...  

Here's my big painting kit for the day ! A black fine line pen, a Koi 24 color water color kit with a water brush and my 6x8" sketchbook.

I had a real tight schedule. My husband Marcus was performing a concert in the lodge and I had one hour to sketch and paint whatever caught my attention...

Some very nice shapes were formed by the curve of the mountain and the bands of trees as they draped down the slope.  
4x6 pen & watercolor on 90 lb paper

I walked around and looked up the ski trails.

I loved the dramatic views and sweep of the snowy slopes...
4x6 pen & watercolor on 90 lb paper

My car was parked in a spot with great

I set up and proceeded with the "JaneRamsey " method of watercolor painting in freezing weather...on the heated hood of my car! kept everything warm and liquid.    

The sun began to get low in the sky... nice shadows formed...heck it was only 3:30 pm !

Still the light on the trees was hazy and golden.
4x6 pen & watercolor on 90 lb paper

I went up to the bottom of the slope to watch the skiers coming down.

What angles some of these folks formed.
6x8 pen & watercolor on 90 lb paper

Every so often this snow machine towing this sled full of tiny skiers went by with instructors holding on to them tightly so they wouldn't fall off.

The ski "life guards" had the best form.  I could have sketched them all day. Very casual, fast and elegant. They would come swooping down the slope holding both ski poles off to the side in one hand... 
4x6 pen & watercolor on 90 lb paper

The teenage boys were interesting.  They could go fast at an angle but were a bit ragged in their form... 

6x8 pen & watercolor on 90 lb paper

Marcus finished his concert and we packed the car and headed out of town to Beth & Nordel's Hodge Podge Lodge. 

The lodge is the sweetest place you ever saw... after traveling a mile and half into the woods on a snow machine...

...the welcoming fire in the wood stove and the campy feeling were perfect !

Alan, Vitali and Owen were watching dinner as it was cooking... guests were arriving and lamb roasted in the piney woods was on the menu for New Years Eve.  Happy New Year everyone!