Friday, June 24, 2011

Salt, Seaweed and Quiet in East Boothbay

I've wanted to paint with Plein Air Painters of Maine since I first found them while searching for local painters on the internet...

It is the only plein air group that paints regularly in the state of Maine. 

They paint every week somewhere in midcoast or western Maine. I went up to Boothbay to paint with them.

  There is only one road from southern Maine to the midcoast region. It is coastal Route 1, a small two lane highway with spectacular views. 

The midcoast region of Maine is very different from southern Maine where I live.  In the south one is close to the open ocean. We have crashing surf and lots of wind.  To reach the open ocean in midcoast Maine you have to drive down a long pennisula before you see it.

When we arrived at the PAPME painting location on Boothbay Shores along the Damariscotta River we discovered Suzanne Brewer painting on the beach!  

We parked the car nearby, set up and went to work. 

The sun was warm and the cool breeze off the water was pleasant. 

The area was quiet. We saw a handful of walkers and bikers. Every now and then a car drove by. Working boats went up and down the river and in and out of Ocean Harbor. 

Marcus set up next to me to paint with acrylics. Brave guy ! He has no experience painting, never mind painting outside.  He is hoping to become good enough to enjoy it and maybe become a Sunday painter... like Winston Churchill who enjoyed plein air painting as a way to de-stress from his overwhelming responsibilities.  

Painting en plein air can be very calming. Its so demanding that you have to give it your full attention and forget everything else.   Zen mind, painters mind!

Boothbay was a new location for me so I decided to paint 4 small field studies of 4 different views.

There  was a nice variety of things to paint without even moving from our spot. 

Now that it's almost the summer solstice the sun feels like its at high noon for hours.

Marcus focused intently as he placed the different colors on his field sketches.

As the sun shifted into the west I finished my sketches and started to pack up.  A SUV drove up and a woman got out and said "Mary?" It was Corinne McIntyre a founder of Plein Air Painters of Maine ! She heard that I had arrived after she left that morning so she drove over to meet me!  

She  offered to  take us on a tour around the tip of the pennisula and show me other painting locations. We drove the entire loop road on the pennisula. The views were gorgeous. Islands were scattered across the water.

Corinne showed us a nice trail along the water to great painting locations on Grimes Cove.

This area is a very old seaside summer community.  The roads are right along the water. You can park right on the edge of the sea and enjoy the view. 

Three trees is a distinctive and well known spot.

Before we left East Boothbay we stopped at Corinne's home and Ocean Point Studio/Gallery. It was chock full of her paintings of Boothbay and midcoast. What a delight ! I'm heading back later this summer to visit her and paint some of these lovely places.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Wild Water Lilies

On a back road between my house and Ogunquit, Maine there is a place where the Ogunquit River crosses under the road on its way to the ocean. The river is still and dark in this one spot. Beavers built a dam here so the river is slowed down enough that water lilies are growing in profusion.    

Water lilies are sweet, mysterious flowers. They hold their proud heads up above the river's surface on sturdy strong stems.
Wild Water Lilies, oil on panel 20 x 20

I saw the lilies just starting to bloom a week ago.  I decided on the size and shape of the painting before I even went on location to paint it.

The river has changed so much since the beavers moved in. It still has a strong current  but it isn't noticeable in this one area. 

Along the banks where the current is very slow the water lilies cluster and grow in profusion. 

In an area that once looked more like a meadow all kinds of water loving plants have taken root. Shrubs and thick bushy plants now fill the open space.

The only spot available to set up to paint the view was right above a culvert on the very edge of the water.  This isn't a problem for my Gloucester easel which is sturdy and stable.

I started painting around 5:00 PM. I wanted very little direct sunlight and muted colors for this painting. 
I premixed a number of my colors so I could work really fast.  I didn't want to spend time mixing color as I needed to paint quickly in the dimming light.  
The mosquitos and ticks were horrid. There were tons of them. Two minutes into painting a tick jumped on my ankle. I grabbed him, threw him toward the water and continued painting. 
Something happened to the mosquitoes shortly after that. They all disappeared. Not one even stayed behind. Also the ticks disappeared. I was delighted! 
A few gnats dove into my wet painting but didn't touch me. I didn't have any bug repellant.  I'm going to restock the car studio with a big stash of it for the summer painting season.  
The river bank was very steep where I was standing. I couldn't step back to see my painting. I'd have to stop painting, look carefully at the ground, and then walk back along the guard rail to get a distance away from the easel.
I always have to step back periodically to see if my painting is working. I loved the mood of the greens as the sun dropped lower in the sky.

The flat water lily leaves reflected the slight blue light of the sky overhead. 

The sky at this time of the evening became many shades of yellow, green and blue. 

At 8:00 PM I called it a wrap. I packed my gear and headed home. I have enough information to finish this painting back in my studio! 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Ocean Breezes at Wolfe's Neck Farm

The morning air was fresh and cool as we headed up the coast to Wolfe's Neck Farm. This place is gorgeous.It is on a penninsula east of Freeport, Me.
I'm one of eight painters participating in a plein air event at the farm for ten days in June. There is a multitude of subject matter to choose from. I could paint here for a week and not run out of great views .

This is an old working farm. A little blue tractor was parked in the driveway when we arrived.

Across the road a pasture full of buttercups was the home of a small herd of Belted Galloways.

Down the road a bit the open view of the bay with islands sprinkled across it was spectacular !

On the opposite side of the road was a view of a small tidal river,open meadows, woods and farm houses on the hills in the distance.

There was so much to choose from and so little time. I set up and started painting a view of the bay.  I liked the feeling of the huge expanse of water and sky.

The tide was coming in fast. Marcus set out to explore the edge of a cove.

It was so quiet. No one was around. We were surrounded by fields, woods and water. It was  hard to believe how close we were to Freeport the shopping mecca and the headquarters of L.L. Bean. 

I blocked in my design choosing to paint the tide half way in.

The air was filled with the songs of birds that filled the meadows and trees. 

The sun was moving high overhead in the sky toward noon. I had to keep moving my easel so the panel and my palette were in the shade. The light was really bright.  
Marcus returned from his hike and settled into a comfortable chair to do a drawing of the dirt road and high, hilly meadows on either side. 

I kept developing the painting, adding more color notes.

The light and shadows on the trees and rocks along the edge of the cove was really nice before noon.

Shortly after noon we were suddenly surrounded by visitors. My quiet spot was a hub of bustling activity.  A small group drove by quietly and slowly to view my painting...

 A grandfather out for a walk on the beach with his little grandson stopped to chat and look at my work. 
The next door neighbor of the farm brought her dog for his daily swim.  She came by to see what I was doing.  
I kept painting, getting all the information I needed. I was no longer in a secluded, quiet place. It was the rush hour for recreation!

A man arrived with a folding boat on his car. He set it up, loaded his lobster traps in it and set off down the creek out into the bay.

As the tide came in a large group of horse shoe crabs swam in on it and gathered along the edge of the creek. It was a spot they really liked.

I stepped back to get a good view of my painting. When I'm painting I always step away from the painting to give me a better perspective on what I've done. I saw I had enough information on my panel to stop. Now I could bring it home and put the finishing touches on it in the studio.  

I thought it would be a good time to drive around other areas of the farm to scout out painting locations for the rest of the week. As I looked up the river the tide was almost all the way in.
The buttercups in a meadow across from the barn were amazing.  This meadow has millions of them this year. Usually there aren't any at all here. 
A farmer brought in a new group of Belted Galloways in a big truck.  After they were unloaded he walked around the meadow with them talking to them. He was  helping them get comfortable in their new location. 
I sketched at different locations all over the farm until the sun started to drop in the western sky. 

The tide was going back was so nice to see the patterns in the acres of sand.

The islands formed moody clusters in beautiful muted colors. Everything was in shades of gray blue, violet and rose.
As the sun sunk below the distant trees we called it a day and headed down the dirt road toward home.