Friday, July 1, 2011

Seaports, Farms and Marshes

 Some mornings are just full of big lists of things to do...and this Monday I had a doozy of  list. I was up a the crack of dawn and headed south to Cape Ann, Massachusetts to the busy port of Gloucester. 

It's a gorgeous, gritty, fishing town with tons of great things to paint. You would never run out of interesting subjects. It makes total sense that artists flocked to this area to paint.  

I didn't have time to paint in Gloucester this morning.  I had to drop off a painting for a show at the North Shore Arts Association...that venerable old institution on the water in East Gloucester.

The harbor is huge. Near North Shore Arts it was packed with pleasure craft on both sides of the dock. The working boats were moored across the water.

On my return trip north I stopped at the Essex Salt Marsh, in Essex, Massachusetts. Impressive! Now, this is an area I could really spend some time wandering around... I'm a experienced traveler of the Maine marshes and along the seacoast of New Hampshire.  These marshes have a very different character.   

Sprinkled across 17,000 acres of huge wide open spaces of marsh grass and water are high round topped islands stretching into the distance.  This marsh goes all the way up the coast of Massachusetts into New Hampshire. It connects to the marshes I know up there! 

This house sat on the edge of the marsh. I looked like it was at the same level as the incoming tide and maybe sinking into the soft ground. The roof sagged in two different directions. I loved the laundry hanging on the porch clothes line... 

While I was gazing across the sea of grass a sailboat came into view.  It was cruising in a channel close to one of the nearby islands. 

I want to stay here and paint for at least a week.  I know I would barely scratch the surface but at least I'd get a taste of what is here! The clouds floating in the distance were an hour's drive north over Portsmouth, New Hampshire. What great, wide open spaces these marshes are ! 

I had no time to tarry... a group from Plein Air Painters of Maine were meeting me at Laudholm Farm in Wells, Maine at midday.

Laudholm Farm is an old salt water farm with a house, barns, meadows, forest, marshes, a beach and a several miles of hiking trails. Barbara Carr was set up next to the huge barn painting a view of the farmhouse. 

Flo was on the other side of the barn in the shade of a grove of trees. 

Ann Marie Therrien and ...

 Roger Deering were up on the hill under the old beech tree capturing views of the fields and country lanes... 

I set up on the other side of the beech tree . It's huge and must be over a hundred years old!   

We all painted away happily for a few hours with the steady sea breeze keeping us cool and chasing all the bugs away. 

I painted a couple of small studies of the summer meadows.

 As evening came I headed over to the marshes near Parsons Beach in Kennebunk, Maine 

High tide was pouring into the marsh. 

When the tide is rushing in it creates currents and rapids in narrow spots under the bridges.

The back area was filling rapidly. It was still 2 and a half hours until peak high tide.

I began my sketch when the tide was just starting to turn. I stayed with the design I marked in. When I'm painting out here in the marshes I always need to pay attention to the tides. I have to paint fast. Not only does the light change, but the shore line changes as well ! It makes it all exciting and interesting.  This sketch is a 24 x 24  on panel. I'll finish it tomorrow in the studio.

As the sun set the wind died down.  The water became still.  The reflections were lovely.  The bugs were not ! They came swarming. The gnats started biting me, ignoring the heavy duty killer bug repellent I had put on.  I'm smart, I know how to deal with this.  I packed up and headed home for dinner.

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