Friday, October 28, 2011

Food for the Palette

I've discovered that painting is an endurance sport, especially if I'm outdoors painting for long lengths of time.  I notice that if I make good choices and eat enough food I'm fine no matter how long I'm out there.  

I change what I eat according to the season. We are having our first snowfall in Maine as I write this. The really cold weather hasn't arrived for real... yet. 
Back Road Field Study 8x16 watercolor

This morning I changed my breakfast to my cold weather menu.  I had a huge cup of steaming hot decaf coffee and a slice of baked oatmeal. Yum !  It's the best stuff ever!  I'm hooked!

I'm trying it out as my new cold weather breakfast. I can have it packed and ready when I have to dash out early in the morning to paint.  
Ogunquit River Field Study 8x16 watercolor

This week I'm doing some big chunks of studio time in-between my plein air trips. 

Carvers Harbor Field Study 8x16 watercolor

 Vermont Pasture Field Study 8x16 watercolor

I'm finishing up some paintings I started outdoors and beginning some new larger paintings from field studies.

My wonderful husband Marcus was home today and fixed lunch for me! I eat the same thing almost every day and never get tired of it. 

My field sketches are so important when I am painting in the studio. I paint large paintings en plein air finishing them on location and sometimes in the studio.

I also paint large paintings completely in the studio using my field studies as the basis for the paintings.
Clouds Moving Out Field Study 11x14 watercolor

For years I was only a studio painter, then I was only a plein air painter. Now I do both. The two have merged and I am really focusing on this development.
Lobster boats in N'oreaster 8x16 watercolor

I have a super lovely studio. It's all bright and airy. In the summer it's cool and shady. It is also warm and toasty in cold weather. On sunny winter days it fills with light. 

I travel a lot in warmer months to paint on location so I don't often get to spend much time in my studio.  In winter I usually paint closer to home so I can work on large paintings in the studio.  
Winter Marsh Field Study 9x12 oil

I'm coordinating my winter indoor/outdoor schedule so I get enough fresh air and studio  time every week...I'm looking for that nice balance.
Marsh Evening Field Study 11x14 oil

I notice I burn a lot of fuel when I'm painting outdoors in the cold. And I notice that I have to eat hot food at the beginning of the day and the end of the day to feel right.  If I eat cold food for breakfast or a salad for dinner I get chilly.  

I keep my studio temperature in the 50's.  If it is too warm I become overheated while painting.  I'm always moving and walking around when I'm at the easel.  It's a habit. When I'm outdoors I walk away from the easel to get a view of the painting from a distance.  I do the same thing indoors...I like staying in motion.
Moon Night Field Study 8x16 oil 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Clouds in the Berkshires

Cummington is a beautiful old town in The Berkshires of western Massachusetts.  
In these rolling hills you find two hundred year old farms and maple trees .  

The Berkshires are part of Appalachians that run up the east coast of the United States.  

I scouted the back roads choosing my favorite spots to paint during my short visit.

The foliage was spectacular. It was at peak in some areas and starting to move a little beyond peak in others.

I was so lucky in timing my trip. Four days before I arrived the trees were drab and boring.  A day before I arrived the trees lit up !

I choose a favorite spot of mine that I have never had the time to paint during past trips.

When I was five I used to pick blueberries here with my mother. 

 A couple of years ago I stumbled upon this place again while looking for a short cut across the hills.

Its the William Cullen Bryant property and the Bryant Farm. Part of the property is in the Trustee of Reservations. Bryant's childhood home is now a museum. 

The land in this part of the Berkshires is high and hilly with open pastures and criss-crossing narrow roads. 

There are still a few working farms left, but not as many as there used to be. 

It is heavenly up there. The views are sublime. 

I could have chosen a hundred places to set up to paint.

In the morning the sun was out down in the nearby Pioneer Valley, while up in the hills the clouds were scraping across the meadows.

I set up to paint along the roadside to Bryant Farm.

It is so quiet in this area that you hear every car that drives up the road to the five corners.

It didn't rain... painting in the clouds was a soft, thick moist experience !

One cow , Two cows... 
Three cows...
Four !   Curious creatures these guys...

 One of them came down to check me out and the rest to followed at a stampede pace. They literally ran straight at me until they reached the electric fence! 

On my second day of painting I wasn't so lucky with the weather...

Rain poured in torrents out of the clouds.

I started painting under the hatchback of my station wagon.

When I found myself standing in a flash flood up to my ankles, I decided that was enough.  I removed my wet clothes and moved into the car.

 Comfortable and cozy in the front seat,  I started to drawing and painting in my sketchbooks with watercolors.

I moved the car along the road to each new view I was painted.

From every spot there was a gorgeous view.

As the afternoon wore on and the time neared for me to start my drive back home, the clouds broke up and the sun pierced through the gloom.

I could again see the farms on the nearby hills.

The puddles and brooks running down the road disappeared.

The colors of the wet leaves lit up the landscape.

I love this place ! It was really hard to leave...I wish I lived nearby and could paint up here in every season.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Painting in the Dark

The moon was full this past week...with perfect Indian summer weather to accompany it... of course I stayed out late almost every night painting.
Cottage Lights, 8x10 oil 

It was clear that these were the last days of warm weather for a long time.
Low Tide, 6x12 oil

Marcus and I headed over to Long Sands Beach in York, Maine.

 I parked on the edge of the beach and set up to paint.

The summer people are gone.

I painted a beach scene as I waited for the moon rise over the ocean.

 The colors were vivid and beautiful and changing every few minutes.

The sun was still in the western sky when the moon rose over the ocean.

Moonrise, 6x12 oil

The sky was a bright blue for a long time after sunset.

Large flocks of migrating birds are on the beaches now with the sea gulls.

The sky slowly darkened and the moon got brighter.

The sun sets so early now ! 

It was dark by 7:30 pm.

I wear this great head lamp when I'm painting at night. 

I can see my painting and my eyes adjust easily to the dark.

There were lights across the street from the beach but I didn't notice them while I painted. 

My headlight is designed for cave exploring, so it is very bright. 

The tide was going out... the reflections on the water and sand were spectacular! 

I'm looking all around at night now...getting ideas for the next series of nocturnes.  With all these months of long nights coming up I'll have plenty of time to paint in the dark !