Sunday, June 11, 2017

Georgetown and Tenants Harbor, Maine

Here are a few working sketches that I completed while picking up some of my paintings from the Plein Air Painters of Maine show at the Georgetown Library.  It is such a beautiful area.

The sketchpad I use is a simple 11" by 14" Acid Free medium weight paper. This first page represents some quick sketches I made sitting on a granite bench right alongside an inlet.  I generally make a few quick compositional sketches of scenes I am considering as well as local sights that could turn into additional paintings or elements that I might add into the composition later.  In other words real local buildings or natural scenes that you wouldn't see from this point of view but that anyone familiar with the area would be recognized.

This was a grey day and quite windy, but enjoyable.  Two ducks kept me company the entire time I sketched.  One black, one white.  Both very busy fishing.  I'm going to change the mostly hidden modern car port for a lobster shack that I remember (or imagine I remember) from Higgins Beach.

I plan to adjust the patterns of the lobster traps in the final painting as I've begun at the bottom of the page.

The sketch below is of a working wharf in Georgetown.  I happened to stop by as the days catch was being brought up to the wharf and then loaded onto the waiting truck.  I'm going to move the boat unloading to the near side of the wharf in the final picture.

To the right in the margin is a sketch of some fascinating reflections in a small building next to me on the location of the sketch above.  I could see reflections as well as into the building and out the other side.  It reminded me of something that Andrew Wyeth might paint ( no pressure there :)  

I recently purchased the book Wyeth and Kuhners.  It was filled with many of working sketches leading up to the final paintings.   It was very interesting to "see" his thought process behind some of his finished paintings.  The older I get and the longer I paint, the more my appreciation of his work grows.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Old Mill Stream

This large watercolor is based on a nearby mill brook in Lisbon Falls, Maine.  The wollen mill was torn down within the past decade.  I'd always said I'd paint it, but I waited too long.

The rock wall in the foreground is part of the old canal system and actually is not visible from this view.  The two rock walls in the mid ground are part of the canal/power system for the old mill.  On this day the water was low but running rapidly over a breach in the dam.

This is one of the few spring paintings I've done.  There are so many colors in the spring as the trees begin to flower.  Not quite fall like, but colorful none the less.  I've simplified the overall composition while trying to stay true to the acutal location.

This location is actually quite a gem.  There is a walking path on the left with a view of the brook which continues along the Androscoggin River.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

What happens in your studio at night?

Have you ever wondered what happens in your studio when you turn in for the night?  I went downstairs and Echo (one of our cats) came sprinting out of my studio looking very guilty...

I went to my drawing table and there it was - an abstract sketch that I didn't paint:  It isn't signed, but there is some incriminating cat hair on it.

What had spooked the cat?    

Was it the horses?   The B 29's?

Or the moose?

Echo came back to the studio and curled up in my lap - keeping one eye on the moose.

Will the Man and Moose ever meet?

I can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Don't have everything you need to paint? - don't worry

Here is a sketch I completed today at a local stream.  I've also included a page from my sketchbook to further illustrate some ideas I'll pursue later in the studio.

This sketch represents the bones of what I'll work from later in the studio.  A number of things added some challenges (some avoidable, some not) to this day of sketching.  

My brush carrier had opened and most of my brushes had spilled out in the car.  Rather than go back I decided to forge ahead.  Another "mistake" I'd made was setting up directly in the sun - but this was the view I wanted to capture.  The paints dried very quickly in the pallette as well as on the paper.  Oh yes - I also did not bring my easal or paper towels.  So basically I brought myself and a partially stocked paint box :)  I hadn't restocked since my last outing.

Many year ago, any one of the above factors would have caused me to get frustrated and potentially not to have done any painting at all.  I've now painted enough that the act of painting this on location has developed, for me, a visual memory of the scene/location that will assit in final painting.

I remember a quote attributed to Picasso.  Someone had asked him what he would do if he were to run out of red paint (he was in the midst of a painting with a great deal of red I suppose.)  His answer -  "Then I'd use black"  In other words - he's express his idea with whatever material was at his disposal.  One of the things I strive for is to not let the medium get in the way of what I'm trying to express or capture if you will.

As soon as I completed the sketch I put down the watercolor block and my paints to dry before packing up. (This wouldn't take long in the sun).    I took the time to grab my sketch book, turn around and sketch a  couple of different views of the waterfall.  I will continue to develop these ideas into a finished painting or drawing at a later time.

The above picture is sketchbook page which illustrates the method I'e been using lately.  The middle of the page is blocked off for a standard size 8 X 10 drawing.  I then section off the border, which if I do decide to complete and frame the center image - the border skeches and notes would be covered by the mat.  The boarder sketches and notes are ideas for other paintings or notes on the location at the time of the painting. The sketches are tiny, but help me save time to work out design elements before starrting a finished piece.

These sketches are enlarged roughly 50%

Friday, April 21, 2017

New Hampshire Memories

This is my latest paitning.  It's another experiement with an old charcoal drawing that I completed after a trip to New Hampshire with my wife and daughter.  Both the trip and drawing were completed many years ago.  Like many of my drawings, there were things I really liked about it and things I didn't.  So I simply put it aside and moved on to other subjects knowing at some point I'd return to the subject.

This painting is gouache on paper (over the charcoal drawing).  I'm really learning to enjoy gouache, though I must admit that transparent watercolor is still my favorite!

Sunday, April 2, 2017


"Reflections" - Oil 18"x 24"

I've always been humbled by nature.  In particular the oceans and as in this scene - the mountains.  It's always amazes me how quickly the noise and concerns of everyday life disappear when entering the woods and exploring along a river.

I have fond memories of camping with family and friends, but I have equally fond memories of the times spent exploring alone and recharging to the rhythms of nature.

I thought about including other figures in this scene, perhaps a canoe or a cabin in the distance. However, as the painting developed, the emotion and mood I was reaching for was that of a solitary figure.  In terms of scale, the figure is a small portion of the picture, but for me it was a corner piece of the puzzle.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Old Country Church

Old Country Church
Pen and Ink 

I am fascinated by old churches.  The buildings and surrounding graveyards are full of so much history.   This drawing is an amalgamation of many churches and locations seen throughout my years of travel throughout New England.

If pressed, I would say the main inspriation for this drawing comes from the Spurwink Congregational Church in Cape Elizabeth, Maine (Built in 1802) and St. John. the Evangelist Church in Pembroke Maine, build circa 1855 by Irish immigrants who had come to work in the Pembroke Ironworks.

As I child I explored the church in Pembroke (it was left unlocked and open to any who wished to enter in those days) but at the time I was more fascinated by the surrounding grounds and cemetary.  The ground in front of the tombstones was depressed - where the old caskets had collapsed over time - and the thick woods surrounded the graveyard.  There was a bald eagles nest nearby.  I could never quite find it, but I saw the eagles for many many years patrolling the nearby Pennamaquan River which drains into Cobscook Bay.  It was a magical place to explore as a child.