Working in the Winter Studio Toward a March Deadline

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During the dead of winter in Downeast Maine I feel a bit like the farmers who plant their crops and repair their tools. It’s time to stay indoors, order supplies and paint my butt off.

I’m fortunate to have a winter studio above the Island Agency on Stonington’s Main Street (thank you, Morgan!).  With a southern exposure the light is great for eight or so hours, and the window overlooks Fish Pier. So there’s always something going on as the fishermen jet off in their skiffs or bring in loads of lobsters. Even when I’m not looking out the window, I’m soothed by the glug-glug-glug of marine engines.

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The view from the window of my winter studio. Always something doing.

Winter Studio Work

I’m lucky to have an early deadline to work toward this year. The Blue Hill Concert Association asked me to be their feature artist for their March 10 concert. Of course I said yes. It’s a world-class chamber music concert at the Blue Hill Congregational Church, and I’m excited to be part of it. I especially like the pressed tin walls and ceilings that I’ll hang my art against.

I’ve wanted to paint bigger, so I ordered six 2′ by 3′ wooden panels. Then I struggled with what to paint. My friend Katy Allgeyer challenged me by asking, “What do you want to do? Just paint pretty pictures?” And I did want to move on from picturesque landscapes.

I decided to paint scenes of island life, emphasizing island light. Just by happenstance I gave them all two-word names: Mail Boat. Gray Day. Bait Dock. Fish Pier. Lobster Shack. Sardine Factory. 

After thinking about how I’d paint them, I decided the best way to capture island light is to paint in layers. I’ve always admired the paintings of Maxfield Parrish, and I thought his technique of glazing would work in replicating the intensity of island colors — when the sun’s out, that is. Glazing would  also create rich, warm grays, which is what we get here when the sun isn’t out.

I start off with a grisaille, a monochrome underpainting.

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Detail from a grisaille

Right now I have four grisailles finished, with two more to go. And on days when the wind blows and the snow falls, I comfort myself by thinking it will almost be spring when I complete all six paintings.

 

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Small Works Show at the Deer Isle Artists Association

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The popular Small Works exhibit begins at the Deer Isle Artist Association on August 28 at 10 am and runs for two weeks.

I have seven small paintings in the show, including four oil paintings of Ames Pond, two watercolors of Brooksville, Maine, and one watercolor of Ossipee Mountain in New Hampshire.

Ames Pond, much loved in Stonington, proves you don’t need to go to Giverny to paint water lilies. Ames Pond used to be a meadow until it was dammed to make ice. For many years, people on Deer Isle cut ice from Ames Pond for their own use, and to ship to the West Indies for trade.

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Ames Pond I. Oil on canvas.

Around 1932, a Deer Islander planted pink waterlilies in the pond, and they proliferated. The beavers love to eat their roots.

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Ames Pond II. Oil on canvas.

Between 9 am and 2 pm in summer, the pink waterliles, as well as the wild white and yellow ones, open to the sun.

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Ames Pond III. Oil on canvas.

I spent many hours as a young adult in front of Monet’s water lilies. I just loved them. Then after a while I got sick of them.  Perhaps I saw them on too many NPR tote bags, or at least thought I did.

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Ames Pond IV. Oil on canvas.

But then, as a painter living in Maine, I found it  difficult NOT to paint Ames Pond. And I also found it nearly impossible NOT to take a page from Old Claude.

Other Small Works Paintings

Every Tuesday morning this summer you’ll find me selling prints, cards and paintings at the Brooksville Farmers Market.

I’ve wanted to paint Buck’s Market, a wonderful old general store near the market, since I first laid eyes on it. Many, many photographs later, I finally came up with images I could use for a watercolor:

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Buck’s Market. Watercolor.

Brooksville people ask me if I have any paintings of Cape Rosier, a lovely wild peninsula in Brooksville. As a result, I do– at the Small Works show.

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Cape Rosier. Watercolor.

Finally, just to mix things up, I finished a long-unfinished watercolor of Ossipee Mountain for the Small Works show.  It was certainly a relief to paint snow after all that sunlight and greenery!

Ossipee Mountain. Watercolor.