Saturday, September 24, 2011


Seen along the way

When I'm out painting I inevitably get caught up in what's happening around me. The edge of the ocean is a hotbed of natural activity, even if when I first arrive it looks deserted, as if absolutely nothing is happening or will ever happen, it can seem so timeless. But if I sit still and watch long enough, something amazing always occurs right in front of me. A good lesson in paying close attention, no matter where you find yourself. I've seen terns, gulls, eagles, osprey, deer, porcupines, voles, mink, a family of sea otters once, snakes, fish, shellfish, many seals, insects of course, and sea ducks of all kinds. Most of the time I just notice and admire them and then they've moved on. But once in a great while I get lucky with the camera.

I love sea ducks. So intrepid. I've been taking lots of pictures of them lately. First photo:

I was very content to sit and watch and listen. And then, some dumb luck, a second later:

Dive, dive! The herring must be in. Seeing a wild creature in motion like that is amazing to me. And look at the surface of the water. That's in motion too, and I've been slowly figuring out how to paint it. So many colors, and different angles of light and shadow. Learning from the masters helps. Painter Stapleton Kearns just wrote a great blog post about that very thing. Reading his cogent advice always reminds me that we don't have to reinvent the wheel every time we approach a blank canvas. Most helpful. Also, I visited another painter I admire, Tom Curry, in his studio a few days ago. He has spent years looking closely at the coastal landscape near his home here in Maine and painting it from life in all weather conditions, times of day, and seasons. His series of water surfaces is amazing. I love his work and seeing a lot of it in person while being able to talk with him was terrific. He recently had an exhibit at the Courthouse Gallery in Ellsworth, Maine, and his gallery talk there is available on video (to watch, hit the pale little video link just to the right of his name). A contemporary master, and hey, he's funny, too!

One more note - only a few weeks remain in which to see the Edward Hopper exhibit at Bowdoin College. I've been twice and plan to go once more. Talk about learning from a master. If you possibly can, go, GO! It's free admission, so no excuses!

Monday, September 19, 2011


good news and ARTnews

Well, there goes summer, nearly over before you know it. For the past month I've been chopping firewood and dealing with the garden and reading a little and painting a lot. And selling books and selling paintings. My book booth at the antiques mall has been very busy of late, I'm happy to say. And the time I've put into framing paintings and hauling them around to various venues has been well spent. I've sold a lot of paintings this summer. (Thank you, people who bought paintings.) Maybe 25, but I haven't counted lately. Of course, that's all business, the busy stuff, the pull and haul. This is where I really live:

Out on the rocky edges of the great state of Maine! Attempting to paint water in motion after looking and looking and looking some more. One of the pitfalls of living and painting where I do is the danger of the cliché. Rocks, surf. Islands. Lighthouses. Sunsets. There they are, for all to see and some to attempt to paint. All I can say in my own defense is that I am painting what my heart says to paint. Rocks, surf. Light on the water. Lighthouses, not so much. The above painting is from Marshall Point in Port Clyde. There is in fact a very sweet little lighthouse just to the right of this scene. It's okay, but the rocks around it are tremendous. People wander by and wonder why I'm not painting the lighthouse. The rocks, the rocks! I say.

After all the bustle of summer I'm looking forward to the change of season. I crave quietude and another long winter reading project and much uninterrupted time in the studio. Evenings in front of the woodstove with Ryan and Hodge. Hot cider and popcorn. Flannel. Meanwhile, here is something I never thought I'd be able to say in my life. A bit of good news, icing on the cake of this wonderful year. When I was an undergraduate art student, almost 25 years ago, I'd sit in the library and read ARTnews magazine - fast forward to now, and there is my name on one of its pages. Poet and art critic Carl Little wrote a short review of the Portland Museum of Art biennial, and it was published in the September issue of ARTnews:

My name (spelled correctly!) appears in his review, along with the name of my painting from the exhibit. A tiny brass band played in my heart when I read it. I hate to toot my own horn (to extend the metaphor), but in this case, why not. Once in a lifetime kind of thing.

Now that my fifteen minutes of fame have come and gone, I'm heading out to paint more rocks and surf. I'll return to more frequent blog posts sometime in the near future. Some wonderful books have come my way lately, I must say. I hope the same for you.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?