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!

I live inland, but I too also love watching loons which are basically sea ducks. My favorite is watching them dive.
Yes, loons are here too, in winter they move to the open ocean when the lakes freeze over.

We go to Acadia National Park in winter to see the ducks - huge colonies raft up together in the winter, hundreds of them. Amazing.
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