Sunday, November 4, 2012


First of all, we've all seen the devastation that the horrendous storm, Sandy, created last month. Here's a photo that someone posted on FaceBook, showing that the storm took the form of the classic Fibonacci spiral. There's beauty everywhere, apparently, even in disaster.  

Since it's now November, we know that winter is coming, which, here in New England, means cold and snow. This year, I’m even more eager to get out into the snow to paint after seeing the Rockport Art Association’s exhibition of Aldro Hibbard’s work. The artist, who died in 1972, lived in Rockport, MA in the summer and in Jamaica, VT in the winter. He moved north in the winter because Vermont was a great place to paint snow, the subject for which he’s most known, especially in plein air circles. That's Hibbard above, getting ready to sock it to a good-sized canvas (image from the RAA website).

There are a couple of heavily-illustrated books out about Hibbard and his work (available from the RAA at, but the reproductions don’t quite capture the vibrant color that the “live” paintings give off. The show is up until November 11, 2012 if you want to see it in person. Above is Farmhouse in Winter.

Of course, what’s needed most to paint outdoors in a New England winter is a way to keep warm. I do this by staying out of the wind as much as possible and by wearing many layers of clothing, head to toe. Wool and silk are great insulators, so I use both, starting with silk: long-john tops and bottoms, sock liners and glove liners. Over this go wool socks that I knit myself (no seams to chafe), my usual painting pants, a cotton turtleneck and a wool sweater, hat and gloves. The outside layer consists of a down jacket (with a hood) and a wool scarf. My feet go into another, huge, pair of wool socks, then into snowmobile boots rated for 70o below zero. 
For really cold situations, I add a ski mask, a wool neck cowl and insulated snowpants, plus gigantic green mittens that I knit big enough to go over the gloves. I can stick a paintbrush right through the outer mitten, which provides more control and prevents the brush from slipping out of my hand into a snowbank. The snowpants are not the kind with a bib. That may be OK for guys, who, let’s say, need a smaller window of opportunity, but if you’re a woman wearing regular snowpants, you’ll be glad you don’t have to take off your jacket when answering a call of nature. Just sayin’. 

Another winter painting tip: I load up the palette with plenty of paint before leaving home. Trying to get caps off tubes wearing gloves is almost impossible; without the gloves it’s dangerously cold. I also carry a small rug in the car to use if I have to stand in snow.

In the interest of full disclosure, those off-white socks in the first pic are new this year. Here are my old ones, which are down-at-the-heels after keeping my feet warm all last winter. 

This is another way to keep warm, if you can manage to grow your own. These sheep live on a farm nearby, where I painted yesterday. They're a lot better looking than the painting I started; I should have painted them instead! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Time Away

Last month, we spent a couple of weeks at a friend's camp on Hosmer Pond in Camden, Maine. It's an idyllic spot, out of the way, yet near enough to town to be a tourist, if that's on the menu. 

A pair of loons has lived on the pond for as long as I can remember. In fact, the first eerie loon call I ever heard was probably from ancestors of this pair.  

The Maine coast is a gold mine of painting opportunities! One day, I went to Belfast Harbor, where my brother works, to paint the tugboats. One of them was off on a job somewhere, so I tucked my easel into the shade beside the ice machine and painted the "Taurus." 

Our daughter Jessica took advantage of the beautiful weather to photograph Camden Falls, which is where the Megunticook River flows into the harbor. 

There were beautiful little things around, too, like these Indian Pipes that seemed to appear suddenly after a rainy day. 

One afternoon, I heard the loons making a greater-than-usual racket, calling loudly over the pond. They sounded almost panicky, so I went down to see what their problem might be. There, on the little island in the middle of the pond, was a bald eagle! It refused to pose formally as the National Bird, but I did get this slightly-out of focus photo before it took off behind the trees. Apparently, eagles aren't welcome in loon territory. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Still Painting

Yes, I have been painting! Here's a photo taken by Marcus Gale of me just starting a painting of an old boat in Durham, NH. The boat filled with water as the tide came in. A local guy told us that someone planned to restore it. I've almost finished the painting; I'll post it soon.
Although I haven't painted at Prescott Farm in Laconia yet, I scouted it out recently for the New Hampshire Plein Air group, which has been invited to paint there. 

There's a lot of paintable material there, from flowers....

to multiple-angled rooftops. It was blazing hot that day, but lots of big trees provided cooling shade.
 We had a week of 90-plus degree weather recently, so I decided to work in the studio instead of going out to get heat stroke. Tarbin Gardens, where I paint often, has a bunch of cats (six? seven?) roaming around. I've taken lots of photos of them recently and used a few to make these cat portraits.

This is Creamsicle, who, I have to say, seems quite lazy. Though I've caught him in motion a few times, he's mostly flopped on the ground, in the shade, with his eyes half-closed. 

I'm not sure of the real name of this beauty, but I named her Penny Ante (money cat, get it? ::groan::). The rest of her markings are even more amazing; I hope to capture that in a painting sometime.

This little tabby is the shyest of all, barely coming out of the shadows for a photo. 
All the cat paintings are 8" x 8", oil on gessobord. 

Monday, July 9, 2012


Steve and I spent most of last week as guests at a wonderful seaside house in Maine. I got a little painting done, but nothing to write home/blog about, so instead I'll show you what the week was like. 

Sunrise over Fire Island was beautiful! This was at low tide, which actually turns the island into a peninsula. That's Islesboro in the distance. 

As at any seaside place, there were lots of little things to find.

Seaweed, of course....

and a sea urchin. If you look closely, you can see a tiny shrimp caught in the spines. 
The kids had a great time!

Here's Nina, walking the plank over a little waterfall.

And Jack, exploring at low tide. 

One day, it rained, so we stayed mostly indoors.

Some windowsill critters kept us company.

Love this little seal pup.

Finally, it stopped raining and we were rewarded with a rainbow. It was hard to photograph; maybe a trip through Photoshop would get rid of the washed-out look. 

The full moon and its reflection, looking like an upside-down exclamation point, was a great ending to a wonderful day. What a week! Thanks, Jason & Lucy!

Thursday, June 21, 2012


What to do on the first, hot, day of summer? Why, paint of course. Even though the temperature was 92 degrees, I went to Canterbury Shaker Village, thinking that I could find some shade and that there might be a breeze up on the hill. Right on both counts! I also pulled up a chair in an attempt to save my energy in the heat. 

There are cows at the Village this year. When I arrived, mid-morning, they were all walking around munching grass.

A few hours later, they had flaked out and were lying around like a bunch of hot hounds. 

There was water available for them. 

The gardens are smaller this year, but still beautiful. They aren't growing any vegetables, from what I could see. 

Here's a closeup of those poppies near the barn. 

A lot of the plantings are medicinal herbs and other useful stuff. Everything is labeled, so there's something to learn. 

One of my favorite flowers. These old-fashioned roses smell wonderful! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


This may look like an odd picture to post, but it shows just how faithfully my ancient Volvo has taken me to countless painting sites, among other places. I've never had a car that came even close to 300,000 miles. Now I'm thinking of trying for 400,000! It turned over on the way back from painting at a farm in Wells, Maine yesterday. And yes, I stopped the car to take the photo.

The day was overcast for quite awhile and my subject was pretty much in shadow. Even though it didn't seem like a very good choice, I couldn't resist the brick farmhouse and attached barn. I thought it was a pretty good start; then, in packing up, the painting fell in the dirt. Ugh! When it's dry, I'll brush it off and work on it a bit more. 

There was a flock of chickens running around the farm. That fence didn't keep them in for long. 
Their rooster kept them together, corralling them like a little sheepdog. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

What Season Is It, Anyway?

This must be New England. Here I am, less than three weeks ago, taking a break from painting to pose in my new summer hat in New Castle. Mary Byrom, coordinator of the southern chapter of the Plein Air Painters of Maine, took the pic.

About a week later, I'm painting in Perkins Cove in my winter hat, knitted by my friend Ruth. I have a heavy wool sweater under the windbreaker, too. It was a chilly, gray day! The picnic table was a handy place to put my paintbox. (Thanks for the photo, Marcus!)

Even on a dark day, there are interesting things to see and paint. These boats always seem to be here, waiting for someone to paddle them out to a lobster boat.

On land, you might see folks hanging out around the back of a pickup truck to chat. It's not much different on the water.

There's work to do, too. On a previous sunny day, the Michelle D heads out to pull traps.

Even though the Cove is full of working boats, the scene is peaceful and gorgeous. I still haven't finished that painting I started..... I'll just have to go back.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Painting in Maine

A couple of weeks ago, I was painting along the water in Wells, Maine. It was a cold day, so I set up with the truck door open to keep out of the wind as much as possible. Notice the guy picking up rocks.  

Last week was warmer, so several more folks showed up from the Plein Air Painters of Maine. We came back to Wells, along the sea wall. My old station wagon was back from its trip to the garage.  

This summer, I'll be painting often at Tarbin Gardens in Franklin, New Hampshire. This is one of their magnolias, which lost many flowers in the frost after the 90-degree weather brought them into early bloom.

Even in early May, some daffodils were still in bloom.

Tulips, too, were in profusion that May day. I ran out of time after taking many photos, so I'll be back to paint in Tarbin's five acres of plants, trees and flower gardens soon!