Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Long Stretch

It's been quite awhile since I posted, so here's an update. In the early spring, Mary Byrom and I, plus a few others, painted at Mothers' Beach in Maine. That's Mary with the easel and me with a sketchbook.

Later, I went to Sugar Hill, NH with the New Hampshire Plein Air group to paint the lupines. We do this every year. The flowers are wonderful, but of course I had to get a couple of buildings in. This is a 12" by 9", oil on oil-primed linen. I'm expanding it into a larger painting, but so far it's a flop.

Below is my part in a collaborative printing (woodcut) project, engineered by Maria Arango, an artist from Las Vegas. The result is a huge, multi-part, "puzzle" print, but she has also published the images in a book. Here's a link to her site if you want details: It's fun to be part of such a huge project!

In August, while hauling my painting gear out of the back of the car in Camden, I slipped a disk in my back and was laid up for a couple of months. Ouch! Because of that, I didn't get to one of my favorite places to paint, Tarbin Gardens, very often, but here's a small (7" x 5") oil I did there at the edge of one of the ponds. 

I'm working on making my painting gear a lot lighter, to prevent any more injuries. One project is turning an old laptop computer into a paintbox, We'll see! 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

In the meantime....

While I'm working on getting photos of paintings, here's a casual photo of a reduction woodcut done for a Baren print exchange. It's called "Barney at the Beach" and is done from a photo I took on a freezing cold, windy day in November. A man was throwing a ball for his two dogs, who ran again and again into the surf to get it, not minding the frigid water. The image is 10" x 7" and is really rectangular. The odd shape is because I took the pic while the print is still hanging to dry. I wish it would hurry up; it's supposed to be in the mail today! 
The Baren forum is an online group of printmakers who exchange original relief prints and information on techniques, ideas, sources, etc. It's a great group! They're at: 

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Now that the holidays are over, it's time to settle down and paint. Here I am on Tuesday, trying out oil-primed linen again. I'm beginning to like this stuff!  Mary Byrom found a turnout we could paint from. It's still not bitterly cold, so we needed only a modest number of layers to keep warm. You might be able to see the little barn behind me across the field (I was painting the buildings on the other side of the road). After awhile we noticed animals coming out of the barn.

Here's a closeup of the donkeys that kept an eye on us. They're too cute not to paint sometime. I'll post the farm I painted as soon as I get photos (forgot to do it in the field). 

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!