Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Six Boats and a House That Float

Six Boats and a House That Floats - Phase One
Our accomodations in Newport, RI had a rooftop deck that offered spectacular views of Newport Harbor.   It was the first full day and my plan was to paint a harbor scene.  I knew about the roofdeck.  I fought off the urge to be lazy and not lug my painting gear from the carport level - to the elevator - to the fifth floor down the hall - through the fire door - to the last flight of stairs to the roof.     I would be glad I went after this unique vantage;  top down views are among the most dynamic compositions because of the sharp angles.  

Six Boats and a House That Float
The drawing itself was challenging.  Sight-sizing wasn't possible because in order to see my scene, I had to lean over the railing and look down, versus having the canvas and scene side-by-side.    I guess that made it more of a memory exercise.    Other than the occasional gusty wind and constant rumble of the ventilation system, it was very pleasant!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Rocky Outcropping - World's End

Hull Harbor Overlook - Stage One
Hull Harbor Overlook - Stage Two
The South Street Gallery in Hingham invited me to participate in a paint-out event at World's End in Hingham, MA, a beautiful penninsula that is a part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Park. The paintings are part of a silent auction taking place this June (2017) and a portion of the proceeds benefit The Trustees of World's End.

Painters drew lottery numbers which corresponded to several scenic locations on the World's End map.    I picked two numbers, leading to the discovery of a deer gathering spot along the shore.   How did I know that?   Well after trekking down a steep grassy slope, following a very narrow deer-sized opening in the tall grass, I came to a flat spot where the grass was freshly flattened, as if something had been lying there.  

Rocky Outcropping - World's End
Further evidence was the fact that during my post-paint-out visit, Opie, my grandpuppy, was a bit crazed as he apparently caught a scent on my boots.     This view faced the long neck of land that comprises Hull, MA, although there were rocky outcroppings between me and Hull.  Spring Worlds End facing the Hull Side.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Soaring at Sunset

Soaring at Sunset
It probably isn't difficult to determine that I am a morning person.   Most of my plein air painting is typically done in the first part of the day, and there are few sunset paintings.    This is an exception.   It depicts the Green Harbor River channel with sunset approaching.   The light cast by the low sun was purple and pink, except for the large, high clouds which caught more yellow rays.  Even the seagull soaring overhead was tinted pink.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Marshside Birdbath

Marshside Birdbath - Stage One

Last fall I found this old birdbath at an estate sale.   It was in fairly good condition and just needed a coat of black spray paint to spruce it up.   Well it is a big hit with my feathered friends - not only for frequent sips of water but for the activity its name suggests.   The two house finches featured in this painting have a nest in a shrub on my back deck, and are currently working on hatching five dime sized eggs.  They seem to swoop to the birdbath all day, although they always defer to larger starlings.

Marshside Birdbath - Stage Two

It was the end of May and the late afternoon sun had a hazy brightness when I started this painting.  Although it has been raw and damp, this was my kind of day, 65 degrees, not too sunny, and breezy.    The sweet old-fashioned shape of the birdbath caught my eye so rather than packing up for an elaborate paint out, I just set up in the backyard and enjoyed the view.
Marshside Birdbath

Friday, May 26, 2017

Blakeman's at Sunset II

Sunset at Blakeman's II
At the Duxbury Beach Reservation in Duxbury, Massachusetts, there is a seasonal fish shack called Blakeman's.   The place is just about as casual a restaurant as you'll find, a perfect dinner option for tired and hungry (even barefoot) beachgoers.     With the right timing, you may get to enjoy a gorgeous sunset over Duxbury Bay like the one that inspired this painting, as you consume your fish and chips.

The south facing side of the pavillion building is covered with colorful lobster buoys and in this scene, they are bathed in shadowy blue.   Non-shadows had an orangey glow that spilled onto the roof peaks, sandy gravel and seagrasses.   This blue/orange harmony is one of my favorites, especially for sunsets.  I pumped up the color by using the more extreme tinting power of Prussian Blue, contrasted with a cadmium red and yellow blend.

This painting was created for the Duxbury Art Association 2017 Exhibition commemorating its 100th year.  If selected, it would be part of a larger panel exhibit and/or auctioned to raise money for the DAA community programs.    Alternately, it could be auctioned off or put
on display by DAA, so I will keep you posted!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Commonwealth Ave Window Boxes

Comm Ave Window Boxes - Stage One

In Boston's Bay Bay, Commonwealth Ave is undoubtedly among the most picturesque urban stretches.   The greenway down the middle is always busy with walkers, and now with Spring upon us it offers a pleasant and shady path that connects the Public Garden and Kenmore Square.

Most of these residential buildings have exquisite mini front gardens, each one more lovely than the next.   This "brownstone's" color was more plum than brown which is probably why the fuschia window boxes looked so striking.

Comm Ave Window Boxes - Stage Two
My canvas was a small 8x8", underpainted neutral. The architectural drawing of the buildings took most of the time.  I like my verticals really vertical.  The facets of the bay windows each relate a different value of the plum.  The photos do lie in that they don't quite capture how warm and yellow the light was.  

Among the people who stop to watch or ask questions, my unscientific estimate is that 75 percent have painted and/or want to paint.    And why is it that people who want to paint more, don't?   Well , I've been that person and there a lot of reasons.  It's waaay too complicated for a single blog post!

Comm Ave Window Boxes - Stage Two
Here is the result so far.   The most fun is yet to come - the sunlit tree branches and the flower highlights.   And probably more yellow!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Tulips Peaking

Tulips Peaking - Phase One
It was the first week of May and finally it is starting to warm up - and green up.    Tulips beds line the many walkways in Boston Public Garden and even from a distance, the bright colors are a delight after a cold grey winter.  

This creation is comprised of two 8x8 squares that were positioned side by side.   I used "sight sizing", a technique in which the scene and the painting are developed in duplicate (when standing a particular distance from the canvas) such that the eye can move from subject to canvas and the scene looks identical (in theory:)).
Maureen Painting at BPG

It was pleasant and sunny at the start but as the clouds moved in, the light changed, which is as always, a primary challenge of plein air painting.  I wanted to be sure that the peaking tulips were included, but as I often do, I didn't get close enough for them to make a big statement in the painting.     Instead, the old granite steps, walkers and ducks became the more important elements.   The swan boats had just started running so that was a nice backdrop, although they didn't make it into the painting.

Tulips Peaking
Lots of people stopped to watch the progress.   A young Emerson College senior named Marshall stopped by and we had a somewhat philosophical discussion about paint application and impressionism.  He was strolling through the BPG after having just taken the last test of his college days!   I congratulated him heartily and wished him success.   Old enough to be his grandmother, I could fully appreciate this huge accomplishment in the grand scheme of life.  That he was taking time to savor the day in a place where nature and city collide was so nice.. joining lots of others who were taking time to "just be."

Well beyond the two hour mark, I checked the time and realized that my parking meter had expired!   I packed up and headed for my vehicle.   I could see orange tickets on several windshields, including all the adjacent cars!?    No ticket for me! Great day all around!!