Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Cut River View from Pearl Street

Cut River View from Pearl Street
I met my neighbor around the corner at the recent art sale and she extended a kind invitation to paint from her property anytime.    Well I didn't wait very long and on this warm September morning I packed up my gear on wheels and strolled over.    The property is barely visible from the main road, but once I got to the end of the street, I saw the view my neighbor gets to enjoy every day.    It is a vast expanse of salt marsh with the Cut River winding through it.    I set up facing north-northeast and in doing so, I could position the dark patch of cedars to the right (my house is directly behind them, by the way ;)), and I could include the extensive span of marsh that stretches to the Beach St Bridge on the far side.  This time of year the marsh grasses become almost irridescent, the breeze making waves of green to gold to yellow.    I worked mostly with the palette knife for fast and thick coverage.  I still would like to better define the houses on the far side, pump up the gold and refine that overlapping grasses in the foreground.

Harbor Park Along Green Harbor River

Harbor Park - Stage One
Harbor Park is a new open space near the town pier in Marshfield, MA.  It boasts a beautiful 300 degree vista of marsh, river, marinas and docks. The picnic tables have a nice, solid overhead shelter, which came in handy the last hot day I painted there. On this day I wanted to capture the Dribeck Road bridge that passes over the marsh.   This time instead of painting from Harbor Park, I set up in the town pier parking lot and faced north so that I could paint Harbor Park itself along with the bridge.

Harbor Park - Stage Two
There was quite a bit of activity by maintenance crews, cleaning and mowing, and I later discovered from a Harbormaster staff member that these were preparations for the local television station, Fox 25's "Zip Trip."     The marsh grasses were just beginning to turn gold and even though it was a mostly cloudy day, this spot was simply gorgeous.    No wonder it was to be showcased on television.

Harbor Park from Pier
My tip to the television crew would be to not set up where I was, as toward the end of my paint out, the wind shifted to the west, thereby enveloping me in the odor of the "tuna head" barrel.    I was almost done at that point and here is the progress so far. I plan to tone down the blue on the bridge before it gets framed.

Duxbury Beach Day for 100th Anniversary DAA

Duxbury Beach Day

The Duxbury Art Association is celebrating their 100th birthday this year.  The organization has a number of commemorative activities in motion, one of which is a travelling exhibit of donated 10x10" works of art.   The painting in this post is my donation to the event, so it may appear in a local venue sometime soon.     The scene is a long view of Duxbury Beach Reservation from the end of the beachhouses.   On this day there were dozens of people along the shoreline, their colorful beach attire and umbrellas illuminated in the bright July sunshine.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Peacefield in Full Bloom

My first paintout at Peacefield, the homestead of President John Adams and First Lady Abigail Adams, was exactly three years ago, in August of 2014.  The National Park Service oversees the property and does a nice job interpreting the Adams Legacy as well as maintaining/preserving the house and property.  The Rangers welcomed me, and since not all organizations are accomodating of a painter who plans to place themselves in the middle of a tourist area, I was very grateful for their hospitality

My favorite feature of Peacefield is the 18th-century style formal garden. Thousands of plantings, colorful perennials and annuals to enjoy line the gardens.  As I mentioned in the previous Peacefield blog, a rose bush planted by First Lady Abigail Adams in 1788 continues to stand guard; it leans on a large trellis to the south of the larger garden.  To think that I was walking upon the same soil enriched by the hands of such historical icons was truly inspiring.

Peacefield in Full Bloom
Inspiring also was the graceful old house and presidential library.  Similar to the last paint out, I set up on the far west end of the garden to maximize the split of light and shadow, a wide view so as to include foreground light.    I began by establishing the darks and lights in muted greens and grays and rusts.  I labored a bit over the mansion and library since accuracy is important for famous structures.

Finally, I was ready for the best part, the colorful blooms.  The sun illuminated the bright and vibrant petals - "oil-paint-right-out-of-the-tube" bright.  I liked how the rows of flowers and hedges led into the library and residence. This is not a great photo because of the wet paint glare.   I'll make some studio fixes and put on the website soon because this painting is my entry to the "Best of Quincy" Arts Fest next weekend.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Celebrating July 4th on July 3rd

Each year as we celebrate our great nation's birthday, Green Harbor really comes alive.   Summer holiday revelers pour into Marshfield, MA, especially the areas where land meets ocean.    It is a local tradition to have the fireworks extravaganza on July 3rd rather than July 4, a nice warm up for the Fourth. Words simply cannot describe this spectacle, nor can a simple 6x6 inch painting.   This annual party has to be experienced live and in person to digest the full, old-fashion experience.   This painting is merely a sliver of the scene, but one that I liked because of the greenish white glow of the handheld sparklers.   The figures are in a semi circle mezmerized by their sparklers.  Others are sitting on the seawall watching the non-stop fireworks.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Summer Bouquet

Summer Bouquet
One thing I love about summer is the abundance of flowers.   It's not just the cultivated blossoms that are peaking right now, but the many unplanned wild flowers growing here, there and everywhere.   Arranged in a simple clear glass vase, the wild weeds(?) compliment the garden blooms nicely.    I hoped that the rustic bunching of multiple kinds of blooms would translate to loosely painted blooms as well. This bouquet has common tansy buttons, cilantro flowers, pink petunias, magenta lantana and white cosmos.

The shadows were first and the most important shadow color of the whole painting, I think, was the "dark white" of the shaded cosmos petals (radiant violet, permanent green, and pink).   Achieving the shadow color of the starring flower - the primary center of interest - would give the painting credibility, even if the rest of the painting was executed with wild abandon.  I always hope for wild abandon, but seldom can resist bringing it back under control.  :))

The shadow mass on the dark table was roughed in next with a darker indigo color.  The "non-shadow" background was a light value made from the same pinks, greens, blues and yellows embedded in the flowers.  Finally, the reward...applying the bright clear petal colors.   Wherever possible, I tried to paint a single petal with a single brushstroke that fully overlapped its background.  It's funny how applying a single effective stroke is more difficult than fussing over an area with many strokes.   It really is a mindset.  Plan, then one and done!  In other words, t
he more spontaneous it looks, the more calculated it was - for me anyway.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Green Harbor Yacht Club

Green Harbor Yacht Club - Stage One
Green Harbor Yacht Club - Stage Two
This modest building is home to the Green Harbor Yacht Club.   It started out as a gray day, which is fine for paintings with architectural elements.   While working on the building rendering, the lines and angles of the roof lines and windows are more easily captured.   Once the sun broke out, I was ready to apply the sunny lights with my palette knife.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Old Barn at Willow and South River St

Antique Barn - Stage One

We are very lucky here on the South Shore of Massachusetts to have such a varied landscape - woods, meadows, marshes, beaches, and bogs, along with several rivers that empty into the Atlantic Ocean.   Our seaside town has done a good job preserving open spaces, which allows access and full enjoyment of these landscape features.     The town has been successful in acquiring land parcels for preservation and in many cases they are strung together forming contiguous land masses, and the number of beautiful walking trails continues to grow.

Antique Barn - Stage Two

There is an old farmhouse and barn which sits along a stretch of a (new?) walking trail along the South River in Marshfield, part of a 34 acre conservation parcel that the town now owns.   Up until today I had only caught a glimse of the antique farmhouse from the road.  It looked overgrown with weeds and twisting vines but we took a chance and pulled into the driveway, a turnoff from South River Street.  The "driveway" was more like a cartpath with its tall grasses snaking along between the antique (1700ish) farmhouse and the large salt hay barn.

Maureen Packing Up
As soon as we reached the opening at the back of the house and the front of the barn, we knew that we would stay and paint this beautiful spot.   There were several worthy subjects, but the scene I settled upon was the sunlit barn.   Its old graceful lines were remarkably straight considering its age.    I stood in a shady thicket of trees that was slightly uphill from the barn.    Dark green and burgundy cedars framed the edges of the scene.   An old window shutter opened and closed shut with the occasional strong breezes.  It cast a long vertical shadow on the clapboards below in the open position.   The challenge was to make - yet another - antique barn painting that would stand out from all the other iconic barn paintings.   I think my painting style is defined enough to know that it will be different from the rest because it has my painting style ie. signature, like it or not!  :)

Antique Barn
A handful of hikers and a mountain biker passed by, but other than those visitors, it was mostly solitude. One of the hikers shared that he had been instrumental in supporting the town's open space acquisitions and expressed that he was glad that this interesting and historic barn was being captured in paint.  I was too!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Jumping Off the Beach St Bridge

High Tide Beach Street Bridge
One of the most popular activities of summer in Green Harbor involves an old concrete bridge, a high tide and enough gumption to submit to a cold, salty, and swift current.     I have no idea what age is typically "old enough" to take the plunge at the Beach St Bridge.   I do know that I've seen smallish tykes standing there, as if frozen, deciding if this is the day they will have come of age.  I have seen adults similarly frozen, standing on the conduit pipe deciding if this item on their bucket list is worth it!

In the painting, the span of water is wide is because the scene is literally at sea level - from a kayak.   No I'm not painting from within the kayak but from a photo I took.   This vantage has a view all the way through to the Cut River and marsh on the inlet side.   The dark bobbing heads are shaded by the bridge.  Often there will be a Mom or Dad standing off to the side taking a photo of the moment of truth, when perhaps they are probably there to supervise.  At least that would have been my story to my kids.

Monday, July 31, 2017


Paddleboarding is quickly becoming one of the most popular water sports.   I'm told that paddleboarding is a great workout because it exercises the core, and anything these days that works the core, is good!   (Don't forget the other trendy health nugget, get your protein!)  Well several neighbors have paddleboards and I've received multiple offers to borrow one and try it anytime, and I think I will.   That is sure to be entertaining for the summer beach crowd!

This painting depicts my neighbors, a little girl and her aunt, who as you can tell, are very active and fit. For this family, the definition of going to the beach does not just involve plunking down and tanning from a beachchair, but rather it invariably includes some form of fun, physical activity -sailing, kayaking, paddle games etc..  Like most people who choose to live here, they love the ocean!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Cliff Walk Newport - Gazebo Framed by Foreground Rocks

Maureen Painting at Cliff Walk

Cliff Walk View - In Progress
This year we drove to Newport, RI in late June for a weekend getaway and painting trip.  There are hundreds of scenes worth painting and settling on a location is tough.   Our love of walking invariably pays off in that we often spot on foot places to park and set up that would be easily missed while driving.    This spot was at the halfway point of Cliff Walk at a dead end street.

Cliff Walk Newport - Final
The day was glorious - bright and sunny and just warm enough.  This scene faces northeast, so the sun and water glare was to my right.   It did get easier to see as the sun moved, but my eyes did take a beating.   I remember stopping to look around and thinking, what an amazing world, and how lucky are we to be surrounded by all the elements of nature we revere - sun, ocean, breezes, roses.   After painting, we followed the trail to the southern terminus before looping back to take a more unbiased look at our freshly painted works.

Newport Lobster Shack

Newport Lobster Shack in Progress
I am now thoroughly familiar with the shape of those fryolater vents used by restaurants as this is the third one that I've painted in three weeks.   The setting for this painting is along Long Wharf in Newport, RI.    I posted Six Boats and a House that Floats a couple of weeks ago.   That painting was executed from the rooftop seven floors up. This painting was done closer to sea level, and actually from the same building.   Not only was it fun to watch the sailboats, charter fishing trips and lobster boats coming and going, but it was amazing to see the Lobster Shack crew processing hundreds of the bright steamed crustaceans for their open air restaurant.   I can attest that these people work hard!   Just a few yards away, folks lounged around the decks of their massive yachts, hardly working.  On vacation, I'm sure. :)

Newport Lobster Shack

As for the painting, the dark, moist pilings formed a solid base for both the pier and the painting composition.   It may be why the tangle of objects on the dock looks especially colorful.  I buttered on a thick hazy sky with the palette knife, and I carved out the dozens of boat masts, with my rubber tip tool. There were literally hundreds of masts, but I think if I had painted too many, oil paint chaos may have been the result.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Garden Center

Garden Center - Stage One

Garden Center - Stage Two

There were very few shoppers at the local garden center on this morning.  I was thinking that most people probably had their annual planting completed by this point in the season.   The plant inventory was in full bloom - probably overgrown - but truly eye candy for a painter who likes color.    From the vantage I decided upon, the large canopy with shade-loving varieties were on my right.   All around the fringe, the sunlight illuminated the dazzling blossoms.       The hydrangeas in the foreground were loaded with blooms, pink, lavender, blue, turquoise - and all on the same shrub.  
Garden Center - Stage Three
Garden Center - Stage Four
Garden Center - Final

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Neon Water Lilies

Neon Water Lilies
The Heritage Museum and Gardens on Cape Cod was the inspiration for this water lily painting.   Our day trip was planned after seeing hearing about an ongoing scientific study of 200 varieties of hydrangeas.   The hydrandeas were very nice but it was the lily pond that grabbed my attention.  When I saw the watery blossoms and reflections, I thought it is no wonder that Monet was so fascinated with pond lilies that he painted dozens of versions of them over his lifetime.  The neon colors reflected by water ripples were simply mesmerizing!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Coffee on the Front Porch

Coffee on the Front Porch - Stage One
Sitting on a warm front porch with a strong cup of coffee in the middle of summer vacation, for me, works more like a sedative than a pick-me-up.  I was sitting there staring at the flower pots and pink roses, my eyes practically glazing over.   Should I paint these translucent petals?   What else would I include?  Everyday scenes are so obvious that they are often overlooked and/or deemed unworthy as the subject of a painting, but I was surprisingly happy with the result.

Coffee on the Front Porch - Stage Two
Our east facing front porch transitions from full sun to shade at midday and by afternoon only the far end railings and flowers catch the sunlight.   The bright, warm annuals stood out in vivid contrast to the dark shadowy green.    My favorite coffee cup and pink plastic spoon scored a place in the painting as well.

Coffee on the Front Porch - Final

Monday, July 10, 2017

Wild Winter Waves at the Jetty

Most of the time, living at the shore is pure delight.   A person becomes atuned to the rising and lowering of sun, moon and tides in a rhythmic way that becomes somewhat automatic.   This keen awareness can, and does become acute anxiety when harsh storms hit.  
Wild Winter Waves at the Jetty

Why the house has been here for over one hundred years through dozens of historic blizzards, so what are the odds that we will get washed away?   Are the odds with us or against us!?!   The one certainty is that all are glad its over, and once a storm is over, it takes a tide cycle or two for the surf to settle down.  When the sun finally emerges, the surf is typically spectacular.   This painting depicts a wild and windy scene the day after a blizzard.   Waves crash into and over the jetties propelling white foam and spray many feet into the air.  Pheww!  Glad it's over!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Overcast Brant Rock

Overcast Brant Rock - Stage Two

My gear was packed and ready.   I took a spin around town, looking for inspiration, almost stopping along the river.  The beautiful "Spring greens" view of the South River from the rear of a local restaurant caught my attention, but the large dumpster turned me off.    Wouldn't a misty sea breeze be better?  Of course it would.

Overcast Brant Rock - Stage One
The painting location I settled on is a personal favorite, and one that I have painted in the past. The super low tide exposed the rocky shoreline and created many tidal pools.   Comerants crowded together on the actual "Brant Rock"as I painted and the rain held off until the very minute - literally - that I started back to the studio.

Overcast Brant Rock

Monday, July 3, 2017

Green Harbor Lobster Pound

Lobster Pound
I recently inventoried my array of Green Harbor paintings in preparation for a special project, and I realized that it was incomplete.  I had not yet immortalizing the Green Harbor Lobster Pound.   This seasonal establishment is known for its gigantic and delicious lobster rolls.   The lobster rolls are so popular in fact that there are days that they honor only advance orders. After a certain point on those days, they decline lobster roll orders.    I once witnessed a man state that his wife was going to kill him if he didn't come home with her lobster roll.    I don't know if his plea produced results, and maybe he had to settle for a fried clam plate!   Also delicious!  :)

People Close Up
The Lobster Pound's spring opening starts with the weekends in May and when their little bifold sign announces Mothers' Day lobsters, it always sets the summer lovers' hearts aflutter.   This scene captures a warm Sunday in May as patrons steadily wandered in and out.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Stone Wall Amid the Meadow - World's End

Stone Wall Amid the Meadows
My second map assignment at the South Street Gallery paint out for Worlds End faced Hingham Harbor.  Of the two assignments, I expected this to be the nicer view scene, but unfortunately it was dead low tide.    There was virtually no water when it was time to set up, which helped with the decision to turn in the opposite direction.   I captured a gorgeous uphill view which included a nice old stone wall, large old maple trees and a puffy-cloud, fair-weather  sky.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Six Boats and a House That Floats

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 in Boston.   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 in a neutral tone. The architectural drawing of the buildings took most of my time.  I wanted my verticals perfectly 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!