Just came back from a wonderful week long painting retreat with Michael Chesley Johnson in Maine—way Downeast in Lubec Maine and in Campobello Island in Canada. I took a workshop with Michael years ago. It was good to see him again!
Michael Chesley Johnson demo and Quoddy Head State Park
Finally unpacked, wash is done, house reclaimed and grass is cut. Now to think about all that happened. On the way north we spent two days on Monhegan Island with Holly and Stig—one takes the ferry—no cars—lots of hiking—lots and lots of hiking—beautiful forest and coast line—good food and beautiful music by a woman composer (whose name I’m sorry I didn’t get). She practices on the piano in the little church next to our hotel.
Monhegan Island—view from hike and a new friend
Then Sunday, back to rt 1 and north. We stayed at West Quoddy Station in a little cabin called “the Camp”. West Quoddy Station is a repurposed life guard station that is now lodging in one of the most beautiful locations in Maine. About a mile from there is the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse and Quoddy Head State Park which pride them selves as being the most eastern point in the US—the sun does rise early! We met Sunday evening with Michael and the other artists for orientation. Our plan was for me to paint as part of the retreat and Bob would go off and photograph—both happy!
Light house and our home away from home!
Michael mainly is a plain air painter as were most of the others but as this was a “retreat” as opposed to a workshop or class we were free to pursue our own directions. People worked in oils, watercolors or pastels. They came from all over the US and Canada. Days began with a sharing/critique of the previous days work and then we all headed to a specified location to paint. Some days Michael demoed and others he painted with us. Quoddy Head State Park, the fishing village of Lubec and Campobello Island all offered a wealth of locations—the weather was perfect—perhaps too perfect—post card days. Afternoons were free to continue painting, visit other locations, hike or just veg and soak up everything. Many peopled worked as long as there was light! On the third day I just sketched and photographed and took it all in.
Something around every turn!
I realize that I’m not a plein air painter but rather a painter who enjoys plein air painting as a resource for studio work. It was hot in the sun and working with warm oils was a relatively new experience—didn’t master that this week but I learned a lot. But I did bring back lots to work on and think about during cold winter days in PA.
Two of my quick plein air paintings.
Been working this spring on a series of landscape paintings, concentrating on my mark making with palette knives etc. They are not finished and will post about them when they are.
I like to work in different media at the same time. Clears my head, yet keeps me working—that accounted for the book project in the last post and as an extension of working with fiber and “slow stitching”* I’ve begun a new project involving bridges—combining fiber, photography, and painting—not all in the same piece.
I love bridges, how they connect different places and allow people to interact in ways they couldn’t before. Previously I’ve painted older bridges over the Wissahckon Creek and some will be included in this series. Recently I hiked in Deleware, along the C&D Canal and photographed several bridges that cross it. I’ve ridden over them on my way south to VA before but never walked slowly under them, photographing and sketching both the man made and nature’s response.
My plan currently is to print my images on rusty dyed fabric and combine them in slow stitched collages which also include stitches depicting the plant life under the bridge.
It’s a start.
The second part of this project is to create paintings of the bridges. Planing on studies of at least three bridges—love that number three! Should keep me busy and out of trouble this summer.
* Slow Stitching is a way of working, on this case stitching, that is slow and allows for contemplation and a release from the other wise busy things todays life so often demands. It is almost zen like and I find it complements my other work which tends to be more hurried and frantic.
Been exploring mixed media (currently oil pastels, charcoal, ink and acrylic) on paper. Trying hard not to begin with a direction but rather prepare my state of mind by reading or a walk for example, and see where it leads me. It’s difficult for me once I see a direction not let my thinking mind take over and to become literal. I am also trying with this work, to not dwell on the dark forces that occupy the world today as they take up too much of my life as it is but rather use these explorations to examine hope. Here are two recent results. Different days- different images.
I’m interested to see how these studies affect my other work.
I said I’d post some of the paintings from studies I did several years ago in Ireland. Took a while but here they are. I’m still working with the idea of time and the landscape. The ancientness of this land and it’s history is overwhelming to me. Ceide Fields are bogs covering settlements over 5500 years old. I’ve done several more in this series, but this gives you an idea.
Ceide Fields and the North Sea
Down Patrick Head in the distance with Sea Stack, Dún Briste
The impact that people make on the land and how people and our civilizations with all our grand ideas pass on and the land has remained is haunting to me. Nature reclaims—so far…
Been a while. I did get back to painting. Fall has been busy and I’ve been working on landscapes. I’ve been trying to capture a sense of timelessness in my work. It’s a continuation of some of the work I did this summer with my blue images. This was the first of this session but the rest so far have been studies of images I took years ago in Ireland.
Tidewater Trees and Marshland.
I’ll post the Ireland images soon but they also contain marshland. That area between the land and the sea—so threatened right now— is magic to me.
Haven’t posted in a while – summer got pretty busy. Mid August I went to VT to study with Susan Abbott. Her “Vermont Landscape Painting Retreat” was pretty much Art Boot Camp! Learned a lot, met wonderful people and was wrung out! Each day consisted of lectures and demos, slides and exercises, and lots of plein air painting. Oh, and I shouldn’t forget to mention the wonderful lunches every day!
Susan demonstrating in her garden.
Home base was Susan’s airy studio which she had turned into a class room. We started at 9:00 but could get there early to set up – I shot the photo below before students arrived as once we started there was no time… My work space was on the left with the red cup… Susan has a huge library of art books that were available to us. Here are shelves with her sketchbooks. I do love to see other artist’s sketchbooks.
So much to take in!
We visited gardens and farms, beautiful VT homes, meadows and mountains—each day a visual treat laid out for us to paint.
One of our plein air sites was the home, studio and pond of artist, Adelaide Tyrol. I worked with the group of trees at one end of the pond. We spent two sessions here.
Adelaide’s pond and my painting.
Bob came with me and after dropping me off in the mornings he went off and did train things… He’d pick me up at 5:00, we’d grab a bite to eat and I’d be back at 8:30. After a week of this we headed to Maine for a few days to unwind. That will be my next post!