18 July 2016

Plein Air Watercolors and Adventure in the Wilds of Maine - Summer 2016

I've taken part of July to escape into Nature.

The big 'N' has long been absent from my life - Isn't it amazing how tragic the lack of it is, but so commonplace?

Anyways, I dabbled in the unfamiliar world of plein air painting, or rough paint sketching, in my case, and produced a handful of studies to make note-like memories of truly stunning land and weather.

We visited Maine, in the far north, just a hop and a skip over from the French Canadian border, and were immersed in the lush green and wet scent of historical logging country.

Focusing on quiet expeditions out into the forested mountains and massive Moosehead Lake territory, we fumbled at balancing adventure time with art time.
It's hard to whip out the handmade book and paints to set up a study session when you're in the throws of breathless admiration for a 3196 ft rocky climb shrouded in mystery. Equally difficult to get to those art tools when you're paddling around island after island covered in unique flora and putting those muscles to good use, gazing up into the watercolor skies, out across blue layers of land, and down into the clear depths of cold northern water.

But I have some samples, and photographic evidence to share, nonetheless:

I'm sharing the scans from the book I was working in, handmade paper and leather bound, rather rustic, with hand-written notes on location and time - Fairly intimate.

Also, all the plein air watercolor sketches are done on either one page or a double page spread, making them either 5x7" or 10x7", at most.

Fairly small works, taken down between fifteen minutes and half an hour.

In a few instances, the atmosphere was so wet with mist and rain, and the washes of cool color on the paper so wet, that I had to spend most of the time on them just getting them to dry enough to add more defining strokes.
At Kelly's Landing, I was sheltered under a little bench roof, surrounded in water and rain, huddled in a raincoat, and painting on my lap, briefly. Fun!

The last one is clearly more rendered out than the earlier wilderness sketches, and was aided by a photo of the lighthouse, as I completed it on the drive back down through seven states to home.

For those not familiar, it is the famous Cape Elizabeth Portland Headlight, right on the coast of Maine. The tourists, the wedding party, the school kids, oh all of them were flocking to the place! We stayed maybe half an hour, at most.

I started it with quick washes of color notes taking down the orientation of the water, the horizon, the distant land and rock shapes, clouds, and subtle shifts between everything.

For whatever adventure's you're on, go outside, live under the sun a while, and take some art supplies with you - They make for creating more lived-in memories than photographs, in many cases.

Happy Summer!

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