Monday, June 9, 2014

At Rawson's Point

For information about the Plein-air Workshop in Holland, please visit   

Fluid Dynamics

Some of you may know that I'm not much of an engineer or scientist. This has a definite downside.

Usually I'm painting trees and fields, mountains, roads and the occasional farm building. Although the light changes throughout the day, and the shadows move, shortening and then lengthening, everything is still stationary. 

Then there's the sea.

In these last ten days or so that I've been in Neptune's realm, or at least on the rockbound edge of it, I've been mesmerized and conquered by the constant movement in the water. Look for a second---see the wave!---look at your canvas! 
By then the whole scheme has changed again.

Frederick Waugh, American painter (1861-1940) was a master at catching the myriad moods of the briny deep. When I was about 8 years old my sister and I spent the summer with our grandfather in La Jolla, California. He had retired there, and among the possessions which he took to California were three or four Waugh seascapes. They fascinated me as a youngster. When he died they were sold in the estate sale and ---this being the glorious morning of abstract expressionism---they fetched only a few hundred dollars each. But now Waugh is appreciated again, fetching great prices.

I mention him because I read some comments from him recently. He spoke of the surface being in constant motion, but noted that the action of the water is conditioned by the nature and depth of the sea floor. Gradually shelving coastlines generally produce wavelets like the eight-inch surf of Long Island Sound along the Connecticut coast where I grew up. Rockbound coasts, deep and rugged like much of Maine, produce much more emphatic waves. The coast near Rawson's Point is, in fact, quite like Maine.

Here's what I did at The Point today, 8" x 12" (20x30cm). I'll have to do something about that dirty color in the sky.

Waugh would sit, sometimes for a whole day, watching the action of the waves, committing to memory the various moods of the sea. Sometimes he would make an 8x12" study en plein air, but his paintings were never painted on site. He distilled what he knew of the sea through his particular alchemy. I find his work somewhat uneven, but superb at its best.

Chris Volpe, who writes a blog which invariably has interesting insights, sent me a photo of a postcard today, writing, "I was rummaging through some boxes of stuff that my late grandmother-in-law had saved in an old roll top desk when I came across this antique postcard. It appears to be labeled “Near Rawson’s Head.” I don’t have any other information about it, except that Helen (that was her name) saved many odd things over the years. Anyway, just thought I’d send it along."

Rawson's Head seems to bear an uncanny resemblance to Bald Head Cliff in York, Maine. Notice, too, that Grandmother Helen identified the photo with a stylus, rather than her usual fountain pen. Still, Granny Helen got around.


I'm pleased to report that I heard today that the Plein Air Landscape Workshop, scheduled for 5-10 October 2014, under the auspices of the Toronto Academy of Realist Art, has reached its enrollment goal. There may be a couple more places. Write to me at if you'd like to join. 

And a reminder...

This coming Thursday, June 12th (5-8 p.m.), I'll be at the annual Catalogue Show at my Boston gallery (Quidley&Co, 38 Newbury Street, Boston, MA). This show features a new work by each of the gallery's artists. The paintings are in a catalogue, hence the name of the show.

This year, in addition to my new painting, Quidley will also be showing my painting The Door to the Golden Age. If you haven't seen it in person yet, you may want to come check it out before it's off to Quidley on Nantucket. Here it is, all 7-feet (2m) of it.

If you live near Boston, and you're a blog, Instagram, or Facebook follower whom I haven't met, I'd be especially pleased if you'd stop by and introduce yourself. 
I look forward to seeing everyone.


Weekend Workshop
28-29 June 2014
Contact me about this

The Ogunquit Summer School of Art

Ogunquit, Maine

Two two-day workshops
14-15 August 2014
27-28 September 2014
Contact them at 603-819-9100

4-12 September, Alkmaar, NL Contact me about this

6-10 October 2014
Contact me about this.

Norway August 2015
Contact me to receive information as it
becomes available.

A possible 2015 workshop for the
Welsh Academy of Art


  1. I love your seascape! I'm mesmerized by it.

  2. Thank you, Sharron. When I'm on site, I often feel hypnotized by the constant activity in the water.