Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Landon and Knox

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

An Ogunquit Outing

Above is a campaign button from the 1936 U. S. presidential election, one of a number I have in a my collection. I thought of it because I've been spending a lot of time on the rocks recently, from Cape Elizabeth to Newport, by way of Ogunquit, York and Rockport. 

The latest iteration was last Friday, when five of us painted along Marginal Way, in Ogunquit. Below is what the passersby saw from the path above us.

Clockwise, from lower left: T. Bevilacqua, F. Hyer, N. Corvinus, T. Bonita, and my unattended easel
We gathered quite a peanut gallery. From time to time I'd turn around, toward the Marginal Way path, and discover a couple of dozen spectators, taking photos and just watching. I called up to several groups, asking for a show of hands in approval of what we were doing. We had a pretty supportive audience though they could hardly have been able to see what we were actually up to. This reminds me of a remark made by one woman to another as I was painting on the rocks, closer to the path, on another occasion, "It looks okay from here, but...." 

The next photo will show you why I was glad I had my brand-new, neutral gray sunglasses with me. Five hours of this glare without them would have made me even more of a raving lunatic.

Here's the result of my five hours there.

Marginal Way, plein air state

It doesn't look like much for five hours, but it's a 20" x 24" panel (50x60cm), and pretty large for outside. My fellow painters were working much smaller. Recently, as you know, I've been working on 8" x 12" panels, both at the seaside and in Rawson's Corners. So this was a big jump in scale.  But after all the 6-foot+ canvases of 2013 this is rather a treat.

I changed the composition a bit as I painted, moving rock masses from one part of the view to where I thought I needed them. This won't surprise regular readers, who know I am always more interested in picture- making than in illustrating views. In this case I was particularly intent on trying to get to the spirit of the place. 

Subsequently life intervened and I didn't get to this panel for a couple of days. When I did, I changed the composition yet again, and wound up with this version.

Marginal Way, second state
The troubles with this one are many: first, the water is too self-conscious and, second, many of the rocks look like Idaho potatoes. And that's just for a start.

Although I posted the second version on Instagram, as I sat down to have a cup of coffee I wasn't very pleased. I'd spent a lot of time getting that water wrong. 

Finally, I decided that drastic measures were necessary. Simplification was required.

Marginal Way, third state
Although the potatoes are still in evidence, the simplification of the water makes a big difference. Tomorrow I'll do some potato work and hope to get a general tone throughout. 

Remember to always ask yourself if you're making a painting unnecessarily complicated. Are facts getting in the way of meaning? Are you showing off, making the painting about your skill rather than about the spirit of the place?

Remember the words of Emerson, "All great actions have been simple and all great art is."

(Below, you'll find some information about two 2-day workshops, in and about Ogunquit. If you'd like to come paint the sea with me, the contact information is listed below. This will be a small class, the better to work with each student).

 Classes and Workshops

Just five weeks 'til Holland! Please note, in the section on classes, that there's a class sponsored by the Ogunquit Summer School of Art on 14-15 August. Sign up and paint the sea with us!

The Ogunquit Summer School of Art Ogunquit, Maine
 14-15 August 2014
27-28 September 2014
Contact them at 603-819-9100

4-12 September, Alkmaar, NL Contact me about this TWO PLACES REMAINING

Toronto 6-10 October 2014
Contact me about this. ONE PLACE AVAILABLE

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

Wales A possible 2015 workshop for the Welsh Academy of Art.   


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