How I spent my summer vacation

Janith Mason epitomizes the joy most people feel at painting in Maine. It’s just that kind of place.

Summer slipped past me like road markers on the interstate, perhaps because I’ve driven 7500 miles since June 27. Working sun up to sun down with almost no days off for five weeks is exhausting, but it was deeply rewarding at the same time.

Sunset over the Hudson was painted at Olana.
In early June I drove to the Catskills to join a select group of New York plein air painters at a retreatorganized by Jamie Williams Grossman.  I came home to miss my own opening of God+Man at Aviv! Gallery, because of a health issue—the first time that’s ever happened to me. (Mercifully, I made my student show’s opening the following Sunday afternoon.)
Back in Rochester, the official first day of summer found my class huddled up against a cold wind off Lake Ontario. Since the lake nearly froze solid last winter, that was understandable. In fact, it’s been a cooler-than-average summer here, and our tomatoes are just now thinking of ripening.
I may have missed my own opening in June, but I did make it to my student show. Of course, there was beer.
I was walking in Mt. Hope Cemetery on Independence Day when I saw a young man painting en plein air. Turns out to be an RIT graduate named Zac Retz. He and another young friend joined us one more time before I left for Maine. I hope to see them again.
July found my duo show with Stu Chait, Intersections of Form, Color, Time and Space, closed down by RIT-NTID’s Dyer Gallery. The nude figure paintings might have offended young campus visitors. That’s a gift that keeps on giving, since the paintings had to be packed and moved in a hurry by two young assistants; they’re still in my studio awaiting their final repacking and storage.
My $15 porta-potty turned out to be one of the best investments I’ve ever made.
I couldn’t move them myself because by that time I was living off the grid in Waldoboro, ME. From there I went to one of my favorite events of the year, Castine Plein Air, which was followed by ten days of painting in Camden and Waldoboro.
Evening Reverie, sold, was one of many pieces I painted for Camden Falls Gallery this summer.
Then on to my workshop in Belfast, which was a lovely mix of friends old and new. This year, a number of participants traveled with their families, which lent a wonderful tone to the experience. From there I joined Tarryl Gabel and her intrepid band of women painters in Saranac Lake to participate in Sandra Hildreth’s Adirondack Plein Air Festival.
By the time you read this, I will be on the road again. This time it’s not work; I’m going to see family. I’m really looking forward to being back in Rochester teaching again, and starting on a new body of studio work.

 Message me if you want information about next year’s classes or workshops.

Goodbye, Castine, for another year

Water Street morning, 16X12, oil on canvasboard.

Yesterday, Jacq Baldini asked on FB, ““Is this how you really want to be spending your day?” Brilliant question. Darn, I love spending my days like this.

At the end of a plein air festival, what stays with you the most is the conviviality. I got to see Michael Chesley Johnson’s utterly fantastic painting of the Maine Maritime Academy’s training ship. I got to laugh like a hyena with Olena Babakand Renee Lammers while painting on a deck loaned to us by the owner, who rolled off to dinner as soon as we appeared. I painted with Carol Wileyalong Water Street, and with Michael Vermette at the Revolutionary reenactment at the Wilson Museum.

Dappled light (Revolutionary War reenactment), oil on canvasboard, 20X16.

Dyce Head Light, 16X12, oil on canvasboard.

Shot the breeze with Ted Lameyer at about fifty different locales, and painted his kid’s bike dumped along Perkins Street. I had a glass of wine with Bobbi Heathat the artists’ reception. Mary Byromplotted with me about participating in Saranac Lake, but I only had a brief moment to chat with Laurie Lefebvre while painting—she can set up, paint, and tear down in her inimitable furious style in the time it takes me to choose a brush.

Lunch break, 9X12, oil on canvasboard.

A happy band of brothers are we.
A very unique feature about Castine Plein Air is that they partner artists with local residents. My “host family” are gracious and avid supporters of the community, not to mention phenomenal chefs. When you’re in the field painting from 7 AM until 9 PM, having a real home to come home to is wonderful.

The Path Below the Lighthouse, 6X8, oil on canvasboard
If there was a TripAdvisor for plein air festivals, I’d rate this one tops.
Next week, I’m painting both at Camden Falls Gallery and Waldoboro’s Paint the Town. But today I am going to rest, do my laundry, and peace out.

Sorry, folks. My workshop in Belfast, ME is sold out. Message me if you want a spot on my waitlist, or information about next year’s programs. Information is available here.

How do I love you, Maine? Let me count the ways.

Sunset at Castine, oil on canvas, 12X9, $395, available through Castine Plein Air.
Maine—where people offer you a spot on their deck to paint the sunset and add, “There’s a bathroom on the lower level and cold drinks inside, anything you need.” And then simply leave and let you paint. Or see you painting outside their house and come over and offer you a cool drink and a bathroom. Or coffee. Or anything you might need.
I really did finish it, but then I forgot to photograph it. The Dyce Head Light is too lovely to not paint, even if you suffer from a surfeit of lighthouses.
Maine—where even in the middle of summer, your window fogs up when you start your car after dusk, a gentle 64° breeze sweeps away the heat of the day as you drive slowly ‘home’ down a dirt road with the windows open. And when you get there, your friends have made you a delicious home-cooked meal.
Maine—where the clouds are ever-changing and always rolling along, pushed by the clash of ocean breezes and the prevailing westerlies.
Boathouse and dead tree. I painted this in a deluge and didn’t like it at the time, but I’ve reconsidered. It has a certain off-hand charm. I was listening to Dorothy Sayers’ Whose Body on my phone while I painted this. Perhaps it is influenced a little by Lord Peter Wimsey.
Maine—where there really are still village greens, Civil War memorials, streets lined with white-clapboard covered houses, and one-room schoolhouses.
A lovely scene below the lighthouse. If I live to be 99, I will never completely paint Castine.
Yesterday I painted four paintings. I was so intent on my work that I neglected to photograph one entirely, and photographed the other half finished. That is an indication of how intense Castine Plein Air is, but it’s also very engaging. I talked to people from all over the United States, including new Facebook friends from Central New York who are vacationing near Acadia and drove over for the day to see this event. It was great meeting you, Daphne and Bruce.

Sorry, folks. My workshop in Belfast, ME is sold out. Message me if you want a spot on my waitlist, or information about next year’s programs. Information is available here.

Street scene from Damariscotta

Main Street in Damariscotta, oil on canvas, 8X10
Yesterday I had less than two hours to paint with my student Loren in Damariscotta before I took off for Castine. I love the gaps on the water side of Maine Main Streets, with harbors glimpsed behind them. The buildings themselves are venerable and full of character, and the gaps speak of transition to a sparkling, clearer, brighter future.
Two quiet hours with a friend was in itself a nice transition from my concerns back in Rochester into the busy brushwork we will all be doing at Castine Plein Air for the next three days. If you’re ever in the mid-coast region, come by and see this lovely small city. Plan to take time for a self-guided walking tour of historic sites; Castine has an amazingly rich and varied history.
Me, painting. That was fun!
Castine is off the beaten track, so the tourists trundling up US 1 never see it. It has almost an otherworldly quality because of this. This morning at 7:30 AM, we painters will stand in the village green and have our painting boards stamped. It remains to be seen how we capture that quality.
If you come to Castine this weekend, stop by the Castine Historical Society and pick up a copy of their new self-guided  walking tour map. I immediately marked mine up with potential painting sites. (Photo credit, Castine Historical Society.)
Sorry, folks. My workshop in Belfast, ME is sold out. Message me if you want a spot on my waitlist, or information about next year’s programs. Information is available here.

How I’m spending my summer vacation

My show, God+Man, is at Bethel’s AVIV Gallery, 321 East Avenue, Rochester, until the end of June. This is a reprise of a show created for the Davison Gallery at Roberts Wesleyan, and it’s easy to visit: just enter through the rear Anson Place doors across from the Body Shop.

Our student show runs to the end of the month at the VB Brewery, 6606 Route 96 in Victor. (It’s still possible to bid on one of the abstractions there to benefit the Open Door Mission. The brewery is open Wednesday-Sunday.

On July 11, Stu Chait and I open “Intersections: Form, Space, Time & Color” at Dyer Arts Center at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. The show runs July 7–30. This includes more than sixty paintings. From me, that’s both my studio nudes and plein air paintings; from Stu, that’s mostly abstraction, although he does include a few plein air pieces from back when we first met.
From there I go to Maine, where I’m participating in Castine Plein Air from July 24-26. This event draws 40 juried artists from around the northeast to the historic city of Castine, home of the Maine Maritime Academy.

Next on the docket is Camden Plein Air, hosted by the Camden Falls Gallery. The painting dates are July 31-August 8, and the work will be hung in the gallery during the month of August.
Then my workshopruns from August 10 to 15 in Belfast, ME. There’s still room, but not very much, since I’m only teaching one of them this summer.

Then—after catching my breath for a day or two—I drive to Saranac Lake, New York, to participate in the Adirondack Plein Air Festivalfrom August 21-24. My friend and student Carol Thiel has been telling me about this for a while now, but what really clinched the deal was realizing that many of my Lower Hudson Valley PAP pals would be there.

I’ll be home for Labor Day!

I have three openings left for my 2014 workshop in Belfast, ME. Information is available here.

Back to Castine in July

Castine from Fort George, 1856, by Fitz Henry Lane, The town is a little more populous today.

We interrupt the feverish painting of a lobster buoy to announce that I will again be painting in the 2014 Castine Plein Air Festival from July 24 to July 26.
Castine is a beautiful old town off the beaten path in Hancock County, Me. It is home to the Maine Maritime Academy. Like my home turf in New York, it has been under Native American, French, English, Dutch, and American dominion. But it’s a rare gem in that all those levels of occupation are clear to the casual visitor. They have great museums and their historical society has taken the time to clearly mark out historic sites.
One of two paintings I did at Castine Plein Air in 2013 of the tide turning at Wadsworth Cove.
Castine’s location at the mouth of the Penobscot River estuary gave control of the interior, which meant access to furs and timber. This is why it was settled early (seven years before the Plymouth Colony) and tussled over frequently. It was briefly the capital of French Acadia.
It even had a nobleman-gone-native, in the character of Baron Jean-Vincent d’Abbadie de Saint-Castin, who was married (in succession) to two Abenaki women.  Unlike New York’s Sir William Johnson, however, he appears to have been the real thing, rather than a jumped-up fur trader granted a title.
And the other one.
But all this history is overlaid not by the ruins of great mill towns, as it is here in New York, but with a “stunning collection of beautiful landscapes, rugged coastlines, historic architecture, and an abundance of New England charm,” as the Castine Arts Association quite accurately boasts.
This year, painters will be working on site for three days, with the festival culminating in a sale at the Harborview Room at the Maine Maritime Academy. They’ve doubled the exhibition space—which is grand, because it was tight—but they can’t double the hotel occupancy in the area. If you want to catch this fantastic event, you’ll book somewhere early.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me in Belfast, Maine in August, 2014 or in Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops!