Some days I hate learning experiences

Painting boats is a great metaphor for life. The wind in your sails is the easy part. It’s the rigging that’s ticklish.

Breaking storm, 48X30, oil on canvas, available through Folly Cove Fine Art.

There are 47,000 photos on this laptop, another 41,000 on our server, and thousands more on my phone. (There is, of course, significant overlap). They’re in folders titled by seasons or events—except for images of paintings, which I store by the year they were completed. The problem is that I’m more likely to remember the curve of a taffrail than where or when I saw it.

Last autumn I did a watercolor sketch for a boat painting. I got as far as laying it out on canvas and then got derailed. I just got back to it this week and I had no recollection of what reference photo (if any) I’d used. There’s a low-res collage called Boats on my thumb drive. That’s a terrible name, since I have almost 400 other pictures with similar names. I looked at them all. No luck.

Sunset Sail, oil on canvas, available through Folly Cove Fine Art.

The shore in my sketch looks like the Camden Hills. Did I use a photo from the Camden Classics Cup regatta? Howard Gallagherand the late Lee Boynton and I once watched the start from Howard’s boat, but if I have any photos I no longer know where they are.

Let this be a lesson to me and everyone else—when you decide to paint from a photo, put it somewhere you can find it later.

I searched online and found a delightful Cornish sloop and a couple of beautiful Camden Class daysailors. I roughed them in and sat back to look. I’d just realized the scale was all wrong when Ann Trainor Domingue stopped by.

“Does it matter?” she asked. If you know Annie’s work (which is terrific) you’ll understand why she questioned that. But to me it mattered.

I can paint the sails of most fore-and-aft rigged vessels in my sleep. They feel as natural as the wind to me. But when it comes to attaching them to a hull, I must be careful. Placing the cabins, the masts, and the sheets properly is ticklish.

It’s a great metaphor for life. The wind is the easy part.

The trouble with combining reference photos of boats is that the wind, the light, the angle and the scale all must be roughly the same. For my painting to work, the different boats’ sails can’t exactly mimic each other. However, boats running in the same wind tend to be trimmed the same way. I debated how much license I wanted to take.

I ran this past my pal Bobbi Heath, who not only paints boats, but also sails. She, in turn, ran it past her husband. He thought my gaff-rigged cutter might plausibly be jibing at the same time as the sloop was running downwind.

“We may be overthinking this,” Bobbi added. I wasn’t worried; Bobbi and I do some of our best work while overthinking things. Still, I was unhappy. My painting had developed a patina of historical drama, and that wasn’t what I wanted at all. I was trying to paint sheer larkiness.

Rising Tide at Wadsworth Cove, 12×16, oil on canvasboard by Carol L. Douglas. Stimulus sale price, $675 (regularly $895 unframed)

Last February, Ann Domingue and I planned a workshop called Uncovering Your Mark, which was a guided exercise to help artists get to the heart of their own work. She planned to teach it in my studio here in Maine in June. With the pandemic, she offered it online as a Zoom class.

I had expected to learn something about how I might change my work. Instead, I realized I was painting exactly what I’m supposed to be painting right now. She couldn’t have given me a greater gift.

Stormy Weather, 16X20, oil on canvas by Carol L. Douglas. Stimulus sale price $1000 (regularly $1400 unframed)

The brilliant thing about art is that neither Ann’s approach nor mine is ‘right’. We’re each saying different things in our paintings, speaking to different audiences. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thinking about that, something clicked and I remembered where the photo that inspired my sketch was filed—under Eggemoggin Reach Regatta. The human mind is inscrutable, isn’t it?

If I don’t have the exact boats, I certainly have the right wind. Today I can scrape out my flailings and paint it properly. At times, art can be a cruel taskmaster, but if you’re patient you will get there.

Sleepless in Buenos Aires

Coronavirus has the traveling public aware, alert, and concerned… but nobody’s panicking.
Athabasca Glacier, by Carol L. Douglas. This is a Canadian glacier, but I’m looking for its Southern Hemisphere mates.
As of this moment, I have been traveling for 28 hours and am still eight hours short of tonight’s destination. It took me about the same amount of time to get around the world to Australia, but that was just two flights. I’m enjoying the airport hopping, since each one has its own character. But at the end of this, I have to get into a car and drive. Here’s praying for a short nap during my next flight.
The Aerolíneas Argentinas (AA) and Virgin Airlines (VA) counters were side-by-side at Miami. “Try not to mention the war,” my husband whispered. It’s been 38 years since the Falklands conflict, and Fawlty Towers jokes have a scarce and shrinking audience. While my sympathies were with Margaret Thatcher in 1982, they were with the Argentines yesterday. Above their ticket counter, VA advertised an upscale business-class called Upper Class, which offended my inner prole.
Meanwhile, AA did everything right, including a free upgrade to an exit row and two real meals in Turista class. Dinner—served with an Argentinian Malbec—was quite good. Meanwhile, on American carriers, the norm is now seven pretzels and a small glass of soda.
So far, the pandemic precautions have been sensible both in the US and here. At Logan, they were dousing surfaces with isopropyl alcohol. The only point at which I was concerned was in the people-mover at Miami; it was as crowded as a Manhattan subway at rush hour. Both American Airlines and AA had large cleaning crews waiting at the gate. The Argentines collected a health dossier and itinerary for each passenger while we were still in the air. They staged us through customs so we weren’t mixed with planes from Madrid and Rome. Some passengers were pulled aside for extra surveillance. And of course everyone, employees and travelers alike, is dousing themselves with hand sanitizer.
The Argentinians are concerned but calm. I asked an agent whether she was worried. “Yes,” she answered with resignation, “but what can I do?”
The Argentinian soldiers patrolling the terminal are wearing white polo shirts, black trousers and a rakishly-angled beret, cut to flatter. I mentioned to Jane Chapin that they look quite dashing compared to American soldiers. “They don’t get paid anything so they have to look good,” she answered.
Beaver Dam at Quebec Brook, by Carol L. Douglas. You won’t be seeing this painting at an opening on April 2, because of the pandemic. Consider it just another tiny data point in the immense scope of our current disruption.
I’d intended to use this post to announce a show opening in Portland on April 2. Yesterday I received an apologetic note saying the revelry would be delayed due to the pandemic. I’m flattered; Maine Farmland Trust must have expected a large crowd. However, the work is up and ready for viewing at 509 Ocean Avenue in Portland. But in this brave new world, I suggest you call before you go. The number is 207-338-6575.
People keep telling me they’re registering for Ann Trainor Domingue’s June 6 workshop, Uncovering Your Mark. If you’re one of them, I suggest you do it soon, because more people have expressed interest than there are seats remaining. Although the flyer says you can mail a check to me, I suggest you pay Ann directly. If you have questions, you can email Ann hereor me here, although I don’t know when I’ll be in cell-service range. The workshop is strictly limited to twelve, and there will be no exceptions; there’s no more room in my studio.
Before the first juried show KCAS will have an instructor’s show at Studio 9, formerly known as the Art Loft.
Consider applying to Spring Renewal, April 30-June 1. This is the first juried show of the Knox County Arts Society (of which I am the treasurer). You must be a member, but if you summer or live full-time in mid-coast Maine, you should join anyway. Your membership entitles you to a host of benefits including discounted classes, juried show invitations, lectures, get-togethers, and more. Plus, you’re helping to revitalize Rockland’s Art Loft, now known as Studio 9. Contact Karin Strong, membership coordinator, or David Blanchard, president, for more information.
Then go right to the prospectus for Spring Renewal, here, and enter. It’s in the Art Loft, which means you’ll be showing on Main Street in Rockland, one of the hottest art markets in New England. What are you waiting for?

Uncovering your mark and more

Two opportunities to learn in mid-coast Maine
Meeting Up, by Ann Trainor Domingue, acrylic on canvas
Baby Joshua and his mom are doing great, so I can concentrate on work again. There are several things I should have told you about and missed with the excitement of the last two weeks. Here are two very important ones.
I’m bringing Ann Trainor Domingue to teach a day-long workshop in my studio because she does something that seems magical to me, and I want to know how. Ann paints lyrical, mysterious, narrative paintings, seemingly drawn from within her own psyche. “I love the same things you do about New England. I just reflect on them in a different light,” she says. Annie’s developed a series of exercises to loosen up our thinking, and they will be good for everyone, no matter what their style.
Here’s Annie!

Uncovering Your Mark, with Ann Trainor Domingue

Sat June 6th, 10-4
Carol L. Douglas Studio
394 Commercial Street, Rockport, ME 04856
Cost $95 per person.
Confused by too many options? Feel uninspired? Need help to get back to your artmaking? Uncovering Your Mark workshop could be just what you need to find your way!
Discover personally meaningful imagery and ideas through a fun guided exploration of things you love. Bring clarity and focus to help make sense as you implement fresh ideas for this phase of your lifelong art journey.
Think quietly about what kinds of things energize you. Sort and combine insights to form something new that feels more authentic by finding your mark.
Take time to work on loose sketches to explore these exciting new ideas and directions to help you stay on your path.

This workshop is a hands-on class aimed at artists of all levels. The first part of the class is a process of guided inquiry. Then, students will apply their self-discoveries through small scale sketching exercises and preliminary color play. It’s strictly limited to twelve students so you’ll get lots of attention. Every style is welcome.
Ann Trainor Domingue is a graduate of Rhode Island College with a BA Studio degree in painting. Her career has included working in adver­tising, as a teacher and as a painter. She is represented in public collections and galleries nationwide.
Download a flyer here or a registration form here.

Tin-foil hat, by Carol L. Douglas. You don’t have to learn about painting reflections by looking at a vase!
Next session of weekly classes in my Rockport studio starts next week.
Some people wonder what we paint when the winter weather drives our class indoors. I build still lives, but they aren’t typical. For example, yesterday’s creation was a clash of greens including pine boughs, gift bags, wine bottles and more. The idea was to learn to mix and use a medley of greens without using any green out of a tube. That’s excellent preparation for spring, which really is just around the corner.
Marie told me, “I always come in and see a still life and think, ‘ugh’, but then I get into it and it’s great.” I’m not interested in still-life as a genre either, but I think painting from life is critically important, so I make an effort to make them unusual and interesting.
Back it up (hard drive and bubble wrap), by Carol L. Douglas
Working in my studio gives us a great opportunity to focus on color theory and technique. We have more time to concentrate on mixing colors and brushwork than we do in the field, where the demands of the scene takes over.
Our next mid-coast Maine painting session will meet on Tuesday mornings, from 10-1. The dates are:
February 25
March 3
March 10 (followed by a two-week break while I hare off to Argentina)
March 31
April 7
April 14
Peppers, by Carol L. Douglas
Painters are encouraged to broaden their skills in drawing, brushwork and color. Your own individual style will be nurtured. We’ll learn how to paint boldly, with fresh, clean color, to build commanding compositions, and to use hue, value and line to draw the eye through our paintings.
Watercolor, oils, pastels and acrylics are welcome. Because it’s a small group, I can work with painters of all levels. The fee is $200 for the six-week session, and we meet at 394 Commercial Street in Rockport.

Where are they now?

I asked last summer’s workshop students to share what they’re working on now. Some are painting like mad; others are weighed down with work, elder-care or other responsibilities, but they’re all doing art. That, to me, is their greatest success.

Ann Trainor Domingue


“I’m using small collage pieces to design much larger paintings. Exploring more graphic, simpler design, with my ‘relationship’ series. I’m basically continued on my coastal-inspired work but contemplating how to include aspects of the sailing adventure. In the above watercolor-and-ink I have used a rocky coastline with evergreens as found along the coasts we sailed past on the American Eagle.
 “Collage has been new for me. It is a way to simplify my designs, and I love using found small flat papers, packaging, fabric to build design I wouldn’t have using a drawing tool.”

(Note: Ann Trainor Domingue will be teaching a workshop in my studio on June 6. For more information, click here.)

Lisa Magoun

“I’ve been painting since this summer in watercolor.  I also take a class painting in acrylics with a palette knife. I sometimes run out of subjects and should paint the same thing more than once.  But I rarely do.” 

Jennifer Johnson


“I am currently enjoying a year full of endless summer by painting in Australia. Most of my efforts have been attempted inside because the annoying bush flies are worse than ever and it is hard to paint wearing a black bug net/veil.”

Patty Mabie


I am ‘wintering’ in Florida for the first time! We are staying in Key West until the end of February, then driving across the country and back in March, to visit our kids in Birmingham and LA, with stops in New Orleans, Austin, Tucson, the Grand Canyon and who knows where else along the way. Then Myrtle beach in April, and Colorado after that to go to the Plein Air Convention and do some painting with friends in the mountains.
I bring paints everywhere and even knock one out in the car once in a while (while someone else is driving, obviously), with my Guerilla pochade box and some Gamsol in the cup holder. I’ve been doing boat studies and palm trees. I found some local art organizations and a plein air group that meets on Wednesdays here, which is great. I’m also doing an online mentoring program with Matt Smith through Tucson Art Academy Online.

Rhea Zweifler


I’ve been very interested in paths and keying up local color and the interplay of compliments together in color instead of just copying one of the Group of Seven.

Jennifer Little


Since I returned from Maine, I have had more energy for painting than I’ve had since my twenties! That week of painting really opened up something, so thank you!  
Currently I am working from photos, some from Schoodic, but a theme I’m working on is related to humans and nature/the sea. I use family photos. There is something about the atmosphere in the candid shots – family dynamics, some have tension, some so serene. I am also exploring glazing geometric and hopefully dynamic skies with these organic sea scenes.

Rebecca Bense


I painted a study of sky every day in June, July and August. Then September came and I went back to my ‘real’ life, thinking I was going to keep this up for a year, but I found on day 10 of September that I was 5 days in arrears and what I had done was phoning it in. So, I stopped. Long and short: not much painting has been going on. I find myself exhausted. I decided to keep a sketch book-journal/planner and I have been doing these mandala type doodles out of ink and whatever I might have a hand. I am finding these so much fun and so little pressure to produce something. Also (not coincidentally) my drawing skills have improved.
I am teaching a drop-in watercolor class and about 80 students at a Montessori school. They range from 3 to 14 years of age. I also teach a differently-abled adults art class.
I get together with my plein air friends as much as I can. We paint outside when possible and often have at least one meal together. Nice bunch of peeps!

Sandy Waldo


The holidays are over and now winter settles in. With the business of the season painting became less of a priority. We had some snow over the weekend which inspired this view of my favorite walking trail.

Mary Ellen Pedersen


I worked on this for months in multiple versions. The boat was too big – too small – didn’t fit the right angles. I was working from a photo.  Then I just said it was my painting, not the photo, and was free. I was able to be creative with it and it now hangs in my daughter’s apartment in Tennessee. I actually like my dory and the age of the vessel. I think it looks old and well used. The water and sky are a combination of dry brush with paint and paper.

Robin Miller

I have applied new learnings to an old backlog of unfinished projects with commendable results, and completed three new paintings. They were not, alas, painted outside. I probably won’t do much plein air until I can retire. But the new tools have definitely been helpful in moving through projects more quickly. And, since I tend to think of my work as a giant art project anyway, it has made that more fun as well. All in all, the Schoodic Workshop was excellent mind expansion, artistically and otherwise.
You can learn more about my workshops aboard schooner American Eagle here, or at Schoodic here. Rumor has it I’ll be teaching in New Mexico in September, but since the details aren’t yet finalized, just send me an emailif you want to learn more.

Two openings this Friday

You looking for me? This is where I’ll be this Friday.

Village at Camden Harbor Maine, Ann Trainor Domingue, courtesy of Camden Falls Gallery
I’ll start with Homecomingat Camden Falls Gallery, on Friday from 5-7 PM. This features the work of mixed media artist Ann Trainor Domingueand other gallery artists, of which I am one. I love Trainor Domingue’s work, which explores the interplay of family, friends, work and home in symbolic, playful, and non-realistic, terms.
I’m also looking forward to seeing owners Howard and Margaret Gallagher. They’ve been retailing art and craft in Camden for 37 years but decided to become official ‘snowbirds’ last winter.
“I don’t want to say it’s like migrating fish returning to their place of origin, but there’s something really special about coming home to the gallery on the edge of Camden Harbor,” said Howard.
Ann Trainor Domingue was born in Fall River, Massachusetts and raised in Barrington, Rhode Island. Summer holidays spent on Cape Cod deepened her affinity for coastal estuaries, harbor towns, and the doughty New Englanders who earn their living from the sea.
Best Part of the Day, Ann Trainor Domingue, courtesy of Camden Falls Gallery
After graduating from Rhode Island College, Trainor Domingue had a successful career as an illustrator and art director. Two artist residencies from the Copley Society in Boston enabled her to return to Provincetown to paint after her escape from the corporate world.
Camden Falls Gallery is located at 5 Public Landing, Camden, ME. For more information, call (207) 470-7027 or email [email protected].
Yellow dinghy (Camden), Ed Buonvecchio, courtesy of the artist.
Then I’ll amble down to Tenants Harbor to see Inspirations: 4 Paint Maine, featuring the work of Ed Buonvecchio, Suzanne deLesseps, Kathryn Baribeau, and Fran Scannell. Ed and I are good friends. We paint together at Ocean Park every year, and traveled to Nova Scotia together last year for the Parrsboro International Plein Air Festival. For some reason, this season has gotten away from me and I haven’t seen him yet.
Iced in at Rockport, Ed Buonvecchio, courtesy of the artist. This is a scene I know well.
Ed is from Camillus, NY, and has a BFA from SUNY Buffalo. An avid outdoorsman, he started painting in oils seriously while he and his wife Julie Richard lived in Arizona. “Plein airpainting has been an extension of my love for nature and a way to study it. Painting is my way of sharing what I see and feel with others,” he said.
The show opens at Jackson Memorial Library, 71 Main Street, Tenants Harbor, ME, also from 5-7 PM. If you haven’t seen a show here, it’s worth the trip just to visit the library.