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.

Five opportunities to study with me

And for my workshops, there are early-bird discounts available!

Four Ducks, by Carol L. Douglas. There are so many ways to paint water!

“There’s no phone reception out on the ocean,” I casually mentioned to my electrical-engineer husband. He immediately outlined a low-cost plan to extend coverage offshore. I looked at him in wonder. “Please don’t. That’s the best thing about sailing!”

I leave this evening for my last workshop of the season, aboard schooner American Eagle. (As many times as I see her, I still have a crush on that boat.) I’ve had so many inquiries about upcoming classes and workshops that I pulled them all together for you before leaving.
How to paint water: I’m speaking to the Waterville Art Society on Thursday, October 3 on how to paint water. The meeting starts at 6 PM at Chace Community Forum, 150 Main Street, Waterville, ME. For more information, email here.
Dennis Pollock, right before he went for a swim during our weekly painting class. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Johnson.)
Our next mid-coast Maine painting classes start on Tuesday, October 22. These classes meet on Tuesday mornings from 10-1, and this session runs six weeks, from October 22 to November 26.
This is primarily a plein air class.  Autumn is a fantastic time to paint in mid-coast Maine, as it stays warmer here longer than inland. When weather permits, we paint at locations in the Rockport-Rockland-Camden area. When the weather turns, we meet in my studio at 394 Commercial Street, Rockport. For more information, see here, or register here. (If you’re a returning student, you can just email me.)
Painting aboard schooner American Eagle with Diane Fulkerson, Mary Ellen Pedersen, and Lynne Twentyman.
I’ll be teaching two watercolor sketch workshops aboard the historic schooner American Eagle next year. The first is during the opening run of the Maine windjammer fleet and includes the Gam, the annual fleet raft-up. That’s June 7-11. The second, from September 20-24, is timed for the coast’s peak foliage season.
All materials—and they’re professional grade—are included, and if you want, you can help with the sailing too. More information is here.
Rebecca Bense and me, at Sea & Sky on Schoodic Point. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Johnson.)
Last, but certainly not least, is my annual Sea & Sky workshop at Schoodic Institute. It’s an opportunity to study painting in America’s oldest national park, surrounded by breathtaking nature, but insulated from the ‘madding crowds’.
This workshop is five days long and includes all meals and accommodations. This year we’ve added a commuter option as well. This workshop was waitlisted last year, and for good reason—it’s a fun and informative time, open to students in oils, pastels, watercolor, gouache or acrylic. More information can be found here.
Ellen Trayer and Lynne Twentyman, painting on a deserted island.
All of my workshops include an Early-Bird discountfor those of you signing up before January 1. (Workshops, of course, make great Christmas gifts for the painters in your life.) If you have any questions, you can email me.
I won’t be able to answer until next week, of course, because in a few hours I’m throwing my rope-soled shoes and duffle-bag in the car and heading down to the harbor. That also means no blog on Friday. Fair winds and following seas to you, and I’ll see you on Monday.

The lesson of pacing yourself

It’s a great idea, but when God ordains something else, you’d best go along quietly.

Mary Day returns to her home port, by Carol L. Douglas.

Tad Retz is the perfect houseguest. He’s stayed here twice and is so unobtrusive that I’ve never actually met him. I do know his older brother, animator Zac Retz, whom I met in a cemetery.

Tad arrived late Saturday night and left very early Sunday morning. I would have stopped to see him before church, but he had already finished painting and catapulted off to his next destination.
Contemplating that amount of energy is exhausting. Then I remember that Tad is the same age as my youngest child. It’s no surprise that he bounces around like a corn kernel on a hot griddle.
The motto of coastal Maine ought to be, “make hay while the sun shines.” That’s also the guiding principle of plein air painting, and art festivals and craft shows. Spin like a dervish while you can, and rest after the season ends.
Still, everyone needs some down time. I received a horrifying photo from a friend. She has a second infection in her face. Last year it was a sinus infection run amok; this time it’s in her eyes. Like me, she works an intensive summer season. Cutting corners and being overtired resulted in some impressively ugly mug shots.
I try to identify the signs of overwork before I get sick. On Thursday, I painted at Rockport harbor. I forgot my palette, so I whipped home to collect it. I careened back into the closest parking spot, only to realize my brush holder wasn’t in my backpack.
You can’t finish a painting when your central boat leaves, or that’s my excuse.
At noon, the central boat in my composition cast off its buoy and headed out. I packed up, and found a parking ticket on my windshield. “Three strikes and you’re out,” I told myself. Instead of working, I went out to lunch.
Noting that I’m mucking up small things usually stops me from screwing up spectacularly. I have a busy week ahead and then I’m on the road for three weeks. I will steal my rest where I can in the coming days.
Still, I’m flying to Baltimore as you read this, on a 24-hour, last-minute visit. I wish the circumstances could be different, mainly because I’m going to pray with a friend who’s gravely ill with cancer.
“I’m no good at it,” I told my friend Helen when the idea first burrowed into my consciousness. Years ago, my cousin was in hospice in Atlanta. I picked up my brother in Virginia and we tore down I-81.
Self portrait with cancer, charcoal, by Carol L. Douglas.
We arrived to learn that she’d just awakened from her coma. She moved from hospice to rehab and lived another eighteen months.
I told this to Helen as an example of how my praying didn’t matter. She read it differently. “I think you need to go to Baltimore,” she said. I gasped as I grabbed the implication.

And so, I go. You can set your sights on Tarshish, but if you’re supposed to go to Nineveh, you’d best just get on with it.

Roadside Route 1

How important are signs? Just say “Red’s Eats” or “Moody’s Diner” to a summer visitor and then sit back and listen.

Driving to Belfast yesterday, I mused, as I often do, on the many Mom-and-Pop businesses along the way. They’re as much a part of the Maine landscape as the rocks and the lobster boats. Their signs are idiosyncratic, old-fashioned and different than in most tourist destinations. Without them, Route 1 would be much less interesting.

Signage, in its most utilitarian form, instructs us. Beyond that, it is a social art form. It decorates, it identifies, and it communicates ideas to passers-by.
“Your house has a name!” my Scottish friend Martha exclaimed when she visited me last summer. Middle-class Americans don’t generally name their houses. Britons do. But our sign has been there since long before we bought this place. It is called Richards Hill after the first owner, from when the surrounding area was farmland. It wasn’t my place to take its nameplate down, even though I have a different business sign at the street.
In fact, many buildings along Route 1 have multiple signs from different periods. These are like layers in an archeological dig. There’s a motel in Lincolnville with a dull 1990s-era street sign. But its office sign is perfect mid-century neon.
In my town (Rockport) business signs must be small, not internally lighted, and conform to a setback. That isn’t true everywhere on Route 1, but it does contribute to the aesthetic of hand-painted, hand-carved signs that prevails here.
Neon, which was introduced in the 1920s and reached its peak in the 1940s, is used sparingly. It’s not permitted in Rockport, but in general it’s expensive, and the tubes break.
Part of the reason signage here is so charming is that Mainers are basically frugal. They don’t change what ain’t broke. Signs last a long time if maintained.
The other part is that big-box stores, by and large, have little presence here. There are some, but they’re not ubiquitous and despoiling, as they are in so many places. The absence of their large, lighted signs is refreshing.
Signs tell us a lot about the people within the businesses they advertise. There are antique shops on Route 1 that are barely more than a rotating flea market. Others are quite elegant, and their signage is more tasteful.
Signs also reflect personality and background. Here in Maine, they tend toward the ‘colonial’, which speaks both to their mid-century vintage and the predominant WASP culture.
How important are signs? Just say “Red’s Eats” or “Moody’s Diner” to a summer visitor and then listen as they start bubbling over. Signs are part of a place’s cultural heritage and its community memory. They are landmarks, sometimes more important than the buildings they mark. They’re individual, clever, and evocative. That’s art, folks.

Full moon over Frenchman Bay

Nocturne by Matthew Menzies, from Sea & Sky 2013.

There’s something magical about painting a nocturne over water. It’s even better when there’s a full moon. My calendar tells me we’ll have that opportunity during our third annual Sea & Sky Workshop. Think of magnificent granite slopes at Schoodic Point, silhouettes of Jack Pines against the midsummer night sky, and moonlight shimmering on the ocean.

Yes, there are still openings for the workshop, because (as usual) I got interested in other things and forgot to do any advertising after Christmas. That’s one of the curses of being a one-woman shop. However, Bobbi Heath just showed me a nice system for keeping all the balls in the air. It pointed out to me that I juggle a lot of things—possibly too many things.
This is the fifth year I will be teaching in midcoast Maine, and my third season at Schoodic Institute. It’s the best place for raw, natural beauty without crowds on the whole Maine coast, and the Institute itself is set up for learning. The campus was created when a former Navy base was returned to the National Park Service. It is one of 19 National Park Service Research Learning Centers in the United States. They do all our meals and snacks, so we can concentrate entirely on painting. And you can bring non-painting guests, who will enjoy fishing, hiking, birdwatching, and more. 
We’ll study composition, color, drawing, and paint mixing in morning and afternoon sessions. By now I have a pretty intimate knowledge of Schoodic and the surrounding area. That means you get access to the best painting locations.
Even though we’re on an uninhabited peninsula, it’s still easy to get to painting locations. There’s a ring road with frequent pull-offs. And Schoodic itself is only 90 minutes from Bangor International Airport, for those of you who fly to Maine.
I’ve worked with people from raw beginners to those who already hold MFAs. I have more than fifteen years of experience teaching in watercolor, oils, acrylics and pastels. I’m a former chairperson of New York Plein Air Painters and my work is in public and private collections worldwide. I studied at the Art Students League in New York with Cornelia Foss, Nicki Orbach, Joseph Peller and others.
Dinghy, Camden Harbor, by Carol L. Douglas
“This was the best painting instruction I have ever had. Carol’s advice in color mixing was particularly eye-opening. Her explanations are clear and easy to understand. She is very approachable and supportive. I would take this course again in a heartbeat,” student Carol Thiel once said about me. (By the way, some of my lessons can be read here.)
The one-week workshop is just $1600, including five days’ accommodation in a private room with shared bath, meals, snacks, and instruction. Accommodations for non-painting partners and guests are also available. Your deposit of $300 holds your space. Complete registration forms should be returned by mail to Carol L. Douglas, PO Box 414, Rockport, ME 04856-0414 with your $300 deposit.
Or email the form here and make a credit card payment by phone to 585-201-1558. Refunds are available up to 60 days prior to start, less a $50 administration fee. Final payment is due 60 days prior to the start of the workshop.
A discount of $50 is available to members of New York Plein Air Painters, Plein Air Painters of Maine or returning students.

And bring a night lamp! Even better, remind me to add night lamp to the supply list.

A scientific artist supports our old friend, the smelt

(Photo courtesy Karen Talbot Art Gallery)
Ah, Candlemas!My husband likes to observe it by reminding me that the annual Columbia Falls Smelt Fry is just around the corner. We know smelts from growing up along the (freshwater) Great Lakes, but they were also once an important food fish here on (saltwater) Penobscot Bay. The Pleasant River supports the last viable commercial smelt fishery on the coast. They have been netting smelt here since before the American Revolution.
I myself observed Candlemas by going to see Native Sea-Run Fishes of Maine at the Karen Talbot Art Gallery. I first met Karen at the opening of her gallery in 2013, after her move to Rockport from Laguna Beach, CA. Her fish paintings are meticulously researched and crafted, and very collectable. 
Talbot is a meticulous illustrator. Here are some of her research notes for the project.(Photo courtesy Karen Talbot Art Gallery)
Native Sea-Run Fishes of Maine features original paintings she created for the 2017 Maine Sea Grant Calendar. This calendar is produced every two years by the Maine Sea Grant College Program at the University of Maine, in partnership with  NOAA Fisheries Service and the Nature Conservancy in Maine.
Coincidentally, February’s Calendar Girl is our old pal, the Rainbow Smelt.
I’ve always wondered at the ability of smelts, salmon and alewives to survive happily in both the ocean and freshwater lakes. It turns out that they’re diadromous, meaning that in the natural way of things they spend part of their lives in fresh water and part in salt water. (Those species hanging out full-time in the Great Lakes got there through human intervention.)
Historically, these diadromous fishes were essential to feeding the people of the North Atlantic. Today many of them are in trouble, because their river and estuary habitats have been so manipulated by human beings. We may lament the loss of Maine paper mills, but their dams contributed greatly to the decline of these fish.
Pages from the calendar. (Photo courtesy Karen Talbot Art Gallery)
Native Sea-Run Fishes of Maine consists of paintings of twelve of these species: sea lamprey, shortnose sturgeon, Atlantic sturgeon, alewife, Atlantic salmon, brook trout, rainbow smelt, American eel, Atlantic tomcod, striped bass, blueback herring, and American shad. The paintings hang together as a reminder that to preserve them, we must treat them as a group, since species-by-species intervention hasn’t worked.
Not only do humans like to eat diadromous fish, so do cod. Cod was once an important resource for Penobscot Bay fishermen. While we all know stories of intrepid fishermen going to the Grand Banksfor their haul, most cod was taken within 30 miles from shore. As development affected the populations of diadromous fishes, cod moved further offshore in search of food. By the 1870s naturalist Spencer Baird had already noted the relationship between the decline of diadromous fish and the loss of cod in the nearshore area. It’s nearly 150 years later and we haven’t solved the problem.
On that note, a portion of the proceeds from Talbot’s original paintings and prints go to the Nature Conservancy in Maine to benefit habitat restoration efforts in the Penobscot River and Bay watershed.
For more information about Native Sea-Run Fishes of Maine, contact Karen Talbot here.

How to paint, in five easy steps

"Historic Fort George," by Carol L. Douglas

“Historic Fort Point,” by Carol L. Douglas
While it was fresh in my workshop students’ minds, I shot pictures showing the step-by-step progression of a painting. I took these while participating in the Third Annual Wet Paint on the Weskeag this past weekend.
The site I chose was the ruins of Fort St. George, overlooking Thomaston. Not much remains but a raised berm, but it is peaceful, pretty, and shadowed by oaks. I parked by Wiley’s Corner Spring and eyeballed the stream. It looked perfectly wonderful, but I have been fooled by drinking-water sources before. Putting caution before curiosity, I resisted and turned to hike the half-mile to the fort site. It was an easy trail, but I was glad I had my super-light pochade box.
I settled down on a rock outcropping, bracing my tripod below me on the uneven boulders.
My sketch. The problem with rocky outcroppings is that they can create an unbalanced composition. On a grey day, it's hard to use the sky to fix that.

My sketch.
The problem with rocky outcroppings along water is that they can create unbalanced compositions. All the weight is on the land side. On a grey day, there’s little sky action to counterbalance that.
I never use viewfinders of any kind. To me the most exciting part of painting is figuring out how to transfer all that grandeur into an arresting composition. The rest is just details.
After I had a composition,  I transferred it to my canvas. I copied my sketch rather than drawing from the view.

First draft of a drawing.
After I had a composition I liked, I transferred it to my canvas. I generally copy my sketch rather than drawing again from the view. After I have the major pieces in place, I go back and redraw to conform to reality.
My palette. I always mix my greens and tints before I start painting. It keeps the color clean.

My palette.
I always mix my green matrix and tints of my pigments before I start painting. It keeps my color clean. And, yes, I use a palette knife.
For more information on how I chose this palette, see the pigment and color theory posts here.
Next, I map in the colors.

Next, I map in the colors.
I’m mostly concerned with drawing accuracy and color when I do my underpainting. This is a color map made with thin layers of paint and a minimal amount of solvent. I want it as dry as is possible when I do the next layer. Odorless mineral spirits or turpentine dry faster than linseed, walnut or poppy oil.
If anyone suggests using medium or oil at this phase of your painting, back away slowly. One of the first mantras of painting is “fat over lean.” That means applying oily paint over less-oily paint to create a stable, elastic paint film that doesn’t oxidize. Paintings made this way last for centuries.
I am familiar with some teachers who encourage their students to coat the surface with medium and paint into it to create a sort of faux luminism. These paintings are drowning in oil and varnish, which will darken and crack over time. It’s terrible technique and should not be encouraged.
This is more or less the point at which I start using larger quantities of paint and medium. I used a filbert on this, about a size eight.

This is more or less the point at which I start using larger amounts of paint and add medium.
Start adding medium when you start adding paint volume. Go light on the stuff. It can makes an unmanageable soup very quickly. I use a larger brush than you would expect. In the painting above I used a #8 filbert throughout, only pulling out a larger flat to smooth down some surfaces.
As I headed back to the Kelpie Gallery to turn in my finished painting, I took one more long look at Wiley’s Corner Spring. Oh, heck, I thought. Why not live dangerously? The water was smooth and sweet, and created no aftershocks.
Surprise, surprise! The finished piece won the "Juror's Choice" award, which is the top prize.

The finished piece won the Juror’s Choice award. If I’d expected that, I’d have pressed my blouse.
That was important, because by the time you read this, I should be most of the way to Montreal, from whence I am flying to Edinburgh. I plan to do some simple watercolor sketches along the way, but until I return, keep on painting… and go light on the medium, for heaven’s sake!

Culture clash

"Kathy reading," by Carol Douglas (not finished).

“Kathy reading,” by Carol Douglas (not finished).
I met Brad Marshall years ago, when I was active in New York Plein Air Painters. We tried to hold a meet-and-greet in a Czech beer garden in Astoria, but we were washed out by a crashing thunderstorm. In those days, I lived in Rochester, had a crash-pad on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, and spent too much time breaking traffic laws between those two places.
Brad and his wife, Kathy, are here to paint this week. Although they are both thoroughly-assimilated New Yorkers, Kathy actually comes from good French-Canadian Aroostook County stock. I know her as a woman who can sniff out a designer bargain in seconds, but she really does know this country well.
"Boats in Rockport Harbor," by Brad Marshall.

“Boats in Rockport Harbor,” by Brad Marshall.
People from New York City and people from Maine are both intrepid, but in different ways. It takes nerve and knowledge to throw oneself across the platform into an overloaded subway car, or to suss out the best routes on the Manhattan Transit Authority’s 660 miles of track. It takes equal nerve to hike down a granite cliff or take your small boat out into that vast ocean. Each place has its own specialized footwear, however.
Yesterday I took Brad and Kathy to two favorite painting spots: Beauchamp Pointand Rockport Harbor. I paint or linger in both places frequently. It was interesting to see them through the eyes of visitors.
Brad and I painted while Kathy read and watched birds through her field glasses.

Brad and I painted while Kathy read and watched birds through her field glasses.
People always talk to me when I’m painting. Yesterday, a number of them asked us how-to questions. Brad and I answered differently, because we do many things differently: sketching and composition, canvas toning, palette, solvent, brush care. There are fundamental rules to each medium, but how they’re followed can take many different forms. This is why, as a teacher, I try to explainwhy I do what I do. Understand the question, and you have a full range of possible answers.
We ate lunch at the harbor. It took a long time in arriving, something I no longer even notice. Yes, things move more slowly in Maine than in New York. This is, after all, Vacationland. What’s the hurry?
It was a perfect day to paint. (Photo courtesy of Brad Marshall)

It was a perfect day to paint. (Photo courtesy of Brad Marshall)
“Why would you want to be in the City when you can be here?” I asked Brad and Kathy, with all the enthusiasm of the recent convert.
“Pizza, the theatre, galleries, shopping, medical care, convenience…” they started.
“No granite canyons, no panhandlers on the subway, no smell of car exhaust or garbage, and no rats scampering along the streets in the early morning light,” I countered. There are many things I don’t miss about urban life.
I used to call New York “the center of the known world.” I no longer feel that way, but it’s nice to know it chugs along unchanged, and that my friends are still there whenever I want to go back to visit.

Holy mackerel!

My demo painting. Not inspired, but by the time we were done, everyone had done all the steps.

My demo painting. Not inspired or finished, but by the time we were done, everyone had done all the steps.
I hate whole-class demonstrations, mostly because I hate watching them myself. Nevertheless, some processes require step-by-step instruction, and I try to sneak them in where possible.
With oil paint, you can set your easel up like a lectern in front of a group. With watercolor, particularly used as a field sketching medium, it’s not that simple. The work needs to be angled nearly flat, which makes watching the process more difficult.
Even in Vacationland painting classes fade away in August. People have things to do. Yesterday I was down to two students. Both are in the early stages. It was the perfect time to go over the basics of watercolor.
My idea was similar to those paint and sip events that are so popular right now. Being mid-morning, there was no wine. (Of course, there is no real relationship between drinking and art, any more so than there is between drinking and engineering.) Furthermore, I didn’t give them a canned subject; we would choose a general area in which to work and they could frame it as they wanted.
Come to Maine. The work is strenuous, but you will learn a lot.

Come to Maine to paint. The conditions are strenuous, but you will learn a lot.
We did each step in unison. First we chose subjects, then we did a value study, then we cropped our studies. We transferred our drawing to paper, did washes, built in darks.
At no time did we proceed to the next step before all three of us had finished with the prior one. That has a curious way of messing with your concentration.
For a while, a school of mackerel swirled in the water at our feet, snapping at something on the surface. A large gull dove into it, coming up empty-beaked. Come to Maine to learn to paint; it’s never boring.
My polarized sunglasses let me watch the column of fish deep in the water, but sadly my camera could only photograph the surface.

My polarized sunglasses let me watch this column of fish swirling in the water, but my camera could only photograph the surface.
We ran out of time long before we were finished, but we’d reviewed all the principles, including that a good painting takes a long time. Whatever the medium is, that’s universally true.
Our subject was simple and pedestrian, and eventually was obliterated by the arrival of lobster boats back from their morning’s work. None of us painted anything brilliant. But we established the order of operations for watercolor, which is so radically different from painting with oil. We were able to discuss brushes and technique in detail.
After class, I walked to the post office to get my mail. I remarked to my husband that teaching two students always requires more concentration than teaching six. I think all three of us learned a lot.

Let that be a lesson to me

I'm going to look at this in the studio later and see if I can regain the sense of the Mercantile looking. Shadows, perhaps.

I’m going to look at this in the studio later and see if I can regain the sense of the Mercantile looming. Shadows, perhaps.
My flagging energy has been at war with the calendar. Two weeks from tomorrow I fly to Scotland for a wedding. That pretty much marks the end of my working summer, although I do have one event after that. That doesn’t mean I stop painting or that the crowds mysteriously evaporate, but the crush of people lets up a bit after Labor Day.
I stopped by to see a friend on my way home on Saturday. “I’m tired, hot and cranky,” I told her.
“Like you’ve been the last three times I saw you,” she replied.
The nicest thing I started this weekend was a small study of the Mercantile's anchor.

The nicest thing I started this weekend was a small study of the Mercantile’s anchor.
I can see it in my work. I painted three things over the weekend in Camden. The best of these, a little study of an anchor, didn’t get finished. The one with the greatest promise—a tiny tender sheltering under the bow of the Mercantile—didn’t work. I should have known when I sketched it five times without a good composition that I was on the wrong track. Instead, I tried to force it to happen on the canvas. Without the Mercantile looming over it, it was just another dinghy.
Can I fix that in the studio? Possibly; I’ll try today. In fact, I need some serious time to finish up all the half-done work that’s waiting for me.
Sometimes I'm too dumb to stop. (Photo courtesy of Susan Renee Lammers)

Sometimes I’m too dumb to stop. (Photo courtesy of Susan Renee Lammers)
Most of us work long days during painting events. I also blog about them, which usually adds an hour or two to my working day. There are some dead giveaways that I need a rest:
  1. The bottom of my backpack starts looking like the bottom of my purse, a collection of flotsam and jetsam that has escaped its proper places;
  2. My ‘filter’ gets jarred loose and I say things I usually keep to myself;
  3. I gain weight;
  4. My composition is uninspired;
  5. I fight a dehydration headache and am too dumb to fix it with water;
  6. My house and car get ratty.
I’ve said many times that people should take at least a day off every week. Rest is a great gift. “The Sabbath was made for mankind, and not mankind for the Sabbath,” Jesus said. Do I follow that advice? Only fitfully, I’m afraid. Today I have a sore throat and headache, and I think it’s just my body telling me to drop the pace down a notch.
The Angelique has been following me everywhere. Here she is curled up in Camden harbor.

The Angelique has been following me everywhere. Here she is curled up in Camden harbor.
I’m not the only person getting tired. I can hear it in the slow but steady increase in beeping horns as I walk to the Rockport post office at midday. Our tolerance for others is fraying, ever so slightly.
People ask me why I blog when it adds more work to my day. The nicest part of the weekend was a visit by reader Fay Terry of Pinehurst, NC. On Friday, she joined Renee Lammers and me on the docks to paint. Yes, social media has its downside, but its ability to connect like-minded people is invaluable.