Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Maine morning

We were up before dawn today. That's kind of unusual for me..being the night owl, but we had two grand children to get off to school 10 miles away. After that pleasant task( Sydney and Tyler were so cute) the day belonged to us, so we headed to the town of Old Orchard Beach on a small errand.
The early morning light gave the passing scenery a soft diffused quality as we traveled south through Portland, South Portland then crossed the flats of Scarborough Marsh and on to our final destination. The air was still and the marsh waters looked almost like glass reflecting the pale blue streaked sky. The village is devoid of vacationers now, and more like a ghost town compared to the bumper to bumper traffic that clogs the main streets all summer. Old Orchard's five mile long beach is a big draw then but the shops and motels are shut up for the winter and the pier is vacant. We noticed some locals beginning to stir and start their morning rituals of jogging, dog walking and heading off to work. Their warm breath formed white clouds in the cold crisp air as they scraped ice off windshields and exercised. Life goes on day and night no matter where you live but for next several months the pace here could be called a hibernation of sorts. We enjoyed our quiet drive through the sleepy little town.
I've included a shot of the marsh, another of the Presumpscot River taken from the highway, and the final shot is a local farm road not far from our home. The sights are diverse, very inspiring to a painter like me, and for those who don't paint too. It's all a typical morning in Maine.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Not too long ago we drove to the coastal village of Pemaquid. We were struck by the dramatic skies as the sun started to go down in late afternoon. I was so intrigued by the shadows cast across the homes, and landscape that we stopped many times to take photos. Where would we be without our digital cameras to capture such fleeting moments!
Some may find these areas to be melancholy when everyone leaves for the winter but not us...it's even more beautiful here in the fall. The region is rich with oranges, reds and greens. Put those hues together with old New England homes clad in white or pale yellow and the colors just sing, especially against skies with shades of blue and gray.
Very often when I take a bunch of photos the paintings I make from them don't come right away. The images have to sink in and rattle around a little before I jump in, but I was so inspired by the scenery of this lovely day trip that this one couldn't wait.
Luckily I had a bunch of canvases ready to go with a toned underpainting of terra cotta. The sky here has more yellow in it than the actual painting...
This is 28 x 32 mixed media of acrylic and casein. The blues, oranges and greens in casein are very earthy and have more depth than acrylic and they mix together quite well.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The book or the movie

I think artists have to figure out for themselves what mediums work best for them, or whether to work in 2D or 3D, what surfaces to use, how to set up a studio, or when and how long to work, and so on. Education, life experiences, desire, and time are some of the things that influence these choices as well.
I really enjoy working at night when it's quiet and so I flip on the radio and let the world music programs on NPR take me away and into the painting zone. Memories of the day fade into silence and my inner voice returns as I go through the same ritual. I put on my apron, squeeze out the luxurious pigments, pick up my brush and begin to paint. It's hard to explain the satisfaction that comes during the time spent in my studio, but let's just say that it gives me a peace that may be similar to meditation.
Someone asked me the other day what I was working on now. I hesitated for a moment, then explained that I had discovered if I talked about a work in progress it takes all the energy and excitement away from the painting but I didn't know why. She hit the nail on the head when she said, " It must be like reading the book before you see the movie."
I won't break my silence now either..

Monday, November 8, 2010

Autumn Sun-Sebago Farm

The more I paint the more I realize how much my experiences and environment influence my work. This is the best way to describe the subjects that end up in my paintings.
While on a short day trip with my husband, who is a real estate broker and was headed to an appraisal, we passed this grand old farm in the town of Sebago.
It was a fine Autumn day and the brilliant overhead sun cast strong shadows everywhere.
The connected buildings are typical in Maine and were designed to make farm work easier during our long, cold winters. Farmers could move from living space to the barns to care for their stock without exposure to the harsh elements. I love the way the buildings hunker into the ground and settle as time passes.
The lack of detail caused by this kind of sunlight intrigued me so we stopped to take photos for future painting reference.
The maple tree had lost most of it's leaves but those remaining were so bright that they provided reflected light near the house. I find it sad to see beautiful farms like this one not working anymore but the ingenuity of it's design remains as a testiment to the people who lived and worked it years ago..
Acrylic and casein. 12 x 14

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Old Shoe

Arctic air has slipped into Maine and that means we have to face the fact that winter is just around the corner. It's not such a bad thing especially for a painter like me who loves to work in a nice warm studio as I did tonight .
Anyway..now that it's getting colder and all the "people from away" have hightailed it back to the city we Mainers have a chance to enjoy the scenery again..without getting stuck in lines of traffic, and fighting crowds everywhere. The light now is very intriguing too and casts a rosy glow with long shadows in the afternoon. Compound that atmospheric phenomenon with deserted summer homes and cottages and I find great subjects to paint.
This neat little place is on a favorite lake of ours and caught my eye while Steve and I were headed to one of his real estate jobs. I love the roof shape, the tidiness of it and the trees. Even the propane tanks provided inspiration with dappled sunlight hitting them just so. There was an old sneaker laying in the sand in front of the cottage..but I chose not to paint it. The deep snow will cover and protect it and it'll probably be there next summer when the owners come back, just like the old cottage.

This is acrylic 12 x 15

Friday, October 22, 2010

Gone to the Dogs

Every year the Maine Discovery Museum in Bangor puts on a big auction and gala to help raise funds for their great children's museum. This year they provided artists with a neat wooden storage container that is 24 inches high, has a lid and is suitable for all kinds of things. I'm a little late with mine but finished just in time for the auction and dinner which will be held Nov. 6. at the Bangor Hilton. Preview is at 5, then at 5:30 the fun begins with the "Not So Silent" Auction and a scrumptious 4 course dinner at 7.. Tickets are $50 a person with RSVP by October 29th. For more info click onto http://www.mainediscoverymuseum.org/ . While on their site be sure to check out the fabulous containers painted by all the other Maine artists who participated ..their versions blow me away!

There are so many dog lovers out there that I thought this theme would have broad appeal...4 very different dogs, doing 4 different things...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"Home Grown" Exhibition

I'm happy to be participating in Skyline Farm and Carriage Museum's Annual Fall Art Show that is coming up right away. The 2010 show is titled, "Home Grown" and features painters, photographers, sculptors and craftspeople from the great state of Maine. As an added bonus Skyline Farm is collaborating with Chef Jeff Landry of the 'Farmer’s Table' restaurant in Portland. He is generously giving his time and talent to present a fabulous Harvest Dinner in the Skyline Farm Museum Exhibition Hall. Jeff will be preparing a feast of foods harvested within 25 miles of the farm. Jeff Landry arrived on the Portland dining scene when he opened the popular restaurant ‘Cinque Terre’ where he served as Executive Chef. He has also served as Executive Chef at ‘Eve’s at the Garden’ at the Portland Harbor Hotel and had a long relationship with the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport. Jeff is dedicated to serving local, organically-produced meals at the 'Farmer's Table' and in 2006, he was awarded Maine’s "Chef of the Year" by the Maine Restaurant Association. He's been actively involved in fund raisers for “Share the Strength”, a nonprofit organization which strives to end childhood hunger. As you can tell from this brief bio, Jeff is a very generous and talented person who believes in giving back to the community. The menu looks scrumptious and will feature mead, beer, wine, artisan cheeses, organic meat, poultry and fresh vegetables made or grown in Maine.
Some of the victual providers will be on hand to talk about their locally made products.
The Fine Art & Crafts Show will be on view the evening of the dinner on September 25, but the artist opening reception is October 2 from 5-7. Throughout the show, which ends on Dec. 4, many weekends will feature artisan demonstrations, a class or two, and guest musicians!

Stop in to meet the artists and see what Maine has to offer. There will be a silent auction of donated items to bid on as well...just in time for your holiday entertaining or gift giving. For more info http://www.skylinefarm.org/

"The Green Monster" is one of several paintings I'll be putting in the show. 20 x 20 pastel on prepared archival foam core. I hope to see you there!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The gift of sight

This is for my artist friend Gerry Merriman. Gerry and I met while I was managing a small shop in Kennebunk one summer several years ago. Her sister Jane worked in the office of a survey company in the same building and she stopped in one day to tell me that her sister was an artist and made 'flower paintings'. Jane said her sister Gerry was a very prolific painter...with flowers, that is, and that she had hundreds of images of portraits, figures, landscapes, still lifes, ........all comprised of flower petals, leaves, stems, buds etc. She wondered if I would take some for the shop.
Jane mentioned that Gerry had diabetes since she was 12 and because of that had related health issues but continued to paint and create regardless. Needless to say I wanted to meet her and see her work.
Gerry came in the next day and we hit it off immediately! Gerry is vivacious, funny and passionate about her work. Her astonishing portfolio literally consists of book after book of her flower paintings...hundreds of beautiful works. The originals are small...done on 5 x 7 card stock. When finished they are photoed and printed on archival papers. Most images are enlarged to 8 x 10..some are much larger. I own about 10 from notecard size to poster. The images become even more powerful the bigger they are.
Gerry was on the verge of loosing her sight because of diabetes but she received a series of new laser treatments that prevented that from happening. Her short compelling testimony is on the link provided here..and also some of her work. http://wods.radio.com/2010/06/14/mass-eye-ear-patient-testimonials-gerry/
I am so grateful for the special care she's received and look forward to seeing many new 'flower paintings'.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Brick Store Museum

Today was a glorious day here in southern Maine weather wise. No way was I staying inside to do chores or anything else! My husband had a real estate closing(Yay Steve!) in Kennebunk so I decided to tag along for the ride. Kennebunk's Main St. is still a charming little village area dotted with locally owned shops and businesses, so while Steve took care of business I took a walk. After browsing through a lovely beautique filled with stunning garden and home accessories(I wanted one of everything) I headed up to The Brick Store Museum a few blocks away. The Pastel Painters of Maine 11th International Juried Show will be exhibited there from May 22-June 13 and I wanted to check out the gallery space. I introduced myself to two staff members who just happened to be clearing out for the PPoM exhibition. They were excited about the show coming into the museum which is turning over three rooms for the 60 pastel paintings from all over the US. I'm thrilled to be included in this year's show too!
I wandered through some of the permanent collection and then headed outside to enjoy the garden behind the museum. Spurred on and inspired by a group of plein air painters on my Facebook page (you know who you are)I decided to bring my sketchbook with me just in case...
Steve's meeting would end soon so I drew quickly. The private garden is tucked behind the three connected museum buildings offering visitors a place of rest and contemplation away from busy Main St. I sketched these original old windows and shutters because I liked the shapes and cast shadows.
I'll post one more announcement about the show just before it opens with a reception May 22 4-6 p.m at the museum.
For more info about PPoM and the show http://www.pastelpaintersofmaine.com/

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


This is one of my first pastel portraits and was done in 1997....13 years ago. Denzel was a Hanovarian- Thoroughbred cross owned by a woman whom I worked for and I did this in exchange for some riding lessons. I think I got the better deal in the arrangement. Denzel's owner Carol, is a superb horsewoman and a very good teacher. I made some breakthroughs while riding for her that I will always remember. Carol specializes in Dressage and still runs her training and breeding facility in a neighboring town. It was inspiring to watch her ride(awesome in fact) and I stopped many times while doing barn chores to catch her during schooling sessions. She had a retired thoroughbred named Gulliver who had competed at Grand Prix level(Olympic) in Germany. "Gully" as he was known, was aged and arthritic but he really loved his job and would perform upper level movements, at the ripe old age of 27, for Carol, that astonished everyone. Carol used Gully as a schooling horse and I can tell you he scared the pants off me a few times during my lessons...he was a master.
It's always interesting to go back and look over past work to see if there is progress in my painting. Just like riding, there are breakthroughs, plateaus and "Gullys".

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Red Sky at Night

Casco Bay and Portland Harbor in particular are beautiful in all seasons but summer to me is best for sunsets. Sometimes the cloud formations and brilliant orange tinged skies of sundown provide great opportunities for painting inspiration.

This pastel painting was done a number of years ago as a commision for a client who spent many summers on Peaks Island which sits just a short distance from Portland's shore. The client's mother owned a small cottage just up the hill from the ferry landing wharf. He recalled many great memories of spectacular evening scenes just like this and wanted to preserve it in a painting. The view here is from the island facing west to Portland Harbor.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fly Away

A few years ago a Robin built a nest on a second story windowsill of the gallery I manage. Incredibly the nest was positioned right up against the glass. My crew and I were astonished that a bird would pick such an exposed spot to rear her young. Four beautiful blue eggs were laid and were on view for everyone who came into the gallery. Fearing that the nest would be abandoned I covered the glass with cardboard and left it there for a month. To our great disappointment the window covering wasn't enough to prevent that from happening.. and the baby Robins that we so anticipated were not to be. Through the summer we watched helplessly as the eggs disappeared one by one, but the sturdy little nest stayed perched on the ledge right through a very snowy Maine winter and then into spring, when a Robin, maybe the same one?... returned and lined it neatly with a round piece of plastic. All the edges were tucked sweetly into the bottom of the nest in preparation for the next set of blue eggs, but there were only three this time around. History has a way of repeating itself....

This pastel painting is 17.5 x 19.5 and for sale. Please inquire.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Green Monster

This may seem strange but ever since we bought this funny little green toy for our dog Koda I've wanted to include it in painting. It was her favorite as a pup but we took it away because it started to fall apart. I saved it just for this..The weird shape and eyes really get me.

Koda has since moved on to more exciting oral fixation playthings such as Steve's leather mocassins, my shoes and art magazines. If we leave her home alone she'll gather them all up and pile them on her bed until we return. We also have a huge green tennis ball collection for her scattered throughout the house. Koda can bounce and catch a ball multiple times and will do it in front of us to signal "Playtime! Come on you two..liven up!"
Koda makes a great subject and she has very expressive eyes. Sometimes when she narrows them they look very exotic...almost sexy.
This is another pastel painting at 20 x 20 and was photoed with a flash so it appears pixallized and too red. Pastels are difficult to photo because some pigments reflect the light...like little mirrors.

All my work is for sale..except maybe this one.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Playing Hookey

What to do on an exceptionally beautiful day like today?....play of course. I should've been working in the studio...deadlines are looming and I have work tomorrow, but instead I played hookey.
My husband had some Real Estate business to attend to up the coast so I went with him. He didn't have to pull my leg believe me. We love Orr's Island and Cundy's Harbor and that's where he had to go. Both peninsula's aren't far from here but they seem decades away in the pace of life lived there. It's still very much off season for vacationers but the local fisherman have equipment ready at the docks to load onto their boats. Here are some shots I took this afternoon...Lowell's Cove was a surprise..we've never been through this little area. The cove was dead calm but the colors of the fishing euipment jumped in the bright sunlight. The lobster traps and buoys are painted brilliant colors and indentify the owners.
If this unseasonable weather pattern continues I won't complain..but summer people may show up alot earlier.
Check out the lovely cottage right on the water...what a spot!
Some shots will become paintings...but until then I'm enjoying some sun.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Vegan

The final idea for this composition came after ruminating on it for a few weeks. Sometimes paintings come quickly and I rush to the studio to get them down and other times...well.. they may take a while to congeal. I've been disatisfied with the 'usual' and wanted to try something different so the acrylics have been put away for now and the pastels are back in use. This medium is the most comfortable for me and my favorite of all.... there's no hesitation about mixing to get just the right hue or tone when painting because the rich color sticks are ready to pick up and apply to the surface.. Only a handful were used because the terra cotta toned ground pulls the painting together and shows through in many areas. I made the support ground with Colourfix textured primer that was brushed on. Some of the brush strokes show through too adding an interesting texture to the pig's hair and skin.
Influences came from paintings by Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton.....and strangely enough, the beautiful blackboard menus I've seen in local restaurants, cafes and a big chain supermarket that uses painted blackboards to advertise throughout their produce sections. I admire the religious icon paintings of the Renaisance as well.
The pig's eye portrays a different feeling than originally planned...it was going to be more of a sneer...but sometimes you just have to go with the flow.
When I showed this to two dear artist friends I got completely opposite reactions about the meaning ...

On a very personal note. One of my favorite Aunts passed away yesterday at the age of 80 surrounded by her loving family. When I was a kid she was the Aunt who always laughed and played with us. She was affectionate, funny and will be sorely missed. God bless and peace to you Aunt Joan.. I do hope we'll meet to play and laugh again.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Skyline Sleigh Rally

It's not often that one gets to see horse drawn sleighs up close and in use, but Skyline Farm and Carriage Museum presents that opportunity at least once every year. Today was the day of their annual Sleigh Rally and it was bright and sunny but oh so cold. The temperatures didn't dampen the spirits of the participants or onlookers though. It was a very good turnout of spectators and beautiful sleighs with drivers and passengers cloaked in fluffy fur hats, coats and blankets. All of the horses and ponies had thick wooly coats of their own. Puffs of warm breath from the working horses and the crowd watching the scene filled the freezing air. Luther Gray brought his team of Percherons and his big passenger sleigh so that others could enjoy riding through the snow covered fields behind the farm.

On my way home I stopped again to take shots of a nearby apple orchard. The gnarly tree branches and long blue shadows cast across the snow in late afternoon peaked my interest.

In the grip of a brutal winter like this its hard to believe these crotchety trees will come back to life and produce sweet juicy fruit in 6 months. This orchard will be green and the trees will be loaded with big red apples.

We do what we can up here to keep moving despite the weather conditions outside. Winter can be a season of beauty and enchantment and you can make the most of it..or not...I try but personally.... I can't wait for spring.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Weekend Art Show

I was invited to participate in an art show at the Northeast Horseman's Trade Conference at the Augusta Civic Center in Augusta, Maine, which is happening this weekend.
Five Maine artists are in the show and they include, award winning artists Beth Carlson from Bath, Pat Wooldridge of Saco, Penny Plumb of Deer Isle, Kathi Peters of Morrill, and me. We're all thrilled to be showing at this venue that features products and services for horse owners and lovers.
The show is open to everyone..not just horsemen and women, so if you're in the Augusta area stop in and check it out. The Civic Center is just off the Maine Turnpike and an easy drive for most southern and central regions.
Attached are some shots of the exhibit.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Winter Wonders

This region is beautiful in all seasons...even on a cold January day we find the fields, woods and rivers breathtaking and sometimes surprising in the most subtle ways.
The Chandler River meanders through our town and empties into the Royal River which eventually dumps into Casco Bay in Yarmouth about ten miles away. Part of the Chandler follows the road just a mile from our house and is the site of an old dam. A grist mill operated there more than a century and a half ago. None of the antique building remains but it must have been a busy place when farmers from the surrounding area brought crops to be processed.
In spring the dam is raging with melted ice waters that rush down from Runaround Pond just a few miles to the north.
In summer the dam is frequented by local fisherman, young and old alike, who are hoping to hook a brook trout, perch or other small freshwater fish. My youngest son dropped his wormed lines there many times as a kid and proudly brought his trophies home to show us. Most of the little critters were too small to eat so they were carefully released into our farm pond.
Today during our walk with Koda we stopped to watch the water tumbling over the dam as we have a thousand times before. The dams action had produced perfectly round icebergs with slightly turned up edges that looked just like pond lilies...only made of ice. The swirling water must've given them their shape. If I had painted them accurately..it might not be believed.
Tomorrow the bitter temps are due rise above freezing and so the icy rondelles will melt away, but I have photos and proof of the winter lilies floating in the sun..