Summer is here! I’ve finally had time to go out and do some plein air painting. It feels good to wake up early, slather up in sunscreen, and paint until my whole body is tired. I did quite a bit of that last week and I would’ve started even earlier if I wasn’t in Peru. The day school was out, I was on a plane down to South America. It was an incredible 10 days. Here are a few pictures to summarize our trip:
We stayed in Cusco for a few days, went on a 5-day hike to Machu Picchu, and then returned to the city before flying back to the US. It was unlike any other trip I’ve ever taken. I’ll talk more about the trip in a later post about some small watercolor sketches I did while I was there. I’ve almost filled up another sketchbook, so I’m going to do a video tour of that once I’m finished.
After getting back from Peru, it was a few days before the chores were done, the house was clean, and I had time to paint. On the Thursday before the annual NHAA Wet Paint Out competition, I went to Odiorne Point and parked my easel on the rocky shore. Across Little Harbor I could see the Wentworth by the Sea Hotel, but I decided to paint the coastline.
You can see Jaffrey Point on the left and then behind it is Kittery, Maine. I spent about 3 hours working and I definitely moved much slower than I wanted to. But it was a warm up painting. I knew the Wet Paint Out was one week away and I needed to get ready. So the next day I drove two towns over into Exeter.
I walked all over town before settling on a view of the Squamscott River. I was really sold on the view because it was initially low-tide and I could paint the muddy banks contrasting with the water and grass. However, the tide quickly came in. I don’t have a lot of experience painting water, so I’m working on that this summer. Not too happy with this painting, but it was a learning experience.
Over the weekend, Sarah and I went up to her parents’ place in Kennebunk. I walked down to the port to do a painting of the boats on Sunday morning, but had limited time. I took some pictures and hope to finish it up this week since it’s going to be rainy and I’ll probably be stuck indoors.
Tuesday I went into Portsmouth to scout out some potential painting areas. I’ve painted around town so many times that I’m trying to keep it fresh and new. Thankfully I found a perfect spot and did a small watercolor sketch to prep. The sketch will be in my forthcoming sketchbook tour video.
On Friday I woke up early and drove into Portsmouth. It was the first day of the competition. I boogied on over to the spot I’d found and got going by 7am.
Along the Piscataqua river is the Granite State Minerals company. It is impossible to miss their big tarped piles of salt as you drive into Portsmouth. They also have a couple cranes along the water and one of them stayed stock still for me the entire weekend as I painted it.
The end result netted me third place in the competition! I was unable to attend the ceremony on Sunday (had to go to Boston to see Aladdin), but I was told the juror, Brett Gamache, liked my work. I spent two mornings on the painting. If you look in the background you can see I also caught the silhouettes of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard cranes.
After one morning spent on “The Crane,” I took an afternoon to sketch out a quicker painting.
I don’t usually paint people when doing a plein air painting because it’s difficult. People move. Anatomy is hard. And most importantly: If you’re painting people, then you’re in an area with people, and people are going to watch you paint and judge how well you’re painting people. But I gave it a try that day because I was beginning to feel a little stale. I moved quick and tried not to spend too much time on it. Still, I worked at it for probably 3 hours.
Then on Saturday, after I finished up “The Crane,” I was inspired to do another industrial painting. Pleasant Street is under construction for the summer, but it was the weekend, and so the excavators and backhoes were parked and ready to be painted.
Here you can see I started very rough. I didn’t even try to get the right shape of the backhoe. I just put in the yellow and black in the general area. I came back later and sharpened it up.
I spent four hours on this guy, but I definitely could’ve spent more. There are some perspective issues I noticed towards the end but left in. Plein air painting isn’t perfect and I was tired and ready to call it quits. As a side note, all the paintings in this post were done on 9×12″ panels. They were primed with gesso, but I didn’t tone them.
That’s all I have for now. More blog posts to come! I’ll be doing lots of painting this summer.