Paint Schoodic

We had another successful painting workshop at the Schoodic Institute in beautiful Acadia National Park. Join us in 2018!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Utopia, derailed

Queensboro Bridge construction, 10X8, by Carol L. Douglas. Cities were once the highest expression of civilization. What happened?
I had intended to write about the beauty of boreal bogs this morning. But then I came across this, from the Economist:

The bigger problem for Baltimore is that lawlessness is not limited to nights like tonight. As one young woman standing taking photos said to me, West Baltimore is “always like this. Well not like this, but you know, shootings”. This is a city where a young black man is killed almost every day—not by police officers, but by other young black men. The failure of the police in this city is that they cannot enforce the law even at the best of times. At their worst, as the death of Mr Gray seems to suggest, Baltimore’s police are simply another source of the lawlessness.

Whenever I am totally disheartened, I wander over to Mt. Hope Cemetery to commune with my heroes.
On Monday I wrote about returning from Maine to Rochester’s daily violence. As Baltimore descended into chaos, I was following a local story:  the (Rochester) Regional Transit Service’s decision to end a 37-year relationship with the Rochester City School District (RCSD). That means the district needs to figure out how to move 9,500 students around, and 144 jobs will be cut. The problem is a simple one: a small percentage of the kids in the district are abusing their bus privileges with fighting, and the usual correctives haven’t worked.

Beneath the Queensboro Bridge, 14X18, by Carol L. Douglas
"As being an older adult, it can be intimidating at times because you never know when you're going to be caught up in a situation," Elmyra Crawford-Brown told Time-Warner News.

I have concluded that the Rochester story is really the same as the Baltimore story: a city skittering on the edge of chaos resorts to extreme measures to protect the law-abiding majority of its citizens.

Toya Graham, the mother who yanked her 16-year-old son out of the fray in Baltimore, said, “A lot of his friends have been killed. I just want to keep him in the house, but that's not really going to work.” At the end of the day, the National Guard will leave Baltimore, the RCSD will find some other way to move its students, and the killing fields will get back to business as usual.

What would Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass make of the mess we have today?
Tune in tomorrow for the boreal bogs.


Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click 
here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hidden gems

A vintage photo of the Tidal Falls from August 1954, by Ellis Holt.
Yesterday I was packing art books when I came across a forgotten little volume, The Plein Air Artist Guide to Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island, by Gail Ribas. Leafing through it, I realized that students driving to my workshop at Schoodic Point will drive right past the Tidal Falls at Hancock.

The Tidal Falls is about halfway between Ellsworth and the turnoff to Winter Harbor.
Reversing falls are caused when tides force water up against a prevailing current. They dot the coast: in Blue Hill and Lincoln, ME, at Cobscook Bay down east, and on the St. John River in New Brunswick. And there’s one right along our motor route to Schoodic.

Corea Heath is also managed by the Frenchman Bay Conservancy (photo by Bob DeForrest)
The farther north you wander in Maine, the bigger the tidal range gets. In fact, the highest tidal range in the world is not far away, at Burntcoat Head in Nova Scotia. Its mean spring range is 47.5 feet and its extreme range is 53.5 feet. The bigger the tide, the more noticeable the reversing falls phenomenon is. (I suppose that's why nobody notices them in the Great Lakes.)

It's amazing what you find when you start packing.
The Frenchman Bay Conservancy owns 4.2 acres overlooking the Tidal Falls at Hancock. There are a pavilion, picnic tables and grills—in short, the perfect set-up for a break from driving.

Beautiful Corea, ME.
I love a good boreal bog, so I'm excited about another property owned by the Conservancy: Corea Heath. This is on my workshop itinerary for the week, so you don’t need to hunt it out on your own. It’s a 600-acre habitat for inland and coastal waterfowl and wading birds, migrating land birds, and rare plants.

Rising from the edge of the wetland complex is a mixed forest of hardwoods, spruce, fir and pine, including a beautiful stand of the fire-dependent jack pine.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Beautiful Winter Harbor

Part of Winter Harbor Yacht Club's fleet.(Credit unknown.)
Yesterday I saw this photo essay of Winter Harbor, ME in Yankee Magazine. I hope you click through and enjoy the pictures.

This is the closest town to Schoodic Institute in Acadia National Park, where my workshop will be held August 9-14, 2015. (There are just a few openings in the workshop, so if you’re interested, I hope you let me know soon.)

Winter Harbor itself is a quaint little fishing community of 500 people with a general store, a gas station, and a great little Main Street.  It includes a summer colony called Grindstone Neck. This colony was formed in 1889, modeled along the lines of Bar Harbor. As usual, I stumbled across it in my perambulations while looking for a painting site.

This group has its own yacht club, which in turn has its own yacht. The Winter Harbor 21 (or Winter Harbor Knockabout) is a 31′ racing sloop designed and built by Burgess & Packard, of Marblehead, Massachusetts, specifically for the club.

Cloverly, the first boat to be rescued and restored. (Credit unknown.)
In 1906, club members Fredrick O. Spedden and George Dallas Dixon Jr. commissioned  Burgess & Packard to build seven boats to a specific design. These were launched in 1907. Two more were added in the 1920s.

By mid-century the small fleet had been dispersed until only two remained active. In 1976, the club’s then-commodore, Alan Goldstein, decided that he wanted to find and buy one back. After two years, he found Cloverly rotting in a barn. His enthusiasm was catching and by the mid-80s, all nine boats were restored and  back in Winter Harbor.

Near Winter Harbor, ME. I promise you that Yankee Magazine's photos, here, are much better than mine.
The Winter Harbor 21s are the oldest intact one-design racing sailboat fleet in the United States.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Back home in New York

Grain Elevators, oil on canvas, 16X20, Carol L. Douglas
I got home on Tuesday to read yet another news story about the dystopia that is America’s archetypal mid-sized city. The feral children who are the result of 50 years of public policy were rioting in the new transportation center, and this week’s police department reorganization coincided with a wave of shootings. Six shot in a pub in Gates, one dead. A man shot and killed on Hudson Avenue.

North Rochester, oil on canvas, Carol L. Douglas. This was the view from my studio window back in the day.
In short, business as usual, but it was like a dousing with cold water after a few days away from the news.

I’m a New Yorker, bred to the bone. But I’m also exhausted by the intractability of our problems, and I can’t think what good I do to fix them.
First Ward, Buffalo, field sketch, 4X5, Carol L. Douglas
I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve known who’ve had murder touch their lives. It’s an everyday occurrence around here and in most cities. The news media generally pays little attention unless it breaks the usual pattern of urban youths blowing each other to perdition. Not noticing it is in some ways the worst racism and classism of all.

First Ward, Buffalo, oil on canvas, 16X20, Carol L. Douglas
When we talk about the reasons for the 50-year exodus from upstate New York, we usually concentrate on economics: loss of jobs, high taxes, a government culture that stifles innovation. Seldom do we think about despair as a motivator, but it has to be part of the equation. If I can’t make it better, am I somehow helping to make it worse?

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Quantifying color


From A. Boogert’s treatise on watercolor pigments, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, 1692.
Every artist I know loves color swatches—especially those done by other artists. Old ones are particularly interesting, since there wasn’t much unified color theory until the Impressionists came along. 

From A. Boogert’s treatise on watercolor pigments, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, 1692.
A few years ago I wrote about Saussure’s Cyanometer, which attempted to measure how blue the sky was. Today I’d like to introduce you to A. Boogert’s treatise on watercolor pigments,  Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau. This was published in 1692, putting it square in the Dutch Golden Age of Painting. It was intended as an educational tool for artists, but, alas, there was no color printing technology at the time, so its reach was limited.

Boogert describes how to make watercolor paints, mix colors, and dilute the pigment. To illustrate his methodology, he filled 700 pages with exacting shades of color.  Then he indexed all the colors he described.

From A. Boogert’s treatise on watercolor pigments, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, 1692.
The book was shelved and forgotten at the Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, France until art historian Erik Kwakkel published selections from it last year.

Click here to see scans of Boogert’s paint samples.

From A. Boogert’s treatise on watercolor pigments, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, 1692.
Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The color of light

Boys on the Beach, Joaquín Sorolla, 1908. There is warm light with cool shadows, but there’s also a strong warm reflection from the sand on which the figures are resting. 
What we call “light” is really the narrow band of electromagnetic waves that our retinas can perceive. This narrow band is comprised of the colors of the rainbow, or what we sometimes call ROY G BIV. (There really isn't an indigo; it's there so that Roy has a pronounceable surname.) Each of Roy's color names corresponds to a specific wavelength. For example, blue is about 475 nm; red is about 650 nm.

Return from Fishing, Joaquín Sorolla, 1894. The light is warm, the shadows are cool, and the places where the light is going through the sails are warmer still, since they’re filtered by the off-white fabric.
When the whole visible light spectrum strikes your eye at the same time, you perceive white. This is not a color in itself, but the admixture of a bunch of colors. In the real world, this is never a pure mix. The atmosphere bends light just like a prism does, so what you see is always tinted. The light might be gold and peach at sunset and blue at midday. Impurities in the atmosphere also give us the energetic indigo-violet of the far distant hills—the farther away something is, the more likely dust has filtered out the higher wavelengths (the warm colors).

Valencian Fishwives, Joaquín Sorolla, 1903. Here the light is cool and the shadows are warmer.
Just as all the colors together form white light, the absence of light is total blackness. But unless you’re in a cave or darkroom, that’s a theoretical construct. There’s always reflected light bouncing around in the shadows, and that light gives the shadows its color. It’s never black and it’s unlikely to be grey, either.
Looking for Shellfish, Joaquín Sorolla, 1905. A warm light comes from our side of the figure, but there are warm shadows—the result of local color reflection from the rock. Likewise the bottom half of the torso reflects strong cool tones from the water and anchors the boy into the sea.
If the color of the light is essentially warm, the color of the shadows is likely to be cool, and vice-versa. Knowing this and identifying the color of the light and shadow is the first step to a good landscape painting.

Catalonia: the Tuna Catch, from Visions of Spain, Joaquín Sorolla, 1919. In this case, most of the painting is in shadow, and what light there is, is filtered through the yellow awning. It is the distortion of the light-dark color scheme that tells us viewers that we are in an enclosed space.
Study the Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla to understand the color of light. He was a master at painting white fabric in a variety of circumstances, and comparing the light passages to the shadow passages will tell you much about managing the color of light in your painting.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New beginnings

The next home of my studio is a classic Maine farmhouse.
Yesterday I wrote about Maine’s prettiest villages. I’ve worked in many of them, but the bulk of my perambulations have been centered in Camden (#1), Rockport, (#6), Damariscotta (#3) and the villages and hamlets between them. This stretch of coast has open ocean breaking on rocky outcroppings, graceful harbors, and bucolic pastoral moments, all within a few miles of the amenities on US 1.

I love painting in Camden because I love the passing parade. (Photo courtesy of Howard Gallagher of Camden Falls Gallery.)
The problem has been in finding a central location from which to work and teach. Yesterday I solved that problem by buying a building in Rockport.

Sails drying in the sun, by Carol L. Douglas.

This being Maine, we are only the third owner of this 115-year-old Maine farmhouse. We bought it for its large, light painting studio. But we also like its cozy, classic informality. It reminds me of the tourist cabins of the Maine of my youth. The prior owners have taken meticulous care of it, and I am grateful for the chance to be its next guardian.

This sunroom is going to be my Maine teaching studio.

Camden harbor is my favorite place to paint. I enjoy the passing parade as much as I like the boats.  Last summer I tried every day to make it to the public dock in time for sunrise. I was staying in a snug little cabin in Waldoboro and I have to admit, I seldom succeeded. My new studio is about a mile down the road. I bet I’ll even have time for a second cup of coffee.

Main Street, Camden, by Carol L. Douglas.
Starting on June 1, I’ll be hanging out my shingle at 394 Commercial Street, Rockport (well, as soon as I design a shingle, that is). However, my 2015 workshop will be at Acadia’s Schoodic Institute, which is a whole different kind of beautiful—wild landscapes, bigger seas, and definitely ‘the one less traveled by.’ There are just three openings left, so if you’re interested, you should probably register sooner than later.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Prettiest places in Maine

Wadsworth Cove (Castine), by Carol L. Douglas
Down East recently did a poll asking its visitors to identify the prettiest villages in Maine. It’s nice to see that many of my favorite haunts have made the list:

1. Camden
2. Boothbay Harbor
3. Damariscotta
4. Wiscasset
5. Kennebunkport
6. Rockport
7. Stonington
8. Castine
9. Blue Hill
10. Northeast Harbor

I might add a few other places to this list, including Round Pond, Lubec, Corea, Bayside, and Searsport.

Damariscottaby Carol L. Douglas
I’m sitting here in off-the-grid Waldoboro, ME this morning, thinking of how many of these places I’ve painted in, and enjoying the idea that I’m going to be able to spend this summer painting in all of them again. More on that tomorrow.

A FitzHugh Lane Day at Camdenby Carol L. Douglas
Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Paint and sip

On the left is Chrissy Spoor Pahucki's rogue painting from a paint-and-sip event. "Elena's painting on the right looks like the demo and is what I was supposed to be doing," she said.
About once a week, someone tells me that I should get a gig doing one of those ‘paint and sip’ party events, since it’s clear they rake in the dough like mad. I’m all for painting with wine at hand, but that’s as far as my interest goes.

Chrissy Spoor Pahucki teaches art at C. J. Hooker Middle School in Goshen, NY. She’s tremendously creative, one of those teachers you wish every kid could have. She’s also a talented plein air painter, and we run across each other at events in the summer.

On Friday, I caught her musing, “I'm anxious about what kind of paintbrushes they will have at this paint-and-sip event and I'm resisting the temptation to bring my own like a geek.” To me, being invited to one would be almost as difficult as having to teach one, so I was dying to see what she’d do with it.

“I've never forced myself to work with a limited palette before, but here are the colors I had to work with. Also, we were only given 2 paintbrushes, one #4 flat and one #8 flat.” 
Being a great sport, she let me share the results with you. “It was pretty fun. However, I only followed the directions for the first 10 minutes or so before I had to go rogue and started mixing my own browns and greens. I figured no one could really see what I was doing anyway, but I forgot these things end with a group picture for some reason,” she said. As she suspected, the hardest part was not having her own brushes.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click 
here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Ripple Effect

Semicolon, by Barbra Whitten
If you’re in Portland, ME a week from today, go to see Ripple Effect: Monoprints by Karen Adrienne, Kris Sader & Barbra Whitten. I know Barb Whitten through Camden Falls Gallery, where she is an indefatigable gallery assistant. Turns out she’s a wonderful printmaker, too.

“For as long as I can remember, I have loved words,” Whitten said. “What gives these mysterious collections of marks, arranged in specific and particular ways, the ability to represent sounds and transmit ideas through time and space from one person to another?”

Parenthesis, by Barbra Whitten
Barb and her co-exhibitors are members of Circling the Square Fine Art Press . This is an open-access cooperative in Gardiner, ME, population 5,800. You can take printing classes in Rochester, NY (including linoleum block printing from my very own painting student, the multi-talented Victoria Brzustowicz). However, I know of no cooperative presses here in our county of 750,000 people.

Later this year, Circling the Square will collaborate with Estampería Quiteña in Ecuador in a printmaking exchange entitled A Sense of Place.  These two fine-art presses will create limited edition prints that will be exhibited simultaneously in both Ecuador and Maine, with a companion catalog documenting the project and the work.

FYI, by Barbra Whitten
All of which speaks to the remarkable art culture in the state of Maine. Small state, big art scene.

Ripple Effect  will be at PhoPa Gallery at 132 Washington Avenue, Portland, ME, from April 22 to May 30. The opening reception wil be Friday, April 24, 5-7. An artist talk is scheduled for Sunday, May 17, at 3 PM.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Two women painters you've never heard of

Drama of Fall, Constance Cochrane, c. 1940, depicts Monhegan Island.
Sandy Quang ran across two women painters this week. It’s sad how little documentation there is of their lives and work.

Helen Louise Moseley was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1883. She studied at the Art Institute of Chicago with Robert Henri, Hugh Breckenridge and John Christen Johansen. She regularly exhibited in the Midwest and Gloucester, MA. She died in 1928 in Boston.

Sailboats by Helen Louise Moseley.
Constance Cochrane’s life is better notated. She was born in 1882 at the US Navy Yard at Pensacola, Florida, where her father and grandfather were stationed. Motivated by her navy family, her work concentrated on the sea and shore.

Cochrane studied at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women and with Elliott Daingerfield at his summer studio in Blowing Rock, North Carolina.

Rocky Ocean Scene, Constance Cochrane, undated.
Cochrane was a founding member of the Philadelphia Ten, a group of Philly-based women artists. In 1921 to 1930, she purchased a summer home at Monhegan, where she painted extensively. She died in 1962.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sit and stare

It's a parent-led insurrection, and it's about losing local control.
Today marks the beginning of New York State Assessment for ELA and math grades 3-8. It’s my understanding that some districts will require non-compliant students to sit for the duration of the exam and do nothing.

“Basically none of our children will be allowed to read,” parent Amanda Talma told WHEC news. “They will have to sit on every testing day, six days for 90 minutes, while their peers are taking those exams.”

The notebook doodles here are by my son, Dwight Perot. Some years, he paid dearly for doodling, but he's never stopped.
Not showing up won’t work; students marked absent will be forced to do a re-take. There’s incredible pressure for kids and teachers to conform. Principals in the Rochester City School District, for example, received this memo asking them to identify any teachers who encouraged their students to opt out of the tests.

Bored with your econ homework? Draw.
Ninety minutes of silent staring is beyond discipline; it’s abuse. So if you have a kid in the affected grades and want him to survive the experience, I suggest you send him to school with several sharpened pencils and encourage him to draw. He can draw in his notebook if they aren’t confiscated; if they are, he can draw on the test papers. If his teachers take all the paper away, he can draw on the desk. If they take the pencils, he can draw on the walls with his saliva. Yes, he will be suspended, but do you really want him submitting to that kind of discipline?
Occasionally a student will get a teacher who's amused by his doodles, but in my experience, complaints are more common.
Drawing is liberating. Drawing is liberation. I would never have lived long enough to graduate had my high school not been tolerant of my doodles and drawings.
In-school doodle by Dwight Perot.
“Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere,” wrote GK Chesterton. A friend sent that quote to me this week. How timely.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Be reasonable

Sugaring Off, Anna Mary Robertson (Grandma) Moses, 1944. In some of her winter scenes, she achieves a Bruegelesque quality, perhaps in part because of the flat lighting.
I was outlining my next six months’ schedule to my friend Berna, and she asked, “And you are painting when?” It’s a thought that’s occurred to me more than once this year.

I took a workshop on the business of art. The instructor told us we should be spending half our time marketing. I think it’s more accurate to say that I spend a third of my time marketing, a third painting, and a third on overhead. After all, I’m not wealthy enough to pay someone else to do my bookkeeping, and management takes time. 

Anna Mary Robertson (Grandma) Moses with two of her children. After working as a farmhand and maid, she married at age 27 and gave birth to ten children, five of whom survived past infancy. Oddly enough, she didn't have time to paint at this stage in her life.
Even if I could magically stretch out the work week to be 120 hours long, I wouldn’t have the energy for it. Fifty may be the new forty, but my joints haven’t gotten the message.

A sixty-something recently asked me how to start an art career. She’s been a wife, a mother, and a musician, and she recently earned her BFA. I’m the last person to rain on someone else’s dreams, but she’s going to be competing against youngsters with limitless energy. To succeed, she’s going to need to husband her resources.

Hoosick Falls, New York, in Winter, Anna Mary Robertson (Grandma) Moses, 1944. She was 84 when she painted this.
Yesterday I had three jobs blocked out: to wrap five bundles of stretcher bars, to deal with a small pile of paperwork for my trip to Maine next week, and to paint. The stretcher bars stretched out into early afternoon, and the ‘small’ pile of paperwork morphed into a bigger mess. I looked at the clock and it was 5 PM and I’d never lifted a brush.

Anna Mary Robertson (Grandma) Moses.
Oh, well. I suppose it’s better to be overly ambitious than to be too easily pleased.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click 
here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.