Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"The Seaward Inn Garden", 14x11, oil on canvas, plein air

SOLD "The Seaward Inn Garden", 14x11, oil on canvas, plein air

A vacation in New England would not be complete for us without a trip to Cape Ann. Once again we chose to stay at the lovely Seaward Inn in scenic Rockport. We had a beautiful large room on the second floor of the main house that looked directly out over the Atlantic and Gully Point. The room was called Lover's Cove and we decided to take a photo of the little room placard on the door.

We were there for two nights and enjoyed beautiful sunrises in the morning. I awoke at 5 each morning in order to catch the beauty of the light over the ocean and at the harbor at the break of day.

I've painted quite a few scenes of Rockport and especially Motif #1. But this was my first chance to paint en plein air and I wasn't going to waste it! So I brought my paints into the garden right after breakfast one morning while there were still shadows on the western sides of the homes sitting right at the edge of the water. My hubby walked around taking photos while I was painting, and I sure wish he had taken the view that I was looking at over the water, instead of the opposite direction so I'd have had a reference of the scene that I painted that day!

I managed to finish the painting in about two hours, but when I tried to get it home on the airplane, the impasto I had put on with my palette knife smeared the canvas inside the box that I was transporting it in. So I had to re-work it from memory a bit after I got home in order to fix the smears.

The Seaward Inn has hosted many famous guests throughout its history, including the actors and actresses who starred in "A Perfect Storm" which was filmed in nearby Gloucester. The Inn has a soothing old world charm throughout, and the location on Marmion Way is just gorgeous, and a short walk to the beautiful Old Garden Path along the sea wall.

Breakfasts at the Seaward Inn are a special treat, the view of the ocean is beautiful and the food is quite yummy, and included in the price of accommodations!

While we were there, we visited the Rockport Art Association, and I was fortunate to see an exhibit of the oil paintings of Boston School painter, Marguerite Pearson, who lived right on Marmion Way and has a fascinating history. Please pick up an August copy of American Art Review, if you wish to read about this brave woman who battled polio as a teen, but determined to paint plein air with the best of them! She allowed her father to carry her outdoors well into adulthood, in order to paint the beautiful scenes of Marmion Way and Rockport.

The Cameron Family has owned the Seaward Inn throughout its history, and Pearson has painted various portraits of Cameron family members, including a painting of Alison Cameron Callahan as a child. The painting titled "The School Girl" was one my favorites in the exhibit. There is also a lovely painting of a bride coming down the steps of the Inn on her wedding day, and it now graces the living room wall of the Inn.

If you cannot get an August copy of American Art Review, but wish to read more about Pearson and her perseverance and accomplishments in spite of her disability, I found a wonderful article here in the Gloucester Times. After finding out that she lived right across the way from where I was staying and painting, it is no wonder that I felt so inspired that day in the garden!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Final! "Noonday sun, Fish Beach Road-Monhegan Island", 20x16, oil on canvas by Maryanne Jacobsen

"Noonday sun, Fish Beach Road-Monhegan Island", 20x16, oil on canvas by Maryanne Jacobsen

It's funny. Whenever I work hard on a painting, it gets more and more difficult as I get into the final stages. I think that is because I know when a painting is coming together in a positive direction, and there's always the fear that I'll screw it up in the end!

That's exactly what happened with the painting that I did of Fish Beach Road. The very last thing that I did was the building in the foreground on the right, and as soon as I looked at the finished painting, I knew that building was detracting from what would have otherwise been a very good painting.

Nonetheless, I was afraid to touch it. So I stewed on it for two days before I finally woke up this morning and decided I had to try to fix it. In this case, I was fortunate. I knew exactly what was wrong with the painting. Here's the painting before I corrected it:

I had worked pretty hard to stay true to the photograph, but I knew that the long vertical line created by the doorway in the foreground building was an eyesore. Your eye kept being drawn to it, yet it added nothing positive to the overall painting.

I also knew that the temperature of the building in the foreground needed to be warmer, in order to bring the building forward and create more illusion of depth. So I mixed up my batches of paint and experimented a bit with grays. I finally came up with what you see above. I think I probably could also have gone more into a brown direction, but in the end, I decided to stick with weathered blues in a warmer note than what I had had before.

I feel relieved. It sucks when you work long and hard on a painting and know you haven't done the best you can. Now, I feel that I have done the best I could do, and that's a good feeling.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Noonday Sun, Fish Beach Road-Monhegan Island", 20x16, oil on canvas by Maryanne Jacobsen

"Noonday sun, Fish Beach Road-Monhegan Island", 20x16, oil on canvas by Maryanne Jacobsen

Last week I enjoyed painting the quick study that I did of Fish Beach on Monhegan Island. So I decided to do another one, bigger and a lot more refined than the last. This is the result. I must say that I struggled with this painting because there was just so much going on in the scene.

If you are unfamiliar with Monhegan Island, it's a dramatic little working island about 10 miles off the coast of Maine. Some of that wonderful lobster that we so enjoy eating all year long, may well have been an end result of the stalwart efforts of the lobsterman who live on Monhegan Island, who brave the coldest temps and elements imaginable in order to lower their nets into the ice, snow and otherwise frost-bitten waters of the northern Atlantic and bring to the surface those cold water lobstahs that we all so love to eat!

So I debated about just how much detail to put into this painting. In the end, I knew that I had to include the convoluted buoys, the haphazzard yarn, the weeds, the traps, the weather-smitten cedar shingles, and the view of tiny Manana just a stones throw away, in order to convey the character of the island. Here's the photo I took that I used for my reference:

I was fortunate to visit Monhegan in the heat of summer. I tried to portray just how hot it was on the August day that I snapped this photo. Monhegan is an island of drama- hills and vales and cliffs and fog. Some people visit there and hate it. Others get a taste of it and can't wait to return!

Even though I am a former dancer, in pretty good shape, I had trouble navigating the hills and dales on this hot summer day. I also had trouble trying to portray the character of this island in all its truth and simplicity.

I hope that you enjoy my efforts. I'll probably work on this a tiny bit more and take a picture of it in daylight so there's no glare. But for the most part it's done. It is available for purchase for $1400. Just send me an email at maryanne, if you are interested in purchasing this painting.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Blowin' in the Wind", 14x30, oil on wrapped canvas by Maryanne Jacobsen

"Blowin' in the Wind", 14x30, oil on wrapped canvas by Maryanne Jacobsen

This is one of the paintings that were commissioned for the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Florida. It will be hung in September. I can't wait to see them hung! The painting is of Siesta Key beach in southwest Florida, a gorgeous white sand beach rated the number# 1 beach this year in the entire country!

If you come to southwest Florida, I do hope you'll visit Siesta Key beach. The sand never gets hot beneath your feet. How lucky I am to live so close to such a great beach!

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"The Benefits of Recycling", 16x12, oil on board by Maryanne Jacobsen

"The Benefits of Recycling", 16x12, oil on board by Maryanne Jacobsen

It took me four days to paint "The Summer Kitchen" painting that I posted yesterday. At the end of the painting session I had a lot of mud left over from the three different palettes that I had been working from. They had already been sent into the freezer for the past three nights and in truth I was tired of saving them . Besides, they were a pretty dismal heap at that point with the exception of a big hunk of clean permanent rose. With the cost of good oil paint so ridiculous anymore, it always seems a tremendous waste to me to throw any of it away. So even though it was late, I decided to do one of my "Left-over paint" paintings. If you are a regular visitor to this blog, you've seen them before. They are pretty spontaneous and are always a lot of fun for me to do. I just swirl the paint around until a picture starts to emerge. Since I had been painting flowers and citrus for the past couple days, I guess it's no surprise that this is what emerged.

This painting is available for purchase. Just send me an email at

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

"Summer Kitchen, evening", 12x16, oil on linen by Maryanne Jacobsen

"Summer Kitchen, evening", 12x16, oil on linen by Maryanne Jacobsen

Sometimes I force myself to do paintings like this one. I know I won't enjoy it , but it's like doing your homework or eating liver- you know it's good for you.

This was especially hard, because I had to paint sitting down. For me, painting sitting down is like dancing with one foot in a cast. It's restrictive, it's crippling, it's horrible.

However, because of the set-up that I composed, I had no choice. I used my antique cupboard as the basis for the set-up and because of limited space and lighting restrictions, I had to compose the set-up in a way that was feasible to paint. So I had to paint sitting down.

Here's the set-up:

I may work on this a bit more tomorrow. I don't know. I'm kind of sick of it because I've been working on it for a few days. At any rate, I learned a lot from doing this painting. I feel more at ease with folds in tablecloths, now. I decided not to put in all the florals in the cloth pattern , because I thought it would be too busy.

This is a northeastern kind of painting. It would have looked very nice in my Pennsylvania farmhouse in Chester Springs. It's not going to fit in with my Florida home. I had to give away all my milk jugs when I moved to Florida. What a pity. I picked this one up pretty cheap while I was in Maine. Lucky me.

So this painting will need to find another home where it will fit in nicely. Let me know what you think of it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"My Favorite Things", 5x7, oil on board, by Maryanne Jacobsen

"My Favorite Things", 5x7, oil on board

Julie Andrews once sang about her favorite things. Since my ability to sing is rather limited, I painted them instead! Sunflowers, warm sunshine, a good book, the feeling of grass between my toes- what more could I want?

This is the third painting that I did of myself in my back yard from photos that my hubby took of me one day when I wasn't looking:0) I hope that's not egotistical! I just wanted to get more hat lady practice in, since people seem to enjoy my ''hat lady" paintings.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Rainy Day Florida Garden-plein air", 12x16, oil on masonite

"Rainy Day Florida Garden-plein air", 12x16, oil on masonite

Since I came back from my New England vacation , I have been lamenting about how uncomfortable it is to paint outside here in Florida with all the excessive heat and humidity that one must deal with. I was finally regaining some confidence in my abilities to paint out in the open ( en plein air) while I was away on my trip. In fact, I managed to do 4 plein air paintings while I was away and it seemed almost effortless with the beautiful light and cooler conditions!

So when I got back here to the typical subtropical conditions, I found myself falling into a bit of a pity pot. It's been raining a whole lot here lately, but that's to be expected in a subtropical climate. Finally the other day, I just decided to drag all my stuff out onto a protected area of the lanai and made up my mind to paint the garden area around the pool. It was actually not that bad painting in the rainy weather, because there wasn't a whole lot of change in light in the two and a half hours that I was out there, which was nice.

The result was kind of soft and hazy, just like the day. I painted all but my signature outside! Hurray!

The rain was intermittent throughout the afternoon, but here's a good idea of what I was looking at while I painted:

I left out the pool fountain because I thought it was distracting.

Thanks for visiting my blog. You can see more of my paintings at my official website here.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Typical Morning Squawk Box", 14x11, oil on linen by Maryanne Jacobsen

"Typical Morning Squawk Box", 14x11, oil on linen

While we were in Rockport, Massachusetts, I found myself waking up at the crack of dawn, excited to get outside and see the light coming up over the ocean. We woke up between 4 and 5 each morning, drove to the Dunkin' Donuts in the heart of town, and then with our morning coffee in hand, we proceeded to take pictures of the beautiful sunrises and light coming up over the Atlantic in Cape Ann.

One morning we sat right at the old port at Bearskin Neck and watched the fish and lobsterman take crates of fish off their boats in the early morning hours when the light is most magical.

The seagulls were squawking up a storm-definitely ready for the action, as they waited for their chance to steal a bit of stray fish from the looty taken of the fishing boats.

I caught this picture of a gull after he'd stolen some fish. Man, he was fast! He grabbed that fish faster than my cats would grab a Florida lizard!

Anyway, here is a picture that I took of two gulls scooting down to hopefully grab some breakfast. I was unsure whether or not I should attempt to paint this scene, since it was so complicated. In the end, I went for it- just like the gull went for the fish scraps!

Here is another photo of a gull after my coffee. Oh please! Really? It's only coffee and flavored with vanilla, not lobster!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

"Monhegan Morning", 14x11, oil on canvas, boats, fish, Monhegan island, Maine, lobster, art

"Monhegan Morning", 14x11, oil on canvas

Monhegan Island was one of the highlights of my recent trip to Maine and Cape Ann. This was the sign that greeted us when we stepped off the boat onto the island:

It is pretty hard to describe Monhegan unless you've been there to see it for yourself. Think working island, fish, lobster, fish shacks, public plumbing very limited, gorgeous cliffs, ocean, sunsets, fog, lighthouse, mist, boats, and pastel-colored perennial gardens dotting the rolling hills. The island has been an artist's haven for many decades.

Are you beginning to get the picture?

I enjoyed painting this scene of a road leading down to fish beach (I think that's what it's called) on the day that we visited the island. The light is very, very blue there, so you have to look for the warms in the scenery. There are lobster traps, buoys and fish nets everywhere, so if you can't figure out what you're looking at in this painting, just use your imagination!

Monday, August 08, 2011

" A Peachful Day", 16x20, oil on linen

" A Peachful Day", 16x20, oil on linen

I took a break from landscape painting to paint the Georgia peaches and peach-colored roses that I brought home from the market over the weekend. I was happy with the softness of the painting in spite of the contrast of compliments against each other.

Please email me at if you are interested in purchasing this painting.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

"Gray Day- Ocean Point", plein air, 14x11, oil on canvas by Maryanne Jacobsen

"Gray Day- Ocean Point", plein air, 14x11, oil on canvas by Maryanne Jacobsen

After our too short but wonderful stay in Southwest Harbor, we traveled west to Boothbay Harbor.

The last time I was in Boothbay Harbor there were very few people around as it was end of season. So we were a bit surprised to find it very crowded and all the decent B& B's in town without a vacancy. We finally landed a very over- priced accommodation at The Spruce Point Inn, and although there was a lovely water view from the porch, there was no air conditioning in our lodge and the heat and humidity was almost (but not quite) as bad as Florida's!

After watching a glorious sunset, we headed into town in the hopes of finding a few of the art galleries still open.

I had the good luck of walking into the Head of the Harbor Gallery where artists Roger Milinowski and Kathleen Billis were having a painting session in the gallery's upstairs loft. We chatted awhile and I was delighted to find the pair of them enormously friendly and quite willing to share their knowledge with me. Roger told me that there would be a plein air demonstration followed by a paint out the very next day at Ocean Point featuring the well known and incredibly talented plein air artist Don Demers performing the demo.

After getting directions to Ocean Point's "casino" , I went off to bed excited with the anticipation of meeting new artist friends and accruing more knowledge about the very difficult craft of plein air painting.

The next day the early morning sunshine promised wonderful opportunities for the paint-out, and as we drove to Ocean Point I realized that East Boothbay, much like Southwest Harbor, was a bit off the beaten track for tourists and therefore a much more serene place to stay (and paint!)

By the time I arrived, a group of about 15 artists had gathered at the "Casino", which isn't a casino at all, but rather a clubhouse of sorts for the residents of Ocean Point. Don Demers arrived soon after me and I immediately realized that it was serendipity that had provided me the chance of wandering into such a friendly group of avid plein air painters!

We drove a short distance to a home at the very end of the point, which had beautiful gardens and sea views all around. Susan, our hostess for the paint-out, explained that the home was named "Seven Lights" because one had the vantage point of seeing the light from seven different lighthouses at night from her garden by the sea.

Don turned out to be not only a phenomenal painter, but also an incredibly teacher. He punctuated the demo with memorable quotes, charm and a sense of humor. I enjoyed the demo immensely and marveled at the way he handled each and every brushstroke with the finesse of the master that he certainly is. Twisting, turning, pulling and caressing each and every brush stroke, he was able to pull out even the tiniest sprigs of branches of distant fir trees and make them look believable with just a suggestion here and there of paint notes.

The group kept mentioning the heat and how uncomfortable it had become, and all I could think of as I stood in that place, with ocean breezes caressing my senses and the smell of salt and the fragrance of flowers all around me was, "You should try painting in Florida if you think this is hot!"

I kept my mouth shut, however, unwilling to break the magic of the moment.

After painting about two hours under sunny skies, the demo ended and the group broke for lunch. As much as I wanted to participate in the paint-out after lunch, and receive some much-needed guidance from Don, I knew it would be better to try to find a room for the night so we wouldn't get stuck at the Spruce Point Inn again.

In the end, we had the good fortune of getting a room for two nights right there in Ocean Point at the Ocean Point Inn. Our room had a second floor balcony that looked out over the water and the rocky cove and as soon as we had checked in, I brought my paints out to the balcony and that special composition beckoned me immediately.

By now the clouds and haze had set in and the fog horn began a relentless wail for the remainder of the afternoon. As sunny as the morning had been for Don's demo, the afternoon was as gray as the June Gloom of southern California.

I am so accustomed to the harsh light and stark contrast of the Florida landscape, that I felt completely out of my element in this cool, softly grayish light temperature. But in the end, I decided to take advantage of the slowly changing light as I did my best to try to mimic the turning and twisting of the brush that I had watched Don use in his painting. Although I was not successful in mimicking his brushwork, I knew I had learned more in that couple hours, than I could ever have imagined.

There is one thing that stood out in my mind that Don said to us during the demo. He reminded us that he has been painting for about 40 years- since the time he was a child. He brought me back to a peaceful place on earth with that statement and away from all the negativity swirling through my mind about how amateurish my work looks compared to Don's.

He has 35 years on me, in terms of painting experience. I have to constantly remind myself that it takes many years to perfect one's craft. I am just a baby.

Now if only I had more time to watch, and learn, and mimic!

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Friday, August 05, 2011

"Burning Off-Somes Sound"-plein air, 9x12 by Maryanne Jacobsen

"Burning Off-Somes Sound"-plein air, 9x12 by Maryanne Jacobsen

We just returned from a ten day trip that took in the northeastern coast from Bar Harbor, Maine, back down to Cape Ann, Massachusetts. This stretch of seacoast is without a doubt, one of the most scenic in all of the east coast of the United States. For that reason, it has attracted artists for decades, including Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth and literally thousands of others. It was our second trip to this area, and though the summer views are quite different from the autumn vistas, they are just as spectacular!

One of the first stops on our trip was Southwest Harbor, located about a ten minute drive southwest of Bar Harbor, which is a veritable tourist trap, IMHO. We were very fortunate to find a room available at the beautiful old historic Claremont Inn, located right on the mouth of Somes Sound.

The Sound is considered the east coast's only fjord, and the huge body of water that is carved into the mountains there, was created during the last ice age.

When we arrived late in the afternoon of our first day, I ran down to the boat dock to take in a magnificent vista of fog, hanging like a shroud of gossamer over the water there. We never get fog here in Florida, and so the dreamy quality of the shoreline was breathtaking to me!

The Claremont sits well above the water line on a gently sloping hill. Looking up from my vantage point on the dock, the Inn rose majestically out of the mist, a sentinel seemingly guarding the secrets of a very gentler era in time.

My husband and I sat in front of the fire at the Boathouse Restaurant and marveled at the fact we were both wearing sweatshirts and shivering for the first time in many months!

The next morning I awoke at dawn and looking out the window I could see the promise of a gorgeous day! I grabbed my pochade box and ran down to the water's edge, as excited as a little kid with new crayons. I was very anxious to use the opportunity to paint en plein air for the first time in many months, since the heat and humidity in southwest Florida makes it impossible to do so right now.

Out of practice, at first I tried to paint into the rising sun, but when I found it blinding me, I wiped out the canvas and moved to the other side of the dock where the fog was just burning off its final remnants over Cadillac Mountain.

Satisfied with this vantage point, I made my very first attempt to paint mist over mountains, using the little boat with the red seat as a focal point, and allowing the dock and buoy to help support the simple composition and lead the viewer's eye through the painting.

I am not sure I was entirely successful in my first attempts to capture the essence of that lovely place, but for now at least, I have enough memories and photos to help me along in the weeks to come, as I attempt to paint more scenes from Acadia. And more fog and mist!

Stay tuned for more plein air paintings, as well as additional photos and descriptions of our trip to Maine and Cape Ann.

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