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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Teresa Cowley said...

I think this is a wonderful painting! I love the colors.

Beth Johnston said...

Don't try to compare you work to Don's because I think your paintings have more life and vibrancy. I'd much prefer to see one of your paintings each morning!