Marco Island Part 6 (final): Kooky, Experimental

At long last I get to complete the report.  I seem to have caught the same bug that laid me low for the month of February–probably from the plane home–and just hope that after only 8 days, I’m getting over this iteration of it.

I left  you in my previous blog with 4 paintings to be posted.  The first two are from one location on Collier Boulevard, farther South from our usual haunts.  I discovered South Beach when we went in search of the beach wedding, and conceived the idea of one daylight painting showing the colorful, tree-lined boulevant with high-rise condo buildings behind, and a later one showing what happens at night, with lights lining the street and dotting the windows of the high-rises.  Mary had other stuff to do that afternoon, so I was dropped at my chosen spot, by her always obliging husband, Frank.  I set up in the swale between the boulevard and the sidewalk on the right side of the street.  I got lots of welcome attention from low-rise residents from my side of the boulevard as they strolled by on their way to the beach.  A few voiced a guess that I was painting the big, pink building that was my backdrop because I lived there.  If only!

South Beach Residential

South Beach Residential

It certainly wasn’t a beautiful building, but it was an interesting building, and it was representative  of the many such buildings lining the South Beach.  (By the way, I decided to take these photos with my iPhone in order to be consistent with the ones already posted, but they didn’t come out as well as the ones that were photographed in the South Florida light.  I was able to manipulate them so what you are seeing is pretty accurate–by reducing exposure, increasing contrast and saturation, and increasing red and yellow.  Go figure!)

Mary came to pick me up after about 2 hours and we grabbed a quick supper at a nearby restaurant.  By the time we had returned to the site, we had about 1 hour before sunset.  I composed my picture by moving farther away and including more of the buildings on my left.  I had basically a black and blue scene.  Then the lights started to come on.  Not in the pink building but on the grounds–Christmas-like lights wound around the three palm trees, fountains sprouted under spotlights, and walls and landscaping got their share of the drama.  There were a few glows issuing from a few of the balconies, but very few.


South Beach Nocturne

South Beach Nocturne

Mary observed that many owners of condos on Marco spend only a few weeks at the time there since they tended to have many desirable locations to call home.  It’s also possible that the windows are glazed with impenetrable coatings, like limos get.  Anyway, the painting was my very first “nocturne”, which is what artists call a painting that depicts a night scene. Most nocturnes are painted in the studio, I’ll wager, but there are plein air nocturnists.  I don’t know how they do it–shifting focus from darkened scene to lit painting seems impossible to me.  I quit pretty soon after sundown.  In order to pack up my gear, I deployed my cell phone flashlight, and one of my strolling admirers held it for me while I gathered up stuff.  It was fun.

The next day was Tuesday, the day before my flight home.  Every since I had been visiting Mary on Marco (2009),  she had been mentioning her desire to paint a certain bridge.  She already had one really good painting of it, but felt she could do even better one day.  I asked her to make that day that Tuesday.  So off we went, toward the Everglades, a road not heavily trafficked.  I set up close to the road, so I got more of the dust blown our way by big trucks.  It was a little unnerving to have the trucks barreling right at you, for we were on a curve.  I have lived to tell the tale.  It’s just what plein air painters have to do, you know, risking life and limb for their art!


Bridge to Everglades

My Bridge from Everglades, looking North

Here is Mary’s version in watercolor:

Mary's Bridge

Mary’s Bridge

Since my flight wasn’t scheduled to take off until after 5 p.m. on Wednesday, we were able to meet up with the Wednesday Painters again, this time inside a private, gated community with its own beach and wildlife area.  A marshy area caught my eye–the reflections mostly, but with a stray clump of marsh grass providing a great focal point.  I set up with a view of the clump, next to the railings, and decided to include the railings in my composition.  I suspected that the framing of the reeds by the fence contributed to my decision to paint the reeds.

Watery Home

Watery Home

Compare a cropped version without the railings:

Watery Home-Detail

Watery Home-Detail

So was I right?  Or is the Detail better?  Because I paint on paper, I can easily crop the painting for best presentation.

Here is a photo Mary took of me just before I started to pack up my gear–sorry about the absence of reds–fault of her iPhone sending, or mine receiving.  The two wet paintings were ensconced in their Art Cocoons there to my right.


Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases and the like at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to

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Marco Island Part 5–Water, Water Everywhere

This group of paintings, four in number, are connected by the coincidence that each contains a bit of water.  Actually, two of them are more connected than that–you could say (and I am) that those two are siblings.

First, the end of the Sunset Watchers series.  For No. 5 we moved South to another beach that brought us closer to the waterline and hence closer to the sunset watchers.  Through a casual encounter at the northern beach last week, a couple had encouraged us  to show up at their beach wedding.  Although a great idea, when we got there we had no idea where on the beach the happy event was destined to occur.  We had to set up and lay a foundation for the sunset about an hour before sunset.  So we missed the wedding by about a hundred yards The sunset wasn’t so great either.  What you see as a sunset sky in my painting was total fabrication.  But I am happy with my progress with the sand.  And of course the sunset watchers.

Sun watchers No. 5

My next painting is an interior.  What, you exclaim?  You travel to Florida in the winter just to paint an interior!?  My excuse: I was not not in the air-conditioned home but on the lanai, a screen-enclosed –we’re talking about screen ceilings as well as walls–outdoor room that included my water element.  A swimming pool.  I had always been fascinated by the light and shadow patterns that form in pools from wafts of breezes and landings by invisible insects, in combination with the clouds overhead and the infrastructure itself.  Why should David Hockney be the only painter to enjoy painting swimming pools?

The Swimming Pool

The Swimming Pool

The third and fourth paintings are the siblings referred to earlier.  We set up opposite one of many airboat enterprises in Everglades City.  Airboats are big industry because tourists want to get close to the flora and fauna that live in the mangrove forests of the Everglades.  Gators, manatees.  Been there and done that.  My first depiction of the scene is fairly complex, featuring airboat no. 6 from Cap’n Jack’s.  The second simpler project shows two boats tied up just beyond Cap’n Jack’s.  I hardly moved my easel.  Before starting, however, I set out to find a rest room somewhere.  I struck gold at my first stop, a luxury motorcoach resort.  The guy at the desk showed me to the ladies, gave me two bottles of ice-cold water, and insisted on driving me back to our painting location in his golf cart.

Jack's Airboat Rides

Cap’n Jack’s Airboat Rides

Two Working Boats

Two Working Boats

Only two days left to paint here, and only two blank supports left to paint on.  With the two I painted yesterday, that means I should be able to post four more, but probably not until I get home.  And the life at home is likely to suck up all available time, so maybe next week.







Marco Island 4–getting better?

first of all, I’d like to apologize for the weirdness occurring within my posts.  The interaction between WordPress and my iPad leaves something to be desired.  In MI 3, I decided to try something different.  I entered text as captions to the paintings instead of separately.  I hoped thereby to avoid the oversized images that keep showing up no matter how I strive to reduce them.  Didn’t work.  This time I’m going to try no text between images, so all explanation is presented up here.  [After I got back home, to my computer, I was able to fix the outsized images.]

I’m posting four images today.  Two paintings and two geometric designs.  The designs are self-explanatory if you read MI1 about the sacred geometry group.  The first, “Ten Thousands Islands” is a scene at the National Wildlife Refuge of that name.  Mary and I met up with her Wednesday group of outdoor painters.  It involved lugging our gear into the refuge about half a mile.  Since I need a chair to sit on while painting, I had to carry said chair as well as bear the backpack containing my Soltek easel, paints, brushes and all the other miscellaneous items required by an artist in the field.  When we got to the lookout structure where the other artists, earlier risers than we, were gathered, prime spots on the structure were all occupied.  But we had spotted something more interesting on the left side anyway, so we set up side by side facing into the sun but with a keyhole view of an entire community of birds.  Photographers kept getting in our way, even a fisherman who thought he needed to see if fish were biting.  Thank goodness they weren’t.

It was a huge white pelican that had first caught my eye as we trudged past an opening in the vegetation.  I thought it might be a statue installed for the benefit of tourists.  Then it moseyed on.  It had a mate nearby, but they were apparently working the crowd separately, the crowd being mostly cormorants.  I began Ten Thousand Islands first as solely a landscape, inserting a bird when one showed up in a good spot.  The small island in the back always had at least five cormorants on it, and the pelican visited there too.  The pelican finally popped up on the near island and I quickly popped it into the painting.  I’m sure I understated the size of it, but I’m not about to ruin a good painting for the sake of technical verity!

Ten Thousand Islands

Ten Thousand Islands

The second painting captures the fountain in Mackle Park.  Although there were many varieties of birds all around us, including a woodpecker with a little red splash of head covering, dogs dominated.  The path is a favorite for dog walkers.  My composition did not permit inclusion of a lot of dogs or birds.  One duck represents all the fauna.  The Palm tree is the first that I have painted during this trip.

Mackle Park

Mackle Park

My “Joyful Geometry” pieces, nos. 2 and 3:




Marco Island Part 3

we decided to combine a beach painting with our sunset series. Beach is too dark! Why? Because sun is so bright that even in my shade, the effect was as if i were painting in direct sunlight.,


Disappointing clouds, but that’s what sometimes happens.


Sun watchers No. 4--The Kite Flyer

Sun watchers No. 4–The Kite Flyer


Marco Island Part 2–beginning the Sunset Watchers Series

Last night, and the night before, Mary and I set up on the beach about an hour before sunset.  I noticed a lot of people had gathered far off at the shore’s edge, just black spots against the horizon.  Sunset watchers.  One of the advantages of possessing a west coast is the ability to observe a sun setting into a vast expanse of water, in this case, the Gulf of Mexico (for those of my readers who don’t know where Marco Island).  The phenomenon of sunset watching is analogous to the New England practice of leaf peeping, but I must say, leaf peeping is a lot more dependable!  You’ll see.

Mary and I are now hooked, and plan to go out every available night to record the sunset and its watchers.  So below are numbers 1 and 2 of the series.

Sunset Watchers No. 1

Sunset Watchers No. 1

Sunset Watchers No. 2

Sunset Watchers No. 2

A sunless sunset.  The sun was somewhere behind the clouds, and it was surely setting.  Very few watchers turned up, having been forewarned no doubt.  And everyone left 20 minutes before the scheduled disappearance over the horizon.  Not us though.  It is what it is.  I hope tonight is better!

Below is a third painting, one of the house across the street from Mary.

Neighbor's Home

Neighbor’s Home


Marco Island 2015 Part 1

i flew out of the frozen north Wednesday and landed in perfect southern Florida weather.  It’s been five days now of balmy, breezy, sunlit days.  I have a hard time remembering what it was like to struggle through snow drifts and peek around mountains of plowed soiled ice stuff.  My hostess yet again is Mary Crawford Reining.

Painting the blazing colors of the tropics was quite an adjustment.  My palette here is limited to the eight tubes of  Michael Harding oils that I ordered from Dick Blick for delivery to Mary’s home before I got here:  scarlet red, yellow lake, aquamarine blue, French yellow ochre, sap green, magenta, white–and in a bow to the region, ptalo turquoise.  Perhaps due to that limitation, I was painting too dark.  Every day, I’ve had to go back over most of my prior paintings and add more yellow or white.  Weird.



This location is only a few blocks from Mary’s house.  It’s part of a golf course.  I set up just past the “no trespassing” sign.  I don’t have a title for it yet.  You can’t really tell its a golf course, so I hesitate to refer to “golf course” in the title.

In this one the lit portions of the grass were too dark.  It took two rounds of adding yellow to reach this point.


This is a Friday painting, therefore posted here a little out of order.  My tube of turquoise came in handy!  This spot is in Goodlands, a small fishing community still unspoiled by development.  The baby blue heron came to explore the area for fishing potential while a parent hung around across the canal, making sure the youngster didn’t get into trouble.

I had to lighten the sky in this one, as well as de-greenify the grass, which had started out a jarring shade of emerald.  The baby heron also got inserted the next day, using as reference a video I took.

It’s title “Little Visitor”.  Is that wrong, to title a painting by reference to an element that was never in there when I was painting on site?


Huh?  Sacred Geometry is the inspiration for this graphic design.  Every Thursday, Mary participates in a group of women who explore the various configurations of sacred geometry, using compass and ruler to plot a Tree of Life,  a Flower of Life, and other complex ideas, then color in the spaces to reveal abstract symbols with spiritual significance to the artist.  Mine, seen above, has no significance.  I aimed for a pretty pattern of complementary colors.


This was my second painting, perhaps my fave so far.  We went out behind Mary’s house to catch late light on  the abutting golf course.  We had to work fast.  The lavender and peach colors in the sand trap lasted maybe five minutes.  This is the only of the paintings so far to be unmessed around with the next day.  Fast seems to work best for me.  While working on the two dominant trees, I tried to emulate Tommy Thompson, the artist who was a member of the Canadian Group of Seven.  It’s title is “Sand Trap in Late Light”.  Duh!

Yesterday, Saturday, I did two more paintings.  I need to consider whether more work is needed on them before I post them.  Maybe tomorrow.  ‘Til then?

New Subject Matter

Drum roll, please!  I hereby present my first floral painting*:

Floral Painting No. 1

Floral Painting No. 1

It represents nine hours of development under the tutelage of Deirdre Riley, whose own floral paintings are simply spectacular.  I went very slowly (for me) in order to grasp the all the points she wanted to get across to us, her “community education” students at the New Hampshire Institute of Art.

I am flying to Florida this Wednesday, there to paint daily en plein air, so I will miss the next setup in the floral class, but maybe they will still be working on it when I get back.

*Actually when I was much, much younger–between 18 and 20–I painted a still life with flower arrangement as a gift to my brother and sister-in-law.  I think most of it came out of my head.  At that time of my life, I had had zero experience at painting from life.  Everything was from imagination.  Then in my last year of college I signed up for a course in oil painting,  Painting from “life” yes, but all very still life–not even dried flowers, every object was dead.  Paper, wood, ceramic, and so on.  Then, in a later year, taking a night class at the Museum School in Boston,  for one session we had a live model.  I painted a very crude portrait on a very large panel, which panel had followed me around for the decades from Boston to Florida, back to Boston then Michigan, ending up in NH.  I finally reused that panel a few years ago to paint the abstract landscape that I call “Darkly“.  I like to suppose that the portrait underneath influenced the new layer of paint and the title, in that the portrait and the meaning of the new layer are hidden from casual view.

About this Floral Painting No. 1, I want you to be aware that the background and table top were covered with brown wrapping paper, Kraft paper I think it is called?, then the paper was draped with gauze to affect its hue.  The background gauze was lavender.  The table top gauze was lime green.  I chose to ignore the background lavender but did paint in the lime green gauze.

I enjoyed working on this painting.  It is actually a still life, one of my first in the last nine years.  The flowers were not alive, of course.  How could they be, and last for three weeks?  I believe they were silk.  I have never  been drawn to paint still lifes, but I have always enjoyed painting stuff into my figurative paintings.  Flowers may be the lure to suck me into the world of the still life.