Acadia: 14 paintings in 6 days

On October 6, I drove to Acadia National Park in Maine to take part in “Fall Color Week” (third annual) promoted by the publisher of Plein Air Magazine, Eric Rhoades.   I’d been feeling a little down, not wanting to get outside and paint, so when the invitation came, I decided it would be a Good Thing to Do.  Expensive,  but worth it in terms of the facilities.  At least I could drive my own car to get there.  Most of the 60 participants flew into Portland or Bangor airports from the West Coast, the South, the Midwest.  To those participants, the fall color foliage was particularly alluring.  For all of us, the idea of Acadia conjured up visions of Cadillac Mountain, Bar Harbor, Thunder Hole, and other visions of Mt. Desert Island memorialized by master artists.

Alas, I discovered when I got there that the section of Acadia National Park where we were was entirely separate from the section to be found on Mt. Desert Island.  We were on Schoodic Peninsula, housed in the Schoodic Research and Educational Institute.  Bar Harbor was an hour’s drive away, taking the short cut–more of which later.  Besides, Mt. Desert Island was overrun with tourists.  Big cruise ships were making calls there.  Busloads of visitors.   Schoodic was a much more desirable place to be, with easy access to fishing villages and other vistas, but  before reaching that conclusion, I would have to try to paint on Mt. Desert.

We arrived at the beginning of Columbus Day Weekends, the traditional peak of foliage season, planning to explore Schoodic for a few days waiting for the tourists to leave Mt. Desert.  The Peninsula offers a lot of rock, both along the road and extending out to sea.  Fir trees dominated all tree lines so there was less “foliage” there than back home.  My first stop was Blueberry Hill.  (Blueberry bushes do provide a large proportion of the red foliage  up there.)  At Blueberry Hill, I chose to look outward, at a fir-covered island while the sun struggled to break through a very clouded over sky.


I spent a long time on this, my first painting of the week.  So often my first painting of a series turns out to be the best, and I gave it my all, dabbing away at the clouds and rippling waves until I was sure I had captured their variety within what was a relatively sedate range of colors.  As it now turns out, Blueberry Hill was indeed one of my more successful efforts.

After lunch (a bag lunch that I made up from stuff laid out for us at the dining hall), I went looking for some color along the Schoodic Loop Road.  I found a roadside brimming over with reds and yellows and greens, near the bike trail called Bunker Harbor.  Feeling inspired to make a masterpiece, I got out one of the bigger panels, 12×16.


To top off the day, I set up on Schoodic Point, where roseate rocks spread way out into the sea.  Artists were sprinkled all over the landscape.  I had to set up at the edge of the road because my balance is not good enough to get me and my gear across such uneven surfaces.  I did not give this second effort as much attention.  Sketchy.  But I think you get the idea.


I was proud that I had produced three paintings on the first day.  Better than most (only in terms of numbers–there were some very accomplished painters there).

The next day, Sunday, was extremely foggy.  Eric had suggested that we drive over to a fishing village called Corea.  About 45 minutes to drive there:  20 minutes to get off the Peninsula, turn right (North), then East again down another long arm into the ocean.  I got there early and could not find other artists, or any parking spots.  We had been warned about respecting “Private Property” and “No Trespassing” signs.  I drove around and around until finally I made a desperate move:  I turned into a dirt road that led to the harbor, despite the sign that said “Ivy’s Way Private Way”.  There were two wooden walkways into the water (docks?), surrounded by boats and fishing gear (lobster cages, in particular)–and a small cottage.  I knocked on the door with some trepidation.  The door was answered by a couple from Missouri (!) who have rented the cottage every summer for the past ten years.  The owner lives in a building across the main road, and quite the building that was.  Modern, large, industrial, Bauhaus in flavor.  The owners rent the water access to the fishermen and  “wouldn’t mind at all” if I set up to paint there.  The fog had lifted slightly and I was able to spot a white house way up on a hill that was solid rock, with a lobster boat moored below.  I had my composition.  The fog continued to lift until it was all gone by the time I was finished painting.  I left the background trees in the fog.


I believe the next “assignment” was to be a lighthouse that was near Corea.  I went there and waited for some other artists to show up, but none did, and the wind was too fierce for me get out of my car.  I took a nap.  Then I returned to Schoodic, Frazer Point, and painted this little quickie.


That night, after dinner, someone got one of the artists to volunteer to model for portrait.   I watched for a while, then realized my gear was just outside in the car and I should have brought it in to paint the portrait.  After all, I’d rather paint a figure than rocks any day.  I would be ready the next day.

Monday, Day Three, the day we hoped to paint on Mt. Desert Island.  I got set, started out early.  The shortcut required finding Mud Creek Road, which I had no trouble with.  But Mud Creek Road ended in a “T” intersection and, not knowing which way was correct, I chose left.  (No reception for cell phone meant my GPS was no help at all.)  I ended up on Marlboro Beach Road in or near a town named Lemoine, staring at a very special view of Mt. Desert Island.  I pulled over to get a good look, and was also able to get GPS there.   I was not on the correct route to Mt. Desert, so I backtracked and got to Thunder Hole, where we were supposed to gather, about 11 o’clock.  Almost the whole morning was spent driving around.

At Thunder Hole, I doped out a spot where I could set up to paint without getting out on the rocks, but to what end?  I could not see the Hole from there.  In fact, the Hole was pretty darned dry in not-high-tide.  So I went to the next recommended spot, Otter Point.  Parked and got my gear out of the car with a determination that, after all this driving around, I was going to produce a painting here no matter what.  I stopped on the side of the road looking down.  I painted until the rain started.  Something to do with hurricane Nate?


I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the area by car, and drove back to Schoodic in time for dinner.  After dinner, our portrait model was Rick Wilson, a painter that Eric had recruited to keep us entertained by playing guitar and singing.  As a model, he was not trying to keep still for the portrait painters, but I didn’t mind.


Tuesday, Day Four, another Mt. Desert attempt.  We were supposed to all be on top of Mt. Cadillac by three in order to be photographed en masse.  Meanwhile, I wanted to paint that scene I discovered on Marlboro Beach Road.  I invited others to join me, but there was a spot on Mud Creek Road that was pretty attractive, and nobody got past that.  (Nobody seemed anxious to go all the way to Mt. Desert.)  Anyway, I easily re-found Marlboro Beach Road and got permission from homeowner to set up and paint his view.  It went quickly, despite the fact that I used 12×16 panel.


After Marlboro Beach, I headed for Jordan Pond on Mt. Desert.  Again, it was the suggested site for painting prior to Mt. Cadillac.  The Pond was downhill from the parking lot.  It took a lot of patience to snag a parking spot.  I had to lurk.  (There was no way I was leaving without getting a crack at the restroom!)

It was going to be hard to get my gear back up that hill but I was determined to paint there.  To reduce my burden, I left my chair in the car, hoping to find a suitable rock to sit on.  (My back does not allow me to stand long enough to complete a painting.)  Down by Pond’s edge, I found the perfect sitting rock, but I had to face up the hill, not at the pond.  Well, it was only water and rocks and trees anyway.  Uphill I had trees and shadows.  Another artist from the group, with his wife, showed up, but not painting.  Still it was nice to see a familiar face.  When I went to leave, I got halfway up the hill before a kind couple took pity on me and dragged my cart up to the top.


At that point, I was looking forward to the top of Mt. Cadillac, but I never got there.  The Park Rangers had barricaded it because the parking lot at the top was full, and the line waiting to get into the parking lot had filled the road.  No room for anyone else.  Wow.  I headed back to Schoodic, glad I had at least got one painting done on the Island.

After dinner, I painted another portrait–this one of Vicki.  Vicki kept very still.


Wednesday, Day Five:  Beautiful day.  Two of us shared a pullout in the Schoodic Loop Road–my companion looked out upon the water and a tiny fir-covered island; I was taken by the combination of rocks and shadows over the rocks and road.  This is probably my favorite painting from the week, 12×16, unretouched.  My experience was marred by voracious flies that bit right through my clothes.  (I added two more layers the next day.)


After lunch, I went exploring the little fishing towns between us and Corea:  Prospect Harbor had a big regional lobster pound, very industrial-looking building.  I drove in and around and behind it where I had a view of a funny little lighthouse.  Remembering how awful the conditions were for that other lighthouse, I figured why not, it’s a lighthouse.  Why not is not a good reason.  It was my worst painting, even after I retouched it.  I’ll show you After.



Thursday morning, six a.m.:  Sunrise scheduled to be 6:45 so I figured I had plenty of time to get out for a sunrise painting.  There was a good spot right at the entrance to our Institute buildings.  Eric was already there, said the best light had already gone by.  I didn’t believe him.  About six more artists were also clustered around easels.  Eric was using a little easel light.  I had not thought to bring one with me.  Didn’t matter, by the time I was set up. there was enough light to see sort of what I was doing.  Couldn’t really see it until I got indoors.


Thursday was our sixth and last painting day.  I decided I needed more boats.  On the Loop Road, there was a restaurant called Bunkers Wharf, and it looked down on Bunkers Harbor.  There were already a few artists painting there and I had heard talk of some painting inside on one of those really bad days.  I joined the group outside–there were four of us.  Of course I had my usual bag lunch, but the others were ordering food and I could never resist steamed mussels.  Lunch was a lovely experience.  I went inside to order the mussels, but the young man  brought them out to me when they were ready, and later came back for the empties.  He told us of his plan to buy some real estate and put up condos to lease out to Acadia visitors.


After Bunkers Wharf, I wandered around Winter Harbor but never felt the urge to set up and paint.  After dinner that night, we set all of our paintings out for everyone to view.   It was too much to absorb.  Incredible works of art all around me.  I felt exhausted.  And I feel exhausted all over again now.  Hope you enjoy!

Catching up–Bartlett Style

I have been not performing, blog-wise, up to the standards I set for myself this summer.  If I had met those standards, two topics would have been set before you already and the third would have been pulled together for today.  The problem, as often happens, is just when I gather my thoughts and my photo illustrations, I notice something in one of the paintings that I must, MUST fix.  Then after the fix, a new photo must be taken.  It has been a summer of revisions and regrets.

One topic was to have been:  best and worst plein air (marine) painting of the summer, covering  why I thought one was good and the other not–but wondering how I could have rescued the one that was awful.  A second topic was to have been the rest of the works resulting from the Stuart Ober course–you’ve seen the portrait of Sparkle, but I did a bunch of other stuff that never would have got started but for the impetus of taking a course called “Explorations in Oil Painting.”   One of them could have been a topic in itself, as I worked on a 12 by 36 of “Impressions of Manhattan from the Whitney Museum”, a complex skyline with streetscapes that can always be improved or added to.  I’m still adding.

This week, I hoped to be posting all the Figure in the Garden paintings from David Curtis’ garden, 2016 edition.  Those paintings are finished, but the last one still needs to be photographed.  I scaled up to 16×20, making the photographing more challenging.

And now, as topics pile up, I just got back from a workshop up North with Michael Chesley Johnson, for which blog I made promises.  I feel a little like Mickey Mouse must have felt in the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice”.  (Disney movie “Fantasia”)

I am going to take the advice I always gave my tax delinquent clients:  do current returns first, then the past-due ones.  Therefore, today without further ado, without messing about, I am posting photos of the three plein air paintings from the last two days, showing what I can accomplish in the approximately two hours available for each, before stopped by lunch and/or rain.  Raw footage, as it were.

Excuse me while I go snap photos of each one with my iPhone.

.  .  .  .

Eight students gathered at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett NH to learn plein air painting from Michael Chesley Johnson, of Campobello and Sedona, for perhaps the shortest workshop ever–two days.  We were lucky with the weather, in that the rain held off Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning until I was able to get one painting each time close to completion.  I produced a third painting during the Wednesday rain. . .storm is too strong a word.  Rain Event. More of that later.

Tuesday morning MCJ opened with a demo of how to paint rocks.  We piled into a gazebo near the Jackson Historical Museum– it was shaded, just the right size for 8 students and a teacher, next to a rock-filled Wildcat River, and near our next stop: a preview of the museum’s upcoming show.  Then lunch at a local deli, then back to the Wildcat, a river responsible for the phenomenon known as Jackson Falls.  We got some sun, but mostly clouds, so we got experience with painting en plein air on overcast days.  How to find a “hook” when there are no lights and shadows to create drama?  Well, falling water is always interesting.  Unfortunately, New Hampshire has been suffering a record drought, so instead of impressive, thundering cataracts of water, we got meandering trickles.

(MCJ photographed me working at the Falls and posted it to Facebook, if you are interested.  I was wearing my usual distinctive hat, so everyone who knows me recognized me.  I could probably link to it, but I don’t have time to learn how to do that!  Got to get this post done.)


Jackson Falls, v. 5 or 6

Day Two, or Wednesday as most people know it, we headed down into the Valley to experience the location of Albert Bierstadt’s  “Moat Mountain, Intervale, New Hampshire”.  That is why I have titled this painting Bierstadt Meadow.  Most of us chose to paint the ledges that are to the right of my scene, but I’ve a bee in my bonnet all summer about the pinky-purplish grass that shows up at this time of summer.  It is most prevalent along highways.  It was not present in this meadow, but there were other plants sporting colors in the same family, so I thought I would try to fake it.


Bierstadt Meadow with Bluebird House

We were treated to very little sunlight, but the weather forecast did not include rain.  Nevertheless, Sharon (Sharon Allen, who organized this workshop and spends half her life painting around Mt. Washington Valley) “felt” it would rain and urged us to move to a sheltered location–under a bridge in Conway from which we could paint a red covered bridge from below and to the side.  When we got there, most of the river (Swift and Saco merge near here) was, well, absent.  We were going to get more practice painting rocks.  However, a puddle under the bridge reflected the red covered bridge, and I chose to make that the subject of my painting.


Under the Bridge, of Another Bridge

All of my paintings were painted on the carton paper sold by Judson’s plein air supplier.  The paper slows me down a little because it absorbs paint, making it harder for me to cover the surface.  But once my surface is juicy with paint, I can go to town.  The geometric shape on the right is the stanchion [is that correct term?] of the overhead bridge.  When the rain blew in [is Sharon  a witch?], it disturbed the puddle and handicapped me.  Oh, well.  Had to fake it.

Since I probably will not get to the topic, best and worst marine painting, and I cannot NOT show you the best, I will now show the best.  Two “tall ships” came to the Portsmouth area.  August 12 was the day I chose to visit them.  One docked in Portsmouth for people to tour.  The other docked in New Castle for people to ride.  I would have bought a ticket to ride if my timing were better, but as it was, I had to wait for the “Harvey Gamache” to return to port before I could grab a photo of it.  Meanwhile, I painted its expected path from New Castle’s Grand Island Park.  In my studio at home, I added the sailing ship using my photo as reference.

Harvey Gamache passing into New Castle

The Harvey Gamache Passing into New Castle

I have some happy news:  two of my pet paintings will be part of a nationally juried exhibit in a museum!  The museum is the Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center in a place called Solomons, Maryland.  The Sculpture Garden is affiliated with the Smithsonian!  The two honored paintings are “Sparkle”, which had been sold but the owners have agreed to lend the painting for this exhibit; and “Partners in Crime”–the two tuxedo cats on a cat tree.  IMG_1568

Partners in Crime

Partners in Crime






The exhibit’s theme is “Fur, Feathers, and Fins–Our Faithful Pets”.   It will run from October 7 through January 29.

Other places where you can catch a few of my paintings are:

  • NH Antiques Coop in Milford NH
  • Ellis River Art Gallery in Jackson NH
  • Bartlett Inn in Bartlett NH
  • Red Jacket Resort in North Conway NH
  • Bernerhof Inn in Glen NH
  • Mesmer & Deleaut Law Firm in Manchester NH

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, phone cases, pillows 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

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

Portsmouth Paintings

Since my last post, I feel as though I have been feverishly busy, but most of the painting time has been studio time.  Not  many of my plein air landscapes have come inside without need for improvements.  I am enjoying the process of making improvements–well, I hope what I’m doing improves the paintings,–but worry about why the need.  Am I getting pickier?  Am I getting slower?  What’s up with all this tinkering, etc.?

I hope I’m getting smarter, that I see more ways to improve when I get the painting home and can assess its defects dispassionately, without being influenced by reality.  I suspect I am also getting a lot slower in painting, as in everything else I do.  I can’t even get dressed in the morning without straying off the rails into some distracting musing.  Maybe that’s late onset of attention deficit disorder, but when I am painting, I am able to keep my focus on the painting and the scene.

So, last weekend–oops, two weekends ago!–I participated in the annual Portsmouth paintout put on by the NH Art Association, which is a Portsmouth outfit.  I believe that makes the fourth year of my participation and I haven’t missed a year yet.  I couldn’t complete the event on Sunday because of my commitment to Sundays in the Gloucester garden of David Curtis, but I managed to produce three 12×16 paintings, which is pretty large for plein air.

The first painting took me from about ten in the morning until about two in the afternoon.  The heat was enervating.  I had a good concept for my painting:  under the drawbridge with the drawbridge raised to allow a tugboat to pass through.  My brain wasn’t working in top gear, however, so it took me a while to realize that if I took a photo of the raised drawbridge, I wouldn’t have to wait for it to be raised to see how that changed the elements.  The product as “finished” in those four hours (a pretty long time for me to need for a plein air painting) had good bones, but it was rough–very rough.  The sky paint did not even cover the gray ground.

The second painting was from the same vantage point but a different perspective–closer to being under that drawbridge, which is called Memorial Bridge, with a view of the other two bridges from Portsmouth to Maine:  another drawbridge and the elevated highway bridge even farther back.   Someone called me on the phone about one o’clock and commented that I did not sound well.  Interesting.  Did I mention it was very hot that day?  I told her I was fine.  As fine as someone who has become dehydrated without being aware of that fact.  It was a hint, and eventually I took it– I got the elements of those three bridges down in an hour and then quit.  As you would expect, with all those excuses, I had to do a lot of improving when I got the two back in my hands.  Here are the finished versions:

Comin' Through (Memorial Bridge, Portsmouth)

Comin’ Through

3 Bridges, Portsmouth

Three Bridges, Portsmouth NH

For my third Portsmouth painting, conditions were better.  I didn’t even try to get started before noon.  I spent only two hours.  I was in the shade.  There was a breeze.  For those reasons, perhaps, I have not felt the need to tinker with the painting produced at the Elks Club of Portsmouth:

At the Elks Club

At the Elks Club in Portsmouth

Just a few days ago, I went back to Cape Cod to pick up the painting that had been shown at the Addison Gallery’s show “Found my Park”, and to paint something new somewhere on the Cape.  The old painting looked better than I remembered it, so there’s another example of getting ‘er done outside, but it was 11×14, much smaller than the Portsmouth ones.  Here is what I’m talking about:


View from Salt Pond Coast Guard Station

To find another good spot for painting, we watched for likely signs–to beaches or parks.  We chose to explore Nickerson State Park in Brewster.  An amazing and huge tract of wildness.  No ocean, no dunes anywhere, but glimpses of water.  I finally went online with my iPhone and found a map that got us to Cliff Pond and Fisherman’s Landing.  There was nobody there when I set up my easel, but soon we were inundated with children and dogs.  I had a dog with me myself.  It wasn’t a problem, but I did not feel inspired.  After I got home and had a chance to sleep on it, I knew what I had to do.  I had to add stronger dapples of shade and sunlight throughout, including on the figures of my companions.

Sun-Dappled Afternoon

Sun-Dappled Afternoon

I have to confess that my dappling in this painting may have been influenced by my recent trip to the Peabody Essex Museum’s exhibit of Childe Hassam’s Isle of Shoals paintings.

I want to thank all of my followers who took me up on the offer of free paintings.  I am grateful because can you imagine the humiliation if I couldn’t even give away my paintings?  Ouch!  But it’s just a drop in the bucket, so if you have been hesitating because of some reluctance to take advantage, the offer is still good.  I am limiting to paintings 11×14 or smaller, simply for ease in mailing.  The priority mailing cost is $12.00.  Stake your claim!

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the New Hampshire Antique Co-op in Milford;  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, phone cases, pillows 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

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

A Spate of Painting Leads to Opportunities for Rescues

The clouds have lifted, the sun is shining, and I find myself back in the groove of painting. It’s a good feeling.  I’ve ordered in a huge supply of panels.  If I fill them all with paintings, my problem of finding homes for them is going to be exacerbated.  This problem is similar to the problem of cat and dog overpopulation.  On the one hand, puppies and kittens are so lovable.  On the other hand, dogs and cats take up space and require some minimal maintenance.  Curbing the reproduction of the animals via spay-neuter programs is the solution to that problem.  Will I have to curb my production of artworks?

I am painting for the joy of it, not expecting to make a living at it.  Once the painting is finished, my happiness does not depend on keeping it nearby.  In fact, I’m happiest when I find a loving forever home for my artworks.  If  you would like to give a home to one of my puppies, let me know.  I ask only that you pay for the shipping.  Of course, exceptions will have to be made for certain special projects, ones that I want to give to family members or submit to an exhibit or prize competition.

My latest crop (litter?) includes a bunch of plein air paintings and the still unfinished Manhattan Project, which I had hinted at in the last blog.  (Surely that term is not copyrighted after all these years.)  I’ll delay discussion of the Manhattan Project until it has been completed.  I just hope the final result justifies the suspense that I am building.  Suspense is building, right?

Continuing the practicing for a weekend paint out in Portsmouth, I painted this street scene, which truly was empty of people and cars most of the time:

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Bottom of Court Street, Portsmouth

I added the telephone wires after the painting had dried.  I discovered that if the brush left a glob of excess paint, I could pick it up with the brush and my medium (Gamsol), thereby thinning the line and keeping it wispy.  I won’t be able to do that during the paintout since the underlying paint will not be dry enough, so I’d better pick a different scene for the paintout.   This fact is disappointing because my other choice involves lots of little lines–bridges.  Maybe I can come up with another fine-line technique because once I get a subject into my head (inspiration strikes), nothing else will be good.

Last week, Sharon Allen, Betty Brown and I responded to a call for artists to paint the Cape Cod National Seashore in celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the National Park System.  We found a charming B and B in Eastham to put us up two nights.  Of our three days on the Cape, only two halves were dedicated to serious painting.  The rest of the time we were reconnoitering.  And eating.  Good place to visit if you like seafood.  Duh!  Just before we headed up North homeward bound, we stopped to paint at a town landing which didn’t qualify for the national park paintout.  So I have a total of three paintings to show for the trip.  My “best” one got left there at the Addison Gallery for the big reception.  It was also the first one I painted:


View from Salt Pond Coast Guard Station

My eye had been drawn to the drama of the light green sea grass (that’s what I am called the grass that grows in the dunes down there, and around the salt water pools) against the deep blue sea.  Add the interesting group of buildings perched (precariously, I am told) atop a high dune, and you’ve got solid inspiration.  I set up in a traffic island in front of the Coast Guard Station.  To my right and way down a hill (guess that’s obvious) there’s a beach full of people and umbrellas.  That was a second choice for a subject, despite the view  being severely limited.  Sharon nevertheless took it on.  Betty, meanwhile, climbed the fire escape and perched herself with her easel up there to create a semi-abstract rendering of marshes and pools.

My second serious painting portrays another Coast Guard Station, this one at Race Point.  The perspective bothered me so I tried to correct for it, but I’m still dubious.  I had intended the front of the building and all lines parallel to it to be level with the horizon, which is what appeared to be the case. But now I think I should have superimposed an imaginary vanishing point off to the left–that is what my eye was reaching for, demanding, despite the evidence of my level.

2016-07-20 14.25.47

Race Point Coast Guard Station

Here is a reference photo that I took of the same building, showing the way I really wanted to paint it.  I’ll do it too, but on a larger canvas:


Doesn’t that evoke Hopper?  Edward Hopper lived on the Cape and painted many of the buildings.  I haven’t been able to find that he painted this building, but I’ll bet he did.  How could he resist?  Yes, I moved the flagpole.  Had to be done.

The little quickie I did on our way out of town owes its life entirely to the lavender color of the turned-over boat I spied.

2016-07-20 14.24.34

Orleans town landing: Readiness

The other thing that is going on here is the attempt to convey the peekaboo effect of the foreground tree, hanging over the two boats.  It’s not easy.  You can’t really paint each individual leaf, but you can’t mass them together too solidly either.  I’m not sure I got the balance correct here.  If only the sun had been coming in another direction, I could have had shadows of leaves on the boat.  That would have been cool!

The other thing I’ve got going on is Figure in the Landscape, like last year.  Every Sunday in David Curtis’ Gloucester garden.  I will wait until I have four accumulated and do a separate blog about them.  The trouble with painting a lot is it leads to writing a lot in the blog.  I coulda been paintin’ instead!

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the New Hampshire Antique Co-op in Milford;  at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester, part of the Healing with Art program;  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, phone cases, pillows 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

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!



Color Me Encouraged

Last week I was bellyaching about how dissatisfied I was with my paintings, and Fate apparently paid attention, showering me with encouragement this week.  Just a little, no “tens” on the ten-point encouragement scale but maybe, considering all, a solid seven.

First, I partook in the 4th Annual Essex (Massachusetts) Paint Out on Saturday.  It was my first foray into this event but I had heard that the auction was widely supported.  We painted Saturday and handed in the wet paintings before leaving Essex to go home.  On Sunday we returned (I was already in Gloucester for my Figure in the Landscape workshop with David Curtis) for a Silent Auction (4-6) and a Live Auction (6 -7).  About 18 works had been preselected for the Live Auction–works by popular local artists.  About 100 paintings were entered in the silent auction.

Here’s how a silent auction works:  the artist declares a value for the painting (in my case, $325 for each 9×12 wet painting, unframed); the authorities (actually, some computer, they alleged) use that value to peg the minimum/opening bid (in my case, $125).  Each painting is accompanied by a bidding sheet.  The top line states the opening bid.  A bidder writes his/her name on that line.  Thereafter, other bidders could come along and bid higher by writing their names on the next line, and stating the higher bid next to their names.  The first bidder must lurk in the area, watching for such an eventuality so as to strike back with another bid if he/she really wants the painting.  So that is the Sunday scene.

Now back to Saturday.  Flo Parlangeli and I sought out a scene with marshland (for her) and buildings (for me).  Based on a tip I got at registration, we drove to the end of the appropriately named Water Street.  From there, we had a view upriver (the Essex River) to the Town of Essex (buildings, including a steeple, de rigeur for a New England town), and a view downriver toward the bay, eventually toward the ocean.  Downriver was Flo’s choice.

View of the Town

View of the Town

Essex River--Highway to the Sea

Essex River–Highway to the Sea

The edges of the Essex River are very marshy.  Its pace looks relaxed, and its path meanders and splits off to form separate pools here and there.  When the tide is low, mud flats are exposed.  The Town is celebrated for its clams, dug out of those mud flats.

We were welcomed by two brothers who had inherited the house at the end of Water Street, and encouraged to go anywhere on their land, either side of the road, despite the No Trespassing signs.  They also regaled us with inside stories about our location and the town.  The bottom of Water Street had once been called Callahan Point, Callahan being their great grandmother’s maiden name, or Clay Point for the industry of brick making that once thrived there.  Associated buildings are long gone and the land is now all under conservation never to be despoiled again.

Soon we were joined by another artist–from New Hampshire!  Total coincidence.  She was a pastelist and left after lunch, never to be seen again.  We looked for her painting at the auction but could not find it.  I suspect she was a victim of Dissatisfaction.  Speaking of lunch . . . Wow!  I volunteered to go collect the lunches for all three of us since I had finished my first painting.  That turned out to be quite a project.  They served clam chowder (of course), tossed salad, sandwiches of every description, homemade chips, cookies, water and condiments.  I had to choose what kind of sandwiches and figure out how to transport three lidless clam chowders cups to Water Street.

Flo was working all day on one larger piece looking downriver, and didn’t finish until about 4 o’clock.  With that extra time to think, it occurred to me that between us we had two extra tickets to the auction event, so we offered those to our hosts.  One of them said he  would bid on my upriver painting, and indeed he did, and he won it for the opening bid.  My other, downriver, painting also sold, to a local art photographer whose stunning sunset-over-the-marshes view was in the live auction.  (Unless he got outbid–I have not received any word yet of the final bids.)  Unfortunately, Flo’s painting did not find a bidder.  Indeed, a quick glance around the barn of the items up for silent auction suggested that less than half were finding bidders–not exactly what had been anticipated based on prior years’ performances.  I suspect the large format of Flo’s painting might have put off savvy buyers, who are all too familiar with the cost of framing.

We stuck around for the live auction, at first because David Curtis had one in it and I thought I might get a David Curtis painting for an unrealistically low price–what a coup that would be!  However, I fell in love with a different painting and had to go my limit ($300) to get it.

Wildflowers in August by Carole Loiacono

Wildflowers in August by Carole Loiacono

This artist spends half the year in Florida, apparently.  I guess she was not at the auction.  Neither was David Curtis, and by the time his piece came up for bidding, I had “shot my wad”.  Sorry, David.

Riding on the crest of my Essex success, yesterday I embarked with Sharon Allen and Jim O’Donnell on trip up to Wolfboro for the annual paintout sponsored by the Governor Wentworth Arts Council.  This paintout also ends with a sale of some sort, sometimes an auction, other times, a straight sale.  One time, I sold in the silent auction format–$100 for an unframed 8×10, which I had to split with the host organization.  My buyer that year had guarded my painting so that no one else could get near the bidding sheet to compete with her.  I didn’t really mind, because it’s not about the money for me.  I was flattered.

This year we were allowed to set a price, and to be consistent, I put the price of $325 on my 9×12 painting.  Yes, only the one painting.  We had to turn them in at 2 o’clock and I had picked a difficult subject that took almost all of the 4 hours available to me.  There were no buyers for $325 paintings.  $60 paintings, yeah.  I would have attributed my failure to find a buyer to  buyers choosing against me, but for the fact that I WON People’s Choice!!!  I now know how Sally Field felt accepting the Academy Award for Norma Rae.  I had not even voted for my own painting, assuming it wouldn’t even be in the running.  Instead I voted for Jim’s excellent painting of the water vista.  And Jim came in second!  I am so glad I voted for him.  Fate rewarded me.

Proud Winners

Proud Winners

My painting was of a statue in Cote Park called “Sharing”.  1934839_106878732190_121261_n It features two bronze figures and a park bench, which visitors use like a bench for photo opportunities.  If only they’d stay long enough for me to incorporate them into the painting.   The title of the sculpture must refer the “sharing” of the experience of eating ice cream cones by grandfather and boy.   It should be noted that there is a place to buy ice cream down at the docks.  After handing in my painting, I availed myself of a cup of something chocolatey.  A rather large cup.  Turns out, I deserved it!

A Moment to Treasure

A Moment to Treasure

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Library Arts Center in Newport, NH;  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Firefly American Bistro on 22 Concord Street, Manchester; 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

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

July in New England–outdoors in the heat of the sun

I feel a little as if I have been running around without purpose, just answering one call after another to paint outdoors.  But now, looking over my output, I see  there must have been other things absorbing my  time and attention.  Nevertheless, you are not likely to want to see the entire three weeks’ of artworks, and I am in the happy position of picking my favorites to talk about.  I have painted in Manchester, Goffstown, Newport, Portsmouth, Rye, and Newington, all of New Hampshire, plus Gloucester, Massachusetts.  Here are the best of the lot:

Uncanoonuc Garden

Uncanoonuc Garden

This location is on the side of a hill called Uncanoonuc.  Actually, there are two hills by that name, next to each other, and even Wikipedia avers that they are “mountains” with impressive views of Manchester to the east, the Wapack range to the west, and on a good day, Boston to the south. From Manchester, the Uncanoonucs resemble the mounds of a woman’s breasts, and Uncanoonuc is a native American word meaning just that.  One Uncanoonuc boasts a road upwards.  Along the way is a retail plant nursery that has installed groupings of shrubs and flowers to show its customers how lovely is a good landscaping plan.  The blue spruce caught my eye, in part because much earlier in my painting career, I had recreated another Little Blue Spruce.

Little Blue Spruce

Little Blue Spruce–Putney VT 2008

Well, I don’t think I can say my blue spruce technique has improved at all since 2008!  The earlier blue spruce was growing at the studio of the “Putney Painters”, where I was taking a workshop with Albert Handell.  Albert liked my spruce but thought I had crowded it too much with the other trees.  I usually take the advice of masters to heart, but maybe 20 percent of the time, I stay true to my own original intent.  I see his point, but I also admire the pluckiness of the baby spruce staking its own territorial claim under less than ideal circumstances.  I’ll bet today it is crowding that building in the background.

In Newport, in the course of delivering and picking up a painting for the regional show at the Library Arts Center, I got myself invited to participate in the Garden Tour, as a painter.  They had about ten different gardens open for tour, each with different attributes.  I told them I cared only about the flowers, not interested in mountain vistas or water features, so they sent me to the site of an abandoned gravel pit.  The homeowners have been reclaiming the land patch by patch.  As each load of topsoil was dumped into a pile, stuff got planted . I chose to paint the pile devoted to the memory of a beloved dog who had passed the year before.

A Boy and His Dog . . .

A Boy and His Dog . . .

The message set forth on the rustic sign reads “A boy and his dog are joined at the hip and heart forever.”  So instead of flowers, I found myself focusing on hardscape elements of rocks and sculpture, so easily is the artist’s intention waylaid.  When I had finished A Boy, I made another stab at featuring flowers.  I went in search of a floral closeup.

Flower Box

Flower Box

I knew I was doomed to fail at the task of matching the glowing fuchsia reds of the petunias, but set out to try anyway.  The next day, after the paint had set up a little, I was able to add cleaner, brighter color here and there so as to convey the sense of color, even if the exact color remained elusive.  The  straw strands in the basket came mostly out of my head, or rather, out of my memory of my favorite painting by Jamie Wyeth–Hay Bale.


Isn’t that the most lovingly portrayed hay bale ever?  A living, almost breathing, hay bale.  Don’t you feel like you could stab it with a pitchfork right on your computer screen?  Just imagine how it looks in person, as I saw it on the wall of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts last year.

I have one more Exeter painting to show–it was painted “live” just before a lawn party at the Exeter Inn.  I painted another during the lawn party, but I don’t love it so much.

Exeter Inn

Exeter Inn

I was pleased with the flowers in this painting, and I hoped my handling of flowers in the landscape might be improving.

Portsmouth and its environs saw a lot of me the past few weeks.  And I saw just the tiniest fraction of paintable spots, so rich is Portsmouth in architecture and marine attractions.  I accumulated three favorites:


Inlet, Boat ramp

Entering Prescott Park

Entering Prescott Park

The Zinnias are perhaps too carefully depicted.  Reality is my downfall.

Wentworth by the Sea

Wentworth by the Sea

The biggest challenge here was the shoreline–how to show the transparency of the water’s edge lapping on the rocky beach.

Again this year, David Curtis is giving his workshops on painting the figure in the landscape, in his garden.  Our model was dressed as a bride:

Bridal Portrait

Bridal Portrait

I’m growing weary of green!  Note that the landscape portion of this figure in the landscape is not much more than fuzzy suggestions of landscape.  I felt it had to be thus.

But not all work was done outdoors.  Our Monday life group met twice:

Natalie 2

Natalie 2



All in all, the lesson I have taken away from these three weeks of fairly intense painting is renewed awareness that I still suffer from a deficiency that has plagued me all along.  I’m not “loose” (messy) enough.  Is it that I’m so fast a painter that I end up wasting my time on “cleaning” and straightening and perfecting?  For example, the windows behind the window box were never “finished” because, thank the lord, I realized I could not improve on their rough state.  But examples of overpainting are too abundant.  When will I ever learn?

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

with the East Colony  artists for the rest of July at 163 (167) Water Street, Exeter, NH;  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Firefly American Bistro on 22 Concord Street, Manchester (reception August 3); and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.  Also, on July 23, from 5 to 8 p.m., the doors to all art galleries in Manchester are open and served by a old-time trolley.  I am participating as a member of the Manchester Artists Association in a one-day exhibit at the Rines Center, on the Trolley route.  It’s all free!  See the Open Doors Trolley Night website for more information and a list of venues that have a show going on that night.

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

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

Urban New Hampshire

I have saved up a number of challenge paintings for this post.  The challenges came from the subject matter.  Although landscapes in general are less demanding than other genres because nature is so variable in its beauty, the same cannot be said when architecture, vehicles or people become prominent in the scene.  Perhaps I have been setting myself up for a higher failure rate.  But I can’t learn if I stick to easy subjects.  I’m not sure which of these are failures and which are the successful embodiment of a new direction in my artistry.  I’m feeling my way, so to speak, across the landscape of my creativity.


First, a large (20×16) rendition from a photograph taken when I realized I had forgotten my chair.  I simply cannot stand to paint for two hours at an easel.  Old bones, or something like that.  So I photographed my inspiration and tried not to become a servant of the photo.  This is a vacant mill (it is for sale) in the Town of Newport, New Hampshire.

The Ruger Mill, Newport, NH

The Ruger Mill, Newport, NH

The lead in to this view of these sunken buildings intrigued me the most:  that curvy downward driveway must have been a nightmare when shifts changed.  The river that powered the mill flows out of sight in the back of the buildings.  I believe that same river is the waterway that led to my next Newport painting.  A one-lane covered bridge next to a rolling park is a kind of hybrid between straight landscape and architecture, but no one can deny a bridge is a construct subject to the laws of perspective.  It was threatening rain the day I was in Newport for this painting, and after I scouted the various aspects of the bridge, it did rain, furiously.  I waited.  After all, I was several hours away from home and there wasn’t any reason to hurry home.  After about 20 minutes I got lucky.  The rain stopped and the sun even came out intermittently.  For an hour.  Suddenly–that means without warning–it started raining hard again so I packed up quickly and headed home.

Newport Covered Bridge

Newport Covered Bridge

I studied the quick block-in long and hard.  I knew the perspective was probably wrong.  The bridge was level, but looks as if it is slanted upward in my painting.  The reflection reinforces that notion.  I consulted the photograph taken when I was scouting, and it shows a bridge going straight and level.  But I really, really wanted to trust what I blocked in at the site.  After all, I was seated while painting, and I had been standing to take photographs.  If I changed the bridge and the reflections, I would have all those stripey shapes that I hate so much.  Ergo, slant stays.  For the good of the art.


Again this year I participated in the paint-out fundraiser for the American Independence Museum in Exeter.  I had scouted locations the day before, when I was delivering paintings to our pop-up gallery on Water Street, and spied a good riverfront vantage point on private property that had a sign warning “No Trespassing Fishing . . . [other forbidden activities]”.  There was nevertheless a guy fishing .  I asked him about the sign, whether it was vigorously enforced.  “What sign?” he asked.   He had never noticed, but it didn’t matter:  he lived in the condo complex and gave me permission to paint there the next day.  First, I painted the buildings across the river, but I included a vigorous evergreen that partially blocked my view, instead of moving to the right where the shrub would not block my view.  That meant painting a close up of a potted plant, in addition to the architecture in the background, not to mention the river itself and a boat tied up to a landing.  I felt it might be possible because I had chosen a large panel, 16×12, for the project.  But the evergreen defeated me.

Exeter Riverfront

Exeter Riverfront

Almost from the same spot, I found a charming bridge that I wanted to paint.  The evergreen was in the way again.  For this one, I did stand up, because I really had to in order to see over the shrubbery.  But I knew I only had a hour to paint because the wet paintings were due back at the Museum for the wet paint sale, so I figured, for an hour I can stand.  Note the different treatment I tried out for the same shrub in the second painting.

String Bridge, Exeter

String Bridge, Exeter

Neither painting found a buyer, but in my haste to set up, I mispriced them as if they had been framed.  Just as well, because when I got them home, I improved on the shrubbery.  Not so much but I was happier.

Last week, I was back in Exeter to see if the pop-up needed any help.  It didn’t, so I went up Water Street and painted the scene looking down and back to where our gallery is.  Shrubbery was replaced by automobiles.  They moved in and out of the parking spots in front of me.  What can you do?  I never got a good enough handle on what existed behind the cars, so I had to include the cars.  Maybe I can develop that into a specialty!

Water Street, Exeter

Water Street, Exeter


Market Square in Portsmouth was the site of an organized paintout last Wednesday.  Only four painters that I was aware of, which including me and Flo, actually participated.  Flo and I settled on the shady corner kitty-corner from the dominant building, North Church, whence I included North Church and the street running to the right and down.  Blocking my view on the right was a tree and Flo, who painted the picturesque row of storefronts behind me.  It would not have been realistic to paint Market Square without vehicles or people.  So I grabbed a few impressions–one trolley and one van for vehicular traffic, and two couples for the human sort.  Traffic is so annoying; it moves.  The parked cars in Exeter were a piece of cake by comparison.

Market Square in Portsmouth

Market Square in Portsmouth

New Boston

Last is the painting I did at the Farmers’ Market last Saturday in New Boston.  A call had gone out on the NH Plein Air list inviting plein air artists, and I answered the call.  I was the only one to do so.  I’m not sure, in retrospect, whether the idea was for the artist to be selling artwork or to be creating artwork.  I had assumed creating, because in years past I had done the same at the Bedford Farmers Market.  So I created.

Under Dogwood, New Boston

Under Dogwood, New Boston

For a little while, I had a group of musicians in the gazebo, but alas, they had to leave after an hour, and without warning!  Well, challenges, right?  Another difficulty was the Dogwood tree.  Since it was in the foreground, like the nasty evergreen shrub in Exeter, I felt I had to do more than suggest a generic tree with white blossoms.  It should convey the idea of a dogwood tree.  Conveying the idea of musicians was much easier!  Go figure!  (Pun not intended.)

So there’s an assortment.  Is anything happening here in terms of this Painter’s Progress?

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

with the East Colony  artists for the rest of June and all of July at 163 (167) Water Street, Exeter, NH; at the Bedford Public Library; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the NH Institute of Art, 77 Amherst St., Manchester; 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

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

Final and Complete Report of Marco Island Painting Binge

After a snow-impeded itinerary, I finally returned to the winter wonderland that is New Hampshire.  Another snow storm yesterday has locked me at home.  The city didn’t bother to plow my little stub of a street until it was sure it could build a barricade at the bottom of my driveway worthy of good ol’ New England complaining.  Still, I don’t mind . . . didn’t want to go anywhere today anyway, not when I have the lovely task of reliving my adventures in Marco Island, through this retelling.

All thirteen of my Marco 2014 paintings are painted on 9 x 12 carton paper, acquired from Judson’s Guerrilla Painter art supplies.  Two paintings are candidates for cropping, as you will see.  The first 8 were posted last week, using photos taken with my phone or my iPad.  Now that I have new versions taken with my Nikon Digital SLR, I will include them again.  A few have endured improvements since last week.

I would love to hear from my followers which painting(s) are their favorites.

Marco 2014 No. 1

Marco 2014 No. 1

This first painting is still one of my own favorites.

Marco 2014 No. 2

Marco 2014 No. 2

I added the sky and make other changes as planned.  I can see room for more improvement–punchier lights on the foreground objects.

Marco 2014 No. 3

Marco 2014 No. 3 – The Beach

The quickest, simplest is the favorite of many people.  I touched up the bird spots.  Several had suggested making the spots into kites (the toy, not the bird), but I was concerned about bringing in that level of detail.

Marco 2014 No. 4

Marco 2014 No. 4 – Sea Grapes

Although I wanted to improve on the definition between light and shadow, I lacked the confidence to do anything about it.

Marco 2014 No. 5

Marco 2014 No. 5

The only improvement I made to No. 5 is the color of the shadows on the building.  Less green, more blue.

Marco 2014 No. 6

Marco 2014 No. 6–Calusa Boat Yard

No changes to this one.  But when I posted it last week, I didn’t include any narrative, and it deserves a narrative.  On my right, over the railing, is a roof covering a shelf-like area where successful fishermen (women don’t seem to be into that kind of thing) can clean their fish.  There’s a water spigot and a tube into which the waste is shoved, which apparently drops the waste somewhere in the water underneath, where the waiting pelicans cannot access it.  There is a prominently posted sign forbidding the feeding of the pelicans.  But they hover nevertheless.    Because mistakes are made.  Sometimes a particularly motivated fish escapes the grasp of the fisherman and dives in the waiting maw of a pelican.

I was in that spot because of the shadow afforded by the roof.  So I was kind of in the way, but not so much as would require me to move.  One of the fisherman wanted this painting, but he was willing to pay only $100 for it.  I felt it was worth at least $200.  I hope he’s sorry now!

Marco 2014 No. 7

Marco 2014 No. 7–Pond with girl and goose

I defined the figure of the little girl to show her posture better.  She was a real little girl, but she never sat for me on the bank like that.  The Canadian goose was one of a pair cruising around with a pair of Muscovy ducks.  The walkway pavement really was a purply black.

Marco 2014 No. 8

Marco 2014 No. 8–dog walkers’ park

I reworked this painting a lot.  The bridge alone got about four repaintings.  A figure went in, came out; the original dog came out, a new one came in.  I was looking for something expressive, trying to channel Van Gogh.  Here was the previous version.


Marco 2014 No. 9

Marco 2014 No. 9

Mary lives on a golf course, of course.  If you don’t live on either water or a golf course on Marco, you  are doing something wrong.  We reconnoitered the course but found nothing to inspire us to paint, but on our way back to her house, we both fell in love with this huge palm, catching light here and there, so that’s where I set up.  It was close to the back door to her lanai (screened in terrace containing swimming pool–standard equipment in Florida).  In the lanai, watching me closely, was her black cat, Tara.  So I popped her in the painting.  Jungle cat with green eyes.

Marco 2014 No. 10

Marco 2014 No. 10

Yet another park–the same where we had painted our picnic in the rain last year.  Both Mary and I decided to paint the reflections in the lake.  She draws in pencil, then paints in watercolor.  (I had intended to take pictures of her paintings too, and share with you.  But forgot until this minute.  The fog of age.)  Anyway, she takes a lot longer to complete a painting, what with all that drawing first.  I was finished with mine, grousing about the difficulties (I have a list of them with respect to reflections), and was just diddling around with it when a huge flock of ducks swooped down and started swimming furiously around in circles.  Whassup?  I thought.  A few of them climbed the bank over on the right, out of my frame, investigated, and returned to swimming in circles.  Then arrived a man and woman laden with buckets.  They dumped the contents of the buckets under the tree lately investigated by the scouter ducks, and a parade ensued.  This was what the ducks were waiting for!  Since I wasn’t doing anything important anyway, I stopped fussing over the ever-changing tree, grass and house reflections and changed up my pond to accommodate a representative grouping of circling ducks.  Are the ducks too black?  That’s how they appeared to me in that low light, silhouetted against the bright water.

Marco 2014 No. 11

Marco 2014 No. 11

Flo joined us, down from Cape Coral, and the three of us caught up with that same group of outdoor painters who go out each Wednesday to paint together at specific locations.  This week’s location, the Esplanade, includes fountains, retail establishments, boats (moored to the right in this view), and lots of people.  Rich people.  We spread out.  I chose to paint the bar because I thought it was time that I tried something really difficult.  I had my eye on the bank of liquor bottles in the background.  I spent all day on this one painting, and much of that time was spent repainting the elements, trying to get them to work together.  Perhaps I overdid it.  Does it look stilted?

Marco 2014 No. 12

Marco 2014 No. 12 – Vanda orchid

Although our weather was warm and sunny all the time I was there, one day was extremely windy.  The three of us decided the better part of valor was staying in the shelter of the lanai and painting Mary’s Vanda orchid.  I tried to mix up the color of the orchid from my various reds and blues, but it just wasn’t working–not even close–, so I borrowed some Magenta from Flo and voila!  That made me curious about magenta–why wouldn’t it mix from blue and red?  Turns out it is special; because blue and red don’t mix past purple on the spectrum of color–they don’t meet on the color spectrum.  A synthetic red called quinacridone makes possible the purply red known as magenta or fuchsia.  I am adding Magenta back to my palette and bowing respectfully to all quinacridones.

Marco 2014 No. 12 detail of orchid

Marco 2014 No. 12 detail of orchid

Flo’s version of the orchid was more of a closeup, and just like a kid, when I saw her treatment, I decided I wanted that too, so here is my cropped version.  Is it better than the one with roots in the foreground and swimming pool and palm tree in the background?  By the way, I need to thank Deirdre Riley, who paints flowers awesomely; she advises what I call the big blob attack method of painting flowers, whereby you paint in the general shape of the entire arrangement, then pick out lights and darks to form the shapes of individual flowers.  That approach stood me in good stead with this extraordinary plant with a single stem smothered with individual flowers.

Last, but certainly not least, here is the cut-down version that I prefer:

Marco 2014 No. 13 v.2 (6x12)

Marco 2014 No. 13 v.2 (6×12)

Before cropping, this is the painting:

Marco 2014 No. 13 (9x12)

Marco 2014 No. 13 (9×12)

I haven’t actually cut it up yet, so if you think I am wrong to do so, please tell me now.  Not later!

The location is the Rose Marina, where I have painted before, but this time we explored our way around the water to a residential neighborhood that has this view of the action.  Notice there is a major bow sticking its nose in at the right.  While I was painting, this ship, the Marco Island Princess, got underway with its passengers for a sunset cruise in the Gulf . . . analogous to a Mount Washington dinner cruise on Lake Winnepesaukee, but much smaller.  The foreground is a grassy knoll that drops down to the water out of your view (and mine), which complicates your understanding of what is happening.  That’s why I prefer the cropped version.  Yes, there are a couple of pelicans in the painting.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth;  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   and at her studio by appointment (email:

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints 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 using this feedback form.

Reporting from Marco Island

I’ve been here since Tuesday, getting out of the snowpath in the nick of time. Lucky, lucky me! We’ve been painting every day, 4or 5 hours each day. I have 8 nearly finished paintings, 9 by 12.

For our first outing we joined a group of outdoor painters who get together Wednesdays, and this Wednesday we were invited into and around the “Gingerbread Cottage”, a private residence owned by a couple of gardeners and dog lovers. They had won a prize for their landscaping, and they locked the dogs up for the day. About 20 artists were tucked away in nooks and crannies on the property, for it was not a large lot. Tiny pathways separated beds of stuff that I got to know as house plants. We got there late, having been delayed by a visit to the farmers market. Most of the nooks and crannies were already either occupied or being painted. I settled in a shady spot where I was assured I was not blocking anybody’s view of her subject. Then I surveyed the scene to divine a subject of my own. I thought, well ok, for the first time my first painting will not be the best one. So what! But maybe it will be the best.

This view is from almost the same spot. Some of the artists who had arrived before us were leaving or relocating, so I got a spot with a view of our hosts’ dock and next door neighbors. Maybe “next door” isn’t quite the correct term if you need a boat to go borrow a cup of sugar. You’ll notice I haven’t put in a sky yet. Among other improvements I plan are sun-lighting the plant and post at right, about half, at an angle pointing in and down; darkening the shadow behind the boat; and inserting a bit of white reflection in the water below the boat.

Mary likes to paint beaches, so the next day we spent in the sand. We had not only fog but heavy cloud cover. I was drawn to the shiny white line of sunlight breaking through the clouds way in the distance. Of course that condition could not last long, so I painted very fast. I had finished by the time the sun reached me. A few repairs are needed–those brown dots in the sky are unwelcome volunteers. The black streak can stay–it makes a good swooping bird of prey. I used up some old clotted paint to mix my gray sand, and made a virtue of its texture.

The arrival of hot sunlight chased me under a tiki hut, where I found this sea grape plant arranging itself in a pleasing composition.

Yes, this is painting no. 1, enlarged. Working on the iPad is awkward, and things don’t always go where I intended them to go. In fact, this reporting is exhausting me. I’m going to try to upload the next 4 all at once, omitting comments.





Do overs and lupines

A couple of months ago I posted a rave on Anders Zorn, and I think I may have found him a few new fans.  Today, I have another, similar artist for  you to sample, through a click back to Robert Genn’s site here.  The artist is Joachim Sorolla (WA keem SarOYah), a Spanish contemporary of both Sargent and Zorn.  He was a master of all the same skills that I admire in Sargent and Zorn, plus he was a magician with white.  Not actual white, but that hue as changed by light and shadows.

And now for a commercial:  please visit this address for a view of all the artworks accepted into an online exhibit called “Women’s Rights, An Artist’s Perspective”.  My painting  “Grandma’s Jewels” was juried into this exhibit.  All of the artwork in this and similar exhibits is something called “conceptual”, that is, a message is conveyed, to the most intense degree of drama possible.  Picasso’s “Guernica”, for example.  I think it would be hard to be a conceptual artist all the time, but some artists thrive on it.  Personally, I just like to find something beautiful and paint that.  Beauty does not convey message, at least not any message that packs a punch.

OK, with all that out of the way, on to this week’s topic:  Do-overs.  Lupines.  In the past few weeks, I have been outside doing a lot of plein air painting.  My best paintings have a way of being alla prima, without any going back to correct or improve.  In fact, I cannot think of one that I was able to turn from mediocre into superlative.   Yet I keep trying!  Of my two from the Forbes House (discussed last week here), I did produce one winner, the little one of the “coverlet”.  The other one was a bit messy, and I took a knife (palette knife) to it, thinking to reclaim the panel for another project.  But that damned Urge to Fix overcame me, and I repainted the bloody thing, using the ghost images as my guide to the placement and shape of the boats.

Milton Landing, before scraping

                    Milton Landing, before scraping


Marina, repainted

Marina, repainted

I’m afraid the result may not have been worth the effort, but no effort is really wasted in this learning process.  Or is it?

Then last Thursday, I took the day off to go lupine painting with the lupine experts of the NH Plein Air group.  Lupines are a flower that blooms in June rather extravagantly in some  places.  The town of Sugar Hill has so many lupine fields that it holds a “lupine festival” every year to encourage visitors to the area.  Lupines come in shades of blue, pink and white, sometimes within one plant, but mostly blues and purples.  They look a lot like the Texas bluebonnet.  I have had trouble painting lupines in the past, but I wasn’t giving up on them.  Yet.

I produced three lupine paintings.  Not happy with any of them.  The first was the obligatory field of lupines against the backdrop of receding mountains featuring Mount Washington on the misty horizon.  The second was lupines by the lake.  In both of these, I was really more interested in the receding mountains and the lake, respectively, than I was in the lupines.  The lupines seemed kind of stuck on.  An accidental presence.  So I painted a quick lupine closeup as my third and last opportunity to conquer the lupine hazard.

When I got home, with the advantage of distance from the actual scene, I decided the problem was my schizo approach to the lupines.  To make the first two paintings better, I had to downplay the lupines, stop treating them as pimples on an otherwise idyllic landscape.  And for the third study, I just needed a few more strokes to define the nature of the lupine and its leaves.  Not so much of a do-over, more of a touch up.

I hope you have not been holding your breath!  Here they are, the befores and the afters:

Field of Lupines, BEFORE

Field of Lupines, BEFORE

Field of Lupines, AFTER

Field of Lupines, AFTER

Pearl Lake BEFORE

Pearl Lake BEFORE


Pearl Lake, AFTER

Pearl Lake, AFTER

Lupines close, BEFORE

Lupines close, BEFORE

Lupines, AFTER

Lupines, AFTER

Not only am I cursed by this compulsion to fix mediocre paintings, I am cursed by the compulsion to write about it, doubling the time and effort expended.  Should I make this my last lupine festival, or is there hope for me?

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (part of the Healing with Art program); and at her studio by appointment.  Two paintings are also hung somewhere in an office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter, probably the Manchester one.

She’s Back (More Margaret)

Margaret in a Twist

Margaret in a Twist

June is the month of Margaret, but since we are not meeting on Fridays, we’ll have only the four Tuesday sessions to try to capture her elusive likeness.  (Prior agonies were explored in this blog.) This profile isn’t too bad, but what I was concentrating on was the body–the subtle swellings and shadows that reveal bones and muscle and fat.  Not much fat on Margaret, but that just makes what is there all the more fascinating.  As usual, I enjoyed playing with the colors, exaggerating the warmth that I was seeing in the shadow side.  I see a few things (e.g., the way the chair back comes forward) that I would fix if I thought I’d be showing this anyone, but that’s unlikely to happen.  (I mean in person, not online.)

Saturday, a welcome change of pace:  I took the opportunity to join the NH Plein Air artists in the second annual paint out at the Forbes House Museum in Milton, Massachusetts.  Last year we had lots of sales (commission to benefit the Forbes  House), so we had some hopes for a repeat.  But this year, no bustling crowds.  My theory–everyone had graduations to attend.  Never mind–the weather was outstanding and we were doing what we love to do.  For painting subjects, with the Museum’s encouragement, we left the grounds of the Museum to seek out local water scenes.  My driving companion, Flo Parlangeli, has a connection to water that sets her heart to pounding.  I’m  sorry I didn’t think to take a photo of her painting and her two paintings.  She was painting them both at the same time–one on her easel and one in her lap.  Pretty peculiar, but it was all because she was working in acrylic paint, which dries fast.  The fast drying quality was something Flo was using to her advantage.  She’d let one dry and work on the other, then pick up the first and paint over the previous layer, then repeat with the second one.

Milton Landing

Milton Landing

This was my first one, which I spent about three hours on.  I placed it in an Art Cocoon and to make sure it didn’t flop out, I taped the corners.  But I was careless, and turned it upside down, and the panel did flop out of its bed.  As a result, I lost some of my crisp dark edges at the bottoms of the boats.  I had thick, white paint in those areas that just flattened and spread out over the edges.  I like to paint thick, wet into wet, although there is a limit to how much paint you can pile without losing control of the situation.  I was too close to losing control here even before the accident with the Cocoon.  This also illustrates why Flo was using the fast-drying acrylics.

So Flo was not going anywhere and I was finished with the boats.  I could have taken her car and driven to  another location.  Instead, I set up in a new spot nearby, in the lee of the boat ramp, where I was visited by a family of ducks.   Such as the joys of plein air painting, offsetting the distress caused by wind gusts that try to make off with  umbrella and anything attached to it (like your easel).

Covelet at Milton Landing

Covelet at Milton Landing

I thank you all for your feedback on last week’s project, the lettering for my Live Free poster.  I am still mulling over all the suggestions.   In the meantime, I have covered up “. . . and”.  Some objected to the ellipsis, but it was part of the original challenge–just in reverse order.  I decided to conform to the challenge more literally–when the paint dries, I will paint in letters for “and . . .”  When I complete the project, I will post the final version.  And if I have nothing more interesting to talk about, I will describe all the suggestions I received and reasons why I did or did not take them.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (part of the Healing with Art program) and at her studio by appointment.  Two paintings are also hung somewhere in an office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter, probably the Manchester one.  Currently, the only location for viewing the nudes is at her studio.

Marco Island Paintings Part Two

Each painting has a story, but 14 stories is a bit much to ask my followers to, um, follow, so I am just adding a few comments underneath, same as I did for Mary’s paintings in my prior post.  Super-short stories, in effect.  Unlike the spread of Mary’s paintings, I organized mine in chronological order to the best of my memory.


We were huddled behind some shrubbery seeking shelter from stiff winds on a relatively chilly day (for the tropics), so the subject was not selected by inspiration but forced by necessity.   Usually my first painting turns out to be the best, or at least one of the best, in a series of outdoor paintings.  As I was working on this one, I thought it was going to be an exception to that “rule”, but now I am liking it better. . .probably because I am far enough away from the scene to be able to forget reality.

Island Woman

Island Woman.  It becomes a scene of intense frolicness (frolicity?) on the weekends, but we wouldn’t have been able to park anywhere close then, much less find a place to set up easels.

Lanai Sunset

Lanai Sunset.  Strictly speaking, not plein air, but inspired by sight, memory and assisted by iPad photo.  Perhaps still a work in progress.

Waterfront Home

Waterfront Home.  The boats are up in the air on hoists, and I worried about how it would read.  But not important now, I think.  The water looks liquid, don’t you agree?

Frangepani Tree

Frangepani Tree.  Economy of effort:–beautiful bark, few leaves, and blossoms rationed to bloom at the ends of branches for short time.  This one had buds but no blooms yet.

Farmers Market Musician

Farmers Market Musician.  We were chased out of the grounds proper and forced to set up behind the “band”.  Lucky for us!

Octagonal house

Octagonal house.  Occasionally, we can’t resist recording the unusual.

MarGood Park View from the Gazebo

MarGood Park View from the Gazebo.  Our 2d visit to this spot.  Behind me was the skiff that I painted two days before.  It was while I was working on this scene that I got skiff-owner’s request to purchase my painting of his boat and his dog.  I posted that news here.  Pelican landed just in time to get included in the painting.


Dinner!  These are six of the 2 dozen blue crabs that I received in partial payment for the skiff-dog painting.  Don’t they look delicious?  (I think they were blue before being steamed.)

Fishing under the Jolley Bridge

Fishing under the Jolley Bridge.  Had highest hopes for this one, but now worry it has missed the mark.  There is a slight curve in the bridge, so don’t get on my case about perspective!

Waterfront Dining

Waterside Dining.  That’s how they characterize it.  I left out the blue dolphin that Mary chose to feature.  Dolphins all over the city, like moose sculptures in NH.  Cows in Chicago.  Gnus in New London.  (look it up)

Two Visitors to Residents Beach

Two Tiny Visitors to Residents Beach.  What?  You don’t see them?  I thought they were warblers, but the bird book suggests they are more likely wrens.  Also met my first Red Knots and Brewer’s Blackbirds in the course of making this painting.  (Beach is to the right, past the vegetation barrier.)

Plein Air Still Life

Plein Air Still Life?  I’m  always saying:  I don’t “do” still lifes.  This not really “still” because the light keeps moving!

Last Day: San Marco Church

Morning of my Travel Day: San Marco R.C. Church.  Foreground, what foreground?  What can you do with a parking lot? Had to pack up and catch plane in afternoon, so I forgot to get photo of Mary’s version, which was excellent.

I hope that adds up to fourteen.  I wish I had a better photo of number 15, which I had to leave in Florida with its happy new owner.  I took a photo of Stephen holding his painting, but it turned out horrible.  Here instead is a photo of my collector, which I lifted from the Naples Daily News, online edition.

Crabby Stephen

He may look like he only knows about collecting (and cooking) crabs, but he is also experienced in matting and framing, so the painting is in the best of hands.  I asked him to send photo of painting when and as framed.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at her law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

Through March 29, you can also view (and purchase–of course!) my 6×6’s at the Artstream Gallery in Rochester, NH.

If you happen to be near Tampa, Florida on March 7, 8, and 9, you could (and should) catch Nude Nite, happening with music and other entertainment at 3606 E. 4th Ave., in Tampa.  Hours are 6 pm to midnight.  (Nude NITE, after all)

Marco Island Paintings Part One: M.C. Reining

I returned from my two-week painting vacation on Marco Island with 14 paintings, and the next two days was back to painting and drawing nudes.  Too much for one blogpost anyway, so I am deferring for a few days the pleasure of showing my art in favor of first displaying the artworks created by my Marco Island hostess, Mary Crawford Reining.

On most occasions, we were looking in the roughly  same direction to paint if not the same scene, neighboring scenes.  You will be able to identify a few exceptions (most prominently the boat featured in my previous posting).   You might find it interesting to compare our different treatments of the same subjects.  But it would be like comparing apples to oranges, which I understand is not a good thing to do.  Mary is a watercolorist (she claims to switch from medium to medium, but I have only seen her painting with watercolors in the five  years that I have been plein air painting with her) and her style is looser than mine.  I have noticed that the more experienced an artist is, the more successfully they attain looseness.  Mary is very experienced, having studied art and having taught art, and, most importantly, having never in all those years ceased to think and behave like an artist.

You will enjoy her paintings:

Within a shelter created by natural canopy

Within a shelter created by natural canopy.  Destined to be a study for a much larger version of the same scene.

Bank of newspaper dispensers in Goodland, in front of "Island Woman"

Bank of newspaper dispensers in Goodland, in front of “Island Woman”.  My version contains only three of the kiosks.

Blue Dolphin sculpture in front of Mangoes

Blue Dolphin sculpture in front of Mangoes.  Celebrating kitsch.

Musicians and crowds at the Farmers Market

Musicians and crowds at the Farmers Market.  That very blue man in the center is the main actor in my version.

Octagonal house in Goodland

Octagonal lemon-green house in Goodland.  Why not?

View found in leeward side of the Jolley Bridge

View found in leeward side of the Jolley Bridge, Day 1 of my visit, very windy!

View found from under the other side of the Jolley Bridge

Another watery residence.  Outboard motor included.

Home in Goodland, from gazebo at MarGood park

Home in Goodland, from gazebo at MarGood park.  (Isn’t that orange reflection just brilliant?)

Yellow Sailboat with Black Sail

Yellow Sailboat with Black Sail.  I actually didn’t get to this scene, but we had it on our agenda.

Study of palm trees in stiff wind

Study of palm trees in stiff wind, at Residents’ Beach.

Plein air still life, French style picnic

Plein air still life, French style picnic  (Bread  looks awfully good–you’d never know it was hard as a rock)

I wish I could send you to a wider online presence of Mary’s, but she keeps a low profile, electronically speaking.  In fact, NO profile at all online.  I know. . . shocking.  But if you were of a mind to purchase any of her artworks, I would be glad to act as intermediary.

The Week of “Super Storm”

Haven’t  you heard enough about Sandy already?  New Hampshire is one of the suffering states, but I got off pretty easy.  Looks like I’m going to have to pay for a new roof without help from the insurance company.  Being unscathed myself, I insisted on  holding the Tuesday life group.  It was, after all, a pretty nice day, weather-wise, a little rainy but hardly any wind to speak of.  But most of the other artists were dealing with one storm-related problem or another and couldn’t get here for the group.  So it was just the model, another unscathed artist, and me.

We set up in the window side of the studio and had our model lounge on the familiar old brown leather sofa.  We found ourselves looking down on him, which felt strange at first.  The model stand that we usually use puts the model at my eye level or above.  (I sit to paint.)  We also forewent any supplemental lighting inasmuch as the sun was streaming right in at our backs (yes, SUN).  No dramatic shadows to fall back on for creating interest.  But as it turned out, I didn’t need any drama from lighting.  I accepted a full-on frontal foreshortened pose with the model’s feet practically in my face.  (Of course that’s an exaggeration–I did say “practically”.)  I was super pleased with this development because it furnishes a response to a taunt from  one of my colleagues who, upon viewing last week’s blog, complained that I was not giving enough attention to feet.  Since he is also one of our models, I suspect it is HIS feet he want more attention paid to.  Nevertheless, feet are feet:

The Feet Have It

I have to point out that it is not often that you get to depict the wrinkles on the sole of a foot.  Having recently watched a documentary on Lucien Freud, I also felt as if I were channeling him every so slightly, as I tried to paint the effect of hairy legs.

On Friday, four of us  met with Peter Clive for a quasi-workshop session.  Peter had during the summer been attending our Tuesday group whenever he could, but currently his teaching schedule at the NH Institute of Art kept him there on Tuesdays.  So he offered to come instead on Fridays and critique work in progress, when corrections are possible.  In the course of the summer and now the fall, Peter has seen quite a few of my paintings.  He compliments me by saying something like “That’s a nice study,”  or even “That’s a great study.”  He said that about The Feet.  Noting his use of the word “study”, I had reconciled myself to the reality that a serious artist does not go around producing a finished painting in three hours (actually less when you consider setting up time and break times).  The fact that I consider these paintings as complete if not completely wonderful just shows how far I am from being a serious artist.  There is a whole level of professionalism up there that I can only imagine.

However, the work that I did Friday was, at the end of the three hours, pronouced a “painting” by Peter, “not just a good study”.  Yes, he actually said those words.

An Actual Painting

He liked the composition, which I admit, I  had worked out early in the process. before paying much attention to the figure.  So that was unusual.  Perhaps because of that, a certain painterly quality emerged for the whole painting.  But when I got home, I noticed that the right leg was too short, both as measured against her left leg and as measured against her torso.  So I “fixed” it.  I tried to duplicate  the original foot before I covered it up, but the new foot  (FEET again!) doesn’t look right.   I may have botched this painting by correcting one errant part of it that may not have mattered in the big scheme of things.    All is not lost, however–the same model is returning in two weeks for the same pose, and I will get another crack at that foot.  I am also hoping to paint a larger version from the same pose.

Totem, 11×14, $300

Lotus Studies 13×13 $265

High and Dry, 11×14, $300

A plug for the Soo Rye Art Gallery opening on November 10, reception from 5 to 8 p.m.  The address is 11 Sagamore Road, Rye, NH.  All the artworks being exhibited are priced no higher than $300.  I contributed “Totem”, “Lotus Studies”, and “High and Dry”, three of my all-time favorite paintings.  If you can’t get to the opening, the show  continues through the end of December, but I expect that a lot of the art will be sold at the opening.

Here is some history for these three paintings:

Totem was accepted in a regional show juried by Don Stone for the Rockport Art Association (Massachusetts, not Maine).  I painted Totem on the coast of Rhode Island, near Narragransett, with my artist friend, Mary Crawford Reining.  The totem, actually more accurately called a cairn, in the painting really did exist exactly as I painted it.  Other cairns had been built by person or persons unknown, but this one was the most adventurous.  It was more than a cairn–so I titled it Totem.  Earlier in that morning, I had painted another, more complex view of this rocky beach, and had an hour left over.  Only much later did I  realize until later what a successful painting Totem was.

Lotus Studies won Best in Show at a Manchester Artists Association exhibit, about a year ago when the MAA had a gallery of its own, but I created it at least a year before that for the Women’s Caucus for Art annual 6×6 show.    That had been my first year in the WCA, hence my first 6×6 show.  I had easy inspiration from photographs taken at the lotus pond in Wickford, Rhode Island, again visiting Mary.  The next year we tried plein air painting at the pond, but my output was worthless.

High and Dry has no  distinction to report, but it deserves an award, in my humble opinion, for oozing the most charm.  I have Mary Crawford Reining to thank again, for High and Dry:  this time I was a visiting her Marco Island home for perhaps the third year in a row.  None of my Florida paintings had amounted to much until this one, and I still consider it the Prize of my Florida collection.  Funny thing is, Mary had had her eye on this boat for a long time, wanting to paint it but never having got around to it.  So I swoop in and steal her subject as it were, and make it one of my best from Florida.

Only in the writing of these descriptions did I notice the huge debt I owe Mary Crawford Reining for guiding me to these three inspiring subjects.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Soo Rye Art Gallery in Rye NH; at the law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.   Also, if you want to plan ahead, on December 1-2, a two-day show  of unframed works at Adrienne’s studio on the 4th floor of  Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH; the artwork will be priced no higher than $150!  At least six artists are participating in this sale.

Bonus Blog: Cruisin’ and Paintin’ the Essex River

Last Wednesday I took the day off from my job as  a lawyer in my own law firm (I can do that sort of thing when it’s my firm), and ventured South to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with Sharon Allen, best known as the “plein air gal” responsible for holding our listserv together.  I had two tickets for the Essex River Cruise at one o’clock, and figured we could fit in one painting before and one after the cruise.  And so we did, even taking time out for a seashore dinner in the town of Essex, and even though poor Sharon was probably more wiped out than she wanted to tell me, inasmuch as she is recuperating from a terrifying regimen of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  We focused so hard on our paintings that neither of use looked up to see what the other was up to.  We painted until the mosquitos came out in force and the light started to fail.  When I got home that night, I crashed.   I can’t  imagine how tired Sharon much have been.

Our morning painting was done at Cogswell’s Grant, an historic location including a farm.  We didn’t investigate the farm much, just found a shady spot with an attractive view and went to work.  My view is of the parking area.  That’s not as crazy as it sounds.

Parking for Cogswell’s Grant

The Essex River is not quite visible from here, but it is not far away, to the left of the parking area.  The cars, in case you are wondering, are behind the shrubbery on the right.

Our cruise was pleasant, and the weather was perfect for that kind of an outing.  Did you know that the 1995 movie “The Crucible” was filmed on an island in Essex, presumably because of its proximity to Salem, Massachusetts.  The movie makers recreated the Town of Salem as it had existed in 1692, and it sounded to me as if everything was removed after the movie was completed.

After getting our bites to eat (fried clams being the local specialty, that’s what I had), we set out to find a location that our cruise boat guide had called a magnet for artists–the Cox reservation.  Once there, we settled on a knoll with a wide view of the marshy unnavigable strands of the Essex River, looking toward the ocean but not quite seeing it.

View of Essex River marshes from the Cox Reservation

 AlineLotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the Gallery at Red Gate Farm in Plymouth; at the Yoga Balance Studio in Manchester; at the Pantano Gallery in the Shapiro Library at Southern NH University; at the law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

The Wolfeboro Paintout

I’m getting a little spacey, a little forgetful;  I forgot that I have this self-imposed obligation to post something beautiful and interesting to my blog every week on Monday.  My excuse is that I was just too busy yesterday picking apples.  Well, I mostly observed the actual apple-picking part, but the whole afternoon was a visit, with my apple-picking family, to old friends from law school, who own a house  in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, plunked in the middle of — you guessed it!–an apple orchard.  We started with a repast set outside in the orchard–so heavenly!  (Heavenly, thanks to the glorious weather we have been enjoying.  I entertain a horribly selfish thought: “If this is climate change, bring it on!”  Then I remind myself that with warmth comes insects, and invasive plants.)

Anyway, all that information is in aid of explaining why I forgot to photograph paintings for the blog today.  There is another, possibly truer, explanation:  I am a older person.  Older people tend toward absent-mindedness.  This is actually because they have lived a long time, long enough to figure out not to sweat the small stuff.  Not to imply that you are small stuff.  No, you are big stuff, but the self-imposed blog regime is small stuff.

However, I have a few shots taken on Saturday with my smart-ish phone.  They are not great photos.  I think my previous phone, which wasn’t at all smart, took much better photos.  But in phones, as in everything, you can’t have everything.  (My smart-ish phone is a Samsung Conquer and it came free with my new Credo cell service provider.  I am half-expecting Apple to swoop down and confiscate it after its big court win.  Then maybe Credo will offer me the new  iPhone.  I’m sure the photo quality would improve because I have complete faith in all things Apple, having forgiven Apple for dropping iWeb.

Now that I have got used to  WordPress, I would not want to return to iWeb for this blog.  With WordPress, I can start the blog at one location (home or office) and finish it at another.  That means I can write stuff now, and delay publishing until I get home tonight, take better photos, and post them then–still Monday, just later on Monday.  However, another regular Monday thing that I do is play bridge, in the evening.  I could work on the blog after bridge, before I go to bed, but, you know, older person?  So I’m thinking I had better give you what I have today, and catch up on the good photos next week.

Unfortunately, there will never be a good photo of one subject.  Saturday, with a few other painters in the New Hampshire Plein Air group, I participated in the Wolfeboro “Paint the Town” fundraising event.  My first painting was sold (YEA!), so I have only that camera phone shot to show for it.  Here is the scene I was painting:

Three Boats and a Wetsuit (photo)

It was the wetsuit that caught my eye, but it is such a small detail in the painting as a whole, that I felt I had to draw attention to it in the title to the painting.  Also, I worried that the dark splotch might not immediately read as “wetsuit” unless I provided a clue.

Three Boats and a Wetsuit (painting)

The wetsuit painting is, trust me on this,  much livelier that it appears to be in this poorly exposed, horribly framed photo.  I let the carrier go with the painting.  Sometimes I can retrieve the carrier from the buyer, which is to be desired since the carriers (“Art Cocoons”) cost each about $10.

For my second painting, I looked around for a spot overlooked, an interesting corner with good composition and contrasts of light and shade, where I could be myself in the shade.   I found one that excited a lot of comments and curiosity from passersby (why would I chose to turn my back on the docks, etc. to paint this dark corner–what could I possibly find interesting enough to paint in this dark corner?), but it was not purchased.  Good.  I see a few things that I can improve.  And I will be able to get a better photograph of it.

Wolfeboro painting no. 2 (Cate Park)







Cate Park Painting–better photo!


P.S.  P.S.  P.S.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the Gallery at Red Gate Farm in Plymouth; at the Yoga Balance Studio in Manchester; at the Pantano Gallery in the Shapiro Library at Southern NH University; at the law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

No Nudes Week

I mislaid my Tuesday painting of a lovely male nude. That’s the primary reason for depriving you of any paintings or drawing of nude people this week. However, it creates the opportunity to publish the plein air paintings that I left behind in Portsmouth a few weeks ago.

Bridge to Pierce/Peirce Island

This first painting, “The Bridge to Pierce/Peirce Island,” I worked on for about three hours, and brought it pretty much to a point where I felt it was finished. Notice the American flags. They were present, of course, but I could have ignored them. As the result of spending so much time on the bridge painting, I did not have as much time as I needed to finish the second one.

NHAA’s Sheafe Warehouse

I had expected the Warehouse to make for a simpler painting, but I had difficulty with perspective and texture, which took time to work out and so I ran out of time. One day, when I am more experienced, I will know to ignore the deadline and just withhold an unfinished painting from the wet paint sale. I don’t plan to finish this painting. It goes on the discard pile, to be sanded and painted over.

I’ve been wondering why I tend to go in close to buildings instead of situating them in a landscape. I’m beginning to realize that it’s harder to paint a successful landscape painting with so little actual land. Buildings can be beautiful, but they need to be placed in context. In the next painting, I stepped back a little bit–but still I chose to lose the top of the barn.

Swallow Barn

I produced this painting in the course of collecting the above two Portsmouth paintings from my artist friend, Bruce Jones, who had kept them safe. This barn is across the street from his home in Exeter. [Exeter is the home of Don Stone. Bruce paints with Don Stone and has a lovely loose style that you sometimes see in a Don Stone painting. Who influenced whom?] I titled the painting “Swallow Barn” because Bruce’s wife Tracy told me about barn swallows who have made this barn their home. I wish I could have caught them in my painting but I guess they were snoozing. Instead, I put in the shovel, as my quirky substitute for life. Don’t you wonder what use that shovel was being put to, in the middle of August?

Report on exhibits: Two of my plein air paintings were accepted into an exhibit titled “Reinventing the Farm”, opening this Friday in Plymouth NH–the Gallery at Red Gate Farm, 188 Highland Street. The reception is Friday from 6 to 9. I never got around to mailing out the post card invitations to attend the reception. I feel really bad about that, and hope a few of my blog readers will make the effort although I know Plymouth seems a bit out of the way.

Another painting, not plein air but rather a combination of still life and photographic references, that I developed specifically for an exhibit titled “Add Women and Stir”, was rejected. To check out the rejectee, click here. Perhaps not edgy enough, perhaps just not good enough. I look for excuses but “just not good enough” seems most likely reason.

I round out this week of painting-from-life-but-not-nudes with my two paintings of our new Sudanese model, Yannette. These are from our Sunday life group. The first is the one I started last week. I “finished” it this week, which only means I came to a point where the painting seemed uniformly complete and I didn’t feel like taking it any further.


Sorry about the glare. The painting is 20×16, which is a very large surface to light without incurring any shine anywhere. I’m going to be doing more paintings of that size now that I possess a 16×20 canvas pad, so I promise to figure out how to photograph paintings of size more competently. Surely there is something on the Web, if only I can find it.

I may have rushed the full length portrait of Yannette to conclusion because my secret desire was to paint a closeup portrait of her.

Yanette Profile

Finally, a fuller explanation of why I mislaid my lovely Tuesday nude. I have been readying my nudes for display at the Londonderry Art in the Park on September 8 (Saturday). As I mentioned in an earlier post, Londonderry is not only permitting the display of pre-approved nudes, it is encouraging it by making the theme of the show “Bare Essentials” and awarding a prize for the best nude in the show.

I probably have twenty or so nudes painted in oils, and hundreds of nude drawings that I could mat and frame. To keep effort and costs down, I have decided to concentrate on the oil paintings. I ordered six new, distinctive frames, which arrived Thursday, two days early. I selected my ten favorite nudes–almost all of them had been painted on 12×16 unmounted, unstretched canvas. I had to choose whether to crop to 11×14 or to add paint to the edges where my support had covered up the surface. This choice resulted in a lot of agony. Even the painting to the edge distorts the composition of the original painting. If only I could wave a wand and produce odd-sized panels to mount them on, and odd-sized frames to put them in. Then, picture this: I go to insert my cropped-down treasures in the new 11×14 frames and they won’t fit! Five of my hardboard supports had been cut slightly too large. Price being no object when it comes to presenting my paintings, I got on the phone today and ordered five more frames cut slightly larger than 11×14. Meanwhile, I had put aside my last nude because it was not quite dry enough for the mounting thing, and it disappeared in the midst of the chaos. I’m not worried. It will turn up, and it will be on display in my tent at the Londonderry Art in the Park on September 8. Be There!

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the Gallery at Red Gate Farm in Plymouth; at the Yoga Balance Studio in Manchester; at the law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.



Above is a new and improved version of the Rockport Harbor painting from last week.  I’m hoping you might be curious to see what can happen to a plein air painting after the artist gets to stare at it in the studio for a while.  It all started when I decided that the shape of the red fish house was not quite right.  Perspective errors are the worst–they haunt me forever unless I fix them.  And once I dive into a painting to make one correction, chances are pretty good that I will find other ways to improve on a painting, even a painting that started out not so bad.   (With a bad painting, I’m like a dog with a bone–I won’t give it up.)  So, after correcting the shape of the fish house, I made the following changes:

Sky:  horizon color–greener

Red fish house: adjusted values of lighted and shaded sides

Blue fish house: changed color of  roof

Boats:  added clean whites to sun-struck surfaces

Water:  brought up reflections of boats, toned down reflection of red fish house

Stone abutments:  eliminated highlights, contrast

Rockport Harbor WIP

After making those changes, I submitted the painting to Patrick McCay’s critical gaze in my EEE class, and, following his advice:

Foreground shrub: added darker shadows, to better compete with the dark in the middle boat

Middle boat:  inserted lighter shadows into the deck , so that the boat stopped attracting the eye

Red fish house: grayed down the red on the fish house–to comport with aerial perspective rules.

I think it’s done now.  Unless something else starts to bother me about it. But I am deep into more studies for the Mount Washington bike race painting and unlikely to give Rockport Harbor another going over.

Here are two Mt. Washington studies, one finished (maybe) and the other, not quite finished–hope you like them!

View of race with vista

At the Finish (WIP)

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at her studio by appointment.

Link to website:


Rockport Harbor, November 2011

Last Monday, I took the day off to go painting, making a gift out of the  chore of picking up an unsold painting at the Rockport Art Association in Massachusetts.  Accompanying me were my friends, Jackie and Clint.  We explored the entire downtown area before settling on a location across from the T Wharf where Clint and I had painting a month ago.  It was a magnificent day, at least until the sun disappeared behind the buildings.

Drawn again by the fish house known as Motif No. 1, I also had Van Gogh in mind in my depiction of the drying shrub.  At the start, the boats were necessary to the scene, but not necessarily the focus of the painting.  But boats have a way of stealing your attention, of grabbing the eye.  So I give up, and let it become a painting about the boats and not at all about the now-annoying drying shrub in the foreground.

A few days ago, I read another blog exhorting artists to keep all their older work so that they can see and appreciate the progress they are making.   I keep pictures of most of my paintings, and the rendering of boats is particularly difficult.  I searched everywhere to find the first boats I remember having painted; the only images I could find were embedded in an Excel file.  (I used to keep track of all my paintings in an Excel file, but after 100, it got to be too cumbersome.)  The struggle to find a way to include these two proofs of my early ineptitude has taken me all morning.  I finally figured out that if I transfer each image from the Excel file to a Word file, then save the Word file as a web page, the images get converted to jpg images that I can import into iPhoto.  Then I export the images from iPhoto to my desktop, from whence I can upload them into WordPress.  Whew!  Not sure the effort was worth it.

These two paintings were plein air, on Monhegan Island, during a workshop with Stan Moeller:

Monhegan Harbor from Fish Beach

Lobster boats, lobster pound          

Kind of clunky, right?  But not bad as a start.  Bear in mind the damn things are constantly moving and changing their orientation as the tides move under them.

In my search through the archives, I stumbled upon three paintings from another Moeller workshop that also contained boats, earlier than the Monhegan boats by about two weeks:


These three are views from La Napoule on the Mediterranean coast of France.  The boats in these three paintings are too distant, too small to  qualify as boat paintings, but I thought they were worth including since they are the very first boats to appear in any painting by me.

Apparently, I went without boats of any kind for two years after that.  The next grouping is two Rhode Island paintings, again plein air, that I painted in the summer of 2009:

Working Boats at Rest 8×10          

Marina at Allen Harbor, Rhode Island  12×16

I was very pleased with these two paintings, which were done in the same afternoon from virtually the same spot.  The conditions were uncomfortable–very windy, cold, I think, yet sunny.  I just remember being miserable during the first painting  and rushing to finish it.   It’s not hard to see progress between the Monhegan boats and the Rhode Island boats.

Most of my boats are plein air experiences, but there is one prominent exception.  I painted a large (for me, then) portrait of a waterfront in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and toward the end, stuck in a boat to break up the waterline and add interest:

Portsmouth Waterfront 16×20

That is a real boat–it belongs to someone who lives in one of those buildings. This boat “portrait”, painted from a photo reference, undoubtedly helped me in depicting my favorite plein air boat, “High and Dry”, from 2011 below.

My Rhode Island successes had given me the courage to go for boats on my next trip to  Florida; in 2010 I choose this orange catamaran.


The double hulls made this a complicated project. I was not  thrilled with the resulting portrait.  So I tried again with this one, looking for the magic I seemed to have found in Rhode Island:

Boat Slip

This painting is not about the boat in the background, but about the reflections in the water of the pilings.  But it’s still a boat so it has to count for something.  The boat is certainly better than the Monhegan boats–not as clunky.  But I don’t love it the way I love my Rhode Island boats.  Perhaps I have a bias in favor of working boats.

That Fall (2010) I painted my first New Hampshire boats, but in a way that the painting cannot be assigned a place the scale of good, better or best boats.  These were impressions of boats from a distance, much like my La Napoule boats:

Sunset over Massabesic Lake

The point of this painting, obviously I guess, was the sunset.  The boats are mere window dressing, silhouettes against the light.  Around about the same time, I painted from a photograph taken in Ogunquit, Maine, the following scene:


Another case of the boat being window dressing.

This brings me to the most recent predecessors of Rockport Harbor:  two paintings from Florida in March of this year; and one from Wells Harbor in June.

One-story home with Boat

High and Dry (but still perky)

Wells Harbor

Of these three, only “High and Dry” is all about the boat.  “High and Dry” is, in my opinion,  my best boat ever, but it should be:– unlike all other boats, my model for this painting was perfectly stationary.  It’s hard enough drawing or painting a moving object, much less one that demands a level of accuracy approaching portraiture.

Finally, Rockport:

Rockport Harbor, November 2011

Three boats of diminishing size to show perspective, of diminishing detail to show distance, a scene so perfectly matched to the beginning (Monhegan boats) that a comparison is easy.  There has been progress!  But wait–what about progress since Rhode Island boats?  That is far from certain, to me at least.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at her studio by appointment.

Link to website: