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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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 Before and After.

Before

Before

After

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.

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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.

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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!

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:

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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 alotter@mac.com.

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!

 

 

Mt. Washington Valley in May, 2015

Last weekend was the annual spring artists’ getaway to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and I was happily present.  This time I took some larger panels to paint on, instead of those 9×12 carton paper supports I have been relying upon lately.  I’m a big girl now and I want to paint bigger.  I took three 12×16 panels, one 9×12 panel, and as back up if I needed them, a small stack of the carton paper sheets.

There were eight of us, not very many but very select.  Walt and Ann from western Massachusetts; Suzanne from Rhode Island; Helene, my roommate, from Nashua, NH; Betty from Wolfeborough, NH; and of course the stalwarts and leaders of this plein air event, Sharon Allen and Byron Carr.   It was a great weekend, with the weather cooperating for the most part–rare for a New England spring.  Weather forecasts for rainy Saturday afternoon sent us off course in search of meaningful nonpainting pursuits, none of which really panned out (the museum in Jackson was closed), whereas the weather stayed lovely and would have been ideal for painting.  [virtual teeth gnashing]  I made up for it on Sunday and the good thing is, I never had to dip into the reserve supports of carton paper.

My first painting Friday morning was this one from Pear Mountain Road.

View of Mt. Washington from Pear Mt. Rd.

View of Mt. Washington from Pear Mt. Rd.

I added the telephone wiring after I got home.  I did not want to smudge my lovely blue sky by trying to add the wires into wet paint; besides, at home I had some new tools called “French curves”.  I don’t know the proper method of deploying them, but I picked out an appropriate curve and used it as a guide for my brush.  The resulting lines are almost too confident.  These wires wee a necessary element of this painting.  Here is what it looked like before I added the wires.  The greens in this cell phone version are more accurate than the ones in the expensive SDLR Nikon version above.  (more whining complaint below.)

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View of Mt. Washington wip (cell phone photo)

After lunch four of us gathered at Jackson Falls.  I have painted various versions and aspects of Jackson Falls over the years.  How to make this one better?  Feature a big rock instead of all that white water.

Portrait of Big Rock at Jackson Falls

Portrait of Big Rock at Jackson Falls (cell phone photo–because Nikon version too dark)

Since I was working large, I had no trouble filling each half-day stint with just one painting.  I was pretty happy with how things were going so far.  The next day we went looking for a covered bridge because of the Stupid Weather Forecast.  The one we chose is not open to traffic, and usually we would have been content to paint it or paint from it at road level.  This day, however, my painting buddies discovered a way to get underneath the road with a view up at the bridge.  This created a curious problem, one I did not recognize until I had already committed to my vantage point.  Damn covered bridge is essentially four stripes of almost equal width running across the top of painting–that is, if you want to show the water too.  Nothing more monotonous.  I struggled with the size of the stripes.  I messed with the edges.  I toned down the red so as to push the thing into the background.  Still awful.  When I got home, I decided it couldn’t hurt to try scrumbling shadowy darks over the left edge of my bridge, and I think that may have saved it from the scrap heap.  Here are the before and after:

Convergence of Saco and Swift Rivers (before)

Convergence of Saco and Swift Rivers (before)

Convergence of Saco and Swift Rivers (after)

Convergence of Saco and Swift Rivers (after)

OK, the colors don’t match.  For some reason, photographing all of these paintings has been unusually frustrating.  The new Photos app that Apple has forced on me does not give me a way to adjust the level of yellows, blues and reds.  I am not coping well!

That accounts for my three large format, 12×16, panels.  Sunday morning, after the usual fabulous breakfast at the Bartlett Inn (but no rancho huervos this year–I forgot to complain about that!), Sharon and Betty and I followed Byron up a road off Route 3 between Twin Mountain and Franconia Notch:–white water, moss-covered rocks, deep pools.  For the best spot, you needed to be pretty adventurous, but I found a tidy little version close to the road and fought off Sharon for it.  I included some Trillium at bottom left because I saw some on the slope to adventure spot.  This may be my favorite from the weekend.

Woodland brook

Woodland brook 9×12

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

one last week at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the Library Arts Center in Newport, NH; at the Sharon Arts Center in Peterborough, NH; at the Buttonwoods Museum in Haverhill, MA; 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 alotter@mac.com.

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!

Marco Island Part 6 (final): Kooky, Experimental

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

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

South Beach Residential

South Beach Residential

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

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

 

South Beach Nocturne

South Beach Nocturne

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

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

 

Bridge to Everglades

My Bridge from Everglades, looking North

Here is Mary’s version in watercolor:

Mary's Bridge

Mary’s Bridge

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

Watery Home

Watery Home

Compare a cropped version without the railings:

Watery Home-Detail

Watery Home-Detail

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

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

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Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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!