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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Day 11: Rocky Coast off Ocean Path, Bar Island, Sand Beach, and Cadillac Mtn Sunset

My last day in Acadia National Park! Time flies when you keep yourself insanely busy. I started to read some of Thoreau's Maine Woods this morning, but if there's daylight I'm anxious to get going. Most of it, I believe, is about his time around Mount "Ktaadn" in what is now Baxter State Park. I've been before with my family, and Church took many trips there, but I decided it wasn't feasible on this trip. Anyway, it is noted that Church may have read this and/or other works by Thoreau. What I read so far talks about a lot of logging in Maine...another great reason why we have National and State parks.

I got up and going and stressed over the death of my camera. My parents were very helpful despite my grumpiness and my dad looked up stores that have a newer model of my camera along my route tomorrow from Acadia to the Hudson River area. I was also a little anxious because it was my last day here and I wanted to make it count. I know searching for Best Buys in Bangor, Maine with my camera is exactly what you wanted to do with your thank you, you are very appreciated.

I decided I wanted to sketch Champlain Mountain, the view I had been searching for the other day when I painted Porcupine Islands. I needed a spot that was further off he coast to view the mountain so I decided to hike Bar Island - which you can only access from 1.5 hours on either side of low tide, which wasn't until that afternoon. I went back to Ocean Path to try for a view of the coast, and to sketch what I believe is Monument Rock in Monument Cove. Both coastal paintings are facing leftward as both Cole and Church did. Both of their views are near Frenchman's Bay which is right along Bar Harbor. Bar Harbor is such a congested area especially on a weekend that I didn't want to spend my time searching for a view I didn't think I'd find. That area isn't part of Acadia either, so there aren't as many trails or paths along the coast. It is also possible that "Frenchman's Bay" extended farther along the coast than it does today. At any rate, I was just in search of a view of the water and rocky coast somewhat similar to Church's view. I couldn't find a great view facing left with the shore, and time was of the essence as I needed to get to Bar Island around 1:30. So I found a spot and started painting.

As difficult as it was in my head to paint rocks and surf, I really enjoyed it. I also worked smaller (6x8in) so the process went a bit quicker and not as much detail was necessary to get the forms to read. Church's Fog off Mount Desert sketch is incredibly detailed and well executed for a plein air study (my favorite of his I think) and after watching again how quickly the water and waves change, I have an even greater appreciation for it. I worked on shellacked (sp?) paper instead of linen canvas glued to board - it's very smooth with no tooth. Most of Church's plein air works are on "light brown paper" or "course light brown paper" or "cardboard" so I was a little more in tune to the materials he used. I'm spending all day Monday at Olana and I'm so excited to see many of his pieces in person!!!

Monument Rock
Monument Cove
Another similar rock closer to Sand Beach, maybe it was this one, who knows.
I'll miss this landscape, even the dead crab remains on rocks. Just realized they got up there via birds eating them (right? I mean they don't just crawl up there and die??)
Studio on the sea...
Rocks off Ocean Path
Fog off Mount Desert
View Across Frenchman’s Bay From Mt. Desert Island, After A Squall by Thomas Cole, 1845. (And it's at the Cincinnati Art Museum!)

There's a great description of these pieces in Maine Sublime:

He [Church] employed his familiar red ground primer, particularly expressive in conveying the sense of the surf thinning out as it washes up over the sand and pink granite ledges. Unlike Cole, who had tended to paint all the components of his landscapes with similar brushwork, Church adjusted his applications of paint to the specific textures of different natural elements. So it is foamy in breaking waves, thinner for water sliding over rocks, broad and solid for the dark granite, and wispy for the fog bank...

I packed up my things and went to Bar Island, which was pretty busy with tourists. I prefer being a little more "on my own" with hikers and bikers in the park (but Bar Island is technically part of the National Park - it's a bit patchy in places with park and private property). The summit of Bar Island has a great view of Bar Harbor and what Church would have called Mount Desert. Most importantly I had a great view of Champlain Mountain! I don't believe Church could have gotten a view of this mountain and the coast, so he must have combined a few views in the painting he did in his studio. I think I'm going to eliminate the hotels in the foreground when I do this painting. Some of his paintings done in studio, while they may not be technically accurate of the exact scene in the same way you could be if painting from a photograph, I think they speak to a greater understanding of a place as a whole, not just one of its parts.

Because cats deserve a nice walk on the beach. Note my very sneaky picture skills.
Path to Bar Island, only accessible during low tide.
Approaching the island.
There was a whole field of these! Wanted to stay and frolic all day in my favorite color!
Anyone know what these are called??
Great view from Bar Island Summit.
Sketch with notes of Champlain Mountain.
Sketch with notes of Champlain Mountain.
Church's studio painting Newport Mountain, Mount Desert aka Champlain Mountain.

Looking now, I think the view might be on the private property next to Dorr Point...

Because all the cool fellows were doing it yesterday. #atlanticocean

I went back to Ocean Path to hang out before the sun set. I was honestly exhausted and had a headache. I found a nice spot and laid down and let go of my "maybe just one more quick painting....." thoughts. I did end up doing an annotated sketch of Sand Beach since I had a nice view, and the contrast with warm and cool colors was intriguing as the evening sun started to set. I left to go watch the sun set part way up Cadillac Mountain - it was an amazing view and I was joined by a group of girls who spent 30 minutes trying to get "that perfect group selfie with the sunset." I had to paint quickly to get the colors down - I feel like a crazy person all flustered with my brushes not really paying attention to anyone around me (except those selfie girls, they were impossible to ignore). The colors were so rich and it was all over so quickly...kind of like my time in Acadia.

Very interesting rock formations.
Maybe the real view of Church's Schoodic Peninsula painting?? This is Great Head near Sand Beach, but I saw the view and thought I've seen that somewhere...
Church's Schoodic Peninsula from Mount Desert at Sunrise may have really been Great Head and Old Soaker rock.
One of many rocky alcoves along Ocean Path. Stunning colors in the rocks, even in shadow.
A little cloudspotting.
A little rock examination.
A little sketching of Sand Beach.
Coast at Mount Desert (Sand Beach) by Frederic Church.


So, my reflections on my time in Acadia: loved it. The landscape here is stunning and I can see how Church, Cole, and many other artists have been drawn here for many years. I am grateful for the generosity of many people in the history of this park who worked to protect the area. I am happy with the work I did here - this is the most productive and inspired I've ever been as an artist. I struck a balance between the views Church painted and sketched and what I chose to paint and draw. Sometimes the his pieces were clearly labeled and I was able to go right to that spot, which were very meaningful experiences, and other times I had to do my best to approximate. I had to make some choices based on time about how long I could spend searching for an exact view, while also navigating how the area has changed since the 1800's. By following Church and the locations he selected to paint and draw, I have felt as if he has been with me as a teacher on this journey. I have learned an incredible amount about being an artist, plein air painting and sketching (like using bristle brushes = genius), the concept of the "artist adventurer" or "artist outdoorsman" who fuses the two together in a single experience, how multidisciplinary art is as a lifelong practice, that "chasing the light" really means chasing the light. I learned how possible I believe it will be to do studio paintings from these sketches, notes, and paintings. These artists and their artwork didn't just happen due to natural skill and ability, they dedicated their lives to developing their craft and we get to behold the fruits of their labors. Thank you Frederic Church for all you've taught me...

I could write more but......goodbye Acadia, on to the Hudson!

Sunset from Cadillac Mountain.
Reminiscent of this Church painting (no specific location given).
Look at that color!
Also thought this was similar to another Church sunset sketch I came across.
One last pic: lovely campground in Acadia. Only complaint is far away expansive showers.




  1. "Or cardboard" haha

    This post was just what I needed to read today! Safe travels and keep it up!!

  2. Well said, Emily! Although I don't really think the showers were expansive....expensive and time-limiting, I think! Ha!
    I'm so happy for your most excellent education by Church!
    Keep Calm and Paint On!
    Love, mom

  3. I enjoy reading about your experience and seeing your art. You're going to make me add all these places to my already long list of places to visit!


    Try that for your flower identification--lupine! I am enjoying following your adventures and am amazed at how quickly you can produce such beautiful work! Blessings for your continued success and safe travels!