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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Day 8: Schooner Head Sunrise, Sand Beach/Beehive, and Eagle Lake Sunset

Today was a BUSY and productive day! I woke early again to paint the sunrise at Schooner Head. It was foggy like yesterday, but I had a better eastward view so I could see the sun behind the fog illuminating the clouds. The subtlety of the colors through the fog was beautiful. The landscape was quickly changing and I probably saw hundreds of "scenes" as the sun continued to rise and the fog continued to shift. The fog was dense and blurred the horizon line for most of the morning, then the peninsula went back and forth between hardly discernible and completely visible. The ocean changed colors as the sky changed and the sun rose. It was almost a religious experience to watch the world wake up. By the end of my painting the sun cast warm beams of light and the fog had cleared. I was warm, which is something I never thought I'd be here. I've heard some artists use the term "chasing the light" and i gained great understanding of that changes quickly so you truly are chasing the light to get the colors down on canvas. The sun affects all colors of a landscape - how powerful that it can alter our visual perceptions so rapidly, day in and day out.
Subtle colors.
Some light peeking through.
Reminiscent of a JMW Turner painting.
Constantly changing...
Good morning world.
Shifting and changing all morning!
Schooner Head.
Schoodic Peninsula from Mount Desert at Sunrise by Frederic Edwin Church. 1850-1855
Sunrise on Schooner Head.
My studio.
I tried using bristle brushes today after I read a post on artist James Gurney's blog about Church's process. I wish I could post the screenshot I took but, no service to get it from my phone. He writes:
Because of the way oil paint can retain its brush character when it is scrubbed on, he suggests a lot of detail with a bristle brush. The foreground trees seem to have their full complement of leaves, but the light leaf textures are the light-toned board showing through.
So that is what I tried today in all my paintings, with great success. I'll have to look for some nicer bristle brushes in a few more sizes. The rocks in the foreground of my sunrise painting were done with a bristle brush and nicely describe the texture of the rocks. It also worked well for the waves in the ocean which I would otherwise have to spend time placing down individual light strokes of paint.

One of the best things about waking up so early was I had a painting done by 9:00am and the whole day ahead of me. I drove to the nearest bathroom which happened to be at Sand Beach. Church did two paintings here so I decided to stay. I finished writing my blog from yesterday and met a man from a Grove City, Ohio who admired the OSU buckeye sticker on the back of my van. I was a little flustered because I was getting things gathered in the back of my car which is basically my "bedroom." He peeked in and said you have a camper van too! He walked to his car, which was right next to mine, and said "I don't show everyone this, but that's what we use our van for too!" So we talked about how awesome camper vans are. It really has been awesome with the cold nights. Thanks mom! :)

I crossed Sand Beach on my hike up to Great Head, where Church viewed the scene of Beehive and Sand Beach. Maine has very few sand beaches because of something geology and a rock splitting the current that I now forget. I do remember that the sand is really crushed shells. Walked across the beach where many people and families were spending their day on the beach. I found a view close to that of Church's - I could see the beach and Beehive, but not as much of the mountains to the right of Beehive. It was an insanely beautiful spot to paint. I found a little rock that worked perfectly for me to sit on as I painted. Instead of painting the sketch as I have been doing, I used a palette knife to sketch into the thin red oxide underpainting. I think it worked better because the red doesn't mix quite as thickly on the edges and outlines, and I could "erase" with a big bristle brush.
Sand Beach.
Sketch into wet paint.
I think my best studio so far.
The Beehive and Sand Beach from Great Head by FEC, 1850.
Coast at Mount Desert (Sand Beach) by FEC, 1850.
Again, it was a beautiful spot to paint and sit and be. The wind picked up despite how warm it was on the beach and my raincoat was a good windbreak. The ocean stretched out to my left, below is a small peninsula of rocks, the inlet wrapped in a horseshoe shape so across from me I can see more coastline and ocean. The landscape I painted was very picturesque. I was very content. Being outside everyday painting nature in nature has made me feel very connected to truth. There is so much in our world today, including certain types of art, that serve to take us farther and farther away from what is real. I don't have much of an interest in that - I have interest in the sun as it illuminates the ocean and the wind as it rustles trees and clouds as they move across the sky. This is what my art is about, capturing and experiencing truth in the world around us.
Sand Beach.
On my hike back I saw the real view Church painted...for a moment I thought, crap, I've messed this all up! I decided to sketch the view (which really was hard to see from the path on the way down) and take detailed notes about the colors, etc. The great thing is the painting I did captured the colors in the area and I will be able to reference that in a painting after the trip. Church did two painted sketches, one is more of Sand Beach, so I guess I sort of combined the two views. The only thing I could mess up on this trip is not painting and not drawing.
The view Church painted.
Sketch and notes for later.
On my way to paint the sunset on top of Cadillac Mountain I stopped at Monument Cove to see if I could find monument rock from one of Church's sketches. I didn't see it until I walked away from the overlook. Trees blocked my view everywhere I looked so I definitely followed the rules and did not cross the rope that said restoration area keep out. I did not get an amazing view of the rock from an overlook past that rope. I'll go back another day to sketch it.
Monument Rock in Monument Cove.
On my way up to Cadillac I drove by an overlook and saw an amazing red sun setting in the sky. I slammed on my brakes, threw my car in reverse, parked, and frantically tried to get my paints out. I sat on a rock and put my easel on my lap trying to lay color in with a big bristle brush. Meanwhile other people are stopping to watch the sunset and suddenly I felt like this performance artist! Which was kind of embarrassing since I didn't have cadmium red on my palette and the sun was RED. It was magnificent, all the colors, and I could only halfway describe them with my paints. A nice family stayed to watch me sketch (I wasn't even going to finish it until one of the daughters said "I want to stay and see her finish.") I gave it to the family since I'd done it so quickly and they were really appreciative.
I feel like my inner creative world is constantly buzzing. Everything is fascinating, everything is an adventure, and there are things to learn and see and explore everywhere. Life is grand.
Sunset near Eagle Lake.


  1. Wonderful day full of phenomenal paintings! It's really neat how you are even able to find the same locations and views as Church painted, considering the number of years which have passed and vegetation growth, tree growth and all that nature has done to change the landscape!
    How great are those bristle brushes?!? The effect on your painting is apparent and stunning!
    And, gotta love a camper van!
    Love, mom

  2. Sand Beach and Monument Rock....SO BEAUTIFUL!