Light on the water...

Penumbra 18x24sm


I love painting back-lit objects, and especially back-lit boats on the water. The contrast of the dark masses create a foundation that pops into a vibrant image with the addition of some carefully placed highlights. Even though I’ve painted this type of scene before, I always think I can get it just right if I try one more time. This was a recent day in Spruce Head, ME. I painted some studies of the skies and islands as clouds blew through and cleared out. As the day got later and clear skies took over, I couldn’t resist painting this view. The light gets strongest on the water as the sun gets lower, which unfortunately means I’m racing to keep up and get my painting blocked in. Even though there is a lot of contrast between dark and light objects in this type of scene, I want to rely more on rich color, and the warm and cool differences. Color temperature makes the sense of light in a scene pop more than anything else.

This painting is 18×24″ and will be on display at Center for Maine Contemporary Art, and available this summer through their fundraising auction in July.

Stonington Waterfont...

On The Edge of Stonington 24x36sm


A few weeks ago I drove up to Stonington for a day of painting, and tried this scene again. I’ve painted in this spot before, and keep coming back to it. It’s kind of a tricky scene to compose with the complicated foreground of pilings and low tide rocks, and the complexity of so much architecture. One thing I like with this foreground is that the pilings give me some strong darks to anchor the painting. And the architecture is busy, but I like the visual rhythm of moving across the buildings and all of the windows. The biggest challenge for this painting is dealing with the light moving along so quickly. I like the morning light here, but before too long the shadows have switched on me completely. When I paint here I have to really simplify the architecture and try to capture the colors as quickly as I can. This painting is 24×36″. It was mostly painted on site, but I touched up a few areas when I got it home to the studio.

Quiet Island...

Harpswell Island 16x20sm


I don’t usually love painting in flat, grey light, but sometimes after enough days of clouds and rain I just have to go out and  try it. The day I painted this I was planning to meet up with friends for a day of painting. Even though there wasn’t a whole lot of sun I was excited to paint this island. The island has an interesting enough shape that I thought it would compose well. And most of the time I was working on site, the reflection in the foreground was a nice anchor for the image. These grey paintings can be more difficult as the colors are so subtle, but I like the mood of a painting like this when it works out.

This painting is 16×20″ oil on canvas.

Sailing School...

Sailing School 36x36sm

Last summer I taught a painting workshop on North Haven, and got some great resource photos to paint from. We spent one day painting next to a sailing class for local kids. I love the busy energy as the kids get everything ready and race to get out on the water. I’m not much of a sailor, but I was excited by the visuals; back-lit sails, how those sails contrast against the dark shapes of the far shore. This also makes me think of all of the sailing camps for kids. I’ve seen some version of this scene every summer since I moved here 13 years ago. It’s a great reminder of the fun summer brings for kids. Seeing this scene also helps me look forward to when my own girls are old enough to go to sailing camp themselves. With any luck they’ll learn enough to teach me!

This painting is 36×36″ and is on display at Greenhut Gallery in Portland, ME. It’s part of a solo show hanging the month of June.

I also want to mention that I’ll be at Greenhut Gallery this Saturday at 1:30 to give a short gallery talk. I  would love to see some of  you there if you get a chance to swing by.

Paint your cake and eat it too!...

Have your cake and paint it too 36x36sm


This is one of my favorite recent paintings, and it’s one of several new paintings I’ll have on display at Dowling Walsh Gallery tonight for the art walk. The art walk is from 5-8pm. There will be a small selection of my paintings hanging. The two main rooms at Dowling Walsh have two great shows this month. Sarah McRae Morton’s stunning paintings will be in one room and Stephen Pace will have a show on the other side of the gallery. Even though their work is quite different, I’m really looking forward to both shows. If you haven’t seen Sarah McRae Morton’s paintings in person you should definitely stop by the gallery this month.

As for my cake painting, I first saw this cake through a friend, Cig Harvey, who also shows at Dowling Walsh and makes the most interesting and rich photographs, with beautiful color. Something about her work has a painterly quality that I love. So I saw an image of this cake that she was playing around with, and then we had it at a friend’s birthday party. As soon as I saw it I wanted to make paintings of this cake. The Camden Cake lady is a local baker who made me this lovely rainbow cake, letting me chose the exact color order I wanted. The cake is great because of the surprise inside when you cut into this perfect white cylinder. I chose to paint this tabletop scene as it looks when the party has moved on to the next game. I could add color through different types of wrapping paper, an napkins and a few toys. The main draw for starting this painting was a visual interest in the color of the cake, but as I put the still life together I found a narrative coming through also. This painting lets the viewer indulge in nostalgia for a child’s birthday party, and also enjoy the visual play between all of the different elements of the scene.


Also a special thanks to Sarah Faragher for the title on this one. She has a show of paintings opening at Landings Gallery tonight in Rockland.

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