Saturday, July 19, 2014

Kickstarter Update: Hanging of the Fifty

Another milestone was reached today, and that was the hanging of the fifty paintings. If you've been following my blog or Kickstarter updates, this is for my "Fifty Paintings for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Roosevelt-Campobello International Park" project.

It's always a good feeling when you get the exhibit hung. Even though this was a relatively easy one - standard sizes, all square - still, it was fifty paintings! Actually, there are fifty-two, including one extra 6x6 plus my 12x24 showpiece, "Mr Roosevelt's Cottage."

The paintings look really good on the wall, and I am so happy they do. If you'd like to see the exhibit, it's at The Fireside, the Roosevelt-Campobello International Park's new restaurant. Exhibit hours are the same as the restaurant's open hours, and the exhibit will be up until August 16. Here's a link to the restaurant's Facebook page so you can get hours and directions:

Tomorrow, I'll be giving a free plein air painting demonstration at the restaurant's front lawn from 2-3 Atlantic Time. I hope you'll join me for that and also stop in for lunch and see the show.

After that, the project takes a rest until the paintings come down August 16. Then we begin the awesome task of shipping the paintings. I'll have more details on that later.

For those of you who supported me in this celebration of the Park's anniversary, thank you! There are still a very few paintings available, and you can see them at

PS Next week I'm off to Castine, Maine, for the second annual Castine Plein Air Festival! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Consistency and Style - Should I Worry?

Not too long ago, a visitor came to my studio gallery, looked at the walls a moment, and then said, "How many artists do you represent?"  Just me, I replied, but I have twelve different personalities.

If you look at my work, you'll see a variety of painting approaches.  I may paint on panel or canvas; I may tone the surface or not; I may use a brush or a painting knife; I may work in a tonalist manner or with impressionistic colors; I may paint with oil or pastel.  For me, these different approaches result in different styles of painting - different "personalities," if you will.  It's never a random choice but is always dictated by the needs of the moment.

As Walt Whitman wrote, "I am large, I contain multitudes."

Let's stop a moment and ask, What is style?  Style results from a combination of tools and materials, a method of painting, the painter's response to the world and, sometimes, the demands of the marketplace.  Beginning painters always seem to worry about developing a "style."  We more-experienced painters always advise them to not worry and just paint.  A style will develop of its own accord.  It will also change over time as you age and grow from your experiences.  It may even coexist peacefully with other styles you may have developed.  (My styles form one big, happy family.)

Can you force a style?  A pair of shoes walked in for fifty miles will fit better than a pair right out of the box.  You can try breaking in new shoes in other ways, but they just won't feel as comfortable.  And with painting, forcing a style isn't honest, and people can tell when a style has been invented for the sake of novelty and sales.  Patrons like novelty, but they prefer honesty.

You will know you have developed a style when painting becomes as easy as walking.

Now, let's get back to consistency of style.  Is it bad to have more than one style?

I don't think so.  I do think, however, that it's important to be consistent in style when you have an exhibit or are sending work to a gallery.  This doesn't mean you have to paint the same way, every time.  Instead, out of your body of work, you can select those paintings that share a common style.  Or, you can work toward an exhibit or gallery show by painting for it purposely in a single style.

But if it's your own studio gallery, it doesn't matter.  Variety is good for the visitor.

When I started writing this blog post, I thought this would be a simple, short post.  But the more I thought and the more I wrote (and deleted, and re-wrote), I realized that "style" is a complicated concept.  I have more to think about.  I am curious to hear your thoughts on consistency and style.

Six Styles, One Painter
"Friar's Head, Snow" 6x6 oil, studio - SOLD

"Panmure Island Light" 12x24 oil, plein air

"Acadian Prince" 16x20 oil, studio

"Duck Pond Fog" 4x12, watercolor, plein air - SOLD

"Pickling Shed" 9x12 oil, plein air

"Pemaquid Rocks" 9x12, pastel, plein air - SOLD

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Comparison: Original, Photoprint, POD Picture Book

One of the more frustrating tasks for today's artist is image adjustment.  I'm not talking about taking your brush and niggling at some little shape on the canvas that's been bothering you for a week.  I'm talking about digital stuff - sitting at your computer, playing with your screen settings, and holding your breath while navigating the heavily-mined waters of the Photoshop ocean.

I've written about this before, but more specifically, in relation to how images look different from one computer screen to the next.  Currently, I am in the middle of adjusting images for two print products related to my "Fifty Paintings for the Roosevelt-Campobello International Park's Fiftieth Anniversary" project.  Besides creating 50 paintings, I am working on a set of notecards and a book that will contain all the images.

Using Photoshop, I adjusted my digital scans of the paintings so they looked good when printed out on my Canon MP980 printer.   When printed out on Canon Glossy Photo Paper II, the colors and values were true.  These are the files I'm using for the notecards.  I used these same files when creating my book via CreateSpace, a print-on-demand (or POD) printhouse.  I created a PDF file first, and again, when printed out, the images in the PDF looked pretty close to the original paintings.  But when I received the book itself, I saw that the colors were off a bit.  Here's a photo of all three together.

The photo doesn't show the relationships as clearly as you would see them in person, but the notecard is very, very close to the original, which is on the right.  The book version (left) has higher contrast, deeper darks, and more red.  Overall, I'm happy with the book, but wouldn't it be nice if CreateSpace could get a little closer to the truth?

All that said, the book will give folks a good idea of the 50 paintings.  The person who made the paintings is always more fussy and particular than anyone else. I think you'll be pleased with it.

Back when I was working with my late mentor, Ann Templeton, on her book, The Art of Ann Templeton: A Step Beyond, we went through a printing issue.  The book was being printed very expensively in Italy by a premium printhouse.  When the first proof came off the press and was sent to Ann in New Mexico via express courier, she was aghast.  She wasn't happy with the color at all.  This, even though the book was designed and laid out by very good design firm that also coordinated the printing.  So, although her busy schedule hardly allowed for it, she flew to Italy and oversaw the entire print run of 3,000 books.  But it just goes to show how difficult the whole process of reproduction can be.

The book is now available via, in both paperback and Kindle versions.  You can get it here.  For Kickstarter supporters who took the book option, when I send your signed copy of the book, I'll be including several notecards for you, as well.

By the way, I am experimenting today.  I borrowed my father-in-law's Acer Chromebook to see how this whole "Cloud" thing works.   I am writing my blog and adjusting the image for it entirely in the Cloud.  I don't like having to rely entirely on the Cloud, which is what the Chromebook is all about.  If you don't have a connection to the Internet, there's not much you can do.  But I wanted to take it to the Castine (Maine) Plein Air Festival in a couple of weeks rather than my heavier and more cumbersome laptop.  I'll let you know how it goes!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Starting to Frame the Fifty

As I write, the late Hurricane Arthur, now a post-tropical storm, is stumbling up the Bay of Fundy toward Prince Edward Island.  He's still dropping plenty of rain, and our front yard is littered with leaves, branches and small trees.  While 170,000 other Maritimers sit without power, we somehow still have ours.  We are nervous, though, about one tall ash tree that stands in a precarious spot, whipping in the wind.

The Roosevelt-Campobello International Park just announced that it has closed due to high winds, falling limbs and trees and power outages.  I don't recall it ever having done this before. It may be only a matter of time before we lose ours.

It's a good day to get some framing done.  So long as my rechargeable screwdriver doesn't run out of power, I can keep going.  Today I began framing the small paintings, and they are looking good.  (The yard outside my studio window is a different story!)

The original Kickstarter supporters have all finished selecting their pieces, so I am now opening up to others.   I am offering the remaining paintings on a first-come, first-served basis.

Price of each painting is $100, which includes frame and shipping.  I will take a personal check, or we can arrange a Paypal payment if you prefer.  Please contact me with your choice as described below, and I will hold the painting for you until I receive payment.  You may want to give me a second choice, just in case your first one gets taken.

I will ship your painting after the exhibition at the Park ends, which would be after August 16.

To see the paintings, please go to my web page:  and let me know which one you'd like.  Use both the number and title.  Also, please give me your shipping address.  ALREADY PICKED ONES ARE MARKED "SOLD".

So, thank you again for your support!  It means a lot to me.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Turn Down the Volume

I don't like being "sold to."  For me, that is the best way to kill a sale.   When I see headlines screaming "Top-Notch Painter Offers Sure-Fire Way to Create Stunning Paintings," my wetware spam filter kicks in.  I won't read the following text unless I have some idle time and am looking for a laugh.  (Yes, some of these pitches are that blatant.)  I don't care if you're selling paintings, instructional DVDs, art magazines or oven cleaner.  It's all the same.

Why don't I like being "sold to"?  Because more often than not, the promise is greater than reality.  When you look beyond the packaging, product A is not much different than product B.  It's the packaging that's being sold and not the product.  There is an inherent dishonesty implied in screaming headlines.

Sure, there are some products out there that are better than others, and these I do want to know about.  Perhaps I'm doing myself a disservice by not looking more carefully at all products.  It might just be the case that Top-Notch Oven Cleaner is actually far superior to any other.

But I don't have time to read all the advertisements.  If it screams, I just tune it out.  Experience has become instinct, and usually instinct is right.

As you know, I am a working artist and depend on selling stuff.  Paintings, workshops, books, DVDs - I'm no different than any other working artist.  But I don't want to be one of the screamers.  I want to sell, but I want to sell honestly.  I want to do it quietly and turn down the volume.

How do you sell quietly?  Paint.  Work the network.  Let people know you're out there.  Participate and engage.  Place a small ad now and then.  Have faith.

Hey, it works for me.  I've been making a living this way for 15 years, and I haven't started screaming yet.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Montague, Prince Edward Island, Plein Air Festival - Final Day

Saturday, the last day of the Montague "Paint It Beautiful" Plein Air Festival, dawned clear and cold.  I'm sure the lobstermen were glad; lobster season ends in PEI at the end of June, and it was a great morning for hauling in traps.  I heard the first boat leave the wharf right around sunrise, at 4 a.m.  All morning, boats were chugging back and forth, going out empty, returning piled high with wooden traps and riding low.  If any of the painters today were thinking of painting lobster boats, they were going to have to paint fast.

Fortunately, the harbor here in Montague also has pleasure craft, and I think all the boat owners slept in until noon, because there was very little activity among the Maxums and Larsons.  Like these recreational boats, we painters had a more relaxed morning.  No event was scheduled until 11, when a representative from Endeavours Art Stuff in Fredericton, NB, gave a well-received short demonstration on several brands of paints and brushes.  So what's a painter do with his free time?  Paint, of course.

Working Boat, Montague 9x12 oil (SOLD)

I headed down with my gear to the waterfront and decided to paint a scene that included the Garden of the Gulf Museum, that beautifully-proportioned Romanesque structure on the hill, some of the fish houses at the harbor and, yes, a boat.  Because I'd had such a rough time with a boat the day before, I decided to focus on the boat first, rather than rush through it at the end.  I knew I could block in all the other stuff fairly smoothly.  (Painting is sold.)

At 11, I headed back for the demo.  I also stopped into the exhibit and discovered that my bridge painting, "Bridge Over St Peter's" had won an honorable mention.  That was a pleasant surprise.  I also took some time to visit the other work and saw that the other artists had painted some very nice pieces.

Another Working Boat, 5x7 oil (SOLD)

At noon, we had to start painting a 5x7 for a silent auction that benefits Artisans on Main and Montague arts programs.  I went back down to the waterfront and this time chose to focus on a single boat.  I really liked the relationship of light and shadow in the scene.  Several people stopped to talk to me while I was working on it.  One lady had a lobsterman for a husband and knew her boats, so when she complimented me, I knew it was high praise indeed.

Paintings had to be delivered by two, and I made it just in time.  (I spent more time talking than I usually do in the field.)  My afternoon break consisted of brush-cleaning and palette scraping, organizing and packing, and a much-needed shower.  It had been a hot day - we'd gone from spring rains to summer in 24 hours, and yes, painters do sweat when they work.

At 5:30, everyone gathered at the Riverhouse Inn for the evening festivities.  We were joined by many from the public and also His Worship, the Mayor of Montague.  At seven, after a nice period of looking at artwork and chatting, we headed into the auditorium for the awards.  Awards included the Grand Prize and nine (I think I counted that many) Honourable Mentions plus Mayor's Choice, Artist's Choice and  People's Choice.  I've not participated in an event that didn't have a First and Second and possibly a Third Prize, but having been a judge myself I like the idea of not having them - it makes things clearer for everyone.  It says, "Here's a really nice painting, and here are several other paintings that are pretty darn good, too."  Often there's not much of a discernable quality difference between all of these prizes.  And no, I'm not saying this just because I won "only" an Honorable Mention.

The artists then presented Audrey Bunt, the driving force behind the festival, with flowers for her work.  She, along with Artisans on Main and all the other volunteers and supporters, did a fantastic job.  For a first-time event, things went very well, and next year will be even better.  If my schedule allows it, I will certainly participate.

Dawn is breaking this Sunday morning.  It's time to pack up and head out.  On the way home, I'll be dropping off some work at my new gallery in St Andrews, New Brunswick, Symbiosis.  I'm excited to be in this gallery, and if you're visiting this lovely, historic town, I hope you'll stop by 157 Water Street, right next to Honey Beans Coffee.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Montague, Prince Edward Island, Plein Air Festival - Day 4

Cape Bear Lighthouse

And the rain...stopped!

Low, scudding clouds accompanied the sunrise, promising a great day.  It was such a nice start that I celebrated by taking a long walk down the Confederation Trail, which runs right past my hotel.  This rail-to-trail project runs the entire length of Prince Edward Island with several spurs here and there.  The gravelled path promises no roots, no stumbles - it's a great for walking fast and clearing the mind, plus it takes you past some pretty nice scenery.

After breakfast I drove over to Murray Harbour.  I'd used Google Earth earlier to take a look at the possibilities for the day; one thing I like about this tool is that it lets users share photographs and locate them on the map.  I found some nice shots of the nearby Cape Bear lighthouse, and wanted to check it out.

At the canvas-stamping, I heard that the lighthouse was closed because of bank erosion, but I found I was able to drive right up to it.  The lighthouse is indeed perched about ten or twelve meters from the edge, and a volunteer who came later to open it up for tourists told me that the group responsible for the structure had purchased 120 acres nearby, and that later this year it would be moved onto that parcel, safely away from the banks, which are eroding about one meter a year.

It's definitely a structure worth saving.  Built in 1881, it housed a Marconi wireless station that was the first to receive a distress call from the sinking Titanic.  Although the station has since been moved to a different part of the island and turned into a private home, the lighthouse itself has that historic association and now contans a Marconi museum.

I backed my car up to the best view point and set up.  Except for a few tourists who arrived to take photos, I had the lighthouse to myself the whole morning.  I didn't have much sun, though, but I actually preferred it that way.  Fog offshore and low clouds shed a moody light over the scene.  The few times the sun came out, it bathed the lighthouse in a strong, shadowless light and made for a less interesting moment.  Also, the overcast gave me more consistent lighting and allowed me to complete the 12x24 panel before lunch.

Here is the painting as it progressed.  You'll note that the panel is toned bright yellow; I toned all my panels this way for my "Fifty Paintings for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Roosevelt Park" project and liked the effect, so I decided to do it for this one, too.

How close to the edge should one set up?

Cape Bear Lighthouse, 12x24 oil

None of the other painters showed up at this very paintable lighthouse, which surprised me.  After a quick sandwich, I headed over to Murray Harbour - and there they were.  The boats and waterfront had won out.  I still had some time before Poppy Balser's two o'clock demonstration, so I decided to  paint a boat, too.  Usually, after painting a 12x24 I'm tuckered out, and if it turned out well I don't feel I need to paint anything else that day.  But I set up to do a boat, anyway.

This was a mistake.  When I got to "rendering" the boats - well, let's stop right there, because that's actually two mistakes.  "Rendering" is always a mistake, because for me it means I'm putting in more detail than I should.  The second mistake is boats plural.  For a 9x12, focusing on one boat is plenty.

Poppy Balser Starting Her Demonstration

As I found myself wrestling with the painting, I suddenly realized it was time for Poppy's demonstration.  Poppy is a very accomplished watercolorist, and I always enjoy seeing a demonstration in a medium for which I consider myself an amateur.  But my painting of the boat kept gnawing at my mind, and after an hour I sneaked away and went back to it.

My first act was to scrape out both boats.  Next, I redrew my main boat with a brush, paying special attention to proportions, and blocked it in with the same tool.  Then I moved on to my knife.  You can't "render" with a knife.  I was much happier with the outcome, and I felt free to enjoy the rest of the day.

Murray Harbour Boat, 9x12 oil

That night, we all met for a lobster feast at a local restaurant.  Bruce Newman, who would be judging the show and presenting awards Saturday evening, also arrived and joined us.

Now it's Saturday morning and our last day.  Today's events include an art material demonstration in the morning and a "Quick Draw" event in the afternoon.  For the Quick Draw event, artists will be given a 5x7 panel or paper to create a piece for a charity auction.  The auction, exhibit sale and awards ceremony will be at 5:30 at the Riverhouse Inn.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Montague, Prince Edward Island, Plein Air Festival - Day 3

Panmure Lighthouse and Fog-Horn Building

And it rained.  (There, I got that out of the way and don't need to mention it again.)

For our third painting day, we met at the Panmure Lighthouse on Panmure Island.  Rather than take the provided shuttle, I drove my own car as I planned to paint out of the back of it, hoping for more shelter.  First stop was the lighthouse itself to get some panels stamped.  The lighthouse, built in 1853 and 19 meters tall, is Prince Edward Island's first wooden one, and like many in Canada, had been sold to a private organization that agreed to maintain it.  A group of volunteers was busily doing some repairs.  They told me to take a tour to the top, so I did.  I had a fine view of Cardigan Bay and the sweeping curve of the shore.  When I came down, the volunteers offered that I could paint in the lighthouse if I wanted.  With the weather forecast, it was tempting.

As much as I love old structures, I couldn't get the angle on the lighthouse I wanted, so I drove down the road to paint a little wedge of St Mary's Bay that had some nicely storm-crafted trees along it.  The rain had slackened a bit, so I only needed one umbrella.  But by the time I'd finished and had moved up the road to paint a view of Cardigan Bay, the rain had renewed strength.  I pulled out my Jullian umbrella.  I already had my Best Brella clamped to my tripod, and the Jullian had a clamp that wouldn't fit that, so I clamped it to the Open Box M itself.  The Jullian's clamp is huge, but it managed to fit on the box's thin lip.  I adjusted things so I had a nice shelter that didn't drip water on me or on my palette.

Panmure Island Firs #1, 9x12 oil

Panmure Island Firs #2, 9x12 oil

For both of these paintings, I made good use of Gamblin's Portland Greys.  One might call these "convenience colors," since you could mix three values of grey yourself, but it's mighty convenient to have a lot of it pre-mixed when you're painting rain.  These are also perfectly neutral, and I find it difficult to mix a perfectly neutral grey.   Although they hail from Portland, Oregon, they worked well as Prince Edward Island Greys.  I would mix a color that I thought was close to what I saw, and then add a dab of Portland Grey to knock down the intensity.

Afterward, I sat in my car, ate a late sandwich and pondered my next move.  The rain was getting heavier.  Environment Canada warned us it would get worse before it got better, predicting up to 50 millimeters (nearly 2 inches.)  I already had two good paintings.  But I had been asked to donate a 5x7, on a panel provided to me by the lighthouse group, so I painted a quick view of the fog-horn house.  The building had been decommissioned in 1980 and moved onto some adjacent property that was now horse pasturage, so I managed to get a couple of horses into that little painting, too.  That's a lot for a 5x7!

Panmure Island Firs #2, 9x12 oil - framed and ready

Now the rain was really coming down.  I packed up and headed for Murray River.  Friday's location will be in nearby Murray Harbour, and I thought I would scope it out.  But the rain was so heavy that it was ponding up on the road, and I looped back to Montague instead.   Because I stopped painting early, I had extra time to give my brushes and palette a good cleaning - something I always like to do that about midweek in a painting event.  I also delivered my third painting to the exhibition space.

This morning, there is a 20% chance of showers.  Although they are reporting dense fog, I can see just fine out my window.  Maybe the sun will pop out and I'll have enough time to paint that 12x24 I've lugged along.

Some painters found a nice tent to paint under

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Montague, Prince Edward Island, Plein Air Festival - Day 2

Georgetown Fish Shacks 9x12 oil

Radar at sunrise showed showers moving over northern New Brunswick, heading east.  By the time I was ready to catch the shuttle to our second day's painting location, the rain had reached Montague.  It came down so steadily that I wondered if I should take my own car, which would allow me access to all my umbrellas.  (I brought two others in addition to my usual Best Brella; one was a golf umbrella.)  I didn't know Georgetown or what kind of shelter it might have.

I decided to take the shuttle, anyway, and threw on my Gore-Tex coat.  I left behind the golf umbrella but crammed my little Totes umbrella into a bag along with an extra jacket.  Before the day was over, I'd need both of these items.

By the time we got to Georgetown, just a short drive from Montague, the rain had stopped.  I learned from our driver that the town, which is PEI's only deepwater port and shipyard, is rich in history.  I would have loved to have spent some time exploring the streets, but the weather was still very threatening and I was on foot with a lot of gear.  Plus, I needed to get painting.  I didn't want to waste this unexpected dry moment.

Let me take a break to reflect on plein air event strategy.  Ideally, you should explore an area before you start painting.  Drive out, stroll a bit, take some photos, think about subject and design.  If I had followed my own advice, I would have driven out to Georgetown the other evening when the weather was good to make a plan.  But I didn't.  So, when I arrived at Georgetown yesterday, I felt like a paratrooper dropped behind enemy lines without a map or plan.

Still, I'm pretty quick to size up a location.  Volunteers at the registration tent pointed out strategic locations such as restrooms, sheltered porches where we had permission to paint and coffee shops.  Then, I stuffed my bags under the registration tent and went for a quick walk with my Totes.  I naturally headed down to the waterfront and found my subject matter.  (Actually, there was a line of us painters heading that way, so I followed my herd instinct.)  Georgetown had some nice, picturesque fish shacks and, of course, boats.

I went back, got my gear, and then set up to paint the fish shacks.  I'm sorry, but I really do love these old-timey clichés.  (Should I mention that I like to paint barns, too?)  There's something about the weathered wood and architectural wonkiness and overgrown weeds that attracts me.  But about five minutes into painting, the rain began - and it got heavy.

I had to set up my Best Brella, and when rain began to blow sideways, I had to open up my Totes umbrella, too.  I no longer had enough free hands to paint.  I also got chilled, so I had to put on the fleece jacket under the Gore-tex coat.  And then the rain stopped.

That's the way the day went, on-and-off showers.  You'd paint a bit when it was drier, open up all the umbrellas when it rained, and then go back to painting when it stopped.  It was too late to head for a porch since I was deep into this one painting.  Plus, I liked the rain - it made for a moodier piece.

By the time I finished, the weather seemed to be changing.  The sky was lighter, and it hadn't rained for a bit.  I put my gear in the shuttle so it wouldn't get wet when it rained again, and then walked over to the Maroon Pig Art Gallery & Sweet Shop with some of the other painters.  The Maroon Pig was offering an "artist's special" for lunch - scalloped potatoes and ham, plus coffee and a cookie, and that was just the right thing for a cool, rainy day.  Thank you, Maroon Pig!

After lunch, I decided it was time to do a boat painting.  Because it was starting to spit rain again, my choice of location was forced by circumstance.  I wanted shelter, and I found a little kiosk with a roof right by the docks.  It was getting windy, too, so I set up on the lee side.   As the wind blew and the rain came and went (and came again) I stayed dry.  But although I'd found a nice work boat to paint - the "Git-R-Done" - I had trouble and ended up cutting my losses and scraping it down.  Still, I very much liked the "bones" of the painting, so I moved into an edgier, more modern mode and did some knifework over this deconstructed  piece.  I like the way the piece turned out, as it preserves and showcases my favorite parts of the scene without being fussy, and the active surface captures some of the weather's energy.  I wasn't going to post it, but the vote is that I should.

The Git-R-Done, 9x12 oil

By three, the rain was falling steadily.  I packed up and hitched a ride back with another painter.  I had to frame a couple of pieces and deliver them to the exhibition space in the Riverhouse Inn.  The idea with this festival is to have an on-going exhibition, so painters are asked to bring in one painting a day for display.  By Friday evening, we should have four paintings each.  Here are my two pieces so far, framed.  We have the option of swapping these out as the week goes on, but by Friday we need to have finalized our choices for the awards evening, which will be on Saturday.

Georgetown Fish Shacks, 9x12 oil framed
Bridge over St Peter's 9x12 oil framed

Despite the weather, everyone is all smiles this week.  If you're prepared for it, you will always have a good day.  Plus, the townspeople are very welcoming and even stop by to visit.  The organizers and volunteers are very helpful this week, too, making sure we have what we need and smoothing the ride for us whenever possible.

This morning  as I write, the rain is still falling.  Today, we're heading off to Panmure Island.  I may even bring the golf umbrella.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Montague, Prince Edward Island, Plein Air Festival - Day 1

Starting the Demonstration (Photo by Audrey Bunt)

It's a little after 4 a.m., and I'm sitting in my cottage suite, drinking coffee and looking out the window, wondering what the weather will do.  The sun has risen - yes, it rises early here, too - somewhere behind the thick clouds, and they're predicting showers.  I'm supposed to create an award-winning painting today for the Montague "Paint It Beautiful" Plein Air Festival.  I'm sure every painter is hoping the showers will hold off until late.

Montague, Prince Edward Island

From my room at Riverhouse Inn here in Montague, PEI, I have a fine view of the Montague River's waterfront and, perched on the hill on the opposite shore, Prince Edward Island's first museum, the Garden of the Gulf Museum, a beautiful Romanesque structure built in 1887.  We'll be painting in Montague on Saturday, and I'm considering the museum as a subject.

But that's not for a few days yet, so I'll back up.  I was invited as a guest of the event some time ago, and having never been to PEI, I eagerly accepted.  Even though I've been living in Canada for several years now, I've scarcely made it out of New Brunswick.  (I did manage to get to Nova Scotia last summer.)  PEI was on the list of places I very much wanted to visit.

I drove up from Campobello Island on Monday.  It was a beautiful drive with two ferry crossings and then, of course, the 13-kilometer-long Confederation Bridge that connects PEI to new Brunswick.  The drive across PEI to the eastern end was beautiful, too.  It reminds me so much of Vermont's Champlain Valley with the rolling hills and farms.  (I even saw a few Holsteins.) The dirt is a deep red, though, so add a little bit of Sedona, Arizona, to that description.

St Peters River, 9x12 oil demonstration

This is the first year of the plein air festival, and it coincides with the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference and the Confederation of Canada.  The province is celebrating this anniversary all summer, and the plein air festival is part of it.  The festival is being organized by Artisans on Main, a collective of local artists based in Montague, and consists of five days of painting culminating on Saturday in a charity "quick draw" and auction plus awards.  Over the week, we'll be painting all over the eastern end.  Yesterday, we painted in St Peters; today, Georgetown; then Panmure Island, Murray Harbour and, finally, Montague.  The exhibit and award ceremony will be held at the Riverhouse Inn here in Montague.  (For details on the event, visit

The festival is offering a shuttle from Montague for artists who don't want to drive.  I took the shuttle yesterday to St Peters, where I was to give a painting demonstration.  It was a beautiful day with plenty of sun, but it also was a bit windy.  For my demonstration, which was a painting of St Peter's River, the wind wasn't too bad, but as the day progressed, it got worse.  They'd predicted 50 km/h gusts, and I'm sure we hit that.  At least two easels blew over.  Some of us found areas that were more protected from the wind, but I felt the better views were out in the open, so that's where I positioned myself later.  I was using my Open Box M on a tripod that can extend to a large footprint, so I didn't lose my easel.  I did, however, have to spend some time at the end picking up the litter that escaped from my trash receptacle.

Today, we're off to Georgetown, shiretown for the county and PEI's only deepwater port.  Stay tuned!

Bridge Over St Peters, 9x12 oil

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