Thursday, August 30, 2018

Changing Your Attitude

You can even make the best of a downpour.
Painting in pastel with one hand while holding an umbrella in the other.

If you are a “the glass is half-empty” kind of person, here are some things you can try that will help you see the glass as half-full.  As I mentioned in my  previous post, having a positive attitude will yield a positive experience.

Usually, things start going into the ditch at a workshop when:

  • You discover you didn’t bring the right materials
  • You decided to bring some new, untried gear or tool
  • You have trouble finding a subject that engages you, or
  • You simply got out of the wrong side of the bed.

(By the way, these things have all happened to me, too.)

Here are a few thoughts to help you steer you back onto the road:

  • Wrong materials? So long as you have something to paint with and something to paint on, you can make it work.  I forgot my mineral spirits once, which made painting with brushes difficult if not impossible, so I picked up my painting knife for the first time and learned to use it.  The worst situation, of course, is having nothing to paint with or on.  In this case, perhaps you can borrow the materials from another student.  Or, you can go around with your camera and gather references for possible studio paintings.
  • New gear or tool? If it’s not working for you, perhaps you can return to something with which you are more comfortable.  Or maybe you can push through the newness.  I like to field-test new equipment and take it as a challenge.  I had a new pochade box once, the concept being that one wore it around the torso with a strap while standing, and painted with it that way, without a tripod.  After a struggle, I found the box worked best resting on my knees as I sat.
  • Not finding a subject?  In a workshop, focus on the process and not the thing being painted.  If the instructor demonstrated painting trees and would like you to paint one, pick a tree, any tree.    It doesn’t have to be a particularly enchanting tree.  So long as you can apply the process to it, you will do just fine.  When I’m in this situation, I treat it as an exercise. 
  • Having a rotten day in general?  It’s okay if you don’t feel like painting.  When this happens to me, I take a walk and just enjoy the birds and the sunshine.  The day always gets better!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Attitude

It's hard not to have a good attitude in a place like this:  Zion National Park, Utah


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard students lament:

  • “I didn’t bring the right materials.”
  • “I don’t like this new brush.”
  • “I can’t find anything to paint.”
  • “It’s just not happening for me.”


On the other hand, I’ve heard statements like these many times, too:

  • “I didn’t bring the right materials, but I think I can make what I did bring work.”
  • “I don’t like this new brush, but maybe I’ll learn how to use it.” 
  • “I can’t find anything to paint, but I’ll just pick something, and maybe it’ll engage me.”
  • “I’m loving it!”


What’s the difference?  Attitude.  I find that students who put a positive spin on a negative situation tend to have a positive experience.

We all have bad days.  But the wrong materials can become the right ones with a positive attitude.  You can paint with a stick if you have to.  You may not get the outcome you and the teacher were hoping for, but you can still have a meaningful experience and learn something--and maybe even create something beautiful.

In my next post, I’ll give you some tips for changing your attitude.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Mount Desert Island Plein Air Painting Workshop Wrap-up

Sunrise in Bernard, Maine

I just returned from a fabulous week of painting on Mount Desert Island, home to Acadia National Park.  I've taught a workshop for Acadia Workshop Center in Bernard, Maine, almost every year since 2005, so I have many favorite places to take students.  Our plein air painting workshop this week saw us on the "quiet side" of MDI, away from the August tourists.  I thought I'd share some photos and paintings from the week.

By the way, I have just one more week of teaching in Lubec.  (If you're interested in signing up for the August 28th plein air painting workshop, which is for advanced painters, let me know right away!  Details at www.PleinAirPaintingMaine.com.)  After that, I head off to Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona for the Celebration of Art, an invitational event.  I'm always excited about that event -- I have many old friends to see again, many new friends to make, and many, many spectacular vistas to paint.  Stay tuned for my blog report!

Beach Rocks 5x9 oil by Michael Chesley Johnson - Available - $200

Beach Trees 5x9 oil by Michael Chesley Johnson - Available - $200

Crescent Beach 5x9 oil by Michael Chesley Johnson - Available - $200

Late  August in Maine 9x12 oil by Michael Chesley Johnson - Available - $300

Rising Tide 9x12 oil by Michael Chesley Johnson - Available - $300

The Wharf that Was 9x12 pastel by Michael Chesley Johnson - Available - $200






Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Platform 12x9 Oil

The Platform 12x9 Oil by Michael Chesley Johnson
Available - $250

Quoddy Head State Park in Lubec, Maine, features some truly awesome cliffs.  Here's a foggy day at one of my favorite overlooks.  You can just barely make out the cliffs receding in the distance.  Can you hear the fog horn?

Read The Fine Print

**Paintings shipped unframed
**Free postage to continental US
**Price in US Dollars
**Check preferred, but Paypal payment OK.  Contact me at info@mchesleyjohnson.com to purchase.
**First come, first served!
**PRICES GOOD UNTIL AUGUST 31, 2018
**View more of these paintings at https://mchesleyjohnson.blogspot.com/search/label/2018%20Sale

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Spruce and Roses 12x9 Oil

Spruce and Roses 12x9 Oil by Michael Chesley Johnson
Available - $250


Beach roses underneath the spruce trees - one of my favorite motifs here on Campobello Island in the Roosevelt-Campobello International Park.   By the way, for you painters out there, this one was first toned with Gamblin's Transparent Earth Red.  You can see little bits of it still peeking through.

Read The Fine Print

**Paintings shipped unframed
**Free postage to continental US
**Price in US Dollars
**Check preferred, but Paypal payment OK.  Contact me at info@mchesleyjohnson.com to purchase.
**First come, first served!
**PRICES GOOD UNTIL AUGUST 31, 2018
**View more of these paintings at https://mchesleyjohnson.blogspot.com/search/label/2018%20Sale

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Painting Retreat: Lubec, Maine - Wrap-up

My work-in-progress on-location at Quoddy Head State Park

We just finished up a great week at this year's Lubec, Maine, plein air painting retreat.  Based at West Quoddy Station, a beautifully-restored and -renovated US Coast Guard life-saving station, the retreat visited painting locations on both sides of the border.  We painted for two days at Quoddy Head State Park, where we had one day of gorgeous sun and another of soft fog.  The Roosevelt-Campobello International Park saw us for two days where we had sun and -- you guessed it -- more fog.  (I love fog.  It simplifies shapes, softens edges and makes nearby colors seem more saturated.)  Another day we painted the buildings of the historic McCurdy smokehouse complex in Lubec, where the swift Fundy tide challenged us as it raced from low tide to high.

Curious to know the week's schedule?  We started off with a meet-and-greet on Sunday evening, where we discussed the schedule and possible painting locations.  Some of us painted afterward, whereas others went out for groceries for the week or got dinner.  (The Station has full kitchens and cookware, making it easy to eat together if the group wants.) Then, each morning began with a critique of the previous day's work, followed by our morning excursion.  I did three demonstrations during the week.  I also invited participants to join me wherever I painted to either paint along or to treat it as another demo.  After the morning session, some of us would join for lunch at one of the local restaurants.  In the afternoons, most of us painted some again, while a few went off with family or friends to explore.  (Participants were welcome to bring a non-painting friend.)  All in all, it was a very rich experience for everyone with lots of sharing.

We had such a wonderful time that I'm looking forward to doing this again next year, August 11-16, 2019.  If you're interested in joining us, let me know right away, and I'll send you details when I finalize them.  Most of the participants this year have already signed on for 2019.  Space is limited!

Spot the painters at the top of the cliff!






Another of my WIPS on-location


Here are my paintings from the week:
Quoddy Rocks 6x16 Oil - Available - US$250, unframed, shipping to US incl.

Rockweed Study - 9x12 pastel - Available - US$250 , unframed, shipping to US incl.

Grand Manan View - 9x12 oil - Available - $250, unframed, shipping to US incl.

Low Tide Calm - 9x12 Oil - Available - $250, unframed, shipping to US incl.

Rolling Fog - 7x9 Oil - Available - $250, unframed, shipping to US incl.

The Last Cannery - 9x12 Pastel - Available - $250, unframed, shipping to US incl.


Friday, August 17, 2018

Lemon Sky 9x12 Oil

Lemon Sky 9x12 Oil by Michael Chesley Johnson
SOLD

The Roosevelt-Campobello Island Park is at its most lovely in the early morning, but here I have captured its loveliness in the late evening.  Blue shadows creep across the warm gravel shore.

Read The Fine Print

**Paintings shipped unframed
**Free postage to continental US
**Price in US Dollars
**Check preferred, but Paypal payment OK.  Contact me at info@mchesleyjohnson.com to purchase.
**First come, first served!
**PRICES GOOD UNTIL AUGUST 31, 2018


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Incoming Weather 9x12 Oil

Incoming Weather 9x12 Oil by Michael Chesley Johnson
Available - $250

Castine, Maine, is home to many boats, including this sailboat.  When I painted this for the Castine Plein Air Festival, it was a hot day, and a storm was gathering.  It moved in the next day, making for cool weather.


Read The Fine Print

**Paintings shipped unframed
**Free postage to continental US
**Price in US Dollars
**Check preferred, but Paypal payment OK.  Contact me at info@mchesleyjohnson.com to purchase.
**First come, first served!
**PRICES GOOD UNTIL AUGUST 31, 2018


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Painting Retreat, Lubec, Maine: Update

One of my paintings from yesterday, in-process

This week, I've joined 11 other plein air painters on a painting retreat in Lubec, Maine.  We're based at West Quoddy Station, a beautifully restored and updated US Coast Guard lifesaving station.   The facility has a variety of buildings that give many lodging options, not to mention a fantastic view.  Plus, we're only five minutes from Quoddy State Park, which has unbeatable scenery for painters, and also close to other locations such as the Roosevelt-Campobello International Park.  (If you follow my blog, you already are well aware of my love of this place!)

The retreat isn't a workshop, but I do lead daily critique sessions, offer painting demonstrations and serve as location guide.  The idea with a retreat is that everyone gets some serious painting time as well as the opportunity to learn from each other.  All in all, it's designed as an immersion experience.  By the way, if you're interested, I will be holding this retreat again next August 11-16, 2019.  Send me a note if you want to be put on the list when I send out more information.

I'll post a summary at the end of the week plus some of my paintings, but for now, I leave you with a few photos from our first day.

Can you spot the painters?




Sunday, August 12, 2018

Paintings from This Week's Plein Air Painting Workshop

Field trip to Campobello Island

We just wrapped up another fine week in Downeast Maine with a plein air painting workshop.  The weather was near-perfect, except for one day of badly-needed rain.  (We have had very, very little rain all summer, but thankfully, no wildfires.)  The rain day gave us the opportunity to adjust paintings made earlier in the week, so the rain was welcome in many ways.

Students hailed from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Quebec and Nova Scotia.  We had such a great time, I'm sure our paths will cross again.

A Summer's Idyll
by Michael Chesley Johnson
9x12 pastel - Available - $200 incl. shipping, unframed

At Blue Rocks
(studio demo)
by Michael Chesley Johnson
9x12 Oil - Available - $200 incl. shipping, unframed

Cliffside Path
by Michael Chesley Johnson
9x12 oil - Available - $200 incl. shipping, unframed



Saturday, August 11, 2018

Fog Reflections 12x9 Oil

Fog Reflections 12x9 Oil by Michael Chesley Johnson
Available - $250

On Campobello Island, in the Herring Cove Provincial Park, Lake Glensevern drains into a tidal stream.  When the fog rolls in off the Grand Manan Channel to fill the cove, it spills into this area behind the barrier beach, making for lovely reflections.

Read The Fine Print

**Paintings shipped unframed
**Free postage to continental US
**Price in US Dollars
**Check preferred, but Paypal payment OK.  Contact me at info@mchesleyjohnson.com to purchase.
**First come, first served!
**PRICES GOOD UNTIL AUGUST 31, 2018


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Breaking Fog 9x12 Oil

Breaking Fog 9x12 Oil by Michael Chesley Johnson
Available - $250

We're no stranger to fog here on Campobello Island.  Summer wouldn't be the same without it.  Dawn comes without sunlight, and only the foghorn of the lighthouses is there to pierce the silence.  But by mid-morning, the fog begins to melt away, and the sun shimmers on the tidal flats....


Read The Fine Print

**Paintings shipped unframed
**Free postage to continental US
**Price in US Dollars
**Check preferred, but Paypal payment OK.  Contact me at info@mchesleyjohnson.com to purchase.
**First come, first served!
**PRICES GOOD UNTIL AUGUST 31, 2018


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

West Quoddy Colors 8x10 Oil

West Quoddy Colors
8x10 Oil by Michael Chesley Johnson
Available - $120

As I've said many times, West Quoddy Head offers something different for the painter every time of day, every season.  Here is one of my favorite points of land, with plenty of cool blue light illuminating the scene.

Read The Fine Print

**Paintings shipped unframed
**Free postage to continental US
**Price in US Dollars
**Check preferred, but Paypal payment OK.  Contact me at info@mchesleyjohnson.com to purchase.
**First come, first served!
**PRICES GOOD UNTIL AUGUST 31, 2018



Sunday, August 5, 2018

After the Opening

Hot Summer 9x12 Oil - Available
My painting from the pre-exhibition paintout
by Michael Chesley Johnson

My local painting group, Plein Air Painters of the Bay of Fundy, opened its annual exhibition on Friday evening in St Andrews, New Brunswick.  We arrived a day early so I could help with the hanging—we had had over 70 pieces!—and also to do a little publicity.  Trina had the brilliant idea of Instagramming several photos of the show announcement against interesting backgrounds.  We spent a hot hour or so at Kingbrae Gardens, and here is a collage of this effort:



I can't recall a hotter time in St Andrews.  Temperatures hit 86, but with humidity also in the 80s and absolutely no breeze, it felt like 100.  (You can calculate this for yourself with this handy tool.) Fortunately, the recent renovations at Sunbury Shores Arts & Nature Centre, where the paintings are being shown, included air-conditioning.  Time was when no one had air-conditioning in the Canadian Maritimes, but now it is fast becoming a necessity.  We would have spent all morning at the gardens, but the heat, especially when the sun popped out of the mist, sent us indoors.  I gladly spent a few hours with measuring tape, pencil and hammer hanging paintings.

My paintings at the show





Friday was a bit drier yet still tropical.  But during lunch at the Niger Reef Teahouse, we spotted a shady lawn just outside the restaurant with a view—perfect for the paintout we'd planned for the afternoon.  A little breeze arrived, too.  But after an hour of painting, the heat got to me again, so we retreated to our host's home where we had showers and a/c.

Me at the paintout

My setup

Simone Ritter bikes to her painting locations
The opening was well-attended, and I enjoyed speaking with everyone.  We saw many red dots go up, too.  That's always encouraging on opening night.

The show runs through Saturday, August 25, 2018, at Sunbury Shores Arts & Nature Centre, 139 Water Street, St Andrews, NB. (Closed on Sundays.)  For more on our group, visit www.PleinAirFundy.org or visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pleinairfundy/.



Here I give introductory remarks