Saturday, July 25, 2015

Castine Plein Air Festival 2015 - Day 2

Before the storm
After the storm
(No, the boats weren't all wiped out by the storm; this is a different cove)

Morning broke with sunshine and scattered clouds. Somewhat recovered from my marathon session yesterday, I headed down to Perkins Street and the little Catholic church that is there. Perched at the edge of the sea, the church offers a good view of Castine Bay. The atmosphere was thick and still, and the no-see-ums were hungry. I could tell from the clouds that we'd have rain later in the day, so I got busy painting the view. I was pleased with this one.

Incoming Weather 9x12 oi/panel by Michael Chesley Johnson
Available - Contact Michael

Afterward, I drove over to the town dock for a cup of coffee and to hob-nob with some of the other painters. I was feeling good about my run of paintings - maybe too good. When I found my next location, a lovely yard edged with roses, I faltered. Fell, is more like it. I'll blame it on the swift-changing light that confused me on the old "warm light, cool shadows; cool light, warm shadows" adage. (You painters know what I'm talking about.) I was in mud over my boot tops. Still, I kept going. I was loving my Thio Violet (Grumbacher) and how it made the roses glow. But I wasn't loving anything else in the painting.

Despondent, I headed home for an early lunch and some tea. I looked at the painting a few times in different light. Anytime you have to really work to convince yourself that the painting is okay, you know it's not. So, I stopped trying to convince myself. Ultimately, I didn't scrape it because it might be a good reference down the road. I'm note quite ready to share this one with the world!

I recovered after my break and headed out to paint the British Canal. I'd wanted to paint it last year, but it was all grown up in grass and, I was sure, thick with ticks. This year, the path to it has been nicely mown, so I pulled my socks over my pants legs and sprayed on the DEET. Clouds were building as I painted, and I could feel a thunderstorm developing behind me. Still, I had plenty of time to work. One thing about canals - they are straight. They don't meander. Fortunately for this one, time had created little serrations along the banks, and that made it a bit more interesting. Most fascinating was the incredible variety of color in the grasses.

British Canal 9x12 oi/panel by Michael Chesley Johnson

By the time I'd finished, a huge thunderstorm the color of a bad bruise had crossed the town line. I drove downtown to check my e-mail quickly and then went home to close windows. Actually, I kept the ones to my room open. I love smelling the rain and feeling the cool, damp breeze when a storm moves through. I'm still reading the Metropolitan Museum's Degas exhibition catalog, and that's how I passed the time.

A couple of hours before sundown, the rain finally petered out. I took a long walk with my camera. Although there were some pretty scenes (see the photos as the top), they were so soft and subtle that the act of observing to paint would have ruined the experience. I parked at Wadworth Cove - not another soul was there - and just sat in my car taking in the view. The clouds were magnificent, and hardly a breath of wind disturbed the mirror-like bay.

Tomorrow (Saturday) will be the last day of painting. Our paintings are to be delivered between noon and 2 for the exhibit. I'm not sure how much painting I will get done before noon, as I need to frame and inventory everything. I'm hoping to get at least a 9x12 done. After today's storm, we should have a truly beautiful sunrise.

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