Thursday, July 23, 2015

Castine Plein Air Festival - Pre-Event

Roses in Castine

When I strolled down to the Castine town dock yesterday, something seemed missing. Everything looked just as it had the last two years, so what was it?. A variety of pleasure craft sat moored in the water, a few tourists lingered by the fish'n' chips shack, and the usual late afternoon crowd occupied the deck of Dennett's Wharf restaurant. I scratched my head and wondered.

And then it hit me. The Maine Maritime Academy's training ship, the USS State of Maine, was gone.

It's funny how it took me a few moments to realize that the largest man-made structure in town was absent. I'd painted a picture of it each of the last two festivals. It was just as well. I wouldn't be tempted to to try painting it again, and I could go for something easier.

Castine is one of Maine's most historic waterfront towns. Home today to the Maine Maritime Academy, it has been occupied since 1613 by various groups including the French, the Dutch, the British and now the Americans. My favorite story about the town tells how during the Revolutionary war Loyalists dismantled their homes and shipped them and their families safely out of harm's way to Saint Andrews, New Brunswick. Things have calmed down considerably since then, and now Castine is a peaceful village with many beautiful historic homes. (The Loyalists didn't take them all away.) Tall elms line many of the streets, and there's always a breeze off Penobscot Bay.

This year, 42 painters have been juried into event, which is now in its third year. That's a lot of painters for such a tiny town; there'll be no escaping us as we mill up and down the streets looking for painting spots. I'm not sure yet what I'll be painting, but there's a lot to choose from. I'll be looking at some of the historic homes, the waterfront, the natural scenery and possibly even the Dyce Head lighthouse. I'll be painting 9x12 oils and hopefully at least one 12x16.

The weather is forecast to be pleasantly warm and sunny, with a chance of showers late Friday. We have two and a half days to paint in, so we should have no problem creating our six allotted paintings for Saturday's exhibition and sale. These paintings will need to be signed, framed and delivered between noon and 2 that day. Later that afternoon, you'll be able to see all of (and purchase any of ) the 252 paintings between 4 and 6 at the Maine Maritime Academy's Alfond Student Union on Pleasant Street. (For details on all of this, see

Now it's time to head to the town common to get my painting panels stamped. All artwork submitted on Saturday will need to have a special stamp on the back to prove that it was created during the event. This means, of course, that I won't be able to sneak in the 12x24 painting of the USS State of Maine I did last year. Of course, somebody would have figured out it wasn't painted this week anyway, since the boat seems to be missing.

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