Discovering What Means the Most
Rafting Up 20"x30" oil on canvas (Vinalhaven, Maine)
2020. In years to come we won’t want to remember it. There was deprivation, sickness and hunger, and for some, loss of loved ones or dear friends. There was the constant worry about what any cough, ache, pain, or runny nose might mean… And there were heroic deeds and long hours put in by those trying to keep us all healthy and safe.
But for many of us, it was a mostly a matter of changing the way we do things, to mostly less convenient ways of doing them with less satisfying results. Not a lot of fun.
Mill Pond 16"x16 oil on canvas (Massachusetts)
I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned this year. About what is most important to me and what I missed the most. Though I already knew it, the need to be in the natural world came front and center. If I hadn’t been able to walk the trails of Westford, MA, especially those at East Boston Camps, with a stream, lakes, ups and downs, deciduous and pine forest, I don’t know what I would have done. In the summer, my daily walk to the town landing in Yarmouth, ME was just as good.
If I hadn’t learned to teach painting via Zoom, I would have lost all interaction with painting friends at the easel. That was a very special time for me each week. It was a time without pandemic worries, of true friendship and of helping those friends learn something new. It made me happy.
Entrance to Seal Bay 5"x7" oil, applied with knife (Vinalhaven, Maine)
We still got to do our boat trip down east this year, but it was different. We had a little take-out instead of visiting our favorite harbor restaurants, and we stayed away from the island villages, figuring they didn’t need people visiting from away during the pandemic. But overall it was still a special treat, spending time in beautiful harbors, occasionally with friend’s boats nearby.
I think what I missed most was having friends over for dinner. That was less of a problem in the summer once our boat was in the water, because we could still social distance in the cockpit with two guests. Those lunches and dinners on the water were treasured.
Delivering the Catch 9"x12" oil on canvas board (Stonington, Maine)
And of course, I missed travel. As recently retired people, that’s how we want to spend a lot of our time. I made three trips in January and February, an awesome start to a travel year. And also the end of the travel year… My sisters and I made our annual visit to Florida and I had the pleasure of teaching a workshop in Tarpon Springs. My husband and I visited friends in Scottsdale and spent ten days on the south coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, which was a total treat. We were even able to have lunch outside in New Bedford on our last visit in October. But our trip to France for Christmas was canceled. Typical 2020.
I’d love to hear about what you learned and missed in 2020. Let me know in the comments.
Here’s to 2021!
Poinsettia 5"x7" oil on linen panel
I've had a hard time getting into the holiday spirit this year. After our "Not" Thanksgiving, it just didn’t feel right. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. For more than 20 years we’ve spent it at our cottage in Maine, with long time friends. It’s a cooking event where everyone participates. The following day, we have a “bits and pieces lunch”. Not Thanksgiving leftovers, but cheeses, pate, ham, fresh breads, raw vegetables and several wines. We eat in our porch room with the heat cranked up and enjoy the scenery, the company, and the food.
Gilsland Snow Field 6"x6" oil on canvas panel
This year, with social distancing and quarantines, we were at home for Thanksgiving, just the two of us. We made a nice dinner, but tried some new foods, and it just wasn’t the same. So I decided to go for the traditions for Christmas. We've made my mother-in-law's cookies, the two of us at our house and our son at his. I’ve gone overboard on the Christmas stockings, perhaps unwittingly creating a new tradition.
Our 2020 holiday cookies from my mother-in-law's recipe
We have a beautiful wreath on the front door. I chose three of my favorite paintings and had holiday cards made. Two are traditional snow paintings and one is a small boat. I asked my friends on Instagram which one they thought was best for a holiday card. Interestingly, though the snow scenes were the most popular, the little boat got a good number of votes. People said it reminded them of me, which I take as a compliment. I mailed the last of the cards yesterday. And I'm starting to feel like it really is Christmas.
The holiday cards I had made for 2020
On Christmas day we’re having our classic holiday breakfast, eggs Benedict, followed by a roast chicken with stuffing for Christmas dinner. The last few years we’ve been doing this at our son’s house and enjoying being with his friends. But this year, he'll do his and we'll do ours separately. We’ll have a quick masked unwrapping of the gifts and stockings together. But we won’t be able to visit my mother-in-law, as we usually do, because of quarantines. There will be zooms with both our extended families.
I think it will feel like Christmas, different, but still full of food and family, even if there has to be a tech assist. I hope yours will feel that way too!
The Challenges of Painting Snow
Icy Brook 8"x10" oil on canvas
We’ve had our first snow of the season here in New England and the second is on it’s way. And this week in my zoom class we are going to paint snow. Painting snow is a bit different than a non-snow landscape. As you might expect, values are still the most important thing, the challenge is being able to see them.
Snow Fence 6"x6" oil on canvas panel - Available
The prominence of shadows in snow scenes gives the artist a wonderful design element, with their strong geometric shapes in the ground plane, and the color options. What drew me to the scene above was the interesting shadows cast onto the snow covered park by the slanted tops of the fence posts.
Sometimes I’ll try out ideas using the ArtRage app on my iPad. The above images were created that way by “painting” on top of the photos of summer plein air oil paintings.
Snow on the River 12"x12" oil on canvas - Available
Color is the fun part of a snow painting. The traditional approach is make the shadows cool and the lighted areas warm. Typically we think of the colors on the blue side of the color wheel as cool and those on the orange side as warm. In the above painting, I've used a whole spectrum of blues in the snow, water, and sky. The trees bring in a warm element.
Strawberry Banke 5"x7" plein air oil on canvas panel
Plein air painting in the snow is a real challenge. There’s the weather to contend with. You have to keep warm, but still be able to move around. The paint gets very stiff. And the shadows seem to move even faster than in the summer. And then there’s the parking. I know, that sounds weird. But in New England many lovely public open spaces where I like to paint don’t plow their parking lots in the winter, so options are limited unless you want to add a snow shoe trek to the project!
Bobbi - Painter. Sketcher. Teacher. Boat and Dog Lover.