Disclaimer, my strengths lie in painting not writing so please excuse my many grammatical and spelling errors.
As much as I try to space out the plein air festivals that I paint in, they always seem to get clumped together forming a whirlwind tour of the Eastern US. There's not much of a way around it when you teach full time 10 months of the year.
After Ellicott City, MD and Castine, ME I got to go home to restock my supplies before heading north to the Adirondacks for a 2 week camping trip with the family and two more paint outs. In the middle of the trip I drove the 2 hours north to Morristown for the festival there with Cora. I think I've done this one all 4 years, and I've had the same wonderful hosts for the past 3 years. They have a beautiful place on the St. Lawrence looking out at sunsets over the Canadian churches. We had a challenging new Quick Draw this year looking out at the town. Although architecture is not my forte I did win 2nd place for a portrait of a little gothic style house. At the final show I also came in 3rd overall and I sold two of my three paintings.
I returned to the Adirondacks to finish our camping trip and eventually sent the whole family home, except Samantha (age 16). We stayed for an extra week to paint in the Adirondack Plein Air festival. We had new a new host this year with a stunning camp on Upper Saranac Lake. I struggled a bit here this year trying to get paintings done in a timely manor but I did sell 5 of my 6 paintings. Samantha did some great work on little nature studies in acrylics.
Samantha and I drove the 5hours home after the show late on a Saturday evening only turn around at 6am the next morning to head West for the eclipse. Ben said the only thing he wanted for his birthday was to see the eclipse in it's totality. The longest point of totality was in Carbondale, Illinois, so that's where we went. It took about 15 - 16 hours of drive time to get there, but it was well worth it. The dramatic change in the light causing a 360 degree sunset for a few minutes was amazing.
On the way home we stopped in Indiana for some fossil hunting to break up the drive. The next day we found a ridge of flint in Ohio that the Native Americans used to mine stone for tools. We collected about 26 pounds of the flint and I can't wait to cut and cab some of it.
Although a schedule like this is exhausting, it's well worth it and we enjoy all the little adventures that come with traveling and painting outdoors over the summer.
Just a week after returning from Ellicott City, Maryland, I switched children out, and Ben (age 13) and I headed North for the 8 hour trek to Maine. I've done this paint out 4 of the 5 years they have had it and it's one of my favorites. I've been lucky to stay with the same hosts each year who put me up in a converted barn/apartment two doors down from a historic lighthouse and overlooking the ocean. While we are there we always make sure to have some lobster rolls and blueberry pie, because it Maine. Castine is another historic town with lots of architecture, but it's the water and the rocky land that captivates me there. I sold 5 of my 6 paintings at the 2hr long show. Ben did several outstanding marker and pastel paintings. After we turned in our paintings we took some time to do some beach metal detecting and found a spike from a 1800's shipwreck. I'll keep going to Castine as long as they keep letting me in.
On the way home Ben and I swung into Portland, Maine to try a catch a Legendary Pokemon with some like minded geeks, but we failed miserably. Thanks to our detour we also ended up caught in the Maine exodus back into the Boston area. We were supposed to meet the rest of the family and some friend at a Renegades baseball game in Beacon, but got there an hour or so late.
The Patapsco River, in my painting above, tried to destroy Ellicott City last July. About 6 inches of rain burst from the clouds uphill from the town and the Tiber, a small ankle deep tributary that normally runs under one side of the street, became a raging torrent that not only overflowed it's banks but ripped it's way through Main Street taking cars, people, and the contents of stores with it. I was actually amazed at how well the town looked given the horrific YouTube videos I had watched of the flash flood. Most of the stores were open, and the ones that weren't had painted the plywood to appear as if they were open.
In Mid July I headed south with Cora (age 12) to paint in Ellicott City. As I got settled in, I was reminded of why I had skipped this one last year because it lacks natural subject matter. The paint area mostly consists of historic architecture, and I'm more a woods and water gal. Cora and I made the best of it by sticking to the river in town. Actually we sat in the river itself during some of the hottest parts of two days. I had no sales or awards for this one and with no free housing I will probably have to cross this one off my list for next year.
Cora, however, was interviewed by the Baltimore Sun and she sold two paintings. My kids are starting to show me up.
While waiting for the show to be hung we ventured into Baltimore and hit some cultural, and really not cultural sites. I convinced her to go to Fort McHenry to see the fort that inspired our National Anthem. She convinced me to go to the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum to see things like a Niki Minaj portrait made of lipstick.
I learned a lot from painting in the Santa Fe area for a week but here are some highlights:
1. New Mexico smells awesome!
From the second I stepped out of my rental car at the welcome party, I was hit with the fragrant and slightly herbal smell of the desert plants. I actually thought it was someone's perfume who had perhaps just walked by, but when I was still smelling it an hour later I figured out that it was just the desert I was smelling.
2. Georgia O'Keeffe was a really tough woman.
She made painting en plein air in that harsh desert environment look easy. It's not. Although I had my sun umbrella with me, the sun reflects off the concrete like desert and bakes you from below as well. During the week I also got stuck in a flash flood that covered the road with about 6 inches of watery mud and I endured a hail storm while perched under a picnic shelter overlooking Lake Abiquiu. While at the Georgia O'Keeffe museum it struck me that many of her New Mexico paintings veer more towards the abstract than many of her flowers. I think the amount of time one can endure painting outdoors at Ghost Ranch has a lot to do with what you take the time to put in to your painting.
3. The colors are real.
I guess in looking at pictures of New Mexico and O'Keeffe's paintings of the area I thought that the colors were enhanced a bit. I almost drove off the road several times distracted by the intense colors of the northern New Mexico rock formations.