Paint Schoodic

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Friday, August 11, 2017

What we’ve learned so far

I teach a painting process. Are the personal epiphanies just an extra benefit, or are they actually the heart of the matter?

Becky being mugged by a seagull.
Schoodic Point is the crown of Acadia’s Schoodic Peninsula. It is so vast that I save it for later in the week, when people have gotten the need for the broad vista out of their system. Its grandeur is best expressed in the particular: in a shelf of granite, a tidal pool, the pines, or the hammering surf.

Fay's pines. I apologize for the quality of the photos; they were taken under incandescent light.
Rocks are three-dimensional shapes with volume. In that, they’re no different from houses or a boat. Too often they’re painted as a wall, or as cut-outs. At lunch, we discussed how to draw them using wireframe shapes and perspective drawing. These are the first steps to creating depth. Without them, all the atmospherics, color and haze you lard on the canvas will only partly convince your viewer.

Jennifer's unfinished nocturne.
In the time I’ve been teaching at Schoodic, visitation has steadily risen. That means my students endure a certain amount of kibitzing from bystanders. They took it in good humor, as I expected. This is a cheerful, untroubled band of painters.

Nancy's lighthouse.
At one point, I found Becky, who lives nearby and understands the population pressure on this park, drawing a detailed map for someone.

“I thought you didn’t want to encourage more visitors,” I accused.

“But she had a cute dog!” Becky replied. What a toughie.

Becky's rocks and surf.
Every visitor to Maine needs a lobster, so we had a lobster bake in the evening. Our crustaceans had been hauled out of the sea earlier in the afternoon. “It was very tasty,” reported Jennifer. (I’ve already exceeded my quota of lobster for the season.)

Linda's lighthouse.
We critiqued paintings in the evening. I’ve tried to get a photo of work by each person, but the light wasn’t great, and my fingers were in some of the shots.

Maureen's pines.
Maureen suggested that each person talk about what they’d learned. One teaches in the hope that one’s students learn something, so I was naturally curious. Maureen was struck with the idea of drawing first and cropping afterward, so that her painting wasn’t crammed into a box. Some people said they hadn’t really understood how to work fat-over-lean. And toning the canvas was a new idea to others.

Ellen's surf.
But a lot of things mentioned had to do with attitude, things like being willing to try new things, or accepting mistakes, or the difference in how we think or see as we work.

Don's surf.
I teach a painting process. I’ve assumed that the personal discoveries were just an extra benefit from not worrying whether one is doing it “right.” Now I start to wonder whether they’re actually the heart of the matter.

Maureen making a painting carrier from a box.
After our critique, we brainstormed a box for Nancy to take on the plane today. Predictably, it was Maureen who solved the engineering question. She is never going to buy something she can make from junk. I admire a fellow frugal spirit.

Today, we go to Corea to paint lobster boats. We’ll have a final lobster roll on the wharf. Already the fog is rolling back and another pink dawn appears. We’ve been particularly blessed in people, places and weather this year.

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