The Shapes of Portland

This week, I’m enjoying a plein air painting week in New Hampshire. This means I’m painting outdoors, in the open (plein) air, which will hopefully be sunny and fair. Forecast has been good so far. I’m setting up on street corners and benches, trying to find ways to put the three-dimensional views into an 11 x 15 inch piece of paper. I am tired, creatively spent, also sunburned, but so happy.

In celebration of the beauty I’m working on this week, here’s a painting from some window “plein” air. From the window of my hotel room, I stood and painted the morning. It was the night before that I wore that hat and painted sunset. This was December in Portland, Maine, right after a huge snowstorm transformed the view. Don’t miss the pictures in the tiled area at right, they’ll enlarge and you can view them like a gallery. Be sure to read the Artist’s Note for more about the two window paintings that informed “The Shapes of Portland.” (And if you are reading in your email, simply click the title at top) A big thank you to my friend, Audra, for taking these pics of me painting!

This piece is much larger than I usually paint. The skyline inspired me to use the whole length of the watercolor sheet. So I tore it to this panorama size. Thank you, Dale, for taking this one of me in our backyard.

How does a view out a window become inspiring enough to paint? Well, let me explain how I felt that morning.

The snow blanketed the city of Portland, Maine. From windows, anyone could see the peach and plum hues in the frosted city. At sunrise, the towers of brick and snow banks were still untouched by anything but light. As the sun rose over the highest peaks the shadows shrunk. And suddenly the enchantment breaks. The air conditioning boxes no longer looked quite as regal without their accompanying trains of purple shadows. The snow soon became a mess instead of a crown, stuff to drive around and shovel, but I would capture it before that spell broke.

Before the city awoke, I could watch from my windows and sketch and paint these shapes of Portland, bedecked with white. This was a morning, I wanted to remember.

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I woke up in time for this view from my hotel window at The Westin Portland Harborview. The night before my girlfriend and I had enjoyed a stiffer than expected drink at Top of the East, the tallest bar in Portland, Maine. The sunset view was so spectacular, I had already painted it just a few floors above me. But this morning, before breakfast, before getting ready, I grabbed my tiny plein air setup and started sketching sunrise from the window ledge. The result provided the notes for this larger painting. The city was melted into this evocative study of shapes and light. I felt the cold snow and the shadows of the sunny day after a huge storm. Soon I’d be out on those streets, sliding out of drifts, hunting down museums and galleries, purchasing new brushes and resting with a cup of clam chowder.

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So happy you get to do this…..love all the pics and comments; did you say what town you were in in New Hampshire? And staying in a hotel…..must have been so relaxing!

I have a question! What does being creatively spent look like for you?

Sounds like you’re using loads of courage!

I AM LOVING YOUR NEW BLOG! I love getting the email for it. It’s been such a breath of fresh air with some wonderful beauty interwoven with contemplative ideas. I’m super happy for you and proud of you!

I like the way you described the “perfect lighting and or timing”. Also the beauty in a simple thing like buildings. There is beauty all around us if we take a minute to look.

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