Monday, August 1, 2011

Campobello Island Plein Air

It has been almost two weeks ago that we left Massachusetts, traveled through Maine, and crossed the bridge at Lubec to enter Campobello Island at the tip of New Brunswick on the Bay of Fundy. We had reservations at the Herring Cove Provincial Park which is within walking distance of the Herring Cove Beach (see above). Although the site had 30 amp electricity, we were sans water or sewer, so we had to embark upon a careful conservation program of dishwashing and toilet flushing. Thankfully the park had warm, clean restrooms with hot and cold running water and showers as well so we made use of their facilities as often as possible. We spent our first couple of days exploring the island, checking out all of the little harbors and taking photos of old buildings and boats. We were both so happy to finally be able to pull over in the truck and get out and take some photos without encountering a "Private Property - Keep Out" sign as we had on the coast of Connecticut and Rhode Island. The weather was clear and cool, unlike the 99 degree, high humidity weather we left when we spent a night in Freeport, Maine. Freeport, by the way, is a disneyesque mall disguised as a mild mannered coastal town. They were having a heat wave, as was the rest of the country and there were so many air conditioners on in our KOA that the electricity went off for about 5 hours in the late afternoon. So the air felt lovely on Campobello with maritime temperatures in the 70's. . . . . . On Sunday evening we went to Friar's Bay Gallery to get a welcome and introduction for the week's plein air workshop from Michael Chesley Johnson (see left, photo taken during the week while we were at Liberty Point) and his wife Trina where we also met the two other students; Mike from New Jersey and Pat from New Hampshire. We were not too surprised to see Pat because one day at the IAPS conference in June we had lunch at a table with many other artists and in the conversation found out that Pat was also scheduled to have a workshop with Michael in July. What a coincidence, only 4 people in the workshop and we meet one of them by accident before we get there. It's a small world. . . . . . . . . . .On Monday at 9:00 Atlantic Time we met at Michael's gallery where he talked about concentrating our efforts on a four value color system. This was exactly what Allan was hoping he would talk about and after we drove to Con Robinson Point in the Roosevelt International Park, Michael demonstrated how to begin a painting using four colors that were in the four values of the scene. Michael had reminded all of us of Charles Hawthorne's 4 value system with the verticals (trees) being the darkest, sloped verticals (mountains) being the mid-darks, flat areas (land) being the mid-lights, and the sky being the lightest of all. Allan's painting to the left was his day one attempt at achieving this goal of a painting in 4 values. I am working on my painting of the same scene (above right) and felt that my achievement for the day was a) actually doing a plein air and getting something recognizeable on the paper, and b) capturing some of the color and value that I saw in front of me. My biggest achievement was getting over the jitters of working quickly, as I am a very sloowww painter. But Michael had a very strong teacherly instinct and was able to present material at the level we needed and adjusted his approach to be of the most help to all of us, each of us with different needs. On day two we went to Cranberry Point, where again Michael demonstrated what we needed to focus on for the session. Michael is working on a painting above while we were all doing our paintings and later he showed us the small painting he had done of me painting under my umbrella. By the way, we learned that the umbrella is not for us, it is for the pastels and the painting on the easel. . . . . . . . . On Wednesday we painted at Herring Cove Beach, which is the beach at the very top of this blog, and Thursday we went to Liberty Point, which is the most gorgeous spot on the island. Michael did a demonstration of a painting of a rock formation off shore which resembles a frog and cautioned us about making it too froglike. Allan jumped right in and started painting and the next day during the critique, we all had to laugh, as he had painted Jeremiah, in all his froglike glory (left). I escaped that problem by painting in the opposite direction (below). In addition to the four values which was on day one, we also worked on our composition, color, and atmospheric perspective. On our last day, we asked Michael if he would help us with trees and shrubs, so we all went to Little Duck Pond with the fog rolling in amongst the trees, and Michael showed us how to create trees, still maintaining the four values, as he added suggestions of bluish green trees in the distance with a sky made of light pink and mint green which believe it or not, looked just like fog. The week was the absolute highlight of our trip and will be something we remember forever. On our last day we went back over the bridge to Lubec to visit the Easternmost point in the United States. But it was surely an anticlimax to the previous week painting plein air with Michael on Campobello Island.

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