First Encounter

First Encounter Beach

“First Encounter”, by Linda Beach, pastel, 12×18

During our time of social distancing and stay at home order I painted “First Encounter”. It was based on a reference photo of First Encounter Beach on Cape Cod. The light from the clouds created streaks of light across the exposed beach at low tide. The beach is believed to be the area of the first encounter of the Pilgrims and the Wompanoag Indians of Southeastern Massachusetts.

I began the painting by establishing the lines of perspective and blocking in the sky above the horizon line from the lightest values of blue.

Early stage of painting

Initial stage of painting

Painting notes:
I used a variety of pastel brands including Great American, Unison, Terry Ludwig, Sennelier, Rembrandt, and NuPastels as shown in the photo. The surface was UArt #400 sanded pastel paper.

selected pastels

Pastel palette

 

Afternoon Barn

Barn at May School Road

“Afternoon Light in the Barn”, pastel, 11×14

This bucolic scene is located just six miles from my home. The barn in the distance with a fence line and tufts of grass caught my painter’s eye. I liked the image of the barn which seems to be from another era. Here is my initial sketch done in vine charcoal on Pastel Premier sanded board. This surface was new to me, and I would definitely paint on it again.

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Initial sketch in vine charcoal

It was too windy to use my umbrella which attaches to my French easel. I began the pastel painting on location, and later completed it in the studio.

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Painting on location

Postcard from Provence

Provence

“Postcard from Provence”, Linda Beach, pastel 11.5×15.5

The Red Valerian plants caught my attention as I looked out over the view from the ruins of the chateau at Chateauneuf-du Pape in Provence. This painting is my first of the new year and decade. When I observed this scene last spring, and saw the red shutters and the red or rose flowers of the foreground, I knew that I must paint the image. I like the contrast of red and green which are complimentary colors. The arrangement of tile roofs as they go off in the distance towards the Rhone River also added interest.

Artist notes:
Sennelier La Carte card with various pastels (Rembrandt, Sennelier, Terry Ludwig, Unison), and Conte pastel pencils.

The Shape of Water

What beautiful September weather it was for the “Celebrate Our Waters” festival in Orleans, MA. Artists were invited to a day of plain air painting to showcase the natural resources and protect the waters of this area of Cape Cod. The Addison Gallery hosted an artists’ reception from 4 to 6 to display the fresh works created during the event.

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Plein Air at Rock Harbor, Orleans, MA

I set up my French easel near the marshes on the beach of Rock Harbor. The tide was low and the intersection of the shoreline and marsh grasses caught my attention. It was a challenge to capture the ever-changing scene before me as the water receded from the shore. But, what a delightful day it was with perfect temperature, a slight sea breeze, and the opportunity to capture some of the beauty of Cape Cod.

 

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A part of Celebrating Our Waters exhibit at Addison Gallery, Orleans, MA

After a day outside, it was relaxing to enjoy the company of artists, patrons, and environmentalists with a glass in hand and enjoy the ambiance of music and art on the final salute to summer on the Cape.

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Artist Reception at Addison Gallery

 

Wild Thing

“Wild Thing, you make my heart sing.”

cottage garden pastel

“Helene’s Cottage Garden”, pastel, 11×14

I am attracted to the softness and vibrancy of a cottage garden where the flowers seem to compete for attention. Each flower jostles to be seen and noticed. Again this summer I had the pleasure of being a plein air artist on the Orleans Garden Tour on Cape Cod. Rather than painting one of the well – tended and more formal garden beds, I chose to paint the cottage garden of homeowner Helene.

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Easel in garden with pastels

Like the garden that I was painting, I discarded some of the traditional approaches of establishing a value pattern of the scene. Rather I responded to the freshness of the scene and focused my painting on the softness and mood of the wildflower garden.

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There is an urgency with painting on site during a one day garden tour ends with the piece being framed, and exhibited at the sponsoring art gallery. Why do I do this? It seems to force me to work quickly. It also brings together lovers of gardens and art in a unique setting. And at the end of the day, my pastel, “Helen’s Cottage Garden” went to a new home to be enjoyed in all seasons when the summer garden was just a memory.

Art and Discovery

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Student Work of Sunset & Reflections

“The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” Mark Van Dorn

I have eleven students in my watercolor class this session. The class is an introduction to basic techniques of watercolor. Students work on guided projects to develop their skill with the media. Early practice includes value studies and the relationship of water and pigment to produce a range of lightness and darkness in a particular hue. Other techniques of masking and lifting color in the roof of the barn.

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Student Work of Wet Into Wet Using Value

Another project emphasizes using a flat color wash, perspective, and color mixing of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna.

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Student Work Using Color Mixing & Perspective

Another project featured Wet Into Wet using varied color mixing for a sunset.  Students also expand their skills with mixing Alizarin Crimson and Phthalo Green to make a dark gray for the shadows.

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Student Painting in Watercolor

I continue to enjoy the challenges of teaching.  I have had a student comment that I have “helpful ideas and tools which helps build confidence and skill.” Teaching also has benefits for me as an artist whether I am working in watercolor, or another medium.  In the words of John Cotton Dana, “Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.”

 

 

Conception to Collection

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Painting on Location at Truro Vineyards

Plein Air painting creates a connection between the artist and the environment where the artist is painting. There is an immediate relationship and a sense of place to the natural environment that cannot always be duplicated from a studio painting from a photo. This painting of Truro Vineyards on Cape Cod in Truro, MA. was selected by a collector. It is such a compliment for an artist to have a piece of work chosen for a home.

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“Truro Vineyard”, pastel, 11×14

There is an intangible quality of interaction between the artist and a scene which goes beyond reporting of the visual elements and a painting.  I would like to think that the collector senses that expression when they choose to place a painting in their environment.

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On location at Fort Hill, Cape Cod National Seashore

What a perfect day for painting it was at Fort Hill in Eastham, MA in the Cape Cod National Seashore! This photo shows the beginning of the painting that was inspired by the patterns of the water and wetlands at the shore. I was interested in capturing the clouds in the sky and the colorful wildflowers as beach peas in the foreground.

SummerSong

“Summer Song”, pastel 12×16

Why do collectors choose certain paintings to hang on their walls?  Perhaps that the image reminds them of a memory.  When the weather is cloudy and not the best day for exploring the area, maybe the painting transports them to a special place and time.  It is an intangible quality, but for the selection, I am grateful. I hope to have painted something that brings joy.

What do you collect?

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“Hidden Garden”, pastel 8×10

New Englanders are collectors. We collect books, art, and sea glass. The winters can be long on Cape Cod, and when summer arrives many homeowners are quite diligent about creating beautiful gardens.

This summer I was a plein air artist in one of the gardens on the Orleans Improvement Association Garden Tour. The completed garden painting was displayed and quickly went to a new home of a collector from the Addison Art Gallery who said that the painting made her feel happy.

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“Cottage Garden”, pastel, 11×14

The homeowner of the garden then commissioned a painting of the hillside garden in the back of the home. The flowers to be included were coreopsis, phlox, scabiosa, and distant rhododendrons. This involved meeting about composition, color placement, and the vision of the finished painting.  It is always a different experience to interpret another person’s ideas in a painting. But, it is rewarding to hear the words “I am delighted!”

When the hillside flowers are dormant during winter, the pastel painting will be a reminder of the coming of summer flowers on the hillside garden on Cape Cod.  Addison Art Gallery invites us to the fun of collecting: “Original art can take one to another place, bring back memories of a cherished place or experience, foster peace, and joy.”

And thinking about collecting: What do you collect?

Seaside Daisies

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My location on Cape Cod

How perfect on a summer day to paint daisies growing beside the sea! Before the rush of summer at the beach, I spent a few quiet hours on the bayside of Cape Cod capturing this scene.

Daisies have long been one of my favorite flowers.  There is something about their simplicity that speaks to me. In the language of flowers daisies symbolize innocence and purity.  In Norse mythology the daisy is Freya’s sacred flower. She is the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. The daisy represents motherhood or new beginnings. It is appropriate that at the beginning of summer, I painted “Seaside Daisies”.

Seaside Daisies pastel

“Seaside Daisies”, pastel, 11×15

Daisies are a challenge to paint in such a way that they do not resemble the many flowers in crayon of our childhood. I tried to capture the clumps of flowers before me and the general sense of the scene. I will remember this peaceful and beautiful location as I stood at the edge of the changing sea. Before long, I heard the waves as the tide shifted from low to high and the daisies nodded in the breeze.

Technical Notes: Sennelier LaCarte pastel paper, Pastels by Terry Ludwig, Sennelier, Unison, Girault, and Conte pencils.

Dreams of A Traveling Palette Come True

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Artist Group in Italy with
Teresa Saia

An artist’s dream of traveling and painting in Italy can come true. The first step to making this a reality is to choose an artist whose paintings you admire and with whom you would like to travel and paint. There are many postings in artist journals, but my idea came when I received a postcard from Teresa Saia and the Traveling Palette. I had taken a few watercolor and pastel workshops with Teresa in the past. Perfect. Let’s go!

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Welcome Dinner in Italy with Teresa Saia

A Welcome dinner was a perfect way for the group to get acquainted before traveling and painting together for 14 days. Enjoying each other’s company over a meal and a glass of wine was as essential as artist’s supplies during the trip.

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Teresa’s Traveling Palette

Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate, so artists enjoyed an afternoon with their traveling palettes.

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Plein Air Start of Watercolor in Tuscany

The small village of Chiusdino in Tuscany (population 1,944) was a beautiful and quiet spot to begin a plein air watercolor.

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Watercolor Mid Process

I was able to paint the sky and begin to capture the hills and buildings in the distance before it was time for the group to catch our bus back to our villa. But, the opportunity to paint on site in this beautiful setting will also bring back wonderful memories.

Although, I completed the painting after the trip, I am grateful for the opportunity to experience painting in Italy first hand with the Traveling Palette. Yes, dreams can come true!

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“Chiusdino View”, watercolor, 10×14