As soon as the sun is over the tree line, I am headed down to Rockland to paint a scene that a crew member of the American Eagle told me about. Plein air is a concatenation of place and time. We painters can’t be everywhere, so we sometimes miss the most important views.
On the other hand, people spend a lot of time thinking and looking while they’re working. It is amazing how many times non-painters have told me, “Let me show you something” and it turns out to be the most important view. They have recorded moments of beauty while going about their everyday lives.
This is why I don’t believe much in the idea of talent. A person who can see the beauty in a pattern of shadows in the water has visual talent, because it’s all about being able to see. Putting it to canvas or paper is a matter of learned technique.
I moved to mid-coast Maine because of how frequently these small moments of beauty appear. Take the shipyard in which I’m currently painting. There is always a boat in dry dock, but there are also the boats in the water. Around the corner is a commercial fishing dock. And if one exhausted those as painting subjects, there are the tugboats and tenders for these boats. And that’s just one tiny anchorage; there are countless others.