Maine weather doesn’t sulk. It has its fit and then gets over itself. Yesterday dawned clear and pretty, and I went to Owl’s Head State Park to test the Creative Mark Protones board Jamie Williams Grossman gave me. I did this by dragging my houseguests along to play on the rocks while I painted.
Owl’s Head is a small gem of a park. It is comprised of two parts: the lighthouse and a shingle beach on a small cove. Although I like painting both areas, I chose the beach. “There’s not much surf here,” my husband commented. He’s right; it’s a pretty protected place.
Samuel de Champlain apparently went everywhere; he explored Owl’s Head in 1605. Later sailors thought it looked like the head of an owl, a resemblance I struggle to see. Owl’s Head was first incorporated as part of Thomaston in 1777, and was painted by Fitz Henry Lane in 1862. By any standard, that makes it historic.
The composer Benjamin Britten called it “very unpretentious” after fleeing there from Pemaquid Point, which he complained was full of the “most terrible Bostonian old ladies.” Britten was sufficiently inspired to sketch out his “Diversions for Piano Left Hand and Orchestra, Op. 21” at Owl’s Head.
That simplicity remains part of its charm—that and the Owl’s Head General Store.
I paint and teach there regularly. “I usually don’t see that many people from away down here,” I told my husband. “They come to see the lighthouse, but the beach seems to be kind of a local attraction.” Not five minutes later, a photographer from Connecticut stopped to chat.
“Doesn’t that wreck your concentration?” someone asked me. Well, it does, but I enjoy the contact too much to ever stop talking to strangers.
I wrapped up my painting and looked at my watch. It was 6:30 and I’d promised to stop and buy fish on my way home. Both fishmongers I checked were closed, so in the end we settled for something from Hannaford’s.
Of course, I’d gotten a very late start. Most successful painters spend half their time doing administrative work—marketing, paying bills, ordering supplies, delivering or retrieving work. If I were smart, I’d do that at the end of the day, but experience has taught me that I have to clear my desk (and make my bed) before I can relax to paint.
So today I’ll order painting boards before I go out again.
What do I look for in a canvas board? Stability and quality manufacturing, of course, but also “tooth,” the textural quality that determines how the canvas will grab paint. This is a very individual choice, and I tend to like canvases that are textured.
One of the most important considerations is archival stability. I believe in my work, and that means I believe that it should be protected from damage over time.
Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in August 2015. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.