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Plein Air Season

Finally! Spring is here and so is plein air painting. I find that painting outside where I am most happy and successful. My outdoor paintings tend to have more energy, more contrast, and a broader color range.

Painting in the Old Port can be a real challenge with the number of people on the sidewalks, but in the spring it's easier to find a quiet spot.

Painting outside poses a lot of challenges, and not every painting is going to be a winner, but it's worth it to create a few gems. Plein air painting is fast, typically 2-3 hours, tops. I usually work in smaller sizes, from 8x10 and 11x14 up to 16x20.

There are a lot of challenges for outdoor painting, including:

-Wind, which can blow over your easel

-Sun in your eyes (I try never to wear sunglasses, only a hat while painting)

-Sun hitting your canvas can distort the colors you see

-Changing weather conditions (increasing cloud cover or rain storms)


-People who want to chit chat can be distracting

-Objects are constantly moving (cars, people, boats), making them challenging to capture

-If you have to pee, you'll usually have to hold it until you are done

The best thing about plein air painting is that I get to enjoy the nice Maine weather and also have an excuse to loiter at really beautiful and interesting places.

My last few paintings were all cityscapes, and I really love all the shapes and pops of color that I can find in the composition.

I did this side of the bridge first at about 9:30am, where the pylons were getting put in. The noise was intense. I found some tissues and shoved them in my ears for earplugs.

In a few weeks I'll be heading to Monhegan to do my annual week long panting trip. There are a few plein air painters who come with me and together we have a lot of fun. Not everyone enjoys getting out of the studio at first, but there is something about that place that keeps you coming back for more.

I went back again the next day and painted the other side of the bridge, at 7:30am. I was more prepared, with noise cancelling headphones. It was more enjoyable with music. The temperature was colder though, and my fingers were quite stiff after a while.

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