Thursday, September 30, 2010

Spending time with Nora

Back from another workshop.

Nora Kasten asked me to join her at the Stapleton Kearns workshop. So off I was, for a long weekend on beautiful Mount Desert Island, Maine. You may be familiar with it by other names, such us Bar Harbor or Acadia National Park. We stayed in a lovely Inn on the ocean.

It was hard to take...

Seeing Nora again was wonderful. Our time together will remain precious in my memories. Next week I'll be seeing her again in Boothbay, where I intend to go paint. There is also the possibility of meeting up with English artist, Karl Terry.

The first day of the workshop was dotted with sunshine and we set up on coastal rocks at Otter Cliffs.

Stapleton emphasized the importance of design. His grand message to us was, without good design, no amount of rendering will save your painting. I returned home with ashes in my easel and the echoing thought that the finished "picture" we create is what is important. Not recreating everything that is at our location. Plein air painting is about altering and adjusting elements and values to create a picture which holds the character of the place, but not necessarily documents it as is. Though I know this, it often eludes me while out there chasing the light.

We were a wonderful group of serious artists. Ten of us in all. Its always a pleasure to meet and socialize with others who share our passion. Pictured is James Cook taking close observation to the subtle nuinces in values on Stapleton's unfinished painting. He had worked this demo during the course of two days, to show us a further evolved work. Stapleton didn't find it necessary to produce a finished product in a few hours, that I find typical for plein air artists. It was interesting to see a different, slower approach. For him, its all about the finished painting and he confessed to completing them all in his studio. He doesn't categorize himself as a plein air painter for this reason, though he frequently works on location. Patty Meglio covers the workshop story in greater detail, if you're interested in reading more.

Our weather was mostly gray. Fortunately I found the sun peeking in and out on the morning of my return. I took advantage of a photo shoot before leaving. Gardens and grand porches had been catching my eye as I drove by them, daily. The workshop spanned long hours and with morning fog and late afternoon mist, I never had to opportunity to photograph anything en route. I pleasured in taking my time and absorbing the beauty...

Note: Friday evening I attended the Luka Bloom concert where I presented him with the painting. As you predicted, he was very pleased. He hopped up out of his seat after looking at it with amazement, to give me a grand hug. How can you beat that?


  1. Great overview of the workshop. Nice photos too. I already miss Maine. What a wonderful place to paint. You are so lucky that you live so close.

    I've been working on my rocks from the first day and I'm struggling with them. Oh, well. Somehow, I will prevail.

  2. looks like a great workshop and love your autumn photo!

  3. What a wonderful place to paint!

  4. Hello Susan.
    I like plein air paiting.
    Spirit, color, art.
    Design is very important.
    Inspiration is very, very important.

  5. What a beautiful place to have a workshop. I am glad you enjoyed your trip, and the pictures and paintings are wonderful, almost making me envy you. Which Lisa did you finally select?

  6. Thanks for sharing some valuable points from your workshop. It's so true that we want to capture the character of the place and not document it. Now if we can just remember that each time we go out painting!

  7. Susan,

    I enjoyed painting with you. Hope that we can get together and paint in Maine again.

  8. Sound like a gorgeous time in Maine. And I'm delighted you gave that painting to Luka. I knew he'd love it!

  9. It looks like a great place to paint.
    And that's some cigar there!

  10. Magnifique lieu qui a du apporter magie à l'ensemble du groupe... tu vas tout me raconter... et aussi la remise de ton merveilleux présent à Luka! Bisousssssss

  11. Thanks for sharing your photos and experience from Stapelton's workshop and some of his tips on plein air painting.

    What a wonderful place for a workshop! Year's ago I was up there and would love to go back just to paint.

  12. Marvellous post Susan thank you. You are a continual inspiration to all around you. I wrote a blog yesterday saying just that about you. You inspire in more ways than you will ever know.

  13. I can't describe how seeing the cottage made me feel. It would fill me with inspiration! You are SOOO blessed to be able to paint and be around other artists. Although I never had the talent for it, I have admired the work all my life. I think it would be a dream to be able to see something and put it on canvas as you do.
    Wonderful that you could go!

  14. You are inspiring me to get outside and work! I love this post and what you said about plein air not needing to be a "documentation" but creating a picture that has the character of the place.

    Thank you!

  15. I follow Stapleton's blog. Try to absorb a little bit each time. How great that you got to take his workshop!


Please share your thoughts. Your comments are always appreciated.