Painting Botanicals in Wellfleet

What a great weekend we just had! The weather was picture perfect, all sorts of flowers and trees were in bloom and the stage was set for a great weekend long Mass Audubon Field School. I was teaching “A Brush with Botanicals” and was joined by 6 students who turned out to be willing, brave and ¬†quick learners, too!

We started off with a bit of a chat about the history of botanical painting in watercolor and then went to work on some color mixing and various brushstrokes that would come in handy for this kind of painting. Many of the students were beginners but it was a different kind of painting even for those with more experience with watercolors.

After a morning of painting exercises everyone was ready to paint a flower. We set up in the shade outdoors. It may have been May but it was pretty hot in the sun already!

016Everyone was very quiet as they worked. They were concentrating hard!

018Plants wilt quickly out of water but the students were quick to use cracks in the table, their painting water and sheets of white paper as backgrounds.

014On Sunday the weather was still fine and we headed out to paint irises we had spied out in a field the day before…

001The irises proved to be more of a challenge than some originally thought they would be but they worked hard on getting the petals right. Irises are poetic and fun to look at but tough to paint.

002We ended up bringing some irises indoors to paint and then spent the afternoon going out onto the sanctuary to find branches, flowers and plants to draw and paint. I think even the students were pleased and surprised at how well their attempts worked out.

019I am always humbled by my beginning drawing and painting students because those first attempts are often awkward and far from what they hope for or imagine. And yet, they persevere. They are eager and willing to learn. They listen, they watch, they absorb as much as they can. And frankly, it seems to me it is very brave to draw or paint in public in a class and share work that shows signs of struggle but for all these students their work also showed signs of triumph. I was honored to be in their presence. It was a great weekend.

I will be doing another Field School “Sketching in Nature for Scaredy Cats” in Wellfleet in August.







Painting Outside…

One of the real pleasures of life, in my humble opinion, is painting outside. Sure it may get a bit breezy or buggy and some days it may be really hot or almost raining but painting outside is almost a meditation.

One’s attention becomes totally absorbed into the landscape, in this case the wildflower garden at the Green Briar Nature Center in East Sandwich. Before long any minor annoyances fade away and all that remains is the beauty and the joy.

Finding the color patterns amidst all that green can be daunting but is always rewarding…even if the color patterns don’t always make it all the way onto the paper. They are there in our minds, imprinted on our memories. Painting outdoors isn’t just about the painting….a lot of it is about the observing, the appreciating, the being there in the moment and taking it all in.

Whether one is a beginner or more experienced, taking the time to commune with the world around you with a pencil or paintbrush in your hand may be one of the more sublime things we can do.

Every time one of these people opens their sketchbooks or looks at the paintings they did on this bright sunny day they will remember the sweet smell of the garden, the gentle buzzing of bees and the flights of dragonflies and butterflies as well as the general laughter and good time had by all.

It’s a little piece of magic, I think.

I’ll be taking people all over the Cape to paint this summer so if you’d like to join us please check out the schedule on the Cape Cod Art and Nature website.

Painting in Chatham

Part of what I do is teach watercolor painting and this week, after being rained out for about 4 weeks, we finally got a class out and painting in Chatham! The skies were spectacular and made for a challenging day of sketching and painting.

Some pretty idyllic moments for painting……

We saw quite a few seals swimming around and of course all the fishing boats reminded us of the ways people have traditionally survived and made their livings here for hundreds of years.

A storm had moved out early in the morning but the clouds were not done with the Cape quite yet. It made for some spectacular views and light.