Saturday, August 13, 2016

Sketches from Maine - Part 4

Andrew Wyeth painted hundreds of paintings in Maine during his life, and the Olson House was one of his favorite subjects. It's now part of the Farnsworth Museum. We visited on a beautiful summer day and had a chance to sketch for awhile after touring the house and watching a documentary about Wyeth.

The house is stark and spare. It looks like an Andrew Wyeth painting come to life. From the house, grassy meadows lead down to the shimmering waters of Penobscot Bay and a small cemetery where the artist is buried. I chose a spot among the wildflowers and settled down to draw.

All sketches were done in a 9" x 6", Stillman and Birn Alpha series hardbound sketchbook.
For this one I used pencil and watercolor.

My landscape vignette has the breezy, sunlit look of coastal Maine, with its clapboard house and barn, evergreen trees and beautiful meadows filled with wildflowers. The border frames the sketch nicely without overwhelming it.

Each year when I'm in Maine I take my students to visit the Rockland Breakwater Light in Rockland harbor, but this year I decided to stay on shore rather than walk the breakwater out to the lighthouse. While I was waiting for them to return from the nearly two mile round trip walk, I sketched a dredging barge anchored just off-shore.

The sketch was drawn with a black Pigma Micron 01 pen. The border was added later. I used a variety of pens for it, including several sizes of Pitt Artist's pens, a Platinum Carbon fountain pen with Platinum Carbon ink, and a Pitt brush pen (color cold grey 232).

After the workshop wrapped up, my mother and I headed up the coast to Acadia National Park where we met some friends for a week. We had a little cottage near the water on Goose Cove, not too far from Southwest Harbor in the part of Mt. Desert Island that they call "The Quiet Side". It's away from the hustle bustle of Bar Harbor and the main attractions in the national park.

I thought the little "Beach" sign that pointed the way to our private cove was really cute, so I did a quick sketch of it the first morning we were there. I used a Pentel Hybrid Technica gel pen that Joe Miller had given me when I taught at Cheap Joe's back in May. The pen glided over the Stillman & Birn Alpha paper nicely and was a pleasure to draw with. The ink is water-soluble, so after the drawing was finished, I used a waterbrush filled with clean water to dissolve some of the lines and draw out the gray color to make shadows. I love this technique, and it's so quick that I'm able to get a sketch finished in no time.

The tides in northern Maine are dramatic, with huge changes in the shoreline happening every day as the tide comes in and goes out. At low tide, I enjoyed exploring the cove to see what I could find. Mostly I was searching for sea glass, but there was lots more to see. I sketched various types of seaweed, a sea urchin shell, barnacles, a dead crab, mussel shells, snail shells, sea glass, and even a few minnows that had been trapped in a tide pool.

Trying to fit all the different shapes in on my page was a lot of fun. The minnows were the last thing I drew, after the lettering had been added. I wish I had planned for them a little earlier, so I could have had one of them actually coming through the "D". Still, I love this page.

This last sketch was a quickie done at a sidewalk cafe while we waited for our lunches.

I'll share the rest of my Maine sketches when I have a chance to finish them, but they may have to wait awhile. I have a couple of house portraits to paint, a three-day "Sketch Your Life!" workshop next weekend here at my house, and Italy coming up in September. These are busy days!


  1. Leslie, thank you for sharing your Maine sketches. They're a pleasure to look at. I love the sky and greenery in your Olsen House sketch. And I enjoyed seeing some of your pen and ink work, especially the Beach drawing. I really like the look of the Pentel gel pen, and I appreciate how you let your readers in on your techniques and thought processes.

    1. You're welcome, Susan. I hope you'll be able to make it to Maine for a workshop one day. It would be so much fun to spend a week together at Primrose Cottage.

  2. I like the contrast of the color sketches with the ink drawings! All of these are nicely done. I agree with susan about appreciating how you share your techniques and process.

    1. Thanks for letting me know, Joan. I appreciate your feedback. I'm never sure if I'm boring people with those sorts of details, but I think most of my sketching buddies enjoy knowing more about the process and materials I used. I'm glad to know it's helpful.

  3. I absolutely LOVE that low tide sketch. One of my favorite things to do it to draw and explore tide pools in Maine. Yours is terrific!

    1. Drawing all the goodies I saw in the tide pools was a great excuse to just wander around "wasting" time. I love how the page turned out, too!


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