Surveying the rocky coast on beautiful Chebeague Island in Maine.
Sketching the Rocky Coast of Maine
By Annette Bartlett-Golden
Vivid memories of rocky inlets, the glittering ocean, cool summer breezes and wide blue skies came to me suddenly like the melody from a forgotten sea shanty. Though it had been many years since I last traveled in Maine, the presence and beauty of its rocky coast left an indelible mark on my psyche. A recent family trip to visit my husband's sister and a boyhood friend happily brought me back for a few days.
Noted for its magical quality of light and primal natural beauty, Maine has long been a haven and muse for artists. The American painters Frederick Church, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, and Andrew Wyeth of past centuries were all inspired by the Maine landscape which continues to attract artists from all over the world.
©Annette Bartlett-Golden, Sketch at Chibegue Island. Watercolor, 12 x 9 inches.
In addition to enjoying time with family and friends, I also wanted to paint scenes of the rocky coast during this vacation. A day trip by ferry to visit my husband's friend brought us to Chebeague Island in Casco Bay on a beautiful clear August day. With its mix of plentiful rocks and sandy beaches the island offers splendid coastal views. I was delighted to settle down upon a large driftwood log for an hour or so with my watercolors and paint the scene before me en plein air.
Usually I paint indoors in my studio using photos. Painting outdoors from life, en plein air, is a very different way of working ~ it is an immersive experience that requires a direct approach and quick decision making. Often the resulting painting has a unique freshness or raw quality compared to more finished studio work. Painting en plein air was something I had wanted to do for a while so I was thrilled to have the opportunity, particularly in such a fabulous setting. Later, I added a few details to the watercolor sketch I made on Chebeague Island.
An expansive view of the beach on Chebegue Island where I sketched.
The next day after a picnic of Italian subs at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, I begin another watercolor sketch. This time the scene was of garden plantings in the park, a rocky inlet below, the sea, and a thin line of land in the far distance: the view visible from the comfortable picnic table under shady trees where I sat bathed by cool breezes. This expansive coastal scene proved to be more complicated and difficult than the first sketch. I ended up spending a lot of time afterwards finishing it in the studio.
With time, and much practice, my plein air sketches will improve. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the adventure. And I'm planning to return to Maine next summer to continue painting the rocky coast and visit with family and friends.
©Annette Bartlett-Golden, Sketch at Fort Williams.
Watercolor, 12 x 9 inches.
Annette Bartlett-Golden paints a wide range of subjects from landscapes to animals and makes abstract works with paper. Using vibrant colors, she imparts a sense of immediacy, vivacity and optimism to her paintings and paper collages.