Archive for HOW TO PAINT

Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island

Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting with tags , , , , , , , on September 9, 2014 by sebland

ME VII You’d think as time goes by, the memories would begin to fade, but coming home just seems to help me look back with fondness to the beautiful places we saw. Bar Harbor is about 90 miles south of Lubec, and we drove down to spend our last four days exploring Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island.

Bar Harbor is very busy. In fact, other than eating there and buying a few groceries, I chose to avoid it as much as possible. One exception was an excellent brunch at Two Cats Restaurant. BAR HARBOR I BAR HARBOR II With a beautiful garden as the front lawn, they served one of the most generous and delicious breakfasts I found. In fact, it was at least twenty four hours before either of us could think of food. Mostly organic food, the presentation was beautiful, and it’s easy to see why the place was packed every time we drove by. Jordan’s, a well established restaurant up the street, is famous for its blueberry pancakes and muffins. We managed to weave our way through the masses (literally) of bicycles, cars, delivery trucks and zany pedestrians several times, just to sample the food there. Our waitress, a young woman from Kiev, held us spellbound with her description of life year round on the coast of Maine. But I suppose coming from the Ukraine, a Maine winter was a breeze to her. For a flat-lander from Oklahoma now living in South Texas, thoughts of cross country skiing and wearing snowshoes to go out for a walk really sparked my imagination!

Even though we much preferred the natural beauty of Acadia National Park, we did enjoy the harbor and the old inns and hotels clustered around the bay.

BAR HARBOR III This sailboat offered a view that I enjoyed, and I would have liked to take a short cruise, maybe all the way down to Boston, if they’d offered it. A half hour ride around the bay just wasn’t that appealing.BAR HARBOR IV

Most days, we preferred driving all over the island, pulling out at every vantage point and taking photos of the cliffs, the rocks, and the beautiful blue water. One of my favorite spots was Thunder Hole.
THUNDER HOLE During high tides the water rushes into this spot, and it roars and sounds like thunder. It merely gurgled when we were there, but I still found it beautiful. I also discovered I didn’t like tourists very much, even though I was one – there was this one man who popped up in every photo. I sort of wanted to throw a rock at him, but restrained myself. They frown on such things in our national parks.


Probably my favorite time of all was sitting on the rocks near Otter Cove, pulling out my little watercolor kit and just trying to capture the shadows on Otter Cliffs. I probably will never forget that hour sitting in the sun, hearing the roar of the surf and feeling at perfect peace.



We wanted to see the lighthouse at Bass Harbor and spent a pleasant morning driving up and across the island. Unfortunately, we saw a lot of fog!

LIGHTHOUSE FOGI LIGHTHOUSE FOG II I would have loved to climb down the rocks and take photos from below, but caution prevailed. The cool, the quiet and the sound of the foghorns did leave a really nice memory.

Next, the view from Cadillac Mountain and a Happy Hour Sunset Cruise. Lots of inspirations for paintings, for sure!


Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 6, 2014 by sebland


As all good things must come to an end, so our visit to New Brunswick and Campobello Island had to end. I think one of the most important things to take away from a cherished vacation is the sense of awe – the wonder that our land is so beautiful and so amazing! I encourage my students to seriously plan their dreams – to follow through on those things you’ve always wanted to do! As we grow older, God willing, we will have wonderful memories of parks we have visited, far away places we finally got to see, and those memories comfort us. Dream it and then scheme it, y’all! You’ll never regret it. So, as we drive across the Roosevelt Bridge and back into the United States, here are a few of my cherished memories.

BEACH ROSES IIBEACH ROSES II Beach Roses blooming everywhere.


New Friends: HELEN

 The lovely old churches with a cemetery up the hill, being mowed by a red headed teenager.


  The rocky shoreline and our time spent trying to capture it on canvas:

 SUGAR LOAF ROCK                                         LIGHTHOUSE ROCKS SUGAR LOAF ROCK                                          TEACHER The lovely trees and the amazing colors – try and match THAT green, artist…..

THREE TREES     ROCKY COAST and the lovely old town of Lubec, Maine, perched on the edge of the Bay of Fundy.





Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 3, 2014 by sebland

TOP OF THE WORLD ITOP OF THE WORLD IIIThe last day of our workshop dawned bright and clear. Michael took us to the overlook at Friar’s Head. It really felt like the top of the world. We could see across the bay to Lubec and Eastport, and island in between. He could not have chosen a better spot! TOP OF THE WORLD II Pointing out the lovely cloud formations, he chose as a demo to paint a pastel focusing on the fast moving clouds. He began sketching in the main shapes and worked up a value study. FRIARS HEAD I I have learned that this truly is the most valuable part of plein air painting – no pun intended.

Next, he sketched in the main shapes: FRIARS HEAD III All of us watched, enthralled, as he captured the movement of the clouds, almost as if by magic.

FRIARS HEAD V As his painting took shape, I looked around for my subject. There was plenty to choose from!


Liking the curve of the bay and the reflections on the water, I chose what should have been an easy subject, and began to lay in the masses. Michael said that it takes two people to make a painting. One is the painter and another is the friend with a gun to shoot that artist before they mess up the painting. I needed that second person on this day. I had a beautiful start and I kept on adding detail after detail until I totally messed it up.

FRIARS HEAD XIStill, it was a wonderfully beautiful day, lessons were learned and some good work was accomplished:

FRIARS HEAD VIMichael’s finished painting, Brian’s work in progress, FRIARS HEAD Xand Sue’s beautiful pastel:FRIARS HEAD IX

In such a beautiful spot, it’s easy to remember, it’s the journey!

FRIARS HEAD XII Tomorrow, goodbye to Canada.



Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , on May 26, 2014 by sebland

Now and then, when we least expect it, the planets align and we find all kinds of good things going on! That happened to me this spring. A cousin in Oregon sent a website for a very talented artist that inspired me and several of my friends. My cousin’s daughter had taken an online class presented by Flora Bowley,, and her beautiful abstracts just blew us away! After talking it over for a while, we decided a deck party was definitely beckoning us. We chose a lovely day in April, covered my deck with dropclothes, took off our shoes, put some Harry Belafonte music on the CD, and went to work.
We could not possibly have chosen a more beautiful day. We bought a large quantity of paint, established ground rules: “YOU MUST HAVE FUN,” and began pouring, rubbing, brushing and applying the paints as our spirits moved us.
Surprisingly enough, no two paintings resembled one another – each had a beauty of its own. One painter was inspired by my deck cushions, another portrayed underwater creatures, a blue bird named “Squawk” emerged, and at the end of the day, we had some very nice pieces. Sherry Humphreys’ “ARABESQUE” so intrigued the judge at a local show that she won Best of Show! Later, I’ll post more of the work we did that day. It just goes to show that amazing things can happen when you Just Show Up!!!


Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 24, 2013 by sebland


I’ve been known to tell my students that they will one day hate almost every painting they are working on. For me, this may be that day. First, my constant companion remarked that I must be emulating Georgia O’Keefe, who painted her blue mountain over and over. He said I seem to paint the same rocks over and over. He may be right, but I don’t think I needed to hear that. At least that is my excuse for a rather frustrating session. To begin, I decided the rocks were too solid and needed more texture. Mixing Burnt Sienna, Thalo Blue and Alizaron Crimson, I painted over my rocks and then scraped across them with a palette knife. I also painted their reflections and smoothed over with a bit of lavender mix.


Deciding the sky needed some more warmth, I mixed Cadmium Red Medium with a bit of Gesso and painted the sky and the water with some pink streaks. I also added a little more blue into the sky on the right.


Making a pale ivory mix with gesso and bit of Cadmium Yellow Medium, I lightened the sky and the water in the center, and at the lower right edge.


Mixing a little yellow into my pink mixture, I added more warmth to the sky and the water.


I am gradually bringing more of the water over to the left edge. I may lose the beach altogether! Maybe the tide is coming in.


With a very wet brush, some pale lavender mix and gel medium, I painted over the sand, trying to bring movement into the foreground. I also rubbed this blend over the rocks, hoping to capture the fog as it began to rise.


Adding creamy white with a large watercolor brush, I begin to build some wave action across the bottom of the rocks. I am not happy with the colors of the rocks, so struggle a bit with that. I also darken the sky with a mix of light purple made with Cadmium Red Medium and Cobalt Blue. I also add a little blue to the lower right corner.


With Burnt Sienna and Raw Sienna, I play with the sand a little more, paint the rocks, rub the paint off the rocks, mutter a few imprecations and walk away. This painting can wait for another day. I hear it’s 5:00 somewhere!

DAY SIX – At the End of the Day

Posted in Painting with tags , , , , on January 25, 2013 by sebland

DAY SIX – At the End of the Day.

DAY SIX – At the End of the Day

Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 25, 2013 by sebland


My students help put things into perspective, sometimes, and that happened this week. When we were critiquing this piece, I asked my student if she felt the painting was finished. Her reply was: “Where were the birds?” I realized that to give life to this moment, I did need some little fellows walking on the beach with me. Adding the birds and their shadows took only a few minutes. I washed over the gentle waves once again with warm and cool colors already used, and realized this painting is exactly what I wanted: a memory of a soft and gentle evening, alone on the beach and admiring the amazing colors the Master Painter had provided, just for me. That’s how I feel about every sunrise and sunset – Someone created all this beauty as a gift to us. I think I’m through with this one.


I’m looking forward to next week’s painting: Depoe Bay and the Roar of the Surf.


Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , on January 22, 2013 by sebland

gentle glow day five 1 low res

Life has a way of interfering in our plans. Painting for just a few minutes a day can still yield lots of results. I advise anyone who wants to make art – don’t be discouraged when your calendar fills up! You can use a half hour, an hour, even a few minutes a day, to create a piece of art. After an incredibly busy week, I took two hours and worked on this piece. I’m really beginning to be happy with it.

gentle glow day five 3 low res

The sand looked cold to me, so to warm it up, I mixed all the colors previously used: cadmium yellow, cadmium red, ultramarine blue and burnt sienna, with lots of titanium white to make a warmer sand tone. I also painted over the large rock and dragged some burnt umber mixed with blue down through the dry water to make a reflection.
gentle glow day five  2 low res
Wanting to make the foreground still warmer, I painted over the sand with alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue and some white. I used all my former colors and painted over the water, trying to make gentle waves and suggest the warmth of the sun on the right side of the painting.

gentle glow day five 4 low res

I felt the reflection was much too obvious, so painted over most of it with a cool blue and white mixture. I added some suggested reflections on the smaller rocks, made shadows under the driftwood and small rock in the foreground, and brought still more pink in the water on the right. It’s very hard to know when to stop, but I think this painting is almost finished. What do you think? Would you like to see the reflections more clearly, or do you like the sublety of this approach? Comments are always welcome!


Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 15, 2013 by sebland

DAY FOUR 1 low res
It’s really fun when I begin to see the painting resembling what I had in mind. Mixing the blue, yellow, red and burnt sienna, I create a sandy mix that I paint into the foreground.

Now I want to try to bring the tidepool in and show the reflection of the setting sun – something I haven’t tried before. Studying my reference photo, I realize I need to mix a light peach/brown color, so using cadmium red light, cadmium yellow medium, titanium white and lots of gel gloss medium, I paint the area where the waterline washes gently over the sand in the foreground.


DAY FOUR 2 low res

I like that. I use the same light color mixture on the right side of the water, showing the sunlight reflecting on that side.


DAY FOUR 4 3 low res

Mixing ultramarine blue, white and a little burnt sienna, I paint some cooler colors under the rock on the right side and working down, glaze more of the cool colors to blend with the warmer ones.


DAY FOUR 5 low resNow for the fun. Loading a 1″ watercolor brush with white, gloss medium and a little yellow, I drag the side of my brush across, creating some gentle wave action. I think the painting is beginning to take shape. Using the same white with a little blue and gloss medium I drag some cooler waves across from the left. This painting is easy and fun to do. Next time, we’ll work on the rocks. They look a little like sharks at the moment, but we’ll fix that. I think I’m going to like this picture!

DAY FOUR6 low res



Posted in art, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , on January 10, 2013 by sebland


I try to tell my students not to be intimidated by a blank canvas. One of them, apparently not believing me, described the new, larger canvas she purchased in this way: “Help, Help I need guidance. This canvas has arms and legs and large teeth in my dreams.”
Then, I walked into my studio and was faced with this. Suddenly, I felt what my student felt – intimidated!

The cure for this malady is to leap in, so I mixed gesso with cadmium red light and cadmium yellow medium, and prepared to cover 1,728 square inches.

In less time than you would think, I was halfway through the underpainting.

Now I’m rocking and rolling and ready to rough in the horizon line. Using ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson and white, I mix a cool blue lavender, and paint the horizon line. Then I begin to rough in the clouds and add some color where the sea will be.

This is the point where I begin to love my painting.

I try to emphasize, when painting water, especially a lake or ocean, the line must be straight. If your horizon line goes up or down, the water will run off, right?

I notice in my reference photo, that the sky is much lighter near the horizon, so I brighten the sky and begin to add the sunlight colors low in the water, where I’ll put a sea glow later.


Ah, now I am really beginning to like my work!

But then……….I roughed in some rocks, as I remembered how massive they looked on the coast.

WITH ROCKS low res8

I am not happy with this composition. In fact, I really hate it! Time to go pour a glass of wine and decide what to do next. Maybe tomorrow will be better…

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