Portsmouth, New Hampshire is just a short jog north along the coast from where I live. Recently, the NH Art Association hosted their first Wet Paint event there, and I was delighted to participate. The town is picturesque, with antique houses, boats in a harbor; a lively New England small city with many suitable scenes to draw. The south end of town is particularly pretty, even on a grey day. A surprisingly bright yellow lobster boat rested on the far shore of an inlet, opposite the town boat launch, so I set up there. That scene is probably the most-painted view in town, but it was new to me! And, the color yellow has particular resonance for me now; it was my mother's favorite. She died last fall, but whenever I see yellow, I can't help but think of her. Her life was not an easy one, but she maintained an optimistic attitude even through the toughest of times. I do believe that our spirits transcend time, distance and matter, and I feel her presence, and miss her a bit less, when I get a little "yellow hello" from Mum.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of participating in a Wet Paint event, on the 10th anniversary of my first event of this type, right in the same town! On this day, artists from around the area descended upon this scenic seaside village, scoped out likely spots to paint, and worked throughout the day. An exhibit is usually held the following day, or sometimes, works are auctioned off that evening, to benefit a local cause. This event's artworks will be on display at the King Hooper Mansion in Marblehead through the weekend.
The weather was perfect! I find it an exciting challenge to create one of my white-line woodblock prints from start to finish in one day; there are more steps to this process than most plein air artists have to contend with. And, works created on the spot like this tend to be freer and fresher than more studied, studio works. Fun is the order for the day!
I headed down to the waterfront, and was welcomed at the Boston Yacht Club. Luck! Young sailing students were just departing the dock, the boats and sails making wonderfully graphic, colorful shapes against the water. I grabbed pencil and paper, and made some quick sketches. Often, it's those moments that pass in a flash that make the most lasting impression. Sometimes, something we see resonates with meaning in a much bigger way than at first glance. My 18 year old son, Charlie, just graduated high school, and I'm still learning to let go. I have to trust that he'll find his own way, that the winds will be fair, the waves not too high, and that he'll always be able to navigate back safely to home port.
Anyway, from there, I returned to my studio on wheels: my 2008 Subaru Forester, where I transferred the drawing in reverse onto my block, using carbon paper. I then cut out the lines of my drawing with a sharp knife, attached a piece of Washi paper to the block, and began painting the shapes, one at a time, then folding the paper down over the block and rubbing the back to transfer the color, building by layers. When the print was completed to my satisfaction, I removed the paper from my block, signed the print, and framed it for display. See below for my result!
More Wet Paint events coming soon:
July 18, 2015 Portsmouth, NH
August 15, 16 Essex, MA
Away We Go, white line woodcut , 2015, 13" x 9 3/4"