Robert Leedy in Maine: Day One

BEErrrRUMM! BEErrrRUMM! BEErrrRUMM!The sound was like someone plucking over-sized rubber bands. That’s what sold me on this painting’s location selection: large, fearless bullfrogs singing it up. They had no fear of me whatsoever and their opera performance continued for hours as I painted away. These guys were definitely happy in their little roadside pond.The location is a small pond just next to David Dewey’s house and directly across the street from the Owls Head General Store and Owls Head Post Office.I was up early at 5:00 a.m. Totally light and I guess it is because Maine extends so much further east than the rest of the Eastern Standard Time Zone. We had our normal orientation and it was good to see old friends from previous David Dewey workshops – Fred & Sherry, Barbara, Emily, Alison, Joe, Margaret and Pam. Pam lived in Atlantic Beach, Florida years ago – she now is a graphic designer in New York. She happened to bring a friend, Linda, to this year’s workshop. Linda, coincidentally, worked with me at the same graphic design studio in Jacksonville twenty six years ago! Small world…After a demo painting by David Dewey, we set out to find locations for our own paintings. The pond was not exactly a good choice for the exercise which was to use a strong value pattern to create simple, economic spatial relationships; we were to use the pencil sparingly and develop the painting with a brush instead – and not use it as a drawing tool – but a painting tool. We were asked to “flavor” our shadows with color while the paint was still wet, for instance, a little red thrown into a predominately blue shadow to counter a predominately green landscape. For simplicity’s sake, this exercise lent itself to an architectural subject matter.

“Roadside Bull Frog Pond, Owls Head, Maine”, by Robert Leedy

“Roadside Bullfrog Pond, Owls Head, Maine”
Robert Leedy, 2006
watercolor on Arches 140 lb. Hot Press paper
15″ x 20″
Collection of Mr. Louis Rice
Atlantic Beach, Florida

As I dove into my painting, I realized halfway upstream that my paper choice – hot press – may not have been a perfect candidate for injecting and swirling secondary colors into a large wash. Hot press dries rapidly ( a real bonus on damp, foggy, Maine days.) But today’s weather was far from those days of going to eat lunch while your painting dries. In fact, my washes were drying so fast that it was very difficult to keep hard-edged shapes from interfering with the composition. I needed to work rapidly.This painting started out as a struggle. I noticed that my eyesight is getting worse and I now have to carry my reading glasses everywhere. Vicky is not here to lend me hers as often happens in restaurants. My reading glasses have joined the brushes, paints, water containers, easel, stool, pencils, paper, Kleenex, sponges, and camera as essential plein aire painting tools. But making the transition from sunglasses in bright sunlight to reading glasses is not an easy one. I guess I’ll need to seek out polarized, UV protected reading glasses.Add into the equation a bright white palette with intense colors staring back at you in the brilliant sunlight. Cadmium Red, Cobalt Blue, Quinocridone Burnt Orange, Emerald Green all look the same: little black squares that make you squint. I almost felt lost in a drunken haze as I fought with fast drying washes, blinding light and mystery colors. I was not happy with my start but stuck with it nonetheless. The bullforgs’ pinging kept my sense of humor close by. Thanks, Boys, for hanging in there with me!It wasn’t until I saw the painting in the shade that I really appreciated it. The railing adds a nice element to the composition and is balance by the leaning telephone pole and skewed roofs. I applied tiny bits of intense color throughout the painting which helped it tremendously. And it certainly has a Maine flavor which pleases me (especially after driving 1200 miles up here!)So, I can scratch off Painting One of Day One off. I am so glad it was a good start.I ate dinner tonight at the Craignair. The chef is pretty good here. I had baked scallops over a Parmesano encrusted pasta with broiled asparagus and a lemon wine sauce. Delicious. A Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay went very nicely with it. As I sipped a glass of wine while waiting for the entree, a spectacular evening sky unfolded before me. When I got to my room earlier this afternoon, I noticed a potential painting of the bay from my window. A small house with a red roof is angled for maximum views and looks like it might be good subject matter. The tide here has a huge variance – maybe 15 to 20 feet – which drastically changes the marine landscape. The light is incredible and the colors almost indescribable. As I finish this writing Tuesday morning, I notice from my window that the red-roof house is now in silhouette, its local color muted by an expansive pink sky. The horizon is soft – probably due to fog further off the coast. So now I have two paintings to do from my window – a morning one and an evening one.Tuesday we are headed to my old haunt – the Rockland Fishing Pier.

“Robert Leedy painting ‘Roadside Bullfrog Pond’, Owls Head, Maine, 2006
Robert Leedy on location at the Roadside Bullfrog Pond. (I’ll have to ask David if this pond has a real name…)[NOTE: I did later ask David. It is called the fire pond – not really a name but a reference. David says the pond was put in by the local fire department and many residents protested. I guess it adds to the mosquito problem but the bullfrogs are nice and I am sure it is very relaxing to hear them at night. David says it is also a skating pond during winter and “it is a real Currier & Ives scene”.]
Photo taken by Fred Sztul More updates later – Robert

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