“Robert Leedy in Maine: Day Two”
Day Two found our group at the Rockland Municipal Fishing Pier. This is a pretty happening place in the morning as fishing boats bring in their haul which is loaded onto large trucks out on the dock. Some of these trucks look like big fuel trucks. Thousands of seagulls were having a great time. A small percentage of them knew right where to be; the rest just flew around in the general vicinity making lots of noise. I was waiting to hear Alfred Hitchcock say, “action!” in his distinctive voice. Watching the seagulls got me thinking about humanity: there are a few people in this world who know exactly what to do, where to be and when to do it; they are masters at their game despite fierce competition. Others follow the flock and never quite hit the perfect target but still manage to make a few successful hits. They see the key players but can’t quite make their way into the sacred, inner circle. The rest are way off base – flying around in circles, never really understanding their purpose in life. They just blindly follow in hopes that someone throws them a bone (or a fish).
Enough seagull philosophy. What’s really important to remember is always wear a hat when around excited, flying birds.
David Dewey started us off with a demo painting. He works quite rapidly and stressed how important it is to have yourself on a time limitation as you work – especially when painting plein aire in changing light. He finished another little gem of a painting and we broke off to discover our own locations around the pier and surrounding shipyards. I got a start on a painting before we broke for lunch and a visit to a Rockland gallery down the street where David was having a one-man show. He gave a tour and talk of his work. His work has gone through an interesting transformation since I was last here: he is painting large, Rothko-esque watercolors of the horizon in morning, evening and night conditions. The series is called Breakwater Paintings because most contain tiny, abstractly rendered depictions of The Rockland Breakwater Light. These are merely tiny focal points in these large, colorful paintings. Perhaps the most interesting one is of a night scene : the color variations and break between water and sky are almost indiscernible. They are deep variations of black – a result of countless overlays of color. The focal points are three very small specks of dim light applied in an opaque manner. As a watercolorist, this is a pretty amazing thing – to achieve such rich, dark blacks – not to mention the expanse that they cover.
I continued with my painting after lunch. I laid down a value and injected local color as I worked. Cold press paper gave me an extended working time although the sun was drying the paper at a brisk pace. It was also working on me: although I am wearing a hat, I am not wearing sunblock on my face as it gets in my eyes and stings as I sweat. I put it on pretty thick on my exposed arms. My lobsterman’s tan is well underway!
I managed to retain a lot of the whites of the paper. Color is splattered throughout the painting and there is a lot of vibration as a result of the exposed whites and the spots of color. I may or may not go back in and tone some of these areas down.