“Robert Leedy in Maine: Day Three”

It was not a good day at first.

But it certainly was another beautiful Maine day! We all met at 9:00 a.m. at Driftin Beach, a favorite beach for locals but not really what we Floridians would call a beach. “Shore” is more like it. Don’t get me wrong – the place is beautiful – rocks, water, trees, vistas… Just not a place where I would go swimming. But it was a fine place for painting.

David did a demo painting of the rocks and beach. My friend, Fred, who has his captain’s license, reminded David that high tide was at 12:30 p.m. David said it was not a problem – he would be through well before then.

When it came time to start my painting, I looked around for the best view which was naturally where the tide was going to be in another hour or so. I looked around for a secondary spot and that was a small perch on some large granite boulders between the beach and the small road. But when it came time to setting up my tripod, stool, palette and brushes, there was not a lot of breathing room. Plus the wind was up and scrambling for blown away supplies in those rocks was not going to be fun.

15 minutes killed.

So, I walked down the road for a better spot. A tree that I wanted to include in my composition no longer had the interesting light once the road curved around the bay and you were looking from a different angle. I set down my stuff and tried to convince myself that it wouldn’t matter – the painting would be good anyway.

Myself wasn’t convinced. He wanted to go somewhere else. 15 minutes more killed.

OK, no problem: I’ll go get an early lunch in Port Clyde and clear my head. After that, I’ll head over to the lighthouse which I hear is interesting. It was also the meeting point for our group at 4:30 p.m. for a critique of the day’s work. I drove to Port Clyde which is where the ferries leave for Monhegan Island. People leave their cars in Port Clyde because cars are not allowed on Monhegan. I couldn’t find a parking spot and finally convinced the parking lot guy to let me leave my car in front of the ferry office long enough to run into the grocery store and buy a sandwich to go.

Including time to eat sandwich: 1 hour killed.

I got to the lighthouse and it was, indeed, a fine place for subject matter. I determined the best view at the moment was from a distance away which involved climbing some rocks. I packed up my stuff and did some hopping from rock to rock. I scouted out a great spot on a large rock which had plenty of room for me and my gear. I noticed my brushes were missing.

Driving time back to Driftwood Beach and climbing time on rocks: 30 minutes killed.

Once back at the lighthouse, I began a painting looking up at the keeper’s house in the distance. I laid in a wash for the sky but the colors weren’t right. The sky in my painting looked more like a late afternoon sky. I added color to correct and my sky got darker and darker – and later and later. OK, I guess I can live with that. I painted on.

The rock I was on was not totally flat – there was a slight lean and, as a result, my palette got muddier and muddier from colors pooling together down at one end of the palette’s well. Another peril of plein aire painting. As I began painting the structure of the keeper’s house, my colors got even muddier. As a result, I worked quicker to correct colors and sometimes did not think things out before taking action. My painting died a slow death.

Time wasted on Painting # 1: 2 hours killed.

So you see, things were not going well. I forgot to add that all morning long, I seemed to forget things and had to walk back to the car several times- at both locations. At this point, I was ready to go back to my hotel and regroup – maybe even completely skip the 4:30 p.m. critique (afterall, I had no painting to show.) But this would be unfair to myself! I decided to stick it out. Perhaps I could get a good start on a second painting?

I changed views to clear my mind. I noticed an unusual view of the lighthouse itself from behind the keeper’s house. It was a perspective nightmare but nothing I couldn’t handle. I put in a variegated wash for the sky which came off nicely. Next, I laid down a large blue wash to loosely define the structure of the building and began building from there by adding color, punching darks and adding detail. Before I knew it, I had the workings of a good painting. It is not quite finished – hopefully, I can work more on it this weekend between workshops.

This is typical of my painting: quite often – as I am ready to give up out of frustration – something magical happens and the tide turns in my favor. Many of my best works are real struggles. Many of them almost ended up in the trash can.

Once again, perserverence pays off!



“Port Clyde Lighthouse, Port Clyde, Maine” by Robert Leedy, 2006, 17 1/2″ x 12 1/4″ , watercolor on Arches 140 lb Cold Press paper,
“Port Clyde Lighthouse, Port Clyde, Maine”
Robert Leedy 2006
watercolor on Arches 140 lb Cold Press paper
17 1/2″ x 12 1/4″



A photo of the lighthouse at Port Clyde. Photo by Robert Leedy.
A photo of the lighthouse at Port Clyde. Photo by Robert Leedy.



For dinner Wednesday night, nine of us got together and took David & Kathy Dewey to dinner at Primo, a place not to be missed!

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