“Robert Leedy in Maine: Day Four”

“Mechanic Street Fog”, by Robert Leedy, 2006, watercolor on Arches 140 lb Hot Press paper, 10 3/4″ x 14 1/4″
“Mechanic Street Fog”
Robert Leedy 2006
watercolor on Arches 140 lb Hot Press paper
10 3/4″ x 14 1/4″

Day Four was a text book lesson in fog. The temperature dropped dramatically and most of us in the class were wearing light jackets that day. David Dewey had made arrangements with a guy named John who had a tool shop / junk pile at the end of Mechanic Street. I don’t know how David met John but John was quite a character who collected airplane parts, boat parts, Sixties era graphics and a crazy assortment of thousands of other things. John opened up his workspace [and bathroom] to us and proved to be a willing host. Evidently he loves opera and you can hear it coming from his kitchen. He even photographed the group of us during the afternoon critique and presented us with two 8 x 10 prints from his computer’s printer.

Maine fog is quite unpredictable. It can roll in on a day when the weather is forecast as a wonderful sunny day with partly scattered thunder showers in the afternoon. I guess the weathermen are off the hook here because the very foggy morning on our supposedly wonderfully sunny day was no surprise. The fog can set in or leave at a moment’s notice: at one point this particular morning, the fog looked as if it was going to lift and the sun was going to pop in and we were going to have our forecasted day after all. No such luck. It cleared up for a while then thickened and kept the day gray for most of our painting time.

But this was fine by us and it was almost as if David Dewey had ordered it for Lesson Four. David began a demo painting and stressed the importance of graying the majority of shapes and colors in the painting yet allowing for small pin points or areas of color to hold interest. Edges are also much softer and there is a lot of prescribed wet-in-wet painting.

Although this painting is quite small, I worked on it all day. The hot press paper allowed for quicker drying times. There are many overlays and colors were built up over a period of time. This painting went through a lot of transformations as well. I had a rather casual attitude towards it and wasn’t concerned in the least if the painting was lost forever. I imagine this attitude allowed me to explore without fear. It also kept me going when the painting didn’t look worthy of keeping in its early stages. I just stuck with it and pushed it into a life of its own.

The lumber of the dilapidated dock in the foreground is chaotic but somehow makes sense structurally. The fishing boat in the background is an abstract collection of shapes and colors but easily reads as “docked fishing boat”. The red boat house is weathered and layered while the rear window inside adds some mystery with the stark light that creates its shape.

David Dewey liked this painting a lot. Although quite different for me, it still has has my signature all over it.

BELOW: The USS Wasp pulls into port at Rockland, Maine. The fog had lifted when I took this photo.
Photo by Robert Leedy
“USS Wasp”, photo by Robert Leedy, 2006

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