Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Thursday 21st September: "In the footsteps of Winslow Homer - nearly"

Massacre Pond, Prout's Neck, Maine (21. 9. 06)
10" x 8", pencil and coloured pencil in Moleskine sketchbook copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This was a big sketching day - with three sketches done during the course of the day on top of a fair bit of travelling around. 

Prior to coming to Maine I had decided that I wanted to try and sketch at Prout's Neck as this was where Winslow Homer used to have a house and where he often drew and painted seascapes. (This is a link to an example). Well that was the idea - easier said than done! I have a rant about the problems I encountered in the next paragraph which I would skip if you're not interested or have heard it all before!

I really do appreciate how difficult it must be living in places which get swamped by tourists in the summer months - but I don't think I've ever been anywhere in the world that is so restrictive on parking as New England. In the UK we have the National Trust and where you have areas of outstanding natural beauty or historical importance, the land/properties are bought by or bequeathed to the National Trust and it's then possible for everybody to get to see them - not just those who live there. Appropriate arrangements are made so that people can park - but in ways which are not too intrusive. Having timed my holiday so that I would be travelling outside the peak season I wasn't expecting a lot of problems - but I actually had difficulty parking in most places. The worst by far was Prout's Neck (hence this rant) which had a locked barrier across the car park when I arrived and a lot of road saying no parking at anytime. In the end I parked just off the road and hoped that I'd understood the local parking laws correctly! I was then faced with a a causeway and a very high barrier designed to restrict entry to the beach - which looked like it was designed to keep everybody out except those with passes! Except there was nobody around to buy a pass from or to open the car park gate!!!%&*^!!!

The sketch at the top of the page is of Massacre Pond at Prouts Neck. This is a former salt lagoon which is now a freshwater pond and is located either side of the causeway out to Scarborough Beach. It gets its name due to two separate attacks by local Indians on settlers in the area in 1677 and 1703. 

Unfortunately for the entire time I was doing this sketch I kept thinking that my nose was being assaulted by a bad smell - but this was the best viewpoint by far - so I decided to suffer for the art and resolved to pack a noseclip next time! In retrospect I think I might have found a favourite point for dog walkers who couldn't get as far as the beach - sat as I was just short of the great big barrier to the beach.

I loved the colours of this pond and the foliage. It was a brilliant day in terms of a cloudless blue sky and all the colours were looking very strident and as if they were begging for a colourist to come along and get the oils and the easel out! This one is very definitely getting done as a larger work.

I finally managed to suss out how to get access to the beach and the next sketch is of Scarborough Beach on the eastern seashore of Prout's Neck - just beyond Massacre Pond and looking towards the area where Winslow Homer has his house. I had one of those "[insert artist's name] walked here and sketched her and painted here" moments. I try to manage at least one of those on each holiday - it always makes you stop and look again at the landscape with a fresh eye! ;)

What I was amazed about was that there was absolutely no indication anywhere on Prout's Neck that one of the most well known American artists both lived and painted in this area. Such a complete contrast for example to the way the French treat prominent artists who have painted in their country - go to St Remy in Provence and you can follow a walk which leads you to all the spots where Van Gogh painted famous paintings when he stayed in the asylum there.
Scarborough Beach, Prout's Neck, Maine 8" x 10" pencil and coloured pencil in Moleskine sketchbook copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I got some great photos of the surfers enjoying the surf. Drawing wet sand and surf is never easy and while the colours are pretty much OK the perspective drawing could be better.
Lake Sebago, Maine
8" x 10" pencil and coloured pencil in Moleskine sketchbook copyright Katherine Tyrrell

The last sketch if of Lake Sebago - the deepest and second largest lake in the Maine and which is the prime water supply for Portland and surrounding areas. Difficult to know what to do with this as a subject as flat huge expanses of water are not something I often want to do unless they have interesting patterns or colours on them - which this one didn't. But the clouds did!

In the evening Gordon (of "Gordon drives Dome Valley with the boss" fame) showed me the sights of Portland and we had dinner at a very nice restaurant whose name I forgot to note down! [I'll update when I've got the data refresh done - otherwise known as contacting Kathy!


  1. I'm a few days behind in visiting here but am finally getting to your terrific posts and sketchbook pages. I'm glad you'll be working up a final drawing from this top sketch, it's a beauty, the colors are outstanding! All of your pages are so terrific, your eye for composition and color is amazing!

  2. I love your drawings, they are so full of life!

  3. Thank you for pointing me in this direction. No, I don't think I've been there, but if Portland is my reference I am only an hour from there. Loved the sketch and the rant about easy access to the beach :)


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