Cape Cod Art - Stories and Paintings from a Traveling Artist's Plein Air Painting Trip

My visit to Cape Cod, Massachusetts to paint was not as extensive as I would have liked for various reasons – also, I was presented with the opportunity to go there in the middle of summer, the tourist season. Visiting Cape Cod in mid July turned out to be a crazy thing to do. The traffic was insane and the mobs of people crowding every nook and cranny made it less than ideal for me. I tend to enjoy wide open spaces and uncrowded places.

For me, part of the Paint the States Quest is learning to adapt to less than ideal conditions and do my painting anyway. It is all part of the challenge! I have to rise above my own resistance – great things can be learned this way.

My traveling companions for this trip were my husband Dennis and a good friend from California, Marlene Fredlund. Marlene is a very fine water color painter.

We arrived on Cape Cod via Route 6 - a very efficient but featureless freeway. All you can see as you drive are plantations of pitch pine trees and cell phone towers. You have to exit the freeway to see anything of the coastline and little villages one has heard so much about. Our motel was in the town of Eastham which is located in Mid Cape. 

Painting Nauset Lighthouse – Cape Cod

One of the challenges I immediately faced that evening was trying to find a place to park at the National Seashore. I had decided to paint the Nauset Lighthouse located there - I'm sure in the Cape Cod art collections there are many paintings of this same lighthouse.

Some people love to collect lighthouse paintings. If you are one and would like a print or greeting card of this painting,

visit my print store at 

In order to do the plein air painting shown above, it was necessary to park illegally nearby. Marlene sat “on guard” in the car and I rushed out with my gear. I quickly set up and got organized.

The heat of the afternoon and the sun beating down on me made me glad of the large sunhat I had purchased just the day before. Conscious of poor Marlene sweating it out in the car, this painting got done as quickly as possible. Not one of my more relaxed art sessions I have to say. But still, after all the challenges, worth it in every respect.

The Windmill at Orleans, Cape Cod

The next morning I got up super early and went out by myself in search of coffee. Then onto the Windmill Park in the village of Orleans. A wonderful old windmill sits in a lovely shoreline park with green lawns and trails along the waterfront.

I found a bench and set up with a great view of the windmill, morning light on the ocean, little boats and houses on the far shore. Perfect! And lovely and cool too at 7am. I painted happily for 2 hours.

The colors were so soft and muted - a pale blue sky speckled with soft little pinkish clouds - all reflected in the still water. Best of all, at this early hour, there were very few people around. A couple of early birds walking their dogs – in search of coolness and solitude as well.

Glorious Beaches near Provincetown, Cape Cod National Seashore

After my morning painting session at Windmill Park we headed East towards Truro and Provincetown for the day. We found the sand dunes and the Atlantic Ocean as we proceeded past Provincetown to the National Seashore area at the tip of the Cape.

We walked down to the most glorious beach – long and covered with cream colored sand. The turquoise-green sea was just the right refreshing temperature. Lots of big colorful umbrellas and groups of people on the sand made for a fabulous Summer beach scene. The Painting in this photo was done from a plein air sketch I had done as well as photos from the day. It is a studio painting inspired by my plein air work done during this visit to Cape Cod.

I now understand why people who live in Boston and New York like to come here to vacation in Summer. Cape Cod beaches are amazing! And the seafood is wonderful as well. I’d like to come back some day – but not in Summer. I think late September would be very nice.

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