Plein Air Painting in Maine - Part of the 50 States Painting Quest -Paintings and Their Stories

Five Islands Cove, Maine

Plein air painting in Maine - It’s late June on the coast of Maine. The first major heat wave of the summer is with us. I’m a California resident and not used to the humidity that accompanies the heat here. I decide to go to Five Islands on the Atlantic to do some plein air paintings – there will be a small breeze coming off the ocean there.

Just a few miles up the Kennebec River from the ocean the air is still and scorching. At Five Islands Cove it’s as quiet as only a hot summer morning can be. I smell green lawns just mowed and the tang of seaweed and salt. The ocean is flat calm – the outgoing tide makes a slight gurgling sound as sea water leaves little tide pools and rock crevices.

On the lobster pier, a man wearing a shocking pink tee shirt that reads “Five Islands Lobster Company” is hosing off the wooden planks. His tee shirt also says “Lobster shipped anywhere” with a www address. After a while he comes over to visit – he tells me I’m doing a painting of his boat – he sounds pleased about that. He goes back to work with his hose. In the distance I hear the putt-putt of a diesel engine as a fishing boat approaches the Cove. Summer Time in Maine can be wicked good.

Marshland in Woolich, Maine
Wolf Kahn's Favorite Parking Lot

Summertime Marshland painted from Wolf Khan's Favorite Parking Lot in Maine

Across the Kennebec River from the City of Bath you will encounter a large restaurant called 'A Taste of Maine" - it's hard to miss. A huge red metal lobster beckons you into the parking lot. They serve sea food of all kinds - all very good.

The well known artist, Wolf Kahn mentions this parking lot in his book "Wolf Kahn's America". He says it's his favorite parking lot from which to plein air paint. Not only does it have fabulous views of the surrounding marsh land but also is close to a wonderful place for lunch.

This painting was done in July with thunderclouds gathering and after a lunch of fried clams at the restaurant.

Plein Air Painting in Bath, Maine

Maine is our second home – we have a small house there on the river bank. We visit once or twice a year, usually in the summer and again in fall. Bath is located on the central coast on the bank of the Kennebec River as it makes its way to the Atlantic. Two miles down river on a boat will take you out to the tossing swells of the Atlantic – you can see lonely Sequin Lighthouse on an island off shore near Fort Popham.

Bath is known as “The City of Ships” because of the long history of ship building. The Bath Iron Works shipyard is still the major employer in the region. The population of Bath is about 10,000. The town is an honest and hardworking place with its gritty places rubbing up against lovely neighborhoods on the river where beautiful old houses show off their acres of green lawns in the summer. The lawns are all freshly mowed with islands of day lilies, black eyed Susan and hostas enjoying the short summer for all it’s worth.

My husband was born and raised in Bath. He knows a lot of people here. We are treated as members of the community even though we don’t live here full time. He belongs. Because of him, I belong also. It is comfortable to be here as a result. No pretense about anything, least of all, ourselves. Neighbors drop by and stay and chat for an hour. It’s that sort of place.

This painting is of the Maine pine trees in our driveway looking towards Barbara’s house across the street. These trees are large and very old. I love their grace and sculptural aspect – they have seen a lot of weather in their time, from blizzards to a hurricane or two. The young osprey fledglings cling to topmost branches on their maiden flights, squawking with fear. Their large nest is at the top of an old light fixture. We can see the nest as we look out of the sunroom. Watching the Osprey family is part of the morning ritual as much as a cup of coffee. The nest is used every year for a new family of Osprey chicks. During the winter, a bald eagle uses the nest.

Update October 2013:  Since writing this and painting the pines in our driveway, several of them have been felled by storms or rotted away.  I'm glad I took the opportunity to paint these lovely sculptural trees while I had the chance a few years ago.

Save On Airport Parking

October 2008, A Fall visit to Maine.

My friend Dee from Mountain View, Ca. traveled with me to see and experience "Fall in New England". Since we got here it has been rain, rain and yet more rain! We had 4" of torrential downpour yesterday.

Today dawned with a sunrise and clearing skies. We decided we had to take advantage of the clear weather and left the house by 8.30 a.m. for a painting trip through North Central Maine.

The glorious trees are in their Fall splendor and we need to paint them before the next storm strips them of their leaves for the year. One of the spots we picked for an afternoon painting was near Madison, Maine. We found a small side road with views of distant mountains. The road was lined with wonderful red maple and yellow birch trees of brilliant color. All lit by the sun and sparkling in the brisk cold wind. This painting is the result.

More rain is predicted for tomorrow so we used the one day respite to full advantage. Carpe Diem.

Built around 1890, this old barn can been seen from our house in Bath, Maine. The barn belongs to our neighbor. I love the old barn – it is weathered and shows its age but still stands strongly ready to endure many decades into the future.

Bath has a good number of beautiful historic old houses in excellent condition. During the Summer the gardens and lawns are a delight. No one has fences and great expanses of green manicured lawn lap around white or gray sided old houses like a sea. During the Winter, the green lawns give way to white expanses of snow.

Return to 50 States Page

Return to Front Page

To subscribe to our FREE monthly Newsletter - PLEIN AIR MUSINGS - about all things Plein Air, send us your information below.

Enter Your E-mail Address
Enter Your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Plein Air Musings.