Posts Tagged ‘Grand Marais


Hjørdis at dock

If you’ve ever been to Grand Marais, MN, you may have seen the schooner Hjørdis which sails out of the North House Folk School. Her green hull, sienna-color sails, and Old-World profile are distinctive as she traverses the harbor.

Last month when I was in Grand Marais painting during Todd Voss’ plein air class, we were down by the harbor near the Folk School. We’d seen the Hjørdis earlier in the day sailing about, and now she was safely back at dock. As a light rain passed through, I took cover under an overturned boat on a storage rack. (My paints are water-mixable oils so they start to run when it rains!) I set up a little 4 x 6 canvas, and painted the Hjørdis which was directly in front of me. Since I had to finish the painting later, it’s not an exact representation, but I hope it captures some of the feeling of the Hjørdis and its home.



Value study

When I was up in Grand Marais last weekend, I took a class in Outdoor Painting at the Grand Marais Art Colony taught by the landscape painter Neil Sherman. Neil taught us his variation of the Prismatic Palette and some formal, basics of developing paintings by blocking in dark values. I struggled mightily to overcome my fear of using black paint after years of being taught that it’s a no-no, and produced several clumsy attempts to emulate Neil’s process.

When I got home yesterday, I went over to Tamarack Nature Center down the street to practice. Given some time to sink into the process outside of class, I was feeling a lot more comfortable with a wider range of values by the end of the day.


Wood’s Creek

Last week I was up in Grand Marais vacationing. Everywhere one turns there is material for inspiration, including along the many hiking trails. Along the Superior Hiking Trail you can follow Wood’s Creek, a lovely, meandering stream that runs into Devil Track River. I did this painting there as the afternoon light was fading.


Quick Paint Up North

This past weekend, after years of yearning for some proper equipment and guidance, I got myself a plein air painting set up and took a class in outdoor sketching in oils through the Grand Marais Art Colony. My teacher was Todd Voss – an extremely talented, thoughtful and inspiring instructor. The demonstrations he did for us each morning were beautiful as much for Todd’s measured, economical and masterful strokes as for the stunning final products.

Todd Voss plein air demo

I have very little experience painting in oils, and my first paintings were struggles to simply manage my materials – both on and off the canvas – within the 45 min. time frame we were allotted. The idea was to capture a scene within a limited time – as a sketch that had some freshness and character on its own. It may or may not be improved upon later or used as the basis for a studio painting.

By the end of the second day of painting, I was starting to feel more comfortable, if a bit overexposed to the elements after a day of chilly fog followed by one of intense sunshine. We finished up near the North House Folk School docks.

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