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Rockport is located on the tip of Cape Ann in Massachusetts. It’s a very special place for my family. Both sides of my dad’s family immigrated to the US from Finland in the early 1900s and ended up settling in what was then a Finnish community on Cape Ann.

When I was growing up in southern California, my parents drove us across country (more than once) in a station wagon to visit my grandparents. Think of the Griswold family in National Lampoon’s “Vacation,” but add two more kids.

National Lampoon Vacation

Being the youngest of the four, I always ended up in the back, tucked into a little nest carved out between the suitcases, bags, and food cooler, constantly trying to rid myself of pesky little bits of granola bar and Triscuit stuck to my body. And no seat belts for any of us (although I do believe my parents always wore theirs…).

At any rate, I have many early childhood memories of Rockport. Just about every time my sister, Alix visits me, we make a pilgrimage to Rockport to see the familiar sites and visit the graves of our grandparents. She visited this past August, and Sonia, Alix, and I made the short trek from Maine to Cape Ann.

We ended up at a restaurant on the tip of Bearskin Neck, an idyllic pier with shops and restaurants and views of lobster boats and light houses.

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As we waited for our meal, I surveyed the view and started a mental sketch…

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…nearby rocks, lobster buoys, far shore, and boats puttering around to serve as models (none of which made it into this photo). Perfect. I had brought my painting kit with me—I have a man-purse dedicated for that purpose. I took it out and transferred my mental sketch to paper:

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I’ve been practicing boats, and I was pleased with how this little lobster boat turned out. I’ll probably do a blog post on this later, but for now, let me say that I learned the best way to get the curves of a boat to look authentic is to first draw a figure 8 on its side. You erase a couple of lines, and voila, you have the hull of a boat. Hacking the boat sketch, so to speak.

Alix and Sonia enjoyed the sun and chatted as I worked.

As you can see, I used my nifty water brush (still very much in love with it!). What emerged is this:

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The painting looks a little more dark and stormy than it actually was, but then that sometimes happens, doesn’t it? I used a finishing technique on this painting that I learned in a workshop a while back, but hadn’t ever applied to my sketchbooking: The Splatter. Getting my brush wet with blue paint, I flipped the brush a few times to get little splatters of paint. It was a harder to do with my water brush, but it worked. I like how the splatters create texture and depth without being distracting. Somehow it seems to add a little more abstraction and expression to the painting.

I was also mindful of being loose throughout the painting. I didn’t get too hung up on the the lines or on blending the paint perfectly. This is my current intention–to paint with more expression and let go of realism.

And that, my friends, was painting Rockport. I’ll leave you with a collage of other photos from our day trip.

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