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Our neighborhood art association, The Kittery Art Association has monthly shows. I made a decision to create some paintings for a show themed Plein Air. I’ve never ever shown or sold original paintings, so this was a big decision for me.

For my subject, I chose Fort Constitution, which lies on the point of New Castle Island across the mouth of the Piscatagua River from the Cliff House. It’s allegedly where the real first shots of the American Revolution were fired (sorry, Lexington). It’s a beautiful subject (the site, not the war) — light house, old fort ruins, and a Coast Guard station.

I decided to submit a three-painting study, and I set up my Plein Air studio on the patio.

My first painting was my typical pen and watercolor style and a sailboat rounding Fort Constitution.

I really like the sky in this version. I laid down a water wash and then dropped in an ultramarine blue, leaving open space for the light clouds. For the bottom layer of clouds, I stopped the water wash with harder lines. Then I added in a mix of ultramarine and violet for the cloud shadows. I also added a splatter to the water for more texture.

For my second painting, I tried painting without my pen sketch. This was very uncomfortable for me. I painted this version in afternoon light, with the shadows on the opposite side as the first painting.

I left more white in the ocean for the reflected sunlight. The painting looks messy to me, but that’s probably because I’m so accustomed to the pen outline. I will say, the painting looks better the further away I am from it. 🙂

For my third version, I returned to pen, and instead of a sailboat, I painted a lobster boat in the foreground. This was also painted in afternoon light.

For the sky I did a mix of hard and soft lines for the clouds. And for the water I added in some stripes of darker blue. I also tried a different perspective — closer to the horizon line (you can tell by how the lines of the fort ruins slant differently in this version). The lobster boat was originally blue, but it blended with the water too much, so I changed it to yellow with much layering after removing as much of the blue as possible.

I named the paintings (in the order they appear here):

  1. Fort Constitution Study, Friday (first one with pen)
  2. Fort Constitution Study, Sunday (no pen)
  3. Fort Constitution Study, Tuesday (with lobster boat)

I wanted to make the paintings affordable, so I framed them in simple black frames that I buy in bulk and priced them at $35 each. Sonia and I went to opening night at the gallery and I was pleased as punch to see the coveted red dot next to version three (Fort Constitution Study, Tuesday), indicating it had sold! Yay! And there it is, folks — my first sold original painting. Yikes!!!

Fort Constitution Study, Tuesday (on top) and Friday (on bottom)

Fort Constitution Study, Sunday

I’d like to turn one of these into product for local stores (print, note card, and post card). Which would you choose?