One good thing about heading out the door in winter is that you know you can’t putter. Forget agonizing about what to paint, or making a leisurely decision about a compelling composition. You take charge of yourself and your tools, and set a brisk pace. Mix those colors! Paint sluggish? Palette knife falling repeatedly into the snow? You must press on.

You might paint a winner out there. Or it might not be one to show your friends. But by golly you will move right along out there.

We had a high temperature of 19 degrees F yesterday out at the shore on Mount Desert Island. I admit it, maybe we were about five percent pursuing plein air painting yesterday in the cold so that we could SAY that we did. The other ninety five percent was all about the personal challenge and having fun!

The value of the exercise is that because you must work quickly, you have a chance of capturing a lively feel in the application of the paint, and that might translate to the viewer too. My final version is a little labored compared to what I might do with this scene another time, but I got the trees emerging from around the other side of the cliff face, and that was what charged me up about this spot.

I’d go again, no question, but I might set up a tarp to block the wind and catch more of the sun. I’ll put some of those chemical hand warmer inserts in my boots next time, and I won’t forget again to bring my thermos of tea.



'Great Head Trail, Acadia National Park' by Alison C. Dibble, oil on panel, 8 x 10 inches

‘Great Head Trail, Acadia National Park’ by Alison C. Dibble, oil on panel, 8 x 10 inches