Monday, September 28, 2009


Maine Landscape Guild Member Nancy Bea and the Red House

We arrived yesterday around 11:30 from New Harbor aboard Hardy Boat lines. It was a rolling trip with large whitecaps and a deep dark sea. Monhegan was crystal clear with wonderful light. It was such a joy to be back at this special place. This year we are staying at the Red House, which is charming with a dark red stairway with curved seats around the bottom of it. Great improvement in the amenities dishwasher, washer, and dryer, but I still have fond memories of Eider duck with its views, musical instruments, collection of hats, bottles, and even a bongo drum.

Sunday we woke around 6:00 to the morning glow on Manana. Alex was already up and painting the light. It is colder than it has been other years and it is hard to stay warm. We finally after many deliberations settled on painting the view to the lighthouse from the porch at Red House. Rusty who had a booming business of making door mats, leashes, and baskets out of leftover lobster line was running people out in his dory to Mananna. Mananna is the island that sits in front of Monhegan. It seems magical with its gnarly headed cliffs in deep blues and purples. It was once home to the coast guard station, a private home, and a hermit named Ray Phillips who lived on Manana for fifty years with his goose and sheep.

Cold, Cold. Cold-it was hard to even think. I moved to the rear and painted the Red House in the morning light. Mary and Nancy Bea headed to Deadman’s Cove. It is a challenge to keep warm and keep you energy up between standing up, carrying your backpack and supplies and hiking the island!! I took a quick nap so I could paint from Horn hill in the afternoon.

View from Horn Hill

I painted till 5:40 and then back to Red House for dinner. At least I have a good start on three paintings. It is funny how we are all settled in with our wine and cheese and then we see a photo op as the evening light descends.

We seem to be very gourmet this year favoring the Silver Palette. Last night was shrimp wrapped in lemon and prosciutto and tonight was their famous Chicken Marbella. The island markets have an inspired selection of all our favorites and it seems the islanders have very sophisticated palettes. We have our chore charts and each take a night for dinner and then have two nights of dish duty.

Everything is so splendid and it feels like we never left. Early to bed tonight to catch the morning light. Hoping for 70’s tomorrow!!!

Up at 5:45 to catch the morning sun. Painted the view of Manana from Red House. The water is so rich with deep oranges and pale blues. It is supposed to be warmer today, but the cold just cuts through me and I am now warming up in bed!! Had a nice start to my Manana painting and hope I can warm up for my porch view of the lighthouse. Much less wind today. Quiet calm day on Monhegan.

Before lunch Alex and I worked on the view to the lighthouse from the Red House. Mary and Nancy Bea went to Deadman’s Cove and lighthouse hill. I have to tell my swimming group that a woman was swimming at the beach next to our house. The ocean must be in the 50’s! We were getting a little nippy swimming at Long Pond and Echo Lake on Mt. Desert!

Painted till the last light on Horn Hill. Such a beautiful and complicated view to paint. Tuesday we woke up to rain so we have just been regrouping. We checked out the galleries and took a hike to the other side to scope out painting sites for tomorrow. We followed the White Head trail to the other side and then took the Long Swamp Trial to join the Cathedral Woods trail. Cathedral woods is home to many little “Fairy houses” built by island children and adults over the years. They are made up of twigs, bark, pinecones and an occasional shell or worn piece of colored glass.

Fairy Houses

'The fog has really rolled in and we could hardly see down the coast!! I blocked in a painting of the lighthouse, but there was no light to finish my Horn Hill painting. We checked out some other houses "Treetops" and"Ice Pond." Very different, but not enough of a view for me!

We had an evening critique of all our work!


Unfortunately, Eliza has been sick and Mary and Nancy Bea are taking her home today. It will just be Alex and I now. We headed off to the other side of the island. We took the Cathedral Woods trail out to the ocean. We found this immense cliff which I began to paint and Alex was drawn to an interesting tree toppled over in a ravine. We were entranced in our paintings and headed home for a very late lunch just as the sun went behind the clouds.

Between White Head and Little White Head

We took a late hike about 5:50 to Calf Cove, but the trail was disappearing and the sun was low so we turned back.

All in all it has been a great trip and I feel like I accomplished some of the work I had planned to do. I just wish there was more time. A year is too long before I can get back here!!! Woke up to a wonderful day, but no glow on Manana….next year!


Alex at the Easel

In July Alexandra Tyng and I had a great time running a plein air painting workshop on Mt. Desert. The first night we had a little get together party at “Willowbrook” in Somesville where we were staying.We had Maine crab, Seal Cove farm goat cheese, and mozzarella and tomato canap├ęs made from our very special Beech Hill organic market.

Monday the workshop began with a demo by Alex showing participants her palette and painting theories. This was followed by my demo on how to set up for an effective plein air painting day. The weather was not cooperating, but fortunately Alex and I know all the good places to paint. My swimming friend, Becky, offered us her wonderful covered porch overlooking the natural sea wall in Southwest Harbor. It was a lovely foggy day and everyone was inspired. That night we began our gastronomic tour of Mt. Desert's restaurants. We began with McKay’s, Jordan Pond House, Cleonice, and even went to Jordan Pond twice by popular demand.

Mary in the shade at Thunder Hole

Tuesday was a full day beginning at nine we headed to Ocean Drive in Acadia National Park to paint near thunder hole. We had lunch on the rocks from “Mother’s Kitchen” in Town Hill.

Deena, Alex, and Joe

Afterwards we headed up to the summit of Cadillac for an afternoon paint. The weather was gorgeous and we had to take advantage of it.

The next day we had one of those milk toast skies which is perfect to do the views from Somesville. We ended the day at the Beaver Pond and finished just as it started to rain! What timing!!

Thursday we had a porch critique and painted at Eagle lake in Acadia National Park.

The final day we painted at the historic Claremont Hotel in Southwest Harbor. This site is one of my favorites as Fitz Henry Lane painted this view as well in 1852. For lunch we went to the Claremont Boat house for salads and tea. In the afternoon everyone had individual critiques of their work by Alex. We ended the day with a return trip to Jordan Pond with many indulging in three popovers! All in all, it was a great week for us and we know everyone enjoyed the house, the wonderful views, and attentive instruction! Thanks to our participants you made it such a pleasant week!

Monday, May 4, 2009


View from "Willowbrook" where artists will be staying              

Alexandra Tyng

Plein Air Painting with Alexandra Tyng 

Mt. Desert Island, Maine
July 26  -   August 1, 2009

Thomas Cole and Frederic Church first popularized Mt. Desert in the mid-1800s. Their works inspired families from New York and Philadelphia to make the journey by steamer to “rusticate” and enjoy the untouched beauty on Mt. Desert. Artists will be painting outside in a group for approximately 3-5 hours a day.  Sites will vary from the spectacular summit of Cadillac Mountain, to the rugged shores, and quiet lakes and ponds of Acadia National Park. The group will focus on plein-air painting techniques and strategies. Participants will stay in the Abraham Somes III house built in 1800. Daily critiques, individual instruction, and demonstrations will be provided. Alexandra Tyng and Diana Ansley will lead the group.

TUITION IS $500     


For further information on the lodging, travel arrangements, and the daily schedule or to enroll contact organizer Diana Ansley at 703-960-0612 or at



Fog and Sunset, Eagle Lake Mt. Desert

Burnt Head, Monhegan

Jagged Rocks, Ocean Drive Mt. Desert

The Ripples at Peace   Mt Desert

The Ripples             Mt Desert