As I reflect back on my 3 week artist residency at Acadia National Park in May of 1997 many memories come to mind.
I see myself preparing for a day of painting by packing up my knapsack with paints, caran d’ache,water containers, a rag, hat, sheet, pillow and some lunch. I cut several pieces of watercolor paper and tape them to my drawing board.
I climb Beech Mt. with all my gear and lay out my sheet and different mediums , sit on my pillow and find a rock to prop up my board in front of me. I’m looking down the mountain and start out working quickly as if to slow down would invite distracting thoughts and veer me away from being present for painting and drawing in nature is a meditation for me. It is immediate and instinctive and with 3 weeks of uninterrupted time, I take full advantage of the opportunity to experiment without judgement.
At Schoodic Point it is windy and raw and I am on a precipice with one hand holding an umbrella and the other working rapidly, trying to capture the strength and energy of the ocean down below.
On Gorham Mt. it’s a sunny day as I search for a place to sit that offers up a good composition. I decide to face east and get down to work.
At Great Head it is a foggy day and I attempt to capture the atmosphere with firs, rocks and a bit of green grass growing in the foreground.
Ship Harbor offers tall, craggy cliffs and I experiment with lots of pinks and oranges. I use a blade to scrape off paint and caran d’ache and work over places until I find a resolution.
At Otter Cove I find two huge boulders and I use them to frame the composition, using purples and yellows. My excitement comes through in my caran d’ache marks . It is a constant challenge to keep things fresh and not overwork the image.
There are wonderful rocks to sit on at Bass Harbor. I paint the forms that surround me, facing west. I paint budding trees near Pretty Marsh.
Acadia was a goldmine for me. I have always relied on nature to be my true teacher and for 3 wonderful weeks I was in heaven. My time there will always be one of my favorite artist residencies that I have attended in the past 23 years.
Margaret Leonard was born in Brunswick Maine and recieved a BFA in painting from the Maine College of Art. She has been chosen for multiple residencies throughout the world and her work has been displayed in numerous shows and galleries across the country. She currently lives in Harpswell Maine. Visit her website.
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Last updated: January 7, 2020