Did You Know (En Plein Air)

photo of painter Chris Coyne painting Annisquam Village En Plein air on a very cold January day
Photo by E.J. Lefavour
Painter Caleb Stone capturing Annisquam Village En Plein Air on a cold January afternoon
Photo by E.J. Lefavour

That en plein air is a French expression which means “in the open air”, and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors?
Artists have long painted outdoors, but in the mid-19th century working in natural light became particularly important to the Barbizon school and Impressionism. The popularity of painting en plein air increased in the 1870s with the introduction of paints in tubes.  Previously, each painter made their own paints by grinding and mixing dry pigment powders with linseed oil.  It was during this period that the “Box Easel”, typically known as the French Easel, was invented. It is uncertain who developed it first, but these highly portable easels, with telescopic legs and built-in paint box and palette, made treks into the forest and up the hillsides less onerous. Still made today, they remain a popular choice even for home use since they fold up to the size of a brief case and thus are easy to store. One popular version is named the Jullian easel, designed by Roger Jullian, a French prisoner of war during World War II, who devoted himself to designing and later manufacturing the perfect sketch box easel.
While walking around Annisquam the day after the storm, I encountered these two artists painting en plein air, and it was a very chilly plein air at that. Each was painting their view of the Village from opposite sides of the end of Leonard Street. Chris Coyne (first picture), really impressed me by having included me in his painting by the time I reached the top of the rise where they were set up. Chris has a gallery at 37 Bearskin Neck, called Chris Coyne Fine Art www.coynefineart.com. The second artist is Caleb Stone of Ipswich. Caleb’s website is http://calebstoneart.com. Both are very accomplished artists, and it was nice to meet them and impressive to watch them work in the bitter cold with no gloves on.  Personally, I’m a wimpy studio painter and you’d never catch me outside painting in the cold like that.  These guys are hardcore.

From Wikipedia and The Fox Chase

E.J. Lefavour


Chickity Check It! Feathered Friends From Kim Smith

Black-capped Chicadee and Cardinal hungry at the feeder during blizzard

Kim Smith writes-

Dear Gardening Friends,

During inclement weather, particularly when it is blizzarding, please don’t forget to knock the snow off, and clear the base around, your feeders. This afternoon while working on a drawing and looking out onto the snowy backyard scene I observed a half dozen species of our feathered friends searching for food at the bird feeders and in the fruit-bearing shrubs. The fearless Black-capped Chicadees, with cheery birdsong chic-a-dee-dee-dee, have their amusing habit of darting in for a seed and skedaddling away as quick as can be to crack it open against a firm surface. Particularly sweet was a cardinal pair. They took turns at the feeder; while one was eating, the other was always close by and at the ready with a warning cry.

A question from one of my dear readers:

Dear Kim, Last summer a male cardinal sang his heart out every day from the tree tops around our house. I thought he must be calling for a mate, but I never saw him with a female at all. Then the most curious thing happened: he began to perch on either my or my husband’s side mirror on our cars. He would peck away at the mirror and flap his wings. It was then that I concluded that he was desperate for a mate. This fall and winter, a male and female have appeared. There is a male (maybe the same one) that has started perching on my car mirror again. Since it is December/January, and if it is the same cardinal who now has a mate, it may have nothing to do with trying to find a mate. If you have any ideas, let me know.

Kim’s answer at her blog here

Terry Del Percio Art Exhibit at Sawyer Free Library in Gloucester, MA

January 12, 2011

New Art Exhibit at Sawyer Free Library in Gloucester, MA

Artist Terry Del Percio-Piemonte displays a sampling of her abstract paintings along with a few whimsical animals and flowers in a colorful exhibit of watercolor and mixed media at the Sawyer Free Library on Dale Avenue in Gloucester. Visit the library to see a change of pace from boats and the sea, with uplifting colors providing an antidote to the gray and stormy skies of winter. With colors that force you to take notice, some of the paintings just make you smile and some encourage you to think about life. On display now through January 30. Call the library for hours at (978) 281-9763.


Terry Del Percio-Piemonte


978.281.1188 home & studio

Fish, Interrupted by Terry Del Percio-Piemonte


Sweet Osmosis by Terry Del Percio-Piemonte


Innocence by Terry Del Percio-Piemonte


Chickity Check It! Myopia Sled Dog Races Central- Hamilton Wenham Patch

Sled Dog Central We’re Going Today!


If you thought I was psychotic about bringing you the best of Gloucester the guy from Hamilton Wenham Patch makes me look downright disinterested, lol.

Robert Gates should be running a newspaper for sure.

Good Harbor New years Day Plunge Video From Tony Sapienza


Still more New Year’s Day highlights — this time a video of the plunge, produced by Sean Reardon of North Andover, a fan of the Blue Shutters Dips (his mom, Kim, was the Dip in the pink swimsuit). As news of this event has spread among friends (it as just highlighted in our Blue Shutters newsletter) a bunch more are promising to sign up for next year. Why wait ’til January — how about a Saint Pats plunge or an Easter Day Dunk? We may do a morning-after splash after our Chili Cookoff on February 12. It may not be a beach in the Carribean, but we think more and more folks are realizing Good Harbor in the winter definitely doesn’t suck! But those shots from the tropics sure look great.

– Tony from the Blue Shutters Beachside Inn