Sometimes, painting is about the obvious things: the beauty that’s right in front of you, bold colors, compelling light, big picture views. But more often for me, it’s about the things you might pass by: the subtle, the small, the imperfect. Learning to notice is more important than pencil, paper, or paint.

I had ample opportunities to sketch both bigger views and subtleties when in Maine recently. Which is more compelling to you?

45 Comments on “Noticing

  1. These images are beautiful and so inspiring, Jean! This post lifted my artistic spirits this morning. Thank you!

    Sent from my iPad


  2. They are both compelling! You have depicted this portion of Clark Island so convincingly. ❤️

    • What a gem! We really enjoyed our hikes there. Our first trip was overcast and moody and the second was sunny and bright. The autumn colors were beautiful. I bet it’s great in all seasons!

  3. Beautiful post, Jean! Tenants Harbor is one of my favorite spots in Maine! So glad you got to spend time! Love the coastline painting! Best, Christa

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. I absolutely love your pages! I really enjoy your maps & landscapes (& also individual items like flowers, plants, etc.) but I prefer to sketch & paint the smaller things that I notice – flowers, leaves, patterns, etc. I rarely sketch landscapes, but I am interested in practicing them!

  5. I love both pages! As you said, what a gift to Nature Journal and be able really look and see! Perhaps you know that Freddie Fungus and Alice Algae took a “lichen” to each other and sometimes their relationship is on the rocks.
    They have a very traditional relationship: Freddie Fungus builds the house (fungus is the support for algae to live on) and Alice Algae cooks the food (alcea photosynthesize). 😁

    • This was my first time to Port Clyde and Tenants Harbor. There’s certainly no shortage of views and subject matter. I loved seeing the fall colors in the trees and in the salt marsh. I hope these pages brought back good memories of your trip years ago.

      • Oh yes! I was there in summer, and of course the sun came up EARLY. I’d get up when it was barely light, shower, grab a cup of coffee and then walk and walk and walk till time to comback and have breakfast, then teach all day. My first time to have a whole lobster! In the evenings the woman who organized the workshop would let us use her car and we explored more widely…I loved the rugged rocky coast. And so many funny memories!

  6. They are both stunning! I am more inclined to drawing the smaller details myself, but your landscapes are inspiring. It also helps to put the detailed bits within a larger location and ecosystem, which is so informative.

  7. Love both Jean, but it is hard to take a hike and not notice, inspect, touch and wonder about the small stuff. I do more stopping and looking on hikes than walking sometimes 🙂

  8. Maine in October. I always love your beautiful drawings and observations.

  9. I love both Jeanne. The first – landscape and map – gives me a sense of place and wonder at nature as a whole with a more spiritual/poetic tone. The lichen page feeds my need for wonder with details and info. Bravo!

    • Thanks so much Diane. That sense of place is important, isn’t it. I typically try to add a page like this when I’m traveling and probably take it for granted when I’m home.

  10. Your pages of illustrated views are often like a diary of the events of a day…or several days. Notes tell of specific details that perhaps the eye didn’t catch at first glance. My own work is less detailed, less specific to one eye catching moment. I appreciate your serious study and investigation that my own painting does not include as much of. It’s always a joy to view your work and poetic words of description.

    • Hi Bernadette- The beauty of artwork is that no two of us can create the same thing. I often admire artists who are able to see and create in ways that can’t even imagine doing. I’m glad my work is joyful to you!

  11. That is an impressive picture.   Water color?   What notebook do you use?I really like your  blog!John Sent from my Galaxy

  12. Only recently learned about lungwort lichen on a mycology walk at Paul Smith’s. Such an amazing thing of beauty!

  13. I was just visiting in Maine, and I got to see Sherrie York and Michael Boardman, now I get to see a little bit of you, too. You have perfectly captured what I loved about my visit. Cheers to you!!

  14. Oh Jean! I couldn’t choose ….. both are marvelous. However, if you threatened to take away all of my art supplies, I would vote for the subtleties! Your landscapes are always intriguing, but they invite closer inspection, often with a hand lens. Lichen as a subject is an excellent example, even giant lichens like this one.

  15. I’m happy to hear you took a trip to Maine! The wider view does it for me this time, partly because the view complements the map so well, both in composition and color and in the abstract – as in, the way the place looks and where it is on a map. There is so much to think about when it comes to place, isn’t there? The particulars, the bigger picture, how it all fits together…

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