Monday, September 20, 2021

Full Moon Paintings

 Full Moon Paintings

Full Moon and Stars  Watercolor  Diana Johnson

With the Harvest Moon being today, September 20, 2021, I am putting together some of my "Moon" paintings. I would play Neil Young's Harvest Moon song to accompany this post if I could.

A while ago I spent some time in a playful mood with my watercolor paints.  After a base of deep blue paint, I then splattered opaque, light-colored paint to make "stars". Too fun!

Moon at Sunset   oil   Diana Johnson

Next I will share with you about one time my husband and I took the Sunset Cruise on Casco Bay. It had been reported that on a certain night there would be a full moon visible at sunset so we decided to see it by boat. The ferry took  us all around the islands. Opposite from the sun we could see the moon rise over the water. Then on the way back to Portland the sun started to set. Off to the side was an island with one white house on it. The sunset's illumination made it look golden. So cool!

Through the Trees  Pastel  Diana Johnson

Lastly I will tell you about my painting called, "Through the Trees". It is in my Etsy shop. On one of my evening walks I felt like I was being followed by the moon. Every time that I looked up the moon had seemingly shifted due to my perspective. Finally, I saw what looked like delicate filagree surrounding the moon as I looked through the tree branches.

So remember to look up and enjoy the moon!

Monday, August 23, 2021

Mill Creek Marsh Paintings

Mill Creek Marsh Paintings

"SOPO Sunrise"   oil     Diana Johnson

I used to do outdoor art shows. Since we had to set-up at the crack of dawn I looked forward to a proper sunrise. My last show, six years ago, was at South Portland's Mill Creek Park. I got there extra early so that I could walk over to Mill Creek marsh and watch the sunrise and take some photos. My first painting from that experience was a small oil called "SOPO Sunrise".

"Just Before Sunrise"  pastel     Diana Johnson

A  few years later, while looking back at the photos, I decided to do another impression of that morning. This time it ended up being a pastel called "Just Before Sunrise".

This view point, from the marsh looking towards Portland, is so easy to get to. Just park at the Mill Creek Hannaford and it is right there! This is a great place to start a walk on South Portland's Greenbelt Walkway. Just follow the path and you end up at Bug Light Park. 

"Summer Marsh"  pastel  Diana Johnson

Taking that walk one afternoon, I took some more photos of the marsh. This time it was mid-day on a warm summer day. You would never know it was the same place that I got the sunrise reference photos from. Change the time of day and you get an entirely different effect. "Summer Marsh" was the mid-day painting. 

This brings to mind Monet's Haystack Series in which he painted the same scene repeatedly at different times of the day as well as in different seasons.

I also can't help thinking of the song, "What a difference a day makes...24 little hours..."

Enjoy your day!

Monday, August 16, 2021

Painting Neighborhood Scenes

 Painting Neighborhood Scenes

Photo of squash from my neighbor's garden.

One of my neighbors has a big garden. He sets up a cooler filled with free veggies once and a while during the summer. This week's bounty was squash. The cooler happens to be in the shade of a stand of birch trees. Being a fan of birches I decided to paint them.

"Dancing with the Sun"   pastel   14" x 14"    Diana Johnson

I stayed close to home this week which go me to thinking about how often I find inspiration for paintings right in my own neighborhood. I am only showing two today but, believe me, there are lots more. Across from the garden there is a home with some beautiful trees. Seeing the trees silhouetted against a stormy sky was too good to pass up. This pastel painting is in my Etsy Shop.

"Light Through the Clouds"   pastel

Last year during the pandemic shut-down I took a walk each day in my neighborhood. From March 16, 2020 to May 8, 2020 I documented each of those 54 days by taking a photo and writing a Haiku about something I noticed while walking. My goal was to calm my anxious mind by giving it something to do. Here is one example:

By the beginning of May the air was warmer and flowers were blooming and I felt a sense of calm. I didn't feel the need to continue my project. May 8th was my last Pic/Haiku. 

I will leave this post with a quote by Henry David Thoreau:

"Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth."

Monday, August 9, 2021

Freeport Harbor and Town Park


Freeport Harbor and Town Park

Looking across the Harraseeket River to the harbor.

One of my favorite places to paint is Freeport's Winslow Park. Along with wooded trails and coastal views there is a straight shot down Staples Point Rd to get a view of Freeport Harbor. One day I traveled light with just paper and colored pencils. Looking across the Harrraseeket River at Freeport Harbor I sketched with the colored pencils. When back in my studio I covered over the pencil sketch with acrylic paint.

Colored pencil sketch covered over with acrylics

On another day I set up my easel and painted with oils. This painting is in my Etsy shop. In this painting I wanted to include the top of Casco Castle at the tree line. 

View of Casco Castle from Winslow Park

Built in 1903, Casco Castle was a hotel, amusement park, and zoo! It burned down but the tower remains. There is some information about the castle on the Freeport Historical Society's web page. If you are looking for a nice hike after shopping in Freeport then head over to Winslow Park!

Monday, August 2, 2021

Gilsland Farm - Rain and Wind

Gilsland Farm Meadow
Gilsland Farm - Rain and Wind

The rain was predicted to start at 5:00 p.m. Figuring there was plenty of time to paint I headed over to Maine Audubon's Gilsland farm at 2:00 p.m. with my paint out buddies. Wandering through the meadows, I saw a clump of goldenrod that looked like a nice subject for a sketch. Before I had a chance to pull out my materials it started to rain. Heading back to the car we got quite wet. After waiting in the car for a while the rain turned to just showers so we decided to try again. I went back to my clump of goldenrod to do a quick sketch before the rain started again. 

Sketch 5" x 7" watercolor and pen

A few weeks ago we went to another meadow at Gilsland Farm to sketch. Rain was imminent but we finished sketching before it started.

Sketch  5" x 7"  watercolor and pen

 Quite a while ago I was in yet another meadow at Gilsland Farm and the dominant weather element was the wind. This time I had the full set-up with easel and oil paint. The painting from that day is in my Etsy Shop.

"Windy Day"    oil on canvas        8" x 10"

The charm of painting on location is the unpredictable nature of the experience. Visit the Maine Audubon website to check out  information about this beautiful place.


Monday, July 26, 2021

Scarborough Marsh in August


"Goldenrod by the Marsh" pastel 14"x14"

Scarborough Marsh in August

Sometimes a particular landscape grabs you and won't let go. This happened to me in Scarborough last August.

I was driving around the Pine Point area looking for some good marsh scenes to photograph. I spotted one  and knew I had found what I wanted.


"Goldenrod by the Marsh" acrylic 9"x12"

This painting journey started with an acrylic painting. It is on canvas and measures 9" x 12".


"Meandering Marsh" pastel  6.5" x 10"

After the acrylic one was done I still wanted to explore the scene so I switched to pastels. This rendition got much more colorful. It is pastel on sanded paper. I put it in my Etsy shop

Then I decided to see what would happen if I switched the format. The first two were rectangular so I went for the square. The result is a 14" x 14" pastel.  I enjoyed painting all three renditions. It is fun to see what happens and how each time my impression changes.


I entered the 14"x14" pastel into the 2021 For Pastels Only On Cape Cod show.  I was so excited to have my painting selected for the show and to receive two awards.

Dawn Emerson, in her juror remarks, said the following about my painting:

 " This painting appealed to me for its exquisite soft edges and feeling of spacious peacefulness. There is minimal description, yet the composition allows us to move into this scene effortlessly. The viewer is transported to this space, and floats down the river with their eyes toward the horizon. Lovely."


I was impressed with what Dawn Emerson said about the entire exhibit  in her juror's statement. She said that, "This exhibit reassures me that humanity will survive and thrive as long as artists remind us of the beauty around us we are blessed with each day".



Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Rocks, Rocks, and more Rocks


Rocks, rocks, and more rocks...

 A while ago I painted a series of "rock" paintings. Three of them are in a fundraising auction this week, May 3 - 7, 2021. Funds are being raised to support the mission of Partners for World Health.

Painting # 1 is called, "Delightful Day" and was inspired by an early morning visit to Kettle Cove in Cape Elizabeth. It was so peaceful and fun to watch the area on top of the cliff become illuminated by the sun.

Just for the fun of it, I searched the internet to see if I could come up with any interesting tidbits about the rocks in the cove.  I came across a blog post called, "Skipping Stones at Kettle Cove". The author wrote about how the rocks look like petrified wood but "are really ocean bottom rock split by stretched bands of quartz".

Very interesting!


Painting #  2 is called, "Playful Day" and was inspired by the energetic rocks near the Lobster Shack at Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth.

The rocks in this area were formed 420 million years ago. That period of time is known at the Silurian Period.

Now for a bit of geology from

"The layers of sediment that accumulated in that Silurian ocean are preserved in the rocks at Two Lights as light gray, massive quartzite and dark gray phyllite layers. The quartzite layers were originally sand or silt beds, and the phyllite layers were originally clay or mud beds. As the layers accumulated one on the other, some were deposited individually with sharp boundaries between them, and others were deposited as mixed masses in graded beds that change gradually from the bottom to the top of the layer."

Very interesting!


Painting #3 is called, "Luminous Day" and was inspired by the late afternoon light on the cliff walk at Prouts Neck in Scarborough. This is the area of the coast where Winslow Homer painted. The cliff walk is a wonderful hike and a great way to enjoy "rocks"!