For years, I have admired the poetic landscape paintings of T. Allen Lawson. So, when fellow artist Shanna Kunz asked me to join her at Tim’s plein air painting workshop in Maine, I jumped at the chance!
Together with 12 other seasoned artists, we began our week at T. Allen Lawson’s charming farmhouse and studio in Rockport, Maine. Tim and his wife have created a 50 acre haven for themselves and their 4 children.
Surrounded by paddocks of horses and sheep, free roaming chickens, happy dogs and colorful woods, the Lawsons have endless inspiration. It was interesting to learn that Tim’s talented wife, Dorie, is a published author, and the daughter of famed American historian, David McCullough!
A native of his beloved Wyoming, Tim now prefers painting the more intimate landscape environment that Maine offers, ‘a small portion of a scene’, as he puts it. A strong kinship to fellow painters who hail from Maine can be sensed in his work. Artists N.C. Wyeth (1882–1945), Andrew Wyeth (1917–2009), Jamie Wyeth (born 1946),Winslow Homer (1836–1910), Edward Hopper (1882–1967), Rockwell Kent (1882–1971), Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986), Frederic E. Church (1826–1900), and Robert Henri (1865–1929) are just a few.
Tim’s generosity and hospitality is unrivaled. He kept us working from early morning until dinnertime each day. In the 12 passenger van, Tim acted as our personal chauffeur and patiently answered our endless questions as he drove us to each new painting location.
Here are just a few of the highlights from my week with landscape artist, T. Allen Lawson:
“If a painting is ‘high key’, it’s the darker areas that become important. Or if the scene is dark, it’s the lighter areas that matter.”
“When you begin a painting, ask yourself – why am I painting this scene?”
“Pay attention to the nuances of temperature within the masses.”
“Value design is strength.”
“Dont’ break up the value masses.”
“Keep your paintings to 4 values or less. Dark, mid-dark, mid-light, light.”
“Think in terms of flat, abstract shapes.”
“Start every plein air painting with a thumbnail sketch. Work out your design first.”
“Chalky color = unclean color.”
“Use photographs as a tool, not a crutch.”
“Draw from nature. You get more of an intimacy drawing from nature rather than from painting.”
“You have to draw everyday to get better.”
“Color mixing is your painting vocabulary. Get to know your paint, make color charts of your palette.”
Tim’s exquisite landscape paintings balance a sensibility of the natural world with exceptional artistry. It was an honor to be invited by the Lawson family to paint with Tim.