My Week in Maine with Master Landscape Artist, T. Allen Lawson

Lighthouse sailboat Maine

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! 

Corralled by T Allen Lawson

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.


T Allen Lawson's studio

Maine horse barn

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!

artist, T. Allen Lawson and author, Dorie Lawson

Dorie and Tim Lawson

artists painting in Maine

We enjoyed watching a rare demo by Tim Allen Lawson

Tim Allen Lawson demo

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.

monhegan island

The infamous artist colony, Monhegan Island sits quietly off the Maine shoreline.

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.

art workshop students

Tim explaining our assignment for painting at an old church cemetery.

artist painting Maine church cemetery

Morning painting at the old church cemetery. Kinda creepy, but I painted things I’d never paint on my own, and learned a lot!

Maine lobster shack

Lunch break with fellow painter, Shanna Kunz, at a Maine lobster shack!

After a full day of painting, T. Allen Lawson was still teaching at sunset!

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.”

color charts artist

Tim, explaining the importance of color charts.

T Allen Lawson drawing of tree

Field sketch by T. Allen Lawson

drifted-in t allen lawson

Drifted-in by T Allen Lawson

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.

2012-11-23T16:42:49+00:00October 2nd, 2012|Art Travels, Fine Art Tips, General, Plein Air|14 Comments


  1. Celia October 9, 2012 at 1:07 am

    Lori, thank you for sharing this fabulous experience with us!

    • Lori McNee October 10, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      Hi Celia, thanks for enjoying this post. It really was an amazing time. I loved Maine, Tim and the other painters. Fun time.

      Happy painting,

  2. James February 2, 2013 at 3:35 am

    Thanks Lori,
    Appreciate your sharing the time learning from artist T. Allen Lawson.
    Have been hoping to get on a workshop for some time…and just found out that this year he is not teaching a workshop…so will have to hope for next year.
    Beautiful area in Rockport.

    • Lori McNee February 4, 2013 at 11:00 am

      Yes, I feel lucky that I got to go! He isn’t teaching one this year. My advice would be to get your name on the list, and when the announcement comes out, FedEx your deposit overnight! That’s how I got in…good luck. I hope this post was helpful.

  3. ian mccubbin February 9, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Wow wish I could find a few days with such an expert to bring on my lanscape skills. You have some lovely photos of beautiful land and painings here. Ian

    • Lori McNee March 1, 2013 at 9:56 am

      Thank you Ian. Yes, it was a great experience.

  4. Jeff June 16, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Never heard of him before. He’s not bad. Uses the palette knife to great effect. I usually use my knife to scrape and not place. Might be a technique worth looking into.

    • Lori McNee June 18, 2013 at 12:49 pm

      He is a painter’s painter for sure. Tim is a quite guy who likes to stay out of the spot light. Thanks for the comment!

  5. Lori Woodward July 11, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Hi Lori, just came upon this blog while searching for Tim’s work. I had t known that you took this workshop. It must’ve been a most amazing one. I’ll keep an eye out for upcoming workshops since it’s within driving distance for me and I have a friend who lives in Rockland.

    • Lori McNee July 20, 2014 at 2:21 pm

      Hello Lori! Great to see you here. Yes, Tim’s workshop was totally inspiring and so much fun. What a great guy and I loved his darling family too. I really learned a lot. 🙂

  6. Cooper March 10, 2015 at 11:36 am

    I know you posted about this a couple of years ago now, but I was so inspired that I just sent him an email and hopefully got my name on the list! Thanks Lori

    • Lori McNee March 11, 2015 at 8:54 pm

      Hello Cooper, that makes me happy to hear! You will love working with him. Please tell Tim that Lori sent you 😉

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