THIS WILL BE ANOTHER WONDERFUL WORKSHOP, WITH DAILY DEMONSTRATIONS IN WATERCOLOR AND OIL.  5 sessions per week and frequent critiques with lessons on value, design, color, and capturing light.

Please come and paint contact with me and the group for more information contact me through this blog or at

IMG_2547watercolor painting of coastal rocks

IMG_2228opaque watercolor Pemaquid Point, Maine

IMG_2166oil painting Rockport Harbor, Maine

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  • steve flemingMarch 15, 2017 - 1:08 pm

    Just checking to see if it worksReplyCancel

This watercolor was a demonstration for one of my class.  The lesson was pretty simple.  I wanted to achieve rich darks, that were very translucent and then I wanted to get well times scrapes using a pen knife. It is hard to produce this level of dark colors if you rub them into the paper.  Also stay away from the dark staining colors they don’t scrape or lift very well.   I never expected it would lead me to this poem about how confusion and frustration can lead to so much lack of focus.  Enjoy

12×16 watercolor on 300lb paper


shallow boat floated
lightly over reeds turning
gold with the season

early morning rain
liquid pearls sparkle brightly
mirrors to the soul

golden leaves flutter
helicopters in breeze
cake flowers on ink

darkness shrouds return
the path vanishes
night smothers the way

After hours of winding my way through channel after endless channel, I realize I have no idea which one will lead me back to camp.  Every curve, tree and jetty looks exactly the same and all lead me to another level of confusion and nervousness.  I stroke with a furious intensity, the paddle more of a hammer than a means of propulsion. Water splashes on my pants, soaks my arms and begins to cover the bottom of the canoe.  I lose all my senses, my connection to the river and the beautiful world around me, there is no beauty just a slowly descending dark fearful dread.  I move with a manic energy hoping that with enough speed and determination I can will myself back to camp. Around every bend I expect to see the familiar, the friendly; a warm fire, smiling friends, and the comforts of the camp I left earlier this morning.  Maybe I should have left a trail of bread crumbs or notched a few trees to help guide me back to where I started, my personal arrogance has again led me astray.  Absentmindedly, I start to hum the theme from Gilligan’s Island and break out in total belly laughter; really whats the worst thing that can happen?  I breath. Over to my left I see a Great Blue Heron, and out of the deep shadows a frog splashes, and a bass moves in, just a flick and wrinkle on the surface. Counting my breath, I relax, focus and center myself.  I think I smell coffee and a campfire; I go left with a positive cadence stroke.

Watchful Blue heron lurks
head a miners hammer cocked
bass swims unknowing

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This oil painting is about walking on the beach in St Augustine right after my father died a few years back.  A storm had just past over and I was taken by the strong golden light coming through the clouds and the light reflected on the water.  I wanted the painting to be simple and somewhat abstract in design.  I compressed the values of the image to make the light more important.  This area of beach was where my father rented a condo and we would spend time together there. 11×14 oil painting on canvas panel.

Shore Birds

sun breaks through the clouds

wind blown sand lashes my face

surf rises and pounds

as the storm races off shore

But gulls remain steadfast, calm


I walked on the same stretch of beach everyday for weeks recalling memories of my father. I imagined him sitting on the porch looking out over the ocean, steaming cup of coffee and his crossword puzzles: always a crossword puzzle, done in ink with no mistakes. What I would give to be able to ask about how to start a stubborn mower after a long winter, or to tell him that things were good with me and that his baseball team was in first place. I take things for granted and harp over mistakes made when everyone was just learning the rules of life. Now they’re just ghosts. Hovering on a porch.


footprints in the sand

vanish with the incoming

tide, and walking leaves

no record, we make

marks then they’re gone

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  • Debbie HighMay 24, 2017 - 8:13 pm

    Lovely painting and poem!ReplyCancel

    • SteveJune 10, 2017 - 12:06 pm

      Debbie, thanks for taking the time to look at my website and to write a response. SteveReplyCancel

I painted these 3 watercolors for a scene in Rockland, Maine and I kept changing it to get a better more light filled composition.  I will post them first to last and I think you will see that the first image is pretty dark and the movement in the painting is pretty harsh.  In the latter versions I kept adding building and more pieces of light which slowed the painting down and added more places to highlight the shadow and light on the building. this painting is pretty compressed and everything just falls into the junction of the road and sky.this is slightly better; the road is more interesting but the left side of the painting doesn’t work to keep the viewer in the composition.The telephone poles and the lighter road help a lot to create a more interesting light pattern.  The trees and the sky are much more interesting.

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  • Pat McSwainMay 1, 2017 - 2:04 am

    Great examples of shadows and different values!ReplyCancel

  • MercedesMay 12, 2017 - 6:45 pm

    Masterful lesson about composition and brilliantly illustrated with the three watercolors. The last one is really great. Thanks for sharing. Respectfully Mercedes.ReplyCancel

    • SteveJune 10, 2017 - 12:07 pm

      Thanks Mercedes, I thought it was a good opportunity to share the different versions of the same image. I hope your painting is going well.ReplyCancel

This painting was a demonstration for one of my watercolor classes.  I kept the background really cool and nondescript and used a large flat brush to apply the cerulean blue and cobalt violet background.  I used a really small rigger brush to paint everything else.  I used the rigger every way I could think of trying explain that the use of different tools creates more opportunities for unique solutions.  This light is captured with the bright foreground and dark cast shadow.  Try a different brush and make  your paintings more expressive.

“first day of spring” 12×16 watercolor on 300lb arches

First day of spring

Low horizon’s dazzling light

Casts long winter shadows,

viridian greens

dark on lime colored grass

Big stocky robins

breasts painted red

do the two leg happy dance

followed immediately

by their shadows

As they peck, hop and pick

Staying just out of range

of my crazy pinball puppy

Bounding to the end of its’ long black leash

Like an atlas rocket

tied to a tether.

After weeks

of endless miserable weather,

today feels like what I believe is


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  • MercedesApril 21, 2017 - 5:53 pm

    This watercolor is very luminous and beautiful. Thanks for the explanations and for sharing it, Steve. Respectfully Mercedes.ReplyCancel

    • SteveMay 1, 2017 - 1:24 am

      thank Mercedes, it is always nice to see your comments. SteveReplyCancel

My friend Caroline gave me a wonderful photo of a river in Western Maryland and I painted several pieces from the one image.  This painting is focused on using scraped and saved whites on the birch trees to direct the viewer into the darker places in the painting.  I tried to use really loose brushwork to capture the jumpy movement of the water as it ran across the river rock.  This painting is all about movement.  The poem is sort of a hybrid of a Haibun, two Tanka poems with a piece of prose in the middle.  Enjoy

light dances lively

river deep, dark, frigid, flows

thin white birches point

boney fingers into green

water laughs and runs away


It is alarming to me that so few people spend time outdoors, just being part of the natural world, accepting nature at face value, whether it’s cold and rainy, hot and humid, windy with clouds or hot enough to fry eggs. We have turned inward to the virtual worlds, created by very clever people, where a walk in the woods can be enjoyed without leaving the comforts of the living room sofa. It scares me that we are headed to a world of mini screens and hand-held relationships, where friends are just “likes” on a page and all of our close intimate friends are tolerated as long as they agree with myopic views of the world. Perhaps if we spent more time feeling vulnerable and slightly uncomfortable in the world nature provides; we would feel more alive, more connected, and more secure inside our own skins.


cool shadows hide dark

whispered secrets, inside dense

velvet thickets where

sparkling light flirts with water

rolls like marbles over rocks

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  • MercedesApril 15, 2017 - 8:16 am

    The painting is simply marvelous. in it, the whites really direct us to the end of what is seen of the water on the river. Quite whites on logs of the trees and moving whites in the water. Thank you for sharing it and, above all, thank you for explaining to us the why and how.ReplyCancel