Painting Cape Cod in the Summer
America is a land of rich diversity that extends throughout our landscapes, cities, and regions. I’d say that one of the most distinctive places we have is Cape Cod. Now, being a born-and-raised Southern girl, I have always romanticized the northern coasts and beaches because they always look so postcard perfect for idyllic summer getaways with their sandy beaches, tumbling beach grass, and towering lighthouses. Perhaps all of these unique visuals are the reason why so many artists throughout the decades have decided that painting Cape Cod is worth doing, and worth doing with such varied points of view.
Take Ross Moffett for starters. A contemporary of Charles Hawthorne, Moffett created numerous paintings of figures in the Cape Cod landscape in the early and mid-twentieth century–documenting the maritime culture and community whose livelihood was made at sea. His works are stark and bleak, but simplistically beautiful as well.
Contemporary artist Richard Baker does tongue-in-cheek still life paintings of the bounty of the sea–lobsters, oysters, and clams painted alongside lemon wedges and a knife to pry the shellfish open–as if the painting is just as much a snapshot of supper as a fine art painting.
But one of my favorites is Edwin Dickinson. His works are filled with a lovely quietness that corresponds with my childhood dreams of Cape Cod. One of my favorite works of his is a watercolor, Boatyard, Provincetown. Personally, I feel like the best medium to capture the light and breezy atmosphere of Cape Cod is watercolor. In this work, the transparent washes make the water, air, and boats all seem inseparable–which makes perfect sense as part of the narrative of this place. Dickinson is a master of delicate washes that are warm but don’t feel heavy with pigment. That kind of dual looseness and control is one of the watercolor painting techniques I keep trying to learn…and relearn. But with each attempt I get more and more confident.
Cape Cod is one of hundreds of places that call to us because of its unique landscape, atmosphere, and the artists who have painted it in their own individual ways. Painter Jane Chapin took to heart this “call to place” with her years’ long project to paint in all fifty states, which culminated in her book, Land of the Free.
What started out as Jane’s personal journey became an artistic movement to honor American veterans. Land of the Free is Jane’s tribute to America’s heroes throughout history and those who serve today. The book chronicles Jane’s paintings in every state as well as a modern hero’s story. Partial proceeds for purchases of the book go to support the Special Operations Warrior Foundation! Get your copy now to support these efforts!