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Winter in Maine: Testing My Cold-Weather Tolerance

Before making a firm decision to move to the Northeast to learn to paint the rocky shoreline, I decided to test my tolerance for the winter weather by living there for a couple of months. So I found a rental in South Portland, Maine, and on this past New Years Eve I started my drive north with my cat and some art supplies. For the most part my winter gear was perfect for my sightseeing and adventuring, thanks to new insulation technology. I think my coldest venturing was around 0°F, with a wind chill of 15 below. I did need to buy some different hiking shoes – “Arctic Grip” soles are a prerequisite for safely traversing trails any amount of snow or minimal ice. My “Yak-Trax” worked well for more seriously icy walks. But my fingers nearly froze during the three seconds I would unglove in order to shoot a photo with my iPhone. Chemical hand warmers inside my mittens just couldn’t re-warm my fingers fast enough. So I broke down and bought some rechargeable electric gloves — Best. Invention. Ever. for cold-weather photography. My raingear and snow pants did well to block the wind, which was fairly constant at the shore. There were some days that it might have been warm enough to paint outdoors, but hauling my gear up and down 2 flights of stairs wasn’t something I relished, so I painted from memory and from reference photos when I got back indoors.

My experience was fairly tame, since it was a mild winter in a very civilized city. There was only one true Nor’easter and just a few storms with freezing rain. I would guess around two feet of snow fell over the two months I was there but my host did all the shoveling and snow-blowing, and the city was immediate in plowing and salting the roads.

My exploring took me as far northeast as Schoodic Point, Acadia National Park, and south to Cape Ann and Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

The area around Acadia National Park has every kind and color of rock and all of the ocean drama that I want to learn to paint. Most certainly cities have more cultural opportunities and events, but for my goal of learning to paint the rocky shoreline, it is better to be closer to my subject. I can always make day trips to the art museums in Rockland, Portland, and Boston. I anticipate that I will be more inconvenienced by the winter weather than I was in South Portland and Cape Elizabeth, but I don’t think it will be unmanageable. To be frank, the tourist season may be more of an aggravation to me than the weather. A friend of mine says our lives are ruled by the availability of parking!

And now I am back in Florida, waiting for a callback from the apartment complex where I will be renting when I move to Maine. I expect to be making the move sometime around mid-summer. I will be taking my paddle board and my canoe, but I am starting to pare down my other belongings, including my piles of paintings and drawings. Stay tuned, if you are following my Facebook page — I may be posting some amazing bargains and some freebies!

12 thoughts on “Winter in Maine: Testing My Cold-Weather Tolerance

  1. Your work has become so vibrant. I remember sitting in your studio when you were first getting into serious art again. It was good then but you’ve freed some bright part of you that shines through your beautiful work now.

  2. Your paintings are amazing. And I love reading about your adventures!

  3. I am so excited for you. The work you came back with is beautiful and truly captures the Maine coast. What an adventure you’re going on!

  4. Beautiful pieces. Love how you captured the New England winter colors – both the soft and dark tones.

  5. Joan your work is just stunning and I hope we see each other before you leave Florida. I am so excited for you and your new adventures!

  6. The colors are so rich in your paintings. It sounds like Maine is calling you and enduring the challenges of cold weather are worth being near the rocky shores that you crave. Your words continue to be an inspiration as I see you going after your dreams. I look forward to seeing more from your blog:)

  7. Gorgeous! “Winter Clouds in New England” is beautiful. I can feel an icy breeze just looking at it. What an adventure! And I’ve never heard of electric gloves.

  8. Thank you all for your support! Your comments turn this open-ended effort of blogging into two-way communication, and that means so much to me!

  9. How exciting and energizing to paint something totally different. Your work is so vibrant. Before making a permanent move consider not the averages but the extremes in weather. A friend who moved from Ohio to Minneapolis, MN because he loved to camp and fish told me that he didn’t pay enough attention to the extremes. He tolerated them for several years and then moved back.

  10. Thanks for the tip, Cheryl. My move will be for a couple of years, to learn to paint the rocky shoreline, after which I expect to be moving somewhere else for a couple of years, to learn to paint that area, and continue that for the next part of my life. And that’s why I stayed in Maine for two months, to see what it really was like. I probably spent more time outdoors during this two months than I actually will over the next couple of years, just because I was actually testing my tolerance.

  11. Hey Joan! It’s thrilling for me to share your adventures through words and paint! You’re a great writer too! I’m along with you in a sense, although I’m not freezing my fingers off! Chuck and I have been touring the mountains around Chattanooga on a Triumph motorcycle lately. I think you’d enjoy painting here too. You’re welcome to visit anytime! I definitely want to get a piece of your work from SRB! I remember being smitten with the palm tree you painted one day at Pat’s-I should’ve bought that ‘wet’!! I’m happy for you, Joan! ?

  12. Thank you so much, Cindi! I’ll be on your doorstep one day! 🙂

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