Anatomy of “Sugarloaf Mountain in February”

It has been a cold, damp and windy February but I have made myself try to get out there and paint. Thank goodness I have my “studio truck” that I can paint from. On this day, I ventured outside and set up my trusty half-sized french easel which I have had for many years. Everything was perfect, no worries about anything especially the current state of affairs with the impending coronavirus. Up on top of Sugarloaf Mountain the worries just slip away. Yes, it was a very moody but inviting gray day, a Corot kind of day. After only about a half an hour it started to drissle, then the rain got heavier and I was forced to quit. In the old days I would have put up an umbrella. In fact, I have done some nice paintings in the rain when visiting Ireland but today I simply took what information I had from the study and left. Corot would have stayed I think because he said “One can see Nature’s true colors in the rain”

Today I am in my home studio, self-quarantined. I feel like I am in a bad B sci-fi movie. Sadly, it is for real and we must all try to do our part by staying home and away from crowds. So I decided to start an easel painting using my little study as the basis of a larger piece.

Here is the first stage. Transferring the image from the study to the new larger canvas. Note, I am not copying verbadim but re-inventing a new composition.

This is the fourth day working a few hours each day on this painting. On this final session I am listening to Beethoven’s symphony in A Major. I remember my music class at the Maryland Institute and this was the very first piece we were asked to listen to. That’s it. No test. No reading just listening. I started to develop a real love of classical music and always like to play it when I am working. This is a very appropriate piece to listen to because Beethoven starts off with a few notes and builds and builds and builds. That is how I relate this kind of sustained painting in the studio, where it is not simply putting a mark down as a reaction to the image seen. This process is much slower and more planning is involved. I am pleased with the result of this painting. It was very hard not to overwork the foreground areas. I did want to articulate the rocks but without overstating the detail and losing the freshness. I think the rocks work fine now and look like the jagged Sugarloaf rock border. Wanted to stay as close as possible to the color and feel of the plein air sketch. Below is a painting I did several years ago. Almost in the same spot but a different time of year.

“Serenity Sugarloaf Mountain , East View” Collection of Edie and Doug Hemingway
Myself painting a several years ago and several pounds lighter. Remember hiking up and down the mountain. Not so much hiking now. I am content to stay on the top painting.

In this grave time we are faced with a challenge unlike anything we have ever seen in our lifetime. I pray that we can all remain safe as possible. I hope that we will all learn the value of caring not only for ourselves and our family but for our brothers and sisters around the world. The coronavirus taught us that we are all on this planet together and are all connected. Stay safe, keep the faith and keep painting.

love, Jeanean


  1. Hi John, glad you enjoyed my post. Glad you experienced painting at Sugarloaf. It is not a very big mountain but it is a montgomery county icon. seems you see it everywhere you go. You know Edie and Doug have moved from their beautiful cabin in Frederick Their new place looks so equally beautiful but different it sits right on the wicomico river. Maybe someday we can all rendezvous there? Can you believe this bizarre world we are living in now? just so scary. my daughter and I made it out of Italy just in the nick of time. My heart goes out to those people and everyone who has succumbed to this modern day plague. Take care and stay safe


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