Monday, March 16, 2015

Ultimate Winter Plein Air Painting Spot - the Mount Washington Hotel

The truly incredible Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

Spent the weekend in the snow with painting buddy Todd Bonita.

Volpe posing for a feature in "Plein Air Pin-Ups"
After it started snowing late on our first day, we resolved to chase the kind of atmosphere that American Impressionist Willard Metcalf (1858-1925) captured in Cornish, NH paintings such as "The White Veil" and "The Enveloping Mantle."

Willard Metcalf, The White Veil (1909)

They aren't Metty's strongest paintings (I think the ones in full sunlight have more life and better design), but the grays convince with subtle shifts in value and warm and cool tonalities.

Willard Metcalf, The Enveloping Mantle (1920)
We spent two days in the snow, sometimes sinking hip deep in drifts along riverbanks and rocky, wooded hills ......

Todd B. in action.

River painting underway.
I look cold for a reason.

The Intervale, 6x8 oil sketch.
.... before we realized how easy this could have been, perched on the sheltering veranda of the Mount Washington Hotel.

Todd B. painting "the veil" in relative comfort.
The Mount Washington, built in 1902, has been updated to the point of surpassing its original turn-of-the-century-grand-hotel glory. It's now a splendid, world-class resort and spa with six or so floors, several swimming pools including indoor and outdoor (heated and lit up at night, with a little perpetually burning bonfire to stop at and warm up en route), movie theater, numerous ball rooms, restaurants, etc. etc., even its own post office.

They love winter here. Besides downhill and cross-country skiing, they do sled dog rides - one ripped across the road as we drove up to the hotel. Click here for the proof (link's not working great, sorry).

Lobby of the Mount Washington

The building has an enormous wrap-around veranda where nothing's stopping one from setting up an easel and painting any number of gorgeous views while stepping inside for refreshments between paintings.

Snowy peak, 5" x 7" from the hotel porch.

Study of hills from the hotel porch.

It's the perfect base camp for a workshop, too. However, at about $350 a night, folks living on an artist's "salary" might want to do what we did and paint here for the day while sleeping nearby in more modest accommodations. Bonus: there's a 24-hour shuttle that will take you just about anywhere you need to go, too.

Abstract snowy mountainside, also from the porch.
Todd and I are looking into setting up a team-taught workshop here in 2016. It's just too perfect and fun not to at least try to get a group of crazy painters up here with us.

A stranger in paradise.
For those who prefer the sun-kissed beach to the sleet-bitten rock, there are still one or two slots left in our Ogunquit, Maine "Art of Seeing" workshop in September, but don't delay as it's almost filled and it's only March.

In the meantime, there's still plenty of room in my spring White Mountain workshop as Crawford Notch Artist-in-Residence at the AMC Highland Center lodge. That plein air workshop will run May 3-6, 2015. Check here for more info on that.

Willard Leroy Metcalf keeping it real.


  1. Well done my seems like yesterday that we were thigh deep in White Mountain snow drifts...oh wait!...who knew painting in those conditions could be that much fun. You really got some keepers to show for it too. A 2016 workshop sounds like just the thing, plus, you know what they say, "Misery loves company". Nice job my friend.

  2. Wow! Great paintings and what a beautiful spot! I actually love those Metcalf paintings! White Veil is one of my all time favorites.

    1. Nice! Thanks - did you get to see it in person at Dartmouth's Hood Museum a few years ago? It's in a personal collection, i think,,

  3. What fun!! I'm so glad you went! Please sign me up for the 2016 Mt. Washington workshop~confirmed!! Bretton Woods was always our favorite ski area and we spent many fun the cheaper version...enjoying the snow. I can't wait to go back and capture it on canvas!

  4. I'm looking at your gorgeous photos and paintings from the comfort of a dark café. Much my preferred milieu. And though I'm in my beat up jeans and an old sweater, Metcalf's suit and fedora are beckoning a powerful come hither.

    1. Ha haa! I know, right? The personal magnetism of the man has overcome many a more resistant nature than your own....

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