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Blackwater Gold Wild Goose Farm Side Light Red Barn at Massey
Colhouns Barn Standing Stones II Soy Field Saxtons River View

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June 27

I’m sorry to report that I spent the day in bed with a nasty cold…did not make it to the paint-out; I didn’t even make it into the studio. We are not scheduled to paint out over the July 4th weekend: will be back to report on the July 10th outing to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in a couple of weeks.

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23 - 25 June

In addition to the regular Howard Co. plein air schedule, I traveled with friends Lisa Mitchell ( and Linda Light to visit and paint with our friend Sarah Pollock ( in Black Moshannon State Park and Reed’s Gap State Park, both in central Pennsylvania. Sarah had a Grand Plan that allowed us to pack in a lot of painting throughout some lovely country, and her husband Tim – a very talented chef – made sure we ate really REALLY well. Am still considering the work I produced there (not to mention the weight I gained there), so am not ready to post anything just yet…

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June 19

This was another day that thankfully failed to live up to the threat of showers. We were on the grounds of Larriland Farm, a family-owned and –operated farm that’s been offering about 75 acres of pick-your-own fruits and vegetables since 1973. I needed to stay close to the entrance and parking lot, to make sure other artists coming in knew which areas were to be avoided that day (spraying), so I settled for a quiet view of the pond and did a quick tree study. Others set up along the sides of the graveled roads leading to the different picking areas, or moved down to the cherry orchard, from where they could look back the way they’d come and paint Larriland’s Red Barn and the other buildings. Unlike at Clark’s, here we were very much in the public’s eye, and many people stopped picking long enough to observe and ask questions. Not my best painting day, but wonderful to be outside, and of course practicing painting trees is never a waste of time!

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June 12

The Back Road

A real gift of a day! We received permission to paint on the grounds of the 540-acre Clark’s Elioak Farm in western Howard County. Set on a hill overlooking gorgeous views of green fields, middle-distant stands of trees, and a large pond, the restored farmhouse, lawns, gardens, and outbuildings all presented a myriad of excellent subject possibilities. It took me almost an hour to decide what to paint! The scattered showers in the forecast never materialized; instead we had bright sun, a cool breeze, and 360 degrees of gorgeous. While most of the other artists settled themselves on the shady lawn and worked on views of the distant fields, I opted for a two-rut farm road - one of my favorite subjects - passing through a gate, disappearing briefly down an incline, and appearing again in the distance, crossing tilled fields on its way to meet up with Centennial Lane. I’ve posted the painting here: “The Back Road.” For more information on Clark’s Elioak, the Petting Farm, and the Clark family’s rescue of the characters from the former Enchanted Forest children’s park, see Lisa Regnante’s April 15, 2009, bog post at .

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June 6

The Clearing Storm

We had our first painting session at the Howard County Living Farm Heritage Museum. This a beautiful site in western Howard County, with a white farm house, rolling fields just beginning to turn green, long vistas to distant fields and trees, and some interesting building remains. It’s also quite extensive, so there are a million choices for subjects. Again, the weather was uncertain: while the rain was gone, the sky was still overcast and the ground soggy. We’re sure getting a lot of practice with painting mist and puddles! Four of us were there painting, and a fifth person arrived later to reconnoiter and take some photos. I decided to build on my success in Albuquerque and again dispensed with an underpainting. The result is “The Clearing Storm,” which I’ve posted here.

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June 1 and 2

Juniper & Scrub

I am much happier with the work I did during a two-day workshop with Maggie Price in Albuquerque, on the heels of the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) convention. Besides being a wonderful painter, Maggie, who co-founded the seminal Pastel Journal - a constant source of knowledge and inspiration to pastel painters everywhere - is a terrific teacher and coach. She had us working on the Belgian Mist Wallis paper, which was perfect for the high desert terrain outside the city. For the first time in 2 years I did not start with an underpainting but jumped right in with pastels, and it worked very well. Of the five pieces I did over the two days, I consider four of them frame-able – an unprecedented success rate for me. I’ve posted one here: “Juniper & Scrub”.

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May 22

The reservoir at Scott’s Cove is a spot we’ve painted at several times: it offers great views of the water and distant trees, along with good shade and picnic tables to set up on. About five or six of us turned out to paint, and the weather was not bad at all. At this session, instead of my usual white Wallis paper, I worked on the Richeson surface (on Gatorfoam), over an underpainting created with Derwent’s new line of Inktense watercolor pencils. If you haven’t tried these pencils, I strongly recommend that you do, no matter what your medium of choice. They provide an extraordinarily rich and brilliant color layer, far beyond that obtainable from any watercolor pencil I’ve ever used. (I’ve fallen in love with them and am using them under colored pencil, as well.) On the white Richeson surface, they really popped! I worked hard to keep the pastel application minimal over the pencils, not wanting to obliterate the colorful underpainting, but I am undecided about the result.

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May 16

Tracks in the Mist

We were scheduled to go to the Tridelphia Reservoir, but the weather turned damp and cold again, and I don’t think anyone showed up. I wasn’t there to find out, though: I joined a small group of Maryland Pastel Society artists who went up to paint in Monkton, a rural pocket of peace, rolling hills, and horse farms in Baltimore County. One of our MPS members graciously opened her house to us and had secured permission from her neighbors for us to paint on their land (thank you!). We started the morning with a plein air pastel demonstration and teaching session offered by MPS Special Events Coordinator Lisa Mitchell, and then we all peeled off to paint. The misty vistas were a challenge, but on the other hand, we were not worried about the light changing! Right about the time we began gathering again in the afternoon for a group critique, the sun came out. Of course. I was too pooped to start another painting, but I was happy with my morning’s work: “Tracks in the Mist.”

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May 8

Goose Family, Brookside Gardens

We actually had lovely weather for our visit to Brookside Gardens. I had not been there before and was blown away by the place. We had about seven people come to paint, and the real difficulty was choosing a subject out of so many gorgeous possibilities. The sunny weather also brought out a lot of non-painting visitors, several of whom stopped by our easels to ask questions - we never turn down a chance to educate the public about the magic of pastel! It also brought out a family of Canada geese – Mom, Dad, and three goslings. (They did not ask any questions, however.) I’m still doing triage on my painting from Brookside: if the patient survives, I will post it.

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Journal of our 2009 Plein Air Sessions

Deborah paints from the car

I’ve decided to start maintaining a blog documenting our plein air painting sessions over the course of the spring and summer of 2009. It’s mostly for my own reference, although I hope it may also encourage some of you Maryland Pastel Society painters we’ve not seen yet to come out and join us as we hit many of the beauty spots of central Maryland.


That said, we’ve been getting a pretty good turn-out for our plein air sessions, despite the iffy weather – I guess we have a lot of optimists in our group! Our first session, on May 1st at the Brighton Dam Azalea Gardens, was damp and cool. About half of the azaleas were in bloom, and it was beautiful, despite the gloom under the trees. I think we had about six painters: several came just to sketch and take photos, while others of us worked from the shelter of our cars. My first plein air attempt of the season is not strong enough to stand on its own, but will provide excellent color and composition notes for a studio piece later on.

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