Memories of Painting on Cape Ann

By Aly Schuman on October 6, 2018

During the month of September, Copley artist member Ann Marie O’Dowd was living in Gloucester, taking in the vistas of the North Shore. Every day she painted lobster boats, sandy beaches, and fishermen as she got to know her way around the small coastal community.

Last week Ann Marie gave a talk at the Cape Ann Museum in front of Cape Ann residents and non-residents alike. To let the audience experience the artist residency through her eyes, she showed pictures and videos of the scenery and her painting process on a slideshow.

Ann Marie emphasized how appreciative she was of all the Cape Ann residents who introduced her to the area, showing her public landmarks, their favorite neighborhoods, and even their favorite times of day. The history of the Folly Cove Designers was especially inspiring to her since she works with bold patterns and uses collages to lay out her paintings.


Ann Marie intended to focus her attention on the lobster boats, only to find that the business is not as active on the North Shore as it is on the South Shore. As her residency went on, she found herself inspired by the people who lived and worked there. The Cape Ann Museum provided her materials from a previous exhibition they held called “Portraits of a Working Waterfront,” which featured fisherman and their families in photographs taken by Jim Hooper. Ann Marie was moved by the stories of how fishing as an industry has changed in the area. One of her portraits featured a retired UPS driver names Albie who stands on his boat called the Valerie Dawn. Her slides showed the stages in her process from sketch to painting.

Every day, Ann Marie would wake up at 5 AM to watch the sunrise in the nearby gazebo. She would then spend the morning sketching, before moving to her studio in the afternoon to paint. She is not a plein air (open air) painter, so she would have to translate her sketches and pictures after her outdoor excursions.

Ann Marie took various sketches as she went through the city. Some include a local guide named Jill who took her on a tour of Annisquam’s Town Hall and the scenery around her cottage.


Ann Marie culminated her residency in a show at Charles Fine Arts, filling the walls with 81 paintings of gulls, buildings, fishermen, and boats. Check out some views of her exhibit below!

Ted and Jan Charles with Ann Marie O’Dowd

Follow #CapeAnnResidency or @amopainting on Instagram to see Ann Marie’s adventures this past month! Thank you to Charles Fine Arts and the Cape Ann Museum for their assistance in sponsoring the Copley Society’s Cape Ann Artist Residency.