Frequently Asked Questions

Bar Harbor view looking down from Cadillac Mountain, original watercolor painting by Beth Whitney |

Frequently Asked Questions

"Bar Harbor View"

Painting Process

Do you paint en plein air (outside) or in the studio?

Painting outside is a great way to capture living color and create sketches, but I've never gotten the hang of it. I paint from my own photos, focusing on places that I know well. As I take pictures, I'm really composing the painting, and I try to memorize the colors and impressions of light. I also draw out my paintings in great detail, every rock, every flower before I touch the paint. This is almost impossible with painting outside, when you’re trying to beat the changing light.

Are you planning to do any more acrylic paintings?

I would love to! There are so many wonderful things you can do with acrylics, painting thin or thick, working from dark to light, etc. I just find that they are incredibly difficult to master. I ‘think’ in terms of watercolor, light to dark, observing the lights and how to preserve them as I plan out the painting. I also like to draw out every detail and paint in the lines, which you can’t do with thick acrylics. That first layer of paint in the sky or water pretty much obliterates the drawing. One day, I'll give acrylics another go.

How long does it take you to complete a painting?

It varies widely. This year, I started painting in tandem, two pieces going at the same time. This makes it difficult to break out the actual time spent on a single painting.

I timed the Somesville Bridge painting, which was part of a Mount Desert Island series. The first version took 5 hours to draw, and I was on hour 14 of painting when I realized the masking fluid in the bridge area wasn’t going to come off the paper. I cried a little, then started over. It took 5 hours to redraw and then 17 hours to paint. So technically, that one painting took 41 hours to complete. Add to that the time I spend thinking about it, analyzing the reference photo to map my strategy with reflections, light effects, and details, visualizing the final result, and then the time I spend observing the in-progress painting at the end of each day. It’s not unusual for me to keep a painting on a board for 2-3 weeks, looking for areas that need adjusting.

Where do you find subjects to paint?

Maine is such a beautiful state, and inspiration is literally everywhere around me. I paint from my own photographs, so I get to combine fun walks, hikes, and drives with work. I have more than 40,000 reference photos on my computer right now. All of them are tagged, so I can quickly find just what I'm looking for when the mood hits.

Giclee Prints

What are giclee prints?

Giclee prints are made from very high resolution digital files and then printed with special printers using millions of droplets of water, printed on archival papers. The first print should look like the 100th print.

Prints made with the pigment-based inks and archival papers I use are expected to retain their brilliance for upwards of 200 years if cared for properly (kept out of the sun). Watercolors particularly present well as giclees because of their vibrant colors. I absolutely could not tell the prints from the originals of my own work except that I know the size of the original paintings. It’s very exciting technology and allows people to have gorgeous art for a fraction of the cost. They are also a great way for people to start their art collection.

What is the difference between limited and open edition prints?

The only difference is the number of prints made. Both limited and open editions look the same, are signed by the artist, but the quantity available and price is different. All of my prints are open editions right now because I want to keep them affordable. Everyone should be able to have great art in their homes, and prints are an easy way to do that.

Matting, Framing, & Displaying Art

What is the difference between image size and mat/frame size?

The image size is the part of the painting you can see (inside the mat), while the mat size is the outer dimensions of the mat that fit inside the frame. This is the dimension you need when purchasing a frame. The final size on the wall is about 2-4” larger, depending on the frame profile you choose.

A 10x14” painting will actually take up 19x23” of wall space (10x14” image + 3” mat on each side + 1.5” wide frame profile). You can tape computer paper together to give you a visual on the wall.

What kind of mat will my painting come with?

I use white Crescent Conservation mats. Larger paintings have a double mat, prints and 8x10" paintings have a single mat. These mats absorb any impurities in the frame and will not turn yellow over time. Prints and paintings include a foam backing board and a strong sleeve to protect from the elements.

Do I need special glass?

I recommend using UV glass to protect your painting from the sun. It's not necessary for prints, but wouldn't hurt. You can get this at a frame shop or online. I'm glad to point you in the right direction.

What kind of frame do you recommend?

Frames can change the appearance of a painting dramatically. I like a natural wood frame, but I think metal frames (silver or pewter) look pretty fabulous. It really depends on your personal preference, the painting, and your home decor.

Website & Digital Images

How closely do the images on the computer match the painting?

The short answer is that it depends which device you're viewing the image on.  I either scan or photograph my paintings and edit in Photoshop using a calibrated monitor.  What I see on my screen matches the original painting and prints.  Monitor resolutions all vary considerably, so you might see something different on your phone, tablet, and computer. Most of my paintings feature naturally bright, sunny skies and feature some kind of water. I try to be as true to the original scene as possible with realistic, natural colors, so keep this in mind when viewing.  I notice that sometimes my images look washed out on Etsy or Pinterest because of their compression software.

Is the ©Beth Whitney watermark on the actual paintings and prints?

No, it’s just there so that when people share my images on social media, others can identify me as the artist. It’s also a friendly warning to any sneaky types who want to steal my work and sell it as their own. Original paintings are signed in the painting and prints are signed below the image on the right.

Are all of your paintings on the website?

The site includes all of my available paintings and roughly half of my work in private collections. I don't have great digital photos of much of my early work, so that's why your painting may not be included.


How do I buy a painting?

When you find a painting you'd like to purchase, contact me using the form and include your full name and shipping address.  I'll confirm availability and send you an invoice by email.  I accept credit card payments and PayPal.

Paintings and prints from this website are also available in my Etsy shop. If you're thinking about purchasing a painting but need more time to make a decision, I'm glad to reserve it for you.

See the Purchasing page for detailed information about purchasing, shipping, and returns.

Should I purchase from the Etsy shop or from you directly?

It's entirely up to you.  Etsy has an impressive presence in the global marketplace, and offering my work there provides me with exposure to a wider audience.

The only difference between purchasing on Etsy or from me directly is the way payments are processed.  I process orders and communications exactly the same.