Trip To Boston to See Sargent Watercolour Exhibition



We went to Boston , November 12, to see the John Singer Sargent Watercolour Exhibition at the Boston Museum Of Fine Art.  I will be reporting on the exhibition itself soon but this post is just about the city and the bits of Massachusetts that we saw. This was our first visit to Boston and we were captivated by the city.  To say that it is steeped in the history of the US particularly the early revolutionary days is an understatement.  We stayed in the historic area of north downtown.  This is the steeple of the Old North Church which was about 20 metres from our B & B.  They hung the lanterns in this steeple that fateful night  238 years ago to warn about the approach of the British (1 if they were coming by sea, 2 if they came by land).  This is the message that Paul Revere raced all night to deliver.  His house is just a few blocks away.

Rex Beanland, Old North Church, Boston

Steeple of the Old North Church






This neighbourhood is all narrow streets and tall narrow row houses.  Very difficult to drive a car there. Parking in the neighbourhood – forget it but a great place to walk.

Some nice coffee shops and a late night grocery store.



We stayed in a B & B on the 4th floor of one of these old buildings.

Here is the view from our bedroom.  You can just see the steeple of the Old North Church.  Most of these places got virtually no direct sun.

Rex Beanland, View From Our B & B

View from our B & B













This is the street corner right in front of the Old North Church.

Below is a look up one of the side streets.  Very typical of this area.


Rex Beanland, Salem & Hull

Hull & Salem St

Rex Beanland, Historic North End, Boston

Typical architecture in North Boston




It was very interesting to watch the big garbage truck negotiate these streets.  They don’t use garbage cans just put the bags right on the sidewalk.










Even though we were there between Nov 12 – 19 as you can see from this view of the Boston Public Garden  there were still the vestiges of the fall colour.

Rex Beanland,Bridge, Boston Public Garden

Pond in Boston Public Garden

Rex Beanland, Autumn Colours, Boston Public Garden

Boston Public Garden

Rex Beanland, Lady Who Drew In My Sketch Book

Painting with my new friend in Boston Public Garden



Rex Beanland, Boston Public Garden, watercolour, 6 x 8

Boston Public Garden














I did a little painting of this bridge.  This lady came and sat by me and watched a bit.  She also asked to do a drawing in my sketch book.







This is my painting.  It was such a beautiful day.






After 3 days in Boston we rented a car and drove around Massachusetts a bit.  The first stop we made was in Carlisle about 40 miles from Boston.  Like many towns in New England the cemetery features prominently.  I liked these stone walls that are everywhere.  They made me think a lot about Robert Frost who, in his poetry, referred to  them and many other sights of  New England.

Rex Beanland, Common New England Sight

Cemetery in Carlisle, Massachusetts

Rex Beanland, Carlisle, watercolour, 9 x 12

My painting of the main intersection in Carlisle


















This is my painting of the main intersection in Carlisle.


Rex Beanland, Forge Village House, watercolour, 9 x 12

House in Forge Village

Rex Beanland, House on A Hill, watercolour, 9 x 12

House on the hill, Eastham (I think)

Rex Beanland, Massachusetts Landscape, watercolour, 9 x 12

On the way to Cape Cod




It turned out that we would drive for less than an hour and then we’d stop and paint for a couple of hours.  It was neat with Susan and I both sitting in the car and painting different scenes.

The top image is a very typical New England house from  Forge Village.


The house on the hill was up a back alley in a town whose name I can’t remember, possible Eastham.




This rock pile, again with the stone wall, was somewhere near Cape Cod.

We made a wonderful connection with some people who live on Cape Cod and we were able to spend 2 nights with them and to spend one entire day and night exploring Cape Cod.  Fortunately, we were in the off season.  I now understand  why it is so packed with tourists in the summer.  To describe the highway that travels the length of the Cape,  as picturesque simply doesn’t do it justice.  Beautiful houses, beautiful scenery. We travelled right to the northern tip of the Cape which ends in the town of Provincetown.  It’s special geographic location possibly has lead to it’s rather special character.  It seemed like a world unto itself.  It also is packed in the summer season.  It has become a predominantly gay town and I understand it can get very alternative in the summer.

We stayed in a lovely hotel, The Bradford House & Hotel, that was decorated very richly in an almost Edwardian style.

Rex Beanland, Susan In Hotel, Provincetown

Susan painting in hotel in Provincetown

Rex Beanland, Susan, Hotel Provincetown, watercolour, 16 x 12

Susan painting in hotel in Provincetown



This is Susan painting by lamplight.






Inspired by the light I tried to capture the moment.











This is an impression of the Provincetown Harbour.  There is a long history of fishing here which still carries on even though the numbers of people fishing is declining.

Rex Beanland, Provincetown Harbour, watercolour, 12 x 16

Provincetown Harbour

Rex Beanland, Main Street, Provincetown

Provincetown, Main Street












This is the main street in Provincetown.  Very colourful, very walkable, very scenic.




Susan Beanland, Rex paints in Provincetown

Painting on the main street, Provincetown

Rex Beanland, Main Street, Provincetown, Cape Cod, watercolour, 12 x 16









This is my painting of this scene.  The weather was so pleasant that I sat on the steps of a store to paint this.  Just after I finished the painting it started to pour rain and never stopped for the rest of the day.


All in all it was a fabulous trip and I wouldn’t mind revisiting there some day.


6 thoughts on “Trip To Boston to See Sargent Watercolour Exhibition

    1. Rex Beanland Post author

      Hi Joanne: Thanks for your comment. It’s interesting because I remember the first time I went to Oregon. The atmospheric nature of the coast was such a challenge that I didn’t have any idea how to paint it. I had to go and look at other people’s interpretations to get some ideas. Foreign landscapes can have that effect. Now, a little further on the journey I’m learning it’s all about shapes, values and a little bit of colour. Good shapes will create a good composition, good value will create a good painting and colour can give it some emotional impact. Fortunately, the landscape and buildings in Massachusetts are quite similar to our own particularly as I grew up in southern Ontario. Rex

  1. David Lee

    Rex,I really enjoy the work you do. I now live in AZ but a lot of my youth was spent in P town and near by areas.Your work is something I feel as much as anything else. Thanks,
    DJ Lee

    1. Rex Beanland Post author

      Hey, thanks for the comment. It’s always great to know that someone gets something out of your art. This was our first time to the Cape and we loved it. It must have been very interesting to grow up there. Rex

  2. Finn

    Hey Rex,
    I loved these photos and paintings of Boston, thanks for sharing. My favourite was your painting of the bridge in Boston Public Garden–it took me back to days spent wandering through Boston.

    1. Rex Beanland Post author

      Hi Finn: Thanks for the comment. When you said ‘days spent wandering through Boston’ that made me think that that is exactly what we did, wandering around Boston. It was a great trip and a great place to visit. Rex


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