Monday, December 31, 2012
It's the last night of 2012 - an interesting, scary, fabulous and illuminating year. I look forward to 2013, but have no expectations - that way I can't be disappointed.
Instead, I will probably ponder my way off into the Universe just as an excuse to hang out in wonderment for a while, and do some mental meandering simply to be weightless now and again.
In the meantime, peace, love and joy to all.
The Last Night • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
There's nothing quite like a starlit winter sky in Maine. For me the planets and the stars are a reminder that there will always be something bigger than me, that there will always be an infinite supply of stuff from here to there that I can't yet fathom.
Winter Indigo • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Monday, December 10, 2012
I was up in Kingfield this past weekend and though I didn't see them, there was sign of deer all over the place. It was obvious that they come by on a regular basis. In fact there's an indentation down the right side of our property.
I love deer, but because of them every plum, pear and peach we hope to eventually pick from the trees in our little orchard will be worth $10 each for the next decade. We had to put a newer, bigger fence around each tree mostly because Norm - God bless his soul - kept banging into the existing wooden posts with his tractor when he mowed the field. They were in shambles. The new fence posts are higher, made of metal and the fencing is a thick tough plastic.
In the spring we will have to build a fence around the vegetable garden too. Woodchucks - they wiped out my entire crop of brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. In the meantime, we figure every carrot they did not get is worth about $5 each for the next five years. Adding the new fence will double that.
Living in rural Maine is a game of one upsmanship, not with your neighbors, but with the local wildlife. We have decided to try to keep rural Maine as it has been for centuries - on our little piece of heaven anyway. That means living in harmony with the critters - woodchucks not included if the fence doesn't do the job.
We figure that by the time we're done, we will have achieved the equivalent of a large loft in mid-town Manhattan.
Deer in the Field • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
These days I keep myself grounded by waiting for snow. Snow is a great buffer between me and Christmas - my boots remain firmly planted in reality - because by the beginning of the week before Christmas I have already left the planet.
I especially like the expression spitting snow. There's something very mischievous about it. It reminds me of the way only snow can be sometimes - like when it knows you know it's hanging around up there somewhere and is just messing with you.
Spitting Snow • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
I can feel winter but I can't see it yet - there's no snow on the ground, no ice in the waters. The predictions for Maine are for more snow than normal and colder than normal. I hadn't been paying much attention to the weather, but as THE winter holiday swell begins to build, I started getting nervous and looked it up.
For those of you who read your horoscope everyday, here's a blow by blow.
In the meantime, I painted this to remind myself of how pretty winter in Maine can be.
Looking For Winter • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
This Thanksgiving I am reminded of something I forget about all of the time. Choice. Whenever I finish reading my morning dose of world, national and local news, I feel like I have very little of it. I have to put myself through a debriefing program because though being informed is critical, what I read needs to be filtered through a voice of reason so that I can navigate my day without seriously dope slapping the bad guys and duct taping mouths of irrational, narrow-minded idiots.
I practice the fine art of choice with smaller, more personal choices. Black or white, drive or reverse, cash or charge. Today I'm choosing to be childlike versus adult-like. It sounds trite en lieu of what is going on out there in the world, but so far it's been monumental. It requires a major shift to naivety and wonderment which so far is taking constant vigilance. It's a tough thing to achieve in this world and these days. Even kids seem to be struggling, and they're supposed to be our reminders and inspiration for heavens sake.
This Thanksgiving painting is a reminder to me that though life can be damn tough, and certainly tortuous and unpredictable for millions of people in this world, I am fortunate and enormously grateful every day that I still have choice and that I know how to choose to have mystery and magic in my life. I choose to be childlike, not to take the place of reality, but to make it more tolerable.
Choosing Magic with Gratitude • 8" x 8" watercolor
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
My friend Ellen invited me to tag along with her on a tour of Winslow Homer's studio out on Prout's Neck, aka Black Point. The Portland Museum of Art is conducting the tour in conjunction with Weatherbeaten, it's exhibition featuring Homer's paintings of Maine, being shown now until the end of December.
It was a typical fall Maine day - blustery and damp. We met at the museum at 10am. One of the more exciting aspects was the ride out. Ten of us piled into a big black Mercedes van. I personally felt like I was part of a covert CIA mission off to thwart a planned bad guys attack. Who would ever have suspected a stealth terrorist landing at Winslow Homer's studio right there on Prout's.
The studio building was originally a carriage house and part of the estate called The Ark, purchased by Homer's father. Requesting some space, the carriage house was moved away from the main house and closer to the water. The architecture is interesting especially the way they created the span to accommodate the carriages by using wrought iron pipes to hold beams in place. It's a great old place, but a bit too much like a formal museum. It would have been fun to walk through the place set up as it might have been while Homer was living there. As it is now - pieces of furniture are raised and placed around the perimeter of the rooms so you don't get that time warp feeling you get at some other museums of this kind. If any of you have been to the Wilhelm Reich Museum in Rangeley you know what I'm talking about. That place actually transports you back to the 50s - very spookey but very cool.
Homer's studio was on the second floor. He had a porch built so he could go outside and study the landscape he came to paint so well. Our docent was great and had a good Boston accent - almost southy. The best part of the tour were the stories about Homer, some of them about his relationship with the locals and how he got his reputation as a recluse. I won't spoil it for those who want to take the tour themselves.
We hiked a portion of the cliff walk that goes along the bottom of the property. We stood in spots where Homer painted a couple of his paintings - the docent held reproductions of the paintings for us to compare. As if on cue, a lobster boat cruised by on it's way to Scarborough Marsh where I'm sure it moored somewhere behind Pine Point. The three women from Boston got all excited about that and clicked away.
This painting is one of those spots I stopped at. As is my style - I added a couple of labs. Homer himself had a mutt that looked like a cross between a a couple of different terriers.
A Day with Winslow • 8" x 8" watercolor and gouache framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
My Uncle Frank - mom's youngest brother - was really a kid in grown up clothing. The only exception was his uncanny ability to attract women. For some reason they flocked to him like sticky spiders - but that's another story. In the meantime, he spent some time with us when we were youngsters. He slept in my old bedroom, and come to think of it and for the life of me I can't remember where I slept in the meantime. Anyway, he had a TV in his room, so we would frequently barge in on him to watch whatever. The best part was we got to watch TV with him - he was an absolute blast. We loved him - still do. And he hasn't changed one single bit.
One night it was my job to call Uncle Frank for dinner. I walked down the hallway that led to the bedrooms and called out to him. I then walked back to the kitchen. After a while and with no Unk in sight, mom sent me back down the hallway to fetch him again. I called out louder, waited a minute at the head of the hallway, and when there was no response, marched down the hallway in a huff, threw open his bedroom door and called out to him again. He was sitting on his bed with a blanket over his head - his back was to me as he watched TV. This probably sounds strange to all of you, but whenever Unk watched TV, he would wrap himself up in a blanket. What was strange that night however, was that he had it over his head. I called a fourth time and when he didn't respond again I thought something terrible had happened to him - like maybe he had been inhabited by a zombie or something really funny like that. So I walked right up to him and shouted "Unk!" to try to scare the heck out of him.
Well just about the moment the "K" in Unk rolled off my lips, he threw back the blanket and revealed the ugliest, nastiest rubber Frankenstein mask ever made in the history of the universe and at the same time, growled a growl that has been forever implanted in my memory chip as the most realistic cross between a werewolf and a banchee I have ever heard. I jumped 12 feet straight into the air, screamed at the top of my lungs and ran breathless out of the room still a foot above the floor. It wasn't until I got back to the kitchen that I realized what had happened.
To this day I don't think I have ever been as scared by anything except the Excorist, The Shining and Jaws maybe. I will never forget that night and it happened at least 50 years ago!
I figured it would be fun to make some little kid's night out there just as memorable. Happy Halloween everyone. Here's to the greatest excuse to scare the hell out of someone you love.
Halloween Cat • 8" x 8" framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
It would appear that Maine's tango with this Category 1 Sandy was less dramatic than it was for millions south of us. The sun was out earlier, and the winds have subsided a lot. We didn't loose electricity up here on the Hill, but our building sure swayed and shook for a while last night. I've been in our little, open, not self-bailing sailboat with winds gusting to 20-25. It's damn scary. On land 25-30 mph sustained, as it was yesterday, is not as bad unless you're dodging flying tree debris, which I was getting home last night. But, the thought of a 60mph sustained wind, or worse a 150 is beyond my comprehension.
The sensation I thought to be the weirdest was in the shower. I kept feeling like my body was, well actually, doing a tango, while my brain knew we weren't. Very strange. The toilet bowl water sloshed a bit too. That was more interesting - sort of like watching a micro ocean.
I hope all of those who have been effected by Sandy will get back to normal asap. This painting is a wish out to them for a much needed peaceful night.
A Wish For a Peaceful Night • 8" x 8" framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Monday, October 15, 2012
It also reminds me of how I could have lived away from the coast for so long. When I look up at those mountains I see infinity just the way I did when I looked out over the ocean as a kid. There's something about the concept of infinity that comforts me. Maybe it's because I know that as long as I can see infinity, I can see a way to blast off whenever I want to. It's also the mystical aspect - that there are still things out there we just can't grasp.
These days I am practicing how to feel infinity. I can feel it if I sit still, close my eyes and go into the universe that is my body. Some sources say there are over 50 trillion cells in my body. Others think there is closer to 100 trillion. In either case - it's infinity as far as I'm concerned. I practice this just in case I'm in a situation where I can't see it out there.
The Infinity That Is The Mountains • 8" x 8" framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Monday, October 8, 2012
Once in a while I wax nostalgic for the way I see Maine in my mind. I'm still stuck on the farms I saw when I first came to Maine as a teenager one summer over 45 years ago. There was a farm stand my mother used to stop by almost daily to get fresh produce. I'd never seen anything like it before - we always got our veggies at the grocery store. I was struck with the romance of it all. How special it was to be able to grow your own food - anybody could do it. Why didn't everybody do it I wondered? Of course I'd forget it all when I returned to Connecticut - glad to be back with my friends and the social life that was high school.
Since then I have had a garden whenever it could be worked out. I am still in awe of it all. I can't think of anything more incredible than picking my own veggie and eating it right there on the spot. Maybe it's the idea that the foot long carrot I am eating comes from a seed the size of a pin head. Amazingly, these little seeds don't eat like we humans do. They just absorb whatever they can from the dirt they are planted in. If you have the same notion and look at a handful of dirt at the same time, you too might think it's a freakin miracle.
Coming Into Fall • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12"• $200
Monday, October 1, 2012
Maine's undulating, zigzagging shoreline is 3,478 miles long with close to 3000 islands offshore. Take your pick and be in awe. This one was in The Reach off North Haven.
Islands in Maine • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Monday, September 24, 2012
Monday, September 17, 2012
This painting is a slightly weightier nod back to summer. It is inspired by the regattas we'd run into and sometimes sail through while cruising off the coast of Maine. Although our little boat generally doesn't even hold its own with a sea kayak (unless we're reaching, of course, at which point we become a lean, mean racing machine - sort of), we still have fun thinking we're in the hunt. And so does the Claudia. We can feel her smile.
Regatta • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Monday, September 10, 2012
She's a charter hailing from Bar Harbor. We had pulled up alongside her in Carver's Harbor earlier that morning to ask about the cost of chartering her. At a couple of thousand a week - she was a little over our heads, but in the meantime the skipper was in need of a shackle. So Tom searched through a box of "stuff" he kept tucked aboard.
The box of "stuff" was a greatly reduced version of the original stash which had grown into an on-board tool shed over the years. I had suggested Tom clean it out at the beginning of the season - I mean how many shackles do you need anyway! You never know, he replied as he sadly discarded the larger toolbox and transferred bare necessities into a new and more compact version. While the skipper said not to worry and that his crew was ashore on a search and find mission, I couldn't help thinking that if I had not insisted Tom clean out his tool box, we probably would have had the right piece.
It was evident, as we watched this old beauty ghost along, that the skipper had found the part he needed. Tom, the gentleman that he is, held back with all of the strength he could muster and never did say, I told you so.
Sailing Through The Reach • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
I don't know about your neck of the woods, but I've seen some astounding cloud displays this summer. A lot of them are to the west, north and east of us here in Portland. When I'm out for my evening walk I will catch one now and again. Though I generally don't paint skies, some of these are worthy of documentation - I can't make this stuff up.
A lot of times me and fellow storm watchers will track electrical storms from the park just up the road on North Street. The park looks out over the city, the airport and Mt. Washington. The storms will sometimes cross west of us so we can watch the light show without getting hit, though I must say that watching without threat does take some of the drama out of the whole thing. Isn't there a part of us all that is mesmerized by the brute force of nature and still hold within our bodies an addiction to a good adrenaline rush?
I caught this action off the Eastern Prom. There were no flashes and booms this time. It was just stunningly and simply beautiful.
Stormy Sky • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Monday, August 27, 2012
I NEVER paint lighthouses, ever. But for some reason I had a hankering to do a sketch of this one. I had an extremely fun time climbing around on the rocks here with my two grandsons, Jack and Anders, a few weeks ago, and so did they. Maybe that's it - maybe I'm painting a happy memory.
Cape Neddick Lighthouse • 8 x 8" acrylic on paper framed to 12 x 12" • $200
Monday, August 20, 2012
Monday, August 13, 2012
Painting this got me thinking about the slow breakdown of the Earth's crust from one solid orb to boulders, from boulders to rocks, from rocks to stones, from stones to pebbles and from pebbles to sand. Is this what Einstein was thinking about when he predicted the universe was expanding - that each stage of what we think is the Earth's crust's breaking down is in actuality a slow expansion of solid matter to a Higgs boson?
I suppose we need to get used to the idea that we're always on our way to becoming Higgs bosons. I guess there are a lot worse things we could becoming.
Big Rocks, Little Rocks • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Monday, August 6, 2012
Monday, July 30, 2012
Not so long ago there used to be a lot more of these little shantys along the shorelines of Maine's islands - we used to see them everywhere we went sailing. Unfortunately, they are either slowly disintegrating, being renovated into Martha Stewart's "The Maine Fisherman Shack Edition," or being replaced by MacMansions - huge, horrible-looking edifaces exhibiting an insensitive disregard for the environment and community in which they sit. Wow - that was harsh, and actually this type of thing has been happening for centuries, so what's new?
Anyway - we passed this one a couple of weeks ago during our jaunt around North and Green Islands. I used to ponder throwing in the towel and taking up residence in something like this. You know - living off the land, no electricity, no heat, no running water, fishing, selling a painting once in a while to buy and maintain some chickens. That kind of thing.
Thank heavens I didn't. Someone would have found me mummified with my eyeballs plucked out by mutinous chickens. Though I write this in jest, it might have made for some interesting late night storytelling (in an otherwise pretty dull biography) for my grandsons, whose birth I would have totally missed now that I think of it.
It was lovely seeing this one holding its own in a tide of eminent change. Whether eminent ends up being good or not is in the arms of the future. In the meantime, I really wanted to witness and document something special the only way I know how, just in case it's gone the next time we come around.
Shanty • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Monday, July 23, 2012
This is a quick sketch of one of my favorite acquaintances. He or she doesn't have a collar and is a bit thin, but he must belong to someone because he's so darn friendly and I usually see him hanging out in the same area (I have changed his haunt to protect his identity and figured I might as well paint him in a place that I think best suits his personality).
Unlike many of the cats up here, this one always trots over to greet me. The first time I ran into him he was sunning himself on a fence. I really wanted to take more shots, but he jumped right down and mosied over to rub himself against my leg and cop a scratch. Now if I catch him somewhere and want to take photos, I have to pretend I don't see him, slowly walk by, snapping as I go or use my telephoto lens from outside his view.
Most of the time though, I stop and catch up on the local gossip. It's astounding what goes down up here, he says. I couldn't agree more, I reply.
Orange Cat on a Fence on the Hill • 8" x 8" framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Sometimes I don't get to the post office until later in the afternoon. I generally walk down Congress Street to the Forrest Avenue station. It takes about a half hour and is always illuminating. Congress is like a human street fair - there’s all kinds of bizarre stuff going down all of the time. (Oops, I seriously didn't mean to imply that all kinds of bizarre stuff was going down in THE Congress).
On my way back, I'll sometimes stop at the museum if it's still open to get a little cultcha, then head down High Street, cut through on Pleasant to Fore and down to Commercial Street to observe the touristas. Commercial is a different kind of scene from the one up on Congress. It's not as freakish but a lot more amusing. When the bait trucks used to load up at the docks, it was always great fun to catch a tourista dry heaving to the aroma of rotting fish. Even more fun nowadays is watching a gull flipping a dead fish around in the middle of the street. The reaction of those in search of their idea of the real Maine, to the actual real Maine, is always a good show.
Eventually I'll meander back up to the Hill along the river by Portland Yacht Services to check out the boats and what the local fishermen are catching. Casting off the rocks for mackerel, and once in a while a striper, these local fishermen are by no means the romantic version or vision with their coolers and brown bags. But it's kind of mesmerizing to listen to them cussing at each other in anticipation of hooking one before the other does.
Mackerel Fishing Off the East End • 8" x 8" framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Monday, July 9, 2012
I was strolling the the walkway that wraps around the Eastern Prom and along the East End beach the other day when I caught these girls messing around in the sand. The dog wasn't theirs - it had just paused for a few seconds. It belonged to an older gentleman who had walked by. It got me thinking about how very special it is having a beach like this so close to all of us city kids - we can walk to it from anywhere on and over the Hill.
The Prom park and beach reminds me of accounts I've read describing the heat waves that hit NYC in the old pre-air-conditioning-for-the-masses days when thousands of immigrants would escape the stifling lack of air in their apartments and fire escapes and jump into the river to cool off. They would then eat their packed dinners and sleep in the adjoining parks all night. Although we're not legally allowed to sleep in the parks here or anywhere else anymore, we can still have our picnic dinners, and we do up here on the east end.
A neighbor who grew up on the Hill told me the East End beach used to be very polluted. No one swam at the beach, she said, everyone swam in a pool that used to be where the lower parking lot now is. The bathroom facilities that are there now were there then too.
The beach is no longer polluted and the state monitors the water to keep it safe. Earlier this past spring about a dozen divers scoured the floor off the shore of the beach looking for trash. They found glass, plastic, metal, old moorings and old lobster traps.
The divers also found a bunch of tennis and golf balls out there. Hmmm - I wonder where they came from? Kids who don't have a summer job may want to think about investing in a beach chair and sign offering fetch services for pet owners who overthrow their pet's fetch toys. It happens a lot more often than you think, and 99 percent of the time the kids swimming off the breakwater end up fetching the toys anyway.
Sandsifters • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Monday, July 2, 2012
Sometimes the moon and moonlight is so big and so bright that it could be mistaken for daylight if I didn't logically know better. We'll land ourselves a full moon once in a while out sailing - it's magical. I leave the tent flap open on my side for as long as I can to observe our surroundings. It's fascinating and mysterious and all kinds of things move around and make noise in the night. Owls are always the most special. Anchored off the tip of Peter Island in the Damariscotta one night we heard an owl having a hootenanny with his or her buddy at the other end.
As I write this I am reminded of another recent full moon night. It was the Supermoon or "the perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system,” that occurred this past March. I was heading south through Carrabassett Valley along the river on my way home from a BBQ and growing more and more irritated by the car coming toward me that wasn't dimming it's lights. At some point I realized it wasn't the car lights that were bothering me, but the blasted moon. I was driving right at the rising moon and the light was broadcasting so brightly, it was like having one huge headlight in my face.
As it turned out, and as all of you already know, that moon was 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than when it is on the far side of its elliptical orbit around the Earth. On that night, the Supermoon was just 221,802 miles away from Earth with the entirety of its Earth-facing surface illuminated by the light of the sun - all happening at about the same time.
The event was very cool, but unlike most folks who undoubtedly had a spiritually cosmic experience - as I would have liked to have had - I will probably always remember it as just a big headlight in my face.
That Bright White Moonlight • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Monday, June 25, 2012
So why have they been so noisy all spring? Because they've been trying to attract mates and, at this point, are probably defending their nests and territory. Suddenly it all makes sense. Don't we humans act like total idiots when we're either ridiculously and irrationally in love or at a senseless border war with one another?
In time, thankfully and mercifully, there comes July when most baby birds have fledged and their parents are too busy feeding and teaching them how to survive to be hanging out singing and preening. In fact, those species that raise only one family a year may stop singing altogether. Others have a brief resumption of song to help teach their young ones the local dialect. Eventually however, and one by one, each species drops out of the spring chorus altogether until by late July only a handful of birds are still singing at all.
As much as I adore my fine feathered neighbors and look forward to hearing them every morning - they are after all, the harbingers of my favorite time of the year - it will be those attractive, alien-like, green foam earplugs for me until the end of July.
Bedlam in Birdland • 8" x 8" pen and ink framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Monday, June 18, 2012
I was out walking the Eastern Prom the other day watching the fog roll in and out and over the islands. It was a tranquil scene - the sun was setting, the wind had died. There was a blue haze and absolute quiet. I watched a determined sailor make his way slowly across the water in hopes of finding a finger of a breeze, inhaled deeply and just as I was about to exhale into total relaxation, I stopped short and held my breath. The mast of a large vessel - an old, old ship was ghosting in and out of the fog beyond the farthest island. I allowed my breath to leave me in a controlled whisper. Slowly making its way toward land, toward Portland, toward me was a vessel that defied reason. It's flag - a menacing Jolly Roger!
I cupped my hands around my mouth and screamed, waving to the unsuspecting sailor to come about and head for shore as I pointed out over his shoulder to the ship that loomed closer and darker. A fear enveloped me and pulled me into a full on gallop up the hill. "Pirates, pirates," I gasped to all I encountered as I ran for my life...
I like playing this game occasionally - it adds an element of intrigue and fear to an otherwise beautiful but uneventful landscape. I've been a total bore lately and needed to reinvent myself for a few minutes.
Eventually, I painted the "beautiful" scene that day and then searched the internet to see if there ever were, in fact, pirates in Casco Bay. I was also curious about how the Jolly Roger came into being. This is what I found:
Pirates in Casco Bay: http://www.someoldnews.com/?p=1351
Origin of the Jolly Roger: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jolly_Roger
Fog in the Bay • 8" x 8" acrylic on paper framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Monday, June 11, 2012
I finished this but then decided to color it after all. Must be the spring thing - too much color out there to ignore.
Spring Break • 8" x 8" pen and ink and watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Monday, June 4, 2012
Doing this blog gives me a great excuse to spend a little time cruising the info highway for "research."
Take this past weekend. I was in an indefinite rain delay and spent some time watching a couple of crows pecking around in the lower field up in Kingfield. This is not a great sign because it means we have grubs. I couldn't bring myself to think about grubs, so I focused on the crows and researched them on the internet.
There is a lot of info out there about crows, and we all know how smart they are, but I found this story touching and uplifting. I think it offsets the downpour we're having here in Maine nicely.
Crows in the Field • 12" x 12" acrylic on birch panel • $200
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
I've been catching up with the Sherlock Holmes series on Masterpiece Theater. It really changes the way I look at things these days. Take this simple vase of tulips sitting atop my work table during a dark, stormy, rainy day in Maine for an example. It was obvious to my newly trained eye, that they were pointing to the exact location of my lost car keys.
Sherlock's Tulips • 8" x 8" framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Monday, May 14, 2012
When I was a kid growing up in Connecticut, we had lots of fields and forests to romp around in and would spend hours roaming this hood on grand adventures looking for a cause, a purpose, any excuse to embark on a mission so important and so secretive, I can't even remember what they were.
If the mission called for a mount, we would go out in search of a tree limb to serve as the body of what would eventually morph into our trusty steeds. We'd bring our finds back to the house and dig up potatoes to impale on one end for a head, rags to tie on the other for a tail, and a piece of rope for reins. At one point I even built a riding arena out of sticks in the back yard where I would lope around in circles on this contraption for hours. My mother - bless her soul - would be ecstatic!
I was reminded of all of this recently while visiting my Portland neighbor Dave. Dave is a contractor and with his wife Beth and their two children, Emma and Tim, lives just down the street from me on the corner. He's also one of those creative backyard geniuses that you find dispersed here and there like chicken feed in this part of the city . One of these days I will post - if he still has it - a recumbent bike that he built for himself. He used to test it under the cloak of darkness, but I caught him one night. The unveiling during a race up in Camden is a whole story in itself. In the meantime, this is a horse he built for the young neighborhood equestrians.
As the story is told by him, he had to buy a sawhorse but only needed one. You can't buy just one sawhorse these days so the thing sat around in his basement workshop for a while before he - like any great artist - had a vision. The outcome is this fabulous creation.
He used some floor padding to wrap the body and the head, Sunbrella fabric (which was originally black but has since faded and ripped because he leaves it out year round and it's two years old), for the covering, some ski tow rope that he unraveled for the mane and braided for the tail, and some scrap rope for the reins.
I love this horse - it reminds me of a very fun childhood. He will probably re-gift it to his kids some day in another form. In the meantime I felt it critical - as a fellow artist and lover of all steeds great and small - to immortalize the beast before it too becomes a memory.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
This is a birthday painting. It isn't finished, but I'm done with it for now and will wrap it up tomorrow.
I have determined that I have choices, and that from here on life can either be ho hum or incredibly magical. Today I chose magical and woke up this morning to see a big bright pinwheel in sky, two gulls in bow ties, three crows in party hats, four mermaids sailing, five piggies flying and six fish in tutus. It has been a spectacular magical day!
It's also my daughter Heather's birthday, so this painting is a reminder to her that she too can see the world as magical, if she so chooses.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Spring - it's a magical time of the year. You get to be surprised by all kinds of stuff randomly popping up and out at you in all directions. I especially like observing trees - they become magicians pulling brilliantly colored handkerchiefs out of their sleeves.
The best part of spring is that you forget how pale everything looked the day before. In fact it makes me forget how pale I looked the day before - though I sure do pale in comparison to everything out there now.
Spring • 8"x 8" acrylic framed to 12"x 12" • $200
Monday, April 16, 2012
The next day I opened the front door of my apartment building on my way to somewhere, and there sat the chair on our front stoop! Lydia had given in to temptation. She's a better shopper than I am - she actually buys stuff - I just look at it. It now stuck out on our otherwise drab gray front stoop like a neon sign screaming THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME! It was stunning, albeit a bit beat up, chipped and certainly not to be sat upon. But it looked splendid out there and I absolutely loved it. I used it for my spring seedlings - the orange and those beautiful light greens made for a stunning little corner arrangement, and you could see the blasted thing from way up the street. It made our place really special.
Sad to say and for the life of me I can't recollect whatever happened to that chair. I know that as the years passed it got soggy and lost whatever luster it originally had. It was after all, an indoor chair and we left it out there year round. Maybe it finally just fell apart or maybe someone picked it up. I feel guilty about not remembering. Oh well - for now it remains a wonderful springtime memory.
The Orange Chair • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Monday, March 19, 2012
The whole thing is further complicated by the global climate change debate which for me is no longer a debate worth having. It's now a fact that our planet's climates are changing radically. But that's another discussion.
Winter Waning • 8" x 8" acrylic on paper framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Monday, March 12, 2012
Monday, February 27, 2012
When the going gets weird, I have learned to disengage myself for a bit and explore the inner recesses of my mind. It's called thinking - remember that? It would appear that thinking has become old fashioned these days because I really don't see a whole lot of thinking going on out there. I mean how many people do you know quote this and that but when you ask them what they think, still quote this and that or preface their reply with "we think." It's pretty scary. I do hope they still teach thinking in school these days. Do they?
I spent pretty much the whole day Saturday thinking. It was that kind of a day. I feel very fortunate to have had the practice because I too forget that my mind can create, question, solve and ponder endless possibility. I don't remember getting anything settled or resolved, but I sure had fun. It tickled and maybe my brain expanded just a wee bit.
I guess I feel like it's important to keep up, to the best of my ability, with our ever expanding universe.
Thinking on a Winter Day • 8"x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Monday, February 20, 2012
Tom and I got up and out of bed at 6:30 this past Sunday and were on the road and ready to get the first chair up the mountain. Our goal was to get a hold of some snow before it got scraped off. It's vacation week and it hasn't snowed. That means any snow on the trail is coming from grooming and is generally dust by 10 am. We were on our way north when we got a call from Nick up at the coffee shop. We had to pick up some milk. That meant we had to wait until 8:30 for Trantens to open. I was appalled - I could have slept for two more hours NO PROBLEM!
To kill some time we decided to take a ride on one of the roads that spokes out from town and into the countryside. It was very quiet and peaceful out there in the middle of nowhere. I wish more people had an opportunity to see what we saw that morning. It would remind them of what's really important - preserving those places so that we can all visit them when we feel like the rest of the world is going insane.
I sighed at the landscape and the farms - it reminded me once again of how beautiful it is in Maine during the winter months. I, like everyone else, get so focused on getting from one place to another that I forget to pay attention to the process of getting there. That particular morning we were paying attention and it ended up to be a stunner.
A Short Drive Out • 8" x 8" acrylic on paper framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
I don't know if I'm using the word morph correctly here, but I've been watching this bouquet of tulips morph for about a week now. They are far from the same tulips I bought a week ago. I would not expect them to be the same of course, but what's different about this particular bunch is that it's beginning to resemble and act like a daddy long legs. It appears to be on a cleverly disguised and barely perceptible crawl across the kitchen table. What it doesn't realize is that I've been watching!
I don't usually pay much attention to flowers - they're pretty and the colors are stunning at times - but this little bunch of tulips is really beginning to scare me. What if one of these nights the darn thing makes one of those inexplicable biological leaps from flower to beast and realizes it can crawl - sort of like the missing link thing? What if it already knows it can crawl and is just waiting for the proverbial black monolith to land at which point it will prove the urban myth true that spiders clean your mouth out while you sleep? Woman found dead in her bed apparently having choked in what appears to be an attempt to eat her tulips. Oh for heaven's sake Claudia, get back to work!
Crawling Tulips • 8" x 8" acrylic on paper framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
I was up in Kingfield this past weekend. It sure looks a lot different up there than it does down here here in Portland. There's a couple of feet of snow on the ground around our house and we have snow banks. Maybe we're coming into an age where, like California, we'll be able to surf on the coast and ski in the mountains on the same day.
While we wait for the evolution to occur, I will have some of my paintings on display at Edna & Lucy's up in the center of a beautiful Pownal. Fans will remember I did a little write up about Edna & Lucy's just before Christmas. It's one of my favorite spots - their food and coffee is incredible.
The work will be there from February 12 through March 31, and will include blog paintings and some larger paintings. I hope you'll stop by. It really is a great place to eat breakfast and/or lunch.
Winter Fields • 8" x 8" acrylic on paper framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Friday, February 3, 2012
When advertising hype around the Super Bowl begins, I click over to You Tube to see what Volkswagen's up to. I'm never disappointed. In fact I went on to look at a history of VW's ads. It was fascinating and fun, and two hours later I'm suddenly remembering the deadline I was working on. Naturally I decided to postpone the deadline and paint a Beetle. When The Force moves you, you go with it. "Do not underestimate the power of The Force," as Vader's states it so well. Anyway, I'm a sucker for Star Wars, Volkswagens and floating around the ethernet - a proverbial trifecta for me and a good reason why I'm generally destitute.
I painted this particular Beetle to be what I imagine Vader would go for if he was in the market for something a little different. It's black, a bit distinctive and a classic. It's very powerful, but stealth in it's power - a major component of the man himself.
The model I painted is the one millionth Beetle sold.* I figured Vader would have to have had it, and would have done his throat thing to get it.
Vader's VW • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200
* The one millionth VW Beetle was sold somewhere in the world in 1955, six years after its introduction to the US in 1949.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
I've been playing hooky.
On my way back from a recent hooky tournament I glanced up from my newspaper and looked out the window - this is what I saw. Of course I took a million pics, but I liked this one because it illustrates the first thought that came to mind - that I would give anything, except my life of course, to take a leisurely afternoon walk off that wing and onto those clouds.
Friday, January 6, 2012
The apartment I inhabit is a wreck, but it's in a nice spot up here on the Hill. To make it more comfortable and interesting on a small budget I collect stuff indigenous to the area - shells, sticks, rocks, etc. and place them all over my painting room which, in the world of small living, doubles as my bedroom. When I move, I simply return them all to where I got them - the beach.
Occasionally I throw one or more of these treasures into a painting. It occurred to me as I was doing this one, that I really didn't know much about the shells I was painting. So I went on a search and find and landed on a brief explanation in Scientific American.*
Seashells are the exoskeletons of many sea creatures in the mollusk family (snails, clams, oysters, etc.) - they grow outside the mollusk's body. They are made primarily from calcium carbonate and a small amount of protein. These shells are not made up of cells. Mantle tissue that is located under and in contact with the shell secretes proteins and mineral extracellularly to form the shell. It's like laying down steel (protein) and pouring concrete (mineral) over it.
The wide array of colors and patterns are the result, primarily, of the diet of the animal they house. Mollusks' diets vary depending on water temperature. Warmer water is typically home to more colorful, patterned animals. This is due to the variety of food available in warmer climates. As a mollusk eats, pigments from the food are absorbed into the mantle layer. Cold water mollusks typically live in dark-colored shells
So there you have it on this snowy winter day. A story about something white other than snow!
A Story About Something White Other Than Snow • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200