Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Chickadee Luck


I don't know why I needed to paint a Black-capped chickadee. Maybe it was to satisfy a craving to see one of these adorable little featherballs flitting around out there on my walk through town today. They always make me smile - they are the friendliest birds, don't you think? But alas, it was too cold. If I was a chickadee I'd be hunkered in somewhere too.

I was hoping my new year painting might contain a profound and positive message for the upcoming rollover into 2015. As it turns out, and quite by accident, chickadees were a good idea. Chickadees are viewed very positively in many Native American cultures.

In Cherokee mythology Chickadee is associated with truth and knowledge, and the arrival of a chickadee is thought to warn of danger or foretell the future. It is also considered to be the bird of truth expressed in a manner that heals, balances and opens perceptions in a way that adds joy to everyone’s lives.

Chickadee is associated with the thinking process, higher mind and higher perceptions. It is also associated with mystery and the feminine, and uncovering the mysteries of the mind.
 
In many tribes, chickadees are symbols of success, and it is considered good luck to see or hear one, particularly in a dream or vision. 

So, I hope you always tell the truth in a constructive way, and are blessed with some Chickadee success and luck in the new year.

Chickadee Luck • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200
 

For those who don't know their state bird, here are some Black-capped Chickadee fun facts:

The Black-capped Chickadee is the state bird of both Maine and Massachusetts. It is also the provincial bird of New Brunswick.

•  A group of chickadees can be called a banditry of chickadees. This collective noun probably refers to the mask-like appearance of chickadee species. 

• The chickadee may be one of several animals with names borrowed from Native American languages. The Cherokee Indian name for this bird, "tsigili'i" (also spelled tsikili, jigilii, jigalili, or many other ways) was recorded in Cherokee texts well before the English word "chickadee" was (the chickadee did not have its own English name before the 1800's, being referred to by the more general name "titmouse.") Nobody knows for sure whether the English word "chickadee" was borrowed from "tsigili'i," or whether the two names were completely independent attempts to mimic the bird's call. 

Another take on the name is because of their alarm call. This type of name is onomatopoetic — the word is the sound that it describes. The more “dee” notes at the end of a chickadee call indicate increasing levels of agitation. For instance, a chickadee may end their call with just one “dee” when a known person fills a favorite bird feeder. An owl roosting near the feeding station would warrant many more “dee” notes.

This is what the call of the Black-capped Chickadee sounds like, though I think it changes with the season:


http://www.xeno-canto.org/114086

•  While some species may move seasonally, for the most part chickadees are non-migratory. Passing migrant species may seek out feeding flocks of chickadees (finding their “chick-a-dee” call familiar) as they stop along their migration route.

Chickadees are known to store food items like seeds or insect larvae in times of abundance. The cached food may be retrieved in leaner times.

Chickadees are cavity nesters. They use old woodpecker holes or excavate their own cavities in rotted or soft wood. They will also use birdhouses.  
 The range of Black-capped Chickadees overlaps with that of Carolina Chickadees. They look so much alike that even the birds themselves may have a hard time telling each other apart – they hybridize! Offspring of a mixed pair sing a song that is three notes long. That’s one less note than the Carolina parent, and one more note than the Black-capped parent! 

There are five species of chickadee in North American:

Black-capped Chickadee
Boreal  Chickadee 
Carolina Chickadee 
Chestnut-backed  Chickadee 
Mountain Chickadee    


 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Light



It's Christmas Morning. 

I love Christmas morning. There's a spark of hope that maybe today all of the world will yearn for peace of mind above all else. This is my wish for all of our children.

Christmas Light • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Monday, December 22, 2014

It Must be Nearing Christmas Eve. The Deer Are Jumping and Leaping About

The deer herd in our neighborhood has been bulking up all fall on the cedar wind wall we planted two years ago along the border of our property. The entire bottom half of the trees are gone again. The poor things look like bobble heads. 

But it is, after all, that time of the year when the local white-tailed deer population here in Maine, inspired by their flying reindeer kin, begin an annual holiday rite of gleefully jumping and leaping through the air all night long and in to the wee hours of morning for five days before Christmas Eve. This requires an enormous amount of energy, and we have, this year again,  proudly done our part.

For those of you who think this and flying reindeer is all a bunch of bunk, loose your hairy ears and noses for a minute and check this out. There's now proof that Rudolf does indeed have a red nose to guide Santa's sleigh on Christmas Eve. If you don't believe it, the link below should put all doubts to rest: 

http://www.livescience.com/25649-rudolph-red-nose-reindeer-explained.html


The Deer Are Jumping and Leaping About • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

It's True.



For those who doubt that the winter landscape in Maine is enchanting, believe me when I say it's true, especially around the holidays when we allow our imaginations to go.

It's True • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Holiday Dala Horse


We artists are lucky. If we want to get into the holiday spirit, we paint it. I love dala* horses - they remind me of the more cheerful aspects of the winter holidays. I have one I keep out year round.

I also go shopping - I've been programmed to. The decorations can be pretty interesting, from an artistic point of view, and okay, maybe I get a little cynical now and then. But what I really like is that the sales people have to be nice to me. Normally they take one look at me a run the other way.

*For those of you who do not know what the dala horses are, here's a great link:

 http://legomenon.com/swedish-red-carved-wooden-dalecarlian-dala-horse-meaning.html

The Holiday Dala Horse • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Winterberries


I felt the need to paint something holidayish. When I can finally take a moment to ponder the holidays, I usually see winterberries. They're a pleasant respite from the overwhelming economics of the season. 

They seem to be more abundant to me this year. I saw some bushes last week that knocked my socks off.  Maybe they're trying to tell us something like, it's time to take a serious jump into merry.
 
Winterberries • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Monday, November 24, 2014

Winter's Coming



Don't worry.
Winter's coming.
 It's inevitable.
 
And though I dread 
the long dark,
I look forward,
to the brilliant
and brutal beauty. 

Winter's Coming • 8" X 8" acrylic framed o 12" X 12" • $200

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Twilight


Twilight can be so other-worldly when, as the sun descends on one side of the horizon, there's a full moon rising on the other. Spectacular!

It's a bit disturbing however, that the word twilight is now associated more with the Twilight movies than it is with the event, and that what was once a romantic time of day has me thinking more about whether or not I should be draping garlic around my neck. 

That in turn brings me full circle back to the werewolf thing, which is actually a full moon event. Of course you have to believe in all of that nonsense for it to be scary in the first place. Unfortunately there is still a little part of me that does thanks to early indoctrination by Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney.
  
Twilight • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12"• $200

Monday, November 10, 2014

Remembering Fall


I feel like I missed fall up in the mountains this year. It could have been a preoccupation with hauling down the screens or putting the garden to bed. Or maybe, for the first time since I was a kid,  I took the whole spectacle for granted. In this sketch, I simply try to remember it.

Remembering Fall • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12"

Monday, November 3, 2014

Island Sheep

I may have mentioned that the first time I ever saw island sheep was years ago on our little boat "claudia." We were close to shore when we spotted a big old ram that looked like he'd been left wild. His coat in mid summer was dripping off little by little, great swaths of gnarly wool trailing like entrails as he ambled along. He looked prehistoric.

I tried to find a history of sheep herds in New England - how they got out to the islands. This was all that was readily available including a new word to me:


Ovine: of, relating to, or resembling sheep
Origin: Late Latin ovinus, from Latin ovis sheep — more at ewe 

First Known Use: 1676

Columbus' sheep
The first domestic sheep in North America were most likely of the Churra breed which arrived with Columbus' second voyage in 1493.

Corte's sheep
The next transatantic shipment to arrive was in Mexico with Cortes in 1519. No export of wool or animals is known to have occurred from these populations, but flocks did disseminate throughout what is now Mexico and the Southwest United States with Spanish colonists.

Churras were also introduced to the Navajo tribe of Native Americans, and became a key part of their livelihood and culture. The modern presence of the Navajo-Churro breed is a result of this heritage.


The Susan Constant sheep

The next transport of sheep to North America was not until 1607, with the voyage of the Susan Constant to Virginia. However, the sheep that arrived in that year were all slaughtered because of a famine, and a permanent flock was not to reach the colony until two years later in 1609.

In two decades' time, the colonists had expanded their flock to a total of 400 head. By the 1640s there were about 100,000 head of sheep in the 13 colonies, and in 1662, a woolen mill was built in Watertown, MA. During the periods of political unrest and civil war in Britain spanning the 1640s and 1950s which disrupted maritime trade, the colonists found it pressing to produce wool for clothing. 

Island sheep
Many islands off the coast were cleared of predators and set aside for sheep including Nantucket, Long Island Martha's Vineyard and small islands in Boston Harbor. There remain some rare breeds of American sheep—such as the Hog Island sheep—that were the result of island flocks. Placing semi-feral sheep and goats on islands was common practice in colonization during this period. 

Island Sheep • 8" X 8"acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Monday, October 27, 2014

Late Fall


So it's coming on up Halloween and the only thing I could think of to sketch was crows. I often find myself watching crows out there in the landscape. They can be pretty entertaining - they're so smart. And though there is no reason why I decided to paint three (for those of you who study this stuff, as you know there is quite a bit of mythology about three crows), here's something I had never heard or read before:

Stock market investors sometimes refer to three crows as a pattern of successive declining stock prices over three days often identified by overlapping candlestick patterns. Three crows are often seen as a warning of a period of powerful selling pressure on the stock market.

Thankfully, I don't have to watch the stock market. I can just watch crows.


Late Fall • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Monday, October 20, 2014

October

So if anything octo in most languages is eight, why is the tenth month of the year October? Shouldn't it be the eighth month? I queried and found the following:


c.1050, from Latin October (mensis), from octo "eight," from PIE root *octo(u)- "eight." Eighth month of the old Roman calendar (pre-46 B.C.E.), which began the year in March.
 

The original Roman calendar had just 10 months, starting with Martius (became March), and then after December came an indeterminate "winter period" of about 61 days that were not assigned to any month. The original months were: Martius, Aprilis, Maius, Iunius, Quintilis, Sextilis, September (7th), October (8th), November (9th) and December (10th). Note that the Latin names for the later months actually do correspond with their numbered positions.

The last two months added to the Roman Calendar were Ianuarius (now January) and Februarius (now February). This pushed all the other months forward two numbers when later people came to regard January as the "First" month. Probably because of the winter solstice, January became regarded as a time of "renewal" for the sun, and hence the start of a new solar cycle.

September then became the 9th month, October the 10th, and so on, but the original names remained, without matching up with the number their name was first based on. 


In the meantime, the bright colored leaves have dropped in the foothills and mountains, but the landscape is still spectacular. 

October • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cornfield

Once in a while I make believe I'm an alien trying to make sense of the inner workings of earthlings - it's a coping mechanism. When I finished this sketch, I sat back in my chair, folded my arms over my chest and decided that if I was an alien, I would look at this painting and say to myself, "Hmmm... that cornfield is missing something. Ah yes, a crop circle, it needs a crop circle!"

Cornfield • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Monday, October 6, 2014

Coloring Up And Then Down


It's coloring up all over Maine. It began with one or two leaves, and then one or two branches. Then came a slow roll out of colors starting in the mountains, spreading to the coast. It's the deciduous trees, sprinkled here and there with evergreen, that makes this so spectacular. 

In the meantime, no matter how much voodoo you use - crossing your fingers, wearing garlic, nude native dancing, this shock of color will eventually and abruptly fade to brown. Those same trees will transform into shivering, stringy vertical black lines, having been stripped naked by a howling and relentless cold wind.

But that comes later. Right now, it's beautiful.

Coloring Up And Then Down • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Monday, September 29, 2014

Gulls



It's kind of fun to watch gulls terrorize touristas. I saw one swoop down off the roof of the Portland Company lobster shack a couple of summers ago and take a lobster roll right out of someone's mouth. I saw another one scoff a sandwich from a beach blanket at Popham when the poor sunbather wasn't looking.

I don't remember gulls being this big a nuisance, but then I was a nuisance too and wouldn't have noticed anything out of the ordinary. I decided to read up about them to see if there was something in their history.

In the beginning there was peaceful coexistence...
Native Americans camped on Maine's offshore islands in the summer and fished. Although they hunted seabirds and their eggs, harvesting was limited to certain islands, and hunting to one colony once every three years. They did this successfully for 4000 years.

...and then everything went to crap.
When the Europeans began settling the islands in the 1600s, they farmed,
hunted the birds and collected their eggs. They also raised sheep and hogs which disturbed nesting seabirds and trampled habitat.

Fashion trumps birds...
In the late 1800s, women's feathered hats became fashionable. Egrets, herons, and terns were especially popular. At the start of the 20th Century, most seabirds in the Gulf of Maine were on the brink of extinction. 


...and then cars become fashionable.
The passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918 protected migratory birds, their nests, and their eggs. When trains and automobiles replaced boats as preferred forms of transportation, people relocated to the mainland, easing the pressure on seabird habitat. Bird populations rebounded, reaching a high of almost 16,000 pairs along the Maine coast in 1940.
 

But in the end, everything gets trashed again.
During the mid-1900s however, the spread of open landfills along the coast and an increase in fishery waste provided easy pickings for herring and great black-backed gulls. It's these artificial food sources that have led to an explosion in gull populations. 
  
So while they are a nuisance and pitiful-looking clowns on foot when food is about, it's really our own fault. And though I haven't changed my mind about them being a major nuisance, I still think they are beautiful to watch when they fly - brilliant against the sun.

Gulls • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Safe Harbor

We were pinned in Pulpit Harbor one weekend by a big blow out in the bay.

The first night in Cabot Cove (Masters Creek) on our anchor was quiet. But when we woke up, it was already a howling SW and shooting straight down the cove. So we hoisted our anchor and motored around the corner toward another cove in the harbor where we picked up a mooring for the next night.

We took our dinghy ashore for something to do and a walk about. That hazy, late summer scene we caught below us in the harbor no way indicated a gusting-to-25 knots-wind outside. But you could hear it and see it in the tree tops, and in the eerie light it cast on the harbor.

The next morning it was still howling after listening to our rigging scream all night. But we decided to reef the main and take off anyway. The wind moderated after a while, the sun came out and it was a great sail back to Rockland. Go figure.

Safe Harbor • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Monday, September 15, 2014

Moon Rise


We saw a lot of things out there in the water this summer that knocked our socks off. It's always extraordinary to witness powers so much greater than us. Everything gets put back in to its proper perspective.

Although there's something pretty special about watching the full moon rise, wherever you are, it's often a softer less dramatic event in the summer months, but beautiful and fascinating just the same.

I also find it kind of cool that we Mainers are the first to see the whole process as the moon peeks, and then noses up and over the horizon, until it finally hoists itself up and out of the water with a barely detectible spring. We get to initiate, and then nudge the great and ancient wave of wonderment as it rolls  west across the continent.

Moon Rise • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Morning Gam Off Camp Island



More often than not, I wake up mornings feeling grateful - grateful for my family and friends, and all of our health. But honestly, I'm particularly grateful that I still wake up, and that I can still swing one foot in front of the other to the bathroom in time.

This particular morning, anchored off Camp Island, we caught Parker rowing his wife Laurie and their goldie back from a canine pit stop on the other side of an island adjacent to Camp. If there is a quintessential Maine cruising scene, this is it. 

Tom had spotted Parker when he sailed in and anchored a few hundred feet from us the night before. He and Parker had raced with and against each other in their maritime past. We ended up having a gam then, and another one this fine morning before they headed off on their annual cruise down east.

It's been said we eventually learn to be grateful for simple things. This morning, I was grateful for the usual, and that I could use the word gam in real life - it's such a great word.

Morning Gam Off Camp Island • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $200






Monday, September 1, 2014

Afternoon light on Kimball Island

A week ago we anchored off Point lookout, Isle au Haut. 

 Tom and I in the dinghy
After settling in, we took the dinghy for a ride up the thoroughfare. Years ago on the little claudia, we lost our anchor in there somewhere. The place didn't look the same - a lot more boats on moorings. Needless to say, we didn't find our anchor.
 Afternoon Light on Kimball Island

On our way back to the boat, we caught the afternoon light on Kimball Island which is adjacent to Isle au Haut on the thoroughfare. We saw an eagle being chased by three crows. Other than that, there wasn't a blasted thing going on until our raucous post dinner game of cribbage with Stevie and Andrea. Later that night was absolute silence under a canopy lit by the galaxy.

The beach I rowed to and swam.

The following morning, I rowed over to a nearby outcropping where I hauled the dinghy up onto a beach to go swimming in some of the coldest water I have ever been in. It rivaled the arctic water plunge at my son's health club in Seattle. 

But it was one of those perfect mornings in Maine. There wasn't a breath of wind, and the only sound was wildlife and the dripping off my oars as I continued to slide around the backside of the atoll while the sun warmed me back up

I pissed off some local gulls, waded in to a tidal pool, and then stopped at another little beach before making my way back to the boat over a sand bar that was quickly disappearing with the incoming tide. 

My solar shower invention

Back at the boat, we assembled a solar shower I made with a child's hula hoop to wash off the salt water. It worked like a charm. The water was cold having cooled off in the night air, but it was such great fun everyone had to try it.

I felt like a kid again.

Afternoon Light on Kimball Island • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $200 

About Isle au Haut
Originally the island belonged to the Penobscot Abenaki Indians. It was French explorer Samuel de Champlain who named it Isle au Haut meaning high island. When the English Captain John Smith chartered Maine's coast in 1614, he noted that it was indeed, the highest island in Penobscot Bay.

As it turns out, Point Lookout was a private club some Boston rusticators had built back in the 1880s.



 






Monday, August 25, 2014

Dog Days



The dog days of summer are here. In honor of their arrival, I have decided to explore where the phrase comes from. It's too hot to do anything else.

As it turns out, the "Dog Days of Summer" dates back to ancient Rome, of course.

History
Near to the constellation Orion (The Hunter) is Canis Major (Greater Dog). According to ancient lore, Canis Major is one of Orion’s hunting dogs. In the Canis Major constellation is a star named Sirius, also called the "Dog Star." With the exception of our sun, Sirius is the brightest star visible from Earth. The brilliant, blue-white star’s name comes from the Greek word for “searing” because it is so bright

During April and early May, Sirius was quite visible in the southwest after sunset because it was so bright. But by the time mid-summer came along, Sirius would rise and set with the sun and therefore get lost in the daytime light.

The ancients knew that "Dog Star" was still there somewhere, and figured that since Sirius was so bright and up there with the sun, it had to be helping produce and add to the substantial rise in temps. Hence the "Dog Days of Summer."


To find this constellation
Orion rises before dawn this time of year. It is recognizable for the short straight line of three stars that make up Orion’s Belt. Sirius follows Orion into the sky. It's very bright and twinkling. It’s so bright that when it’s low in the sky it shines with glints of red and flashes of blue!


Dog Days • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Monday, August 18, 2014

Windy Super Moon

We were out on the boat again during the super moon a week ago. Having some extra days away from work, we made it up to Stonington the second day. A brisk SE wind had not backed around to the SW like it's apt to, which changed our destination for the night. We decided on Camp Island, snug with the wind coming from the SE, hoping that the wind would not go N NE like it did the last time we anchored here a few years ago in the little claudia. But that's another story.

It was windy past sunset which is not unusual, but also not the norm. There was something a bit spooky about it all. It might have been being so far from home - the coast gets bolder and more ominous in many respects the further down east you go. It was also another example of coming to terms with the fact that we have little control over the circumstance out there, no matter how much we know, how well prepared we are, or positive our thoughts and outlook in life are. 

We both woke up in the middle of the night like good cautious and superstitious sailors do. The wind had died and we were still snug in our anchorage. 

The next morning, we were afloat and I had forgotten my fears the night before...until now. 

Windy Super Moon • 8" x 8" framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Pulpit Harbor



Although the weather forecast was threatening thunderstorms, we decided to head out for the weekend anyway. Unlike the first claudia, (which we sailed for 12 years and was basically a floating tent), the claudia II is a floating RV complete with cabin, cabin lights (though we still use headlamps and candles out of habit), a head, galley and real bunks.

We spent the first night in Perry Creek on Vinalhaven, and second night in Pulpit Harbor on North Haven where we would attempt to anchor overnight for the first time. Until now, we had been picking up moorings.  

The anchor Tom bought for this boat is overkill - the biggest and the best he could find. It will hold an ocean liner. This night would determine whether or not Tom could anchor and get some sleep all at the same time. Thankfully it worked. He actually slept - as well as a sailor can anyway.

This sketch is of the view we had sitting in our cockpit at dinnertime. The peace a quiet  anchorage off an island along the coast of Maine is a real gift.

Pulpit Harbor • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $200


Monday, July 28, 2014

A Daydream


This just happened to be in my head. Sometimes I really don't understand why I paint what I do. I guess it's simply a daydream.

I have to paint what gets lodged in my head because if I don't, it becomes a child having a tantrum demanding to be let out to play. It might also have something to do with my grandsons who are visiting this week. Suddenly everything is magical.

A Daydream • 8"x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer Moon


There's no place prettier than Maine in the summer - when it finally kicks in. Top that with a big full moon and a gentle breeze winding down through the valley, and there's no place else on earth I'd rather be, except maybe on the ocean watching a big full moon in a boat with a gentle sea breeze rocking me to sleep.

Summer Moon • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Monday, June 30, 2014

On the Hard

I've been hanging around the boatyard here in Portland a lot these days, waiting for repairs to our boat Claudia II. Boatyards are fascinating places. This sketch is of the Grey Ghost. I found her around the corner one late afternoon.

The Grey Ghost is "on the hard" waiting for her turn to be launched*. The official definition of "hard" is "a section of otherwise muddy shoreline suitable for mooring or hauling out."  I use it here to describe a boat that has been hauled and is now sitting on dry land.

Our boat has been on the hard in Portland for about a month. Tom and I, and the boys at the boatyard. including two Robs, two Mikes and two Eriks, are making all necessary repairs before she can be launched. We've fiber glassed (badly) and epoxied,  frigged-around-until-it-works with hoses, thru-hull shut offs, straights and elbows. We can work a screw driver, wrench and ratchet upside down, wedged over a bulkhead on our bellies and in a full mobious, all at the same time and while trying to remember to breathe.

Have a great week and a safe July 4th, 2014. Signing off from the belly of the Claudia II.
On the Hard • 8" x 8" gouache framed to 12" x 12" • $200
 
* The Grey Ghost has since been launched. The CLAUDIA II remains on the hard. In fact, right after I post this, I am headed back down to the boatyard with a new freshwater pump.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

In the Garden


I've been rummaging around in my flower gardens the past two weekends trying to clean them up. They're a mess. Overgrown, overwhelmed by weeds and totally unruly, they fit my personality perfectly, and unfortunately.

My neighbor Sheryll's flower gardens are superb. Well placed, color coordinated and beautifully designed, they are the antithesis of mine. But we compliment each other I think. I tempt her to loosen up a bit. She's British and can't help having a proper garden. It's in her blood. Hers makes me think maybe I should put more thought in to what I'm doing - be more conscious and perhaps a bit more serious. Gardening is an art form after all, her gardens say.

This sketch is of a woman gardener I saw on Monhegan Island. She was older and fully engrossed in the work at hand. Her garden bordered on out of control, but wasn't. It looked wild but not quite. Maybe I'll aspire to something Zen but not altogether Zen.

In the Garden • 8" x 8" watercolor and gouache framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Monday, June 16, 2014

Busy In To Summer

Saturday will be the first day of summer and the landscape here in Maine has finally changed over to full bloom. Ever notice how busy everything suddenly gets when that happens? Stand still and look around out there for a minute. It's just plain busy - things are moving non-stop in all directions.

I have just today started my annual two-bin clothing changeover.  It's usually pretty routine, but this year I will be holding back one pair of wool socks and fleece jacket for a bit longer. I'm feeling like I just can't bring myself to trust it all quite yet.

Busy In To Summer • 8" x 8" gouache and acrylic framed to 12"x 12" • $200

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Kay's Flowers


These flowers - I think they are Iris - grow next to one of Kay's two barns in New Vineyard. I pass it on my drives to and from Kingfield.

Kay is the mother of a friend of ours. I don't know her all that well, but I do know that she's an extremely cool woman. I played tennis against her a few times years ago. She was one of those superb, wiley, poker-faced veteran players that drive you nuts with their bag full of skill, tricks and traps. As much as I loved those matches, they scared the hell out of me.

I have been meaning to do a sketch of this for a long time. She lives in a little piece of heaven with her German Shepard named Mimi. The land it sits on is divine and her home something you dream about.

Kay's Flowers • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Monday, June 2, 2014

Cat Nap

Between working on the boat, clearing out and planting the gardens, regular work work, and the recent spate of sun and 80 degree weather, I've had a hankering to take a cat nap come 3PM or so. Of course this is entirely out of the question, though my MD who is light years younger than I, says he takes one whenever he can. He has a sofa right in his office - I've seen it.

I suppose the day will come when I'm told it's time to take a nap, like it or not. I've heard this happens when we get old and start to revert back to our infancy. Our children become our parents. But until that day arrives - when hell freezes over, I've decided to try napping vicariously through this old fella I saw out on Monhegan one year, just to see if it's something I could ever envision myself doing.

Cat Nap • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Peaceful Reminder

It's Memorial Day. I used to be an anti-war warrior. I'm now a pro peacenik. I decided to paint this peaceful place here in Maine for those who don't have one nearby to inspire them. I hope it also serves as a reminder that peace is possible - it's always possible, no matter where you are.

A Peaceful Reminder • 8"x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $200


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Gone Sailing

I watched our sailboat transported from Hingham, MA to Portland, ME yesterday.  I've been scared by many things way more terrifying than this in the past, but there's something about moving our boat that really had my stomach tied up in major  knots.  It reminded me of when my kids used to run downhill - I wanted to be there, but needed to watch from in between the fingers of my gloves.

Maybe it was the ease and perceived lack of concern by the boat mover that made me the most nervous.  Malcom was a 56 year old gray-headed British rocker, with a pit bull named Shogie - the sweetest dog you could possibly imagine. He was a true gypsy mover with a trailer that looked like it had a major bearing issue.

And then there was the inevitable and to be expected thunking and thumping, rocking and rolling of the boat as it teetered off its keel and stands on the driveway, and in to the arms of the trailer, while we little ant people scurried around sweating buckets to make sure the whole thing wasn't going to topple down on top of us, should the trailer accidently bump into something important.

As it turned out, Malcolm had nerves of steel and a twisted sense of humor. We got along famously. You've got to be half out of your mind to be a boat mover, and equally insane to own an old boat, as far as I can tell so far anyway.

The trailer made it to Portland without a hitch, er without an issue - though we could not watch from behind and had to drive ahead. And the landing at the boat yard was flawless. It's looking like we might actually get to go sailing this summer after all. I cling to this image.

Gone Sailing • 8" x 8" gouache framed to 12" x 12" • $200

PS. Ironically, Tom's brand new Mercedes van broke down in Augusta on his way back to Kingfield last night.




Monday, May 12, 2014

The Cardinal of Munjoy Hill


Ever hear a sound and say to yourself - wow, that's freakin' amazing! For me it used to be stuff like the first time I heard "The  Last Time," by the Stones. Yesterday it was the Northern Red Cardinal.

For those of you who have heard a Northern Red Cardinal sing, you know what I'm talking about when I say wow! It's loud, clear and rises well above the regular spring ruckus around here on the Hill. I've been guessing the bird to be either a Baltimore Oriole or a Scarlet Tanager. (All red birds flitting through the trees look the same to me, and those were the only two red birds I knew). Yesterday I finally took the time to identify the song, and hence, the bird.

This is a quick sketch of what the male looks like - he's the one I've seen around the Hill, though there's got to be a female somewhere. I also added a link where you can hear all of it's songs and some other interesting and related info:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9LNexIoCW0


The Cardinal of Munjoy Hill • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12"• $200

Monday, May 5, 2014

Last Winter Scene


This is it for me. No more winter scenes or using the words snow and winter, or any other words or thoughts affiliated with them, until the 2014/15 winter season.


The Last Winter Scene • 8"x8" framed to 12"x12" • $200

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Gulch


The intervale on the lower part of our property is one long field stretching north to south along the Carrabassett River.  It's broken up by a garden or two, a small orchard and a gulch that we think houses all form of beast, behemouth, demon, devil, dragon, freak, giant, leviathon, hellion, mammoth, miscreation, mutant, ogre, savage, werewolf and vampire not to mention those yet to be discovered and named.

It also serves as a frog and duck pond in the spring when the annual flood arrives, a pump track for Harry and Cam, and mosquito nursery during the summer, an organic catch-all for anything you got going on during fall cleanup, and a safety spin-out for sledding runaways during the winter.

I keep thinking it would make a great cemented pond for swimming, with a pretty little bridge to serve as a shortcut to the river during the summer. It could double as an hockey pond with lights in the winter.

But as I stated above, we're sure there's a yet to be discover species waiting for the last bit of glacier below us to recede. We'll leave it alone, watch and wait. You never know what'll appear these days.

The Gulch • 8" x 8" gouache framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

An Island Place


It's Earth Day. I didn't have an opportunity to do a special painting this year, so I'm posting a sketch I did last summer. It's an island place we passed one afternoon while on our little sailboat "Claudia." When I see scenes like this, I document them - they will probably disappear into the water like so many islands and their peoples around the world are now.

I've gotten over the anger and frustration around the lack of control over those who don't understand the value of places like this, not to mention the fact that they represent real people, their homes and their livelihoods. I simply feel sad for them because in the end, all of us will suffer equally - it won't matter how much power and money you have. The playing field will have finally been leveled.

An Island Place • 8" x 8" gouache framed to 12" x 12"• $200

Monday, April 7, 2014

More Like It

Okay, this has been a decent week here in Maine - the weather is acting more like spring. All we need is a sprinkling of sails out there.

Keep your fingers crossed for more like it.

More Like It • 8" x 8" gouache framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring Cairn

I painted a winter scene for today's blog, but it ended up bumming me out because quite frankly, I just don't want to see a winter landscape inside when there's still too much of it outside. So... I decided to paint a cairn.

There's something very comforting about a pile of rocks. I called this Spring Cairn because as I was painting it, I imagined the beach where I frequently build them. I'm also hoping it will mark the beginning of real spring here in Maine. What have I got to loose - what's the risk? Who knows - it may actually work.  I'm desperate.

Spring Cairn • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Monday, March 24, 2014

Snow Night

When I was a kid, lots of snow meant no school. The "snow day" represented a whole lot of time messing around creating and destroying a whole lot of stuff. Wars and sliding would leave no mark unless someone misfired on another's eye, got busted up on or by an invented sliding apparatus, or caught a chill from being in clothing not built for kids hyped up on primal adrenaline for hours on end.

To celebrate the memories of all of those snow days of the past, here's a poem by Billy Collins I found and love. After a lifetime of thinking all fun stops when the sun goes down, this painting is an appreciation for the other side of the snow day (which needless to say I did not have as a child), the snow night.

Snow Day

By Billy Collins


Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,   
its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished,
not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,   
and beyond these windows

the government buildings smothered,
schools and libraries buried, the post office lost   
under the noiseless drift,
the paths of trains softly blocked,
the world fallen under this falling.

In a while, I will put on some boots
and step out like someone walking in water,   
and the dog will porpoise through the drifts,   
and I will shake a laden branch
sending a cold shower down on us both.

But for now I am a willing prisoner in this house,   
a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow.   
I will make a pot of tea
and listen to the plastic radio on the counter,   
as glad as anyone to hear the news

that the Kiddie Corner School is closed,   
the Ding-Dong School, closed.
the All Aboard Children’s School, closed,   
the Hi-Ho Nursery School, closed,
along with—some will be delighted to hear—

the Toadstool School, the Little School,
Little Sparrows Nursery School,
Little Stars Pre-School, Peas-and-Carrots Day School   
the Tom Thumb Child Center, all closed,
and—clap your hands—the Peanuts Play School.

So this is where the children hide all day,
These are the nests where they letter and draw,   
where they put on their bright miniature jackets,   
all darting and climbing and sliding,
all but the few girls whispering by the fence.

And now I am listening hard
in the grandiose silence of the snow,
trying to hear what those three girls are plotting,   
what riot is afoot,
which small queen is about to be brought down.
The Snowy Night • 8" x 8" gouache framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Monday, March 17, 2014

Spring Equinox


Spring in the northern hemisphere begins when the sun moves north of the Equator, which is usually on March 21, though it could be March 20 or 22 some years. It's when the length of day and night are equal.

In Maine however, spring begins when it damn well pleases, so it's an especially tricky time of year. We can very easily walk in to the deep end of desperation if we don't have our wits about us. And after this winter, many of our wits are still stuck under three feet of snow and ice.

No need to debate global climate change or harken back to those Ozzie and Harriet springs of the past, both of which make it all seem worse. All we have to do is acknowledge that we are experiencing a very typical mind body split. We mentally know that spring arrives this week - the planets don't lie, and that our bodies are telling us we are still very much in winter - and we know our bodies don't lie. Simply accepting this concept will save what you have left of your sanity.

Spring Equinox • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Monday, March 10, 2014

Full Moon Faerie Dust

Cross country skiing through the countryside during a full moon in Maine is special. Moisture particles drift through the air shimmering like faerie dust when they catch the light. It's so quiet that you begin to wonder if you are still among the living.

And then a single twig snapping somewhere in the dark reminds you that things of an other-wordly nature are always lurking about out there at that late hour - prompting a fleeting moment in time when nature's most magical aligns with its most terrifying.

Full Moon Fairy Dust • 8"x8" watercolor framed to 12"x12" • $200

Monday, March 3, 2014

Totally Irrelevant

As you can tell, I spend a lot of time trying to balance out real-life worldly events - which can be incredibly depressing - with noodling forays into subjects that are totally unimportant. Take bunnies for instance.  I was surprised to see bunny tracks in our driveway in Kingfield this past month - had never seen them up there before. It suddenly occurred to me that we see fox in the field quite a bit, and where there are fox there are most likely bunnies. I then realized that I know absolutely nothing about these critters, so I went on another escapist research mission.

The first thing I learned was that using the word bunny is technically incorrect. These cute little furballs are actually either rabbits or hares. Bunny is slang and an endearment used to describe a baby rabbit or hare, or a beginner female skier. Below is everything I could find out about how we started using the word bunny.

I then learned that, in Maine and New England, we see either New England Cottontails or Snowshoe Hares. What's the difference I inquired as I'm sure you are at this very moment?

First of all, and if you are going to be an armchair rabbit or hare expert, you need to know that baby-rabbits are called kittens, while baby-hares are called leverets (Middle English, from Anglo-French, hare skin, from levere, levre hare, from Latin lepor-, lepu. First Known Use: 15th century).

Next, you need to know your rabbits. The New England Cottontail:
• is a true rabbit
• stays brown all year
• gives birth to blind, hairless kittens that require considerable attention during
  their first two weeks of life
• does not live north of the Portland area
• has been recently listed as a state endangered species and is a candidate for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act too. Loss of habitat has caused a steep decline in New England cottontail populations throughout their range in New England and New York.

And finally, you need to know the difference between the above and the Snowshoe Hare which:
• is not a rabbit
• is larger than the cottontail with larger body, longer ears, and much longer feet
• turns white during the winter
• is born fully furred with their eyes open, and can hop about within hours of their birth.

So there you have it, everything you need to be totally knowledgeable about something totally irrelevant.

Totally Irrelevant • 8"x 8" gouache and graphite framed to 12" x 12" • $200

For more info on Maine's rabbits and hares, check out this web site:
http://www.orcca.on.ca/~elena/useful/bunnies.html

Below is everything I could find about the word bunny. 

Origin: Early 17th century (originally used as a term of endearment to a person, later as a pet name for a rabbit): from dialect bun 'squirrel, rabbit', also used as a term of endearment, of unknown origin.

Another origin theory: The origin of that "bun," unfortunately, is a bit of a mystery. It is possible, although not considered likely, that a perceived resemblance of the bunny's tail to the bakery sort of bun explains the term. If true, this would also tie the rabbit sort of "bun" to the "bun" of hair worn on the back of the head in some hairstyles. Incidentally, the probable origin of this kind of "bun" is not very appetizing, being the Old French "bugne," meaning "swelling" or "boil."

Another possible source for the rabbit sort of "bun" is the Gaelic word "bun," which means "stump or root." This "bun" fits well with the stumpy tail of the rabbit, and is, in fact, the source of the use of "buns" to mean the human buttocks. But neither this stumpy "bun" nor the possible "bakery" derivation explains why the term was formerly also applied to squirrels, which, of course, sport luxurious tails. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Spring Teaser


This past week and weekend were a welcome weather respite here in Maine. Even the skiing at Sugarloaf was springlike except for the very top where a steady south and then NW wind kept the snow hard and my nose red.

The temps are expected to plunge back down this week, of course, which makes perfect sense to all of us longtime Mainers. The unwritten rule of thumb is don't even think about spring until the end of March. Even then I've seen three feet of snow drop over the mountains in April.

I figured I'd throw out a springlike thought before we revisit winter. It's just a reminder that regardless of what happens, the spring equinox is, as it has always been, less than a month away.

Spring Teaser • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Monday, February 17, 2014

Fully Awake On This Full Moon Night

So, it's another sleepless full moon night in Maine. But when there's snow below and a clear starlit sky above, and not a human peep to be heard for miles around, there's no place in the universe quite as beautiful and magical. On this particular night, I am grateful I am fully awake.

Fully Awake On This Full Moon Night • 8" x 8" gouache framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Cherubs of Poplar Falls

I've hiked into Poplar Falls many times, but several years ago I was in there one winter afternoon when they were frozen solid. A spectacular sight, I took some photos and figured one day I'd try a painting.

I'd been noodling the photos recently, and as I started this study I began to see cherub-like things fading in and out of the snow and ice. Maybe I just conjured them up looking for an angle, or perhaps they're memories of something that was there and visible to only believers. In either case, they are now part of the experience.

I've found there to be a fine line between what I see and what I remember, between what is true and what I imagine to be true. The cherubs of Poplar Falls reside in the blur between the two. And as has been their purpose throughout time, it's my guess they are there to protect, in this case, Poplar Falls.

The Cherubs of Poplar Falls • 8"x8" watercolor, graphite and gouache framed to 12"x12" • $200

Monday, February 3, 2014

Thoughts of Winter Down East

The coast of Maine is beautiful year 'round, but it's always amazing to me how fast a vibrant summer community can pack itself up in a suitcase and ship out with the rest of the summer gear. It's a bit unsettling when the only signs of humanoid life are an occasional local handyman, the ghost-like tinkling of wind chimes on a shuttered cottage, or the slow whiney creak of rusty rooftop sculptures and weather vanes. 

I have often thought it would be fun to live in one of those coastal houses during the winter when the rent drops. But the reality lurks in thoughts of long and lonely, black, cold and stormy winter nights, when the wind howls like a banshee, clamoring and clawing at the door to take you away in its hearse to hell. And then there's the relentless pounding of the ocean's fists on the breakwater, the only baracade between you and your most terrifying fear - the abyss that is the bottom of the ocean. Even lobster boats that over-winter in the harbor, so quintessentially Maine in the summer, become vessels for ghosts of fishermen-lost, who take the helms and head out for open ocean - now their eternal limbo.

I realize there are folks who live in these places year 'round and would call my imaginings absurd. But they are not cursed with a undisciplined imagination where a proposition like this for someone like me is most certainly, a road to insanity.

Thoughts of Winter Down East  • 8"x8" watercolor and gouache framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Monday, January 27, 2014

Monochrome Cold


I have been forcing myself to go outside for a walk every day. When the landscape takes on that blueish gray monotone look, you know it's January, and you know it's damn cold out there. I think the subzero temps affect the colors of the landscape somehow, or maybe it's my eyeballs glazing over with a tinted protective anti-freeze.  Regardless, it happens and I call it Monochrome Cold.

Rising to the occasion, I haul out my ice cleats and100-year-old LLBean full length down coat. My TRAX won't work on this solid ice. Gail and Larry Warren have tried everything - they're big walkers up in Kingfield. They recommended the product below. It's the only thing that works, they both agreed, because these things penetrate solid ice:

http://www.ems.com/product/index.jsp?productId=21078496&emssrcid=PPC%3AgooPLAs%3AbrandKahtoola&utm_source=gooPLAs&utm_term=brandKahtoola&utm_campaign=Product+Listing+Ads&device=c&network=g&matchtype=&gclid=COb13ej8nrwCFXHxOgodnxsAmw

As for my coat, it's totally out of date and way off every year's fashion color chart. But it works, and by the time I get wrapped up in it against the cold, no one can figure out who I am anyway. They just see an animated down sleeping bag with arms and legs.

Monochrome Cold • 8"x8"  watercolor framed to 12"x12" • $200