Monday, July 29, 2013

Saltwater Farm Dream

I saw this farmhouse on Green Island as we sailed through the thoroughfare. It is just what I'd been looking for all of my life.  I imagined a big vegetable garden out back with a few chickens, maybe a goat and a billion wild flowers in the surrounding fields.  Kids and grandkids, and a couple of yellow lab hybrids (from the shelter), romping through it all. A pretty little sailboat out front, and the pic is complete.

And then I thought about the exterior paint - was it stain or paint?  If it was stain - no problem.  If it's paint, it was a nightmare. And then I thought, silly me, if I could afford that sucker in the first place, I could certainly pay someone to paint it for me.  The dream was re-realized.

Saltwater Farm Dream • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer Island Field

As we made our way down The Reach, I glanced over and saw this gorgeous summer field on Vinalhaven. I call it a summer field because it is exactly how I picture summer in my mind during those long, dark winter months.

It was a hot, humid day when we passed through this time, and all I could think about was how lucky we were to live in a place like Maine where there are still wide open spaces.

Summer Island Field • 8" x 8" watercolor and gouache framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sunflowers - I think

I received these sunflowers from a couple of friends of mine who stopped by for a visit a couple of weeks ago. What is it about getting flowers that's so special? Oh God, have I been brainwashed? Oh God, who cares.

Of course Van Gogh came to mind when I first saw them. He was obsessed with sunflowers until his death in 1890, so I decided to be obsessed for a minute or two, too and cruised the internet in search of more information. Besides, I wasn't even sure these were actually sunflowers or some hybrid or other new species. What you thought was a sunflower when you were growing up has been genetically engineered into something with a name you'll never remember.

I happened to catch an article out of the corner of my eye about Van Gogh's sunflowers. It turns out they were mutants. Researchers have been trying to solve the genetic origin of the mutant “teddy bear” sunflowers depicted in his paintings for years.  This is what happens when you fall asleep in art history class - I was suddenly feeling really ignorant.

In 2008 a plant biologist named John Burke at the University of Georgia, described a family of sunflower genes he thought might lead to the abnormal floret varieties - like Van Gogh's.  In a new study, he cross-bred multiple sunflower varieties — typical, double-flowered and tubular — to trace any genes tied to their appearance.

He discovered that two different mutations to a single gene, called HaCYC2c, could in part guide floret symmetry growth.  “When we started, we had some good gene candidates but didn’t know which genes were involved,” Burke said. “We knew it must be a gene that affects symmetry, and we suspected genes in this family, but we didn’t know which one or ones in particular.”

“Just like humans, sunflowers have two copies of every gene,” Burke said. Two copies of one kind of mutation to HaCYC2c, called “tubular,” causes all of the florets to resemble disc florets, even those lining the edge of a flower.  "When you have two ‘double’ mutant copies, you get double-flowered heads with all ray-like florets,” Burke said.

Burke couldn’t say which exact combination of mutated gene copies led to the green-centered, double-flowered “teddy bear” sunflowers in van Gogh’s famous series, but he said the HaCYC2c gene plays a big role.

To be continued in what I hope is a way more interesting art history class than the one I don't remember.

Sunflowers - I think • 8" x 8" gouache framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Monday, July 8, 2013

Study For Waiting for the Sunny to Hit

One of the coolest things about being an artist and having two gorgeous grandchildren is having models any time I want. I don't paint people, as a rule, but once in a while I can't resist trying my hand at it.

This day was special. It was the first time Jack had ever gone fishing at the lake. A pole was fashioned from a stick we found in the woods, and though I can't remember where we got the string, I do remember we loved the color. We found some pancetta - these boys favor Italian cuisine - and tied it to the string which was then carefully lowered into the lake from the dock.

As Jack sat there waiting for a hit, Anders got curious and inched his way over on his bottom to check out the situation. The dog (the original one is not pictured here), included himself because he was a veteran fish hound and always looking for an excuse to jump into the lake. We were all very quiet. Waiting. Watching. It was a moment every parent and grandparent dreams of witnessing. A primal coming together of the boys and beasts of summer.

We didn't catch anything that day, but the boys did eventually get a real fishing pole from Papa John, and using a piece of pancetta again, caught a good-sized sunny. It was traumatic for them to see the fish flapping around and me trying to remember how to get the fish off the hook without hurting it. I think the boys were asking themselves what the purpose of this practice was - their intellect already overriding the primal thing. They're deep thinkers these two.

Study For Waiting For the Sunny to Hit • 8" x 8" watercolor  • NFS

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Old Codger of Perry Creek

Perry Creek is one of our favorite spots to hold up for the night. When the kids were younger, this was an annual stop - we'd let them run loose in the row boat we towed. We were very aware of the quiet and honored it as did the other yachtsmen. It's one of the things that hooked me on cruising - the quiet.

We've had some interesting experiences here, like waking up in the middle of one night at low tide, pitched over with our noses to the rail having anchored too close to a ledge. Tom had to go ashore that night to find a log to right us until the tide came back in. Last summer we had four big "stink pots" anchored with us. They were filled with loud obnoxious couples and their equally loud obnoxious children. It was a total bummer and we might as well have been at Old Orchard Beach. Fortunately, one old codger rowed over and stopped the kids and their parents from racing around the boats in their their motorized dinghy. Hopefully he taught them something important.

I guess it's to be expected that this aspect of cruising would change, as the coastal landscape has with the McMansions and Martha Stewart Shanties. Traditions that have been passed down through generations of yachtsmen will be sidestepped by those new to the activity. It is to be expected that they will be lost one day unless, of course, we join up with the old codger and brave the incoming tide in the name of those traditions. I guess we're old enough now!

The Old Codger of Perry Creek • 8" x 8" gouache on paper framed to 12"x 12" • $200