Tuesday, December 29, 2015

#237 Finally!

I've been confused all season long this year. Christmas day was a casual hike through the woods, and concluded with all of us sitting on the bare, dry hillside out back to soak in the sun and listen to the river roar by. It was delightful, but a bit disconcerting. So I guess I'm relieved that frigid temps and a totally unnecessary wind that is our first snow storm, has finally arrived.

Here in the city, the first snow always creates havoc. Only kids with sleds appreciate havoc. They thrive on it. I have found over the years that it's easier, and a lot safer, to watch the havoc from my window for as long as I can. In that time, I imagine how pretty it is when it snows in the mountains, and in that frame of mind, eventually make my way downstairs with shovel in hand to carve a gully out for my car and me.

Finally! • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $250

Thursday, December 24, 2015

#236 Children on Reindeer

I dreamed that my children on reindeer took flight, and sailed up and over a moon so bright, that I eventually, as should be, lost them by sight. They raced through great snowfields, skimmed rivers and streams, and galloped full speed to mountain top peaks. It was there that they paused and witnessed beneath, their world, at last completely at peace. And they heard for the first time their dear planet breathe, relieved that all wars had finally ceased.
To all you believers, and dreamers too, May The Force and sweet peace be always with you.
Children on Reindeer • 8" X 8" framed to 12" X 12"• $200

Friday, December 18, 2015

SOLD - Thoughts of Red and Green

It all began with thoughts of red and green. No wonder - the two colors are everywhere during the holiday season, especially here in Maine where the landscape is red and green these days.

But strangely, my mind took a detour from wrapping paper and holiday lights to a memory of Kay's old red barn knee deep in her lush fields up in the foothills of the western mountains. It then treckked east across the state to the Monhegan Island lighthouse that stands guard over the island in Muscongus Bay.  I couldn't choose between the two, these two ways of life, on opposite ends of the state, so I sketched both and discovered how similar they are.

I guess this is my red and green Maine holiday scene for the week. A bit different, but that's the way I see it.

Thoughts of Red and Green • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $250/each

Monday, December 7, 2015

SOLD - Getting Her Festive On

I stood back, shook my head, and smiled at this painting. It would appear Mother Nature is getting her festive on, in my head!

Getting Her Festive On • 8" X 8" framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Monday, November 30, 2015

SOLD - Winter Sailing

So, how did we spend our Thanksgiving? Winter sailing with family and friends. If there are two sailors plunked together at any event, whether it be a wedding, birth or funeral, the talk will inevitably turn to sailing, much to the chagrin of any landlubbers present.

So this is a formal apology to those who were caught captive at the dinner table, and had to endure exhaustive discussions about new and busted equipment, true but slightly exaggerated seafaring triumphs and tribulations, and photos of so many summers past, filled with fear, fun and family. I think you could call that being thankful!

Winter Sailing • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Monday, November 23, 2015

SOLD - Flying Monkeys

Professor John Marzluff, who studies urban birds at the University of Washington's Aviation Conservation Lab, thinks crows are actually very small flying monkeys. "Neurally, mentally, cognitively, they're a flying monkey." He added that a crow's brain is the size of a human thumb, huge relative to its body. This enables them to solve complex problems pegging them on the intelligence scale with primates.  

Crows also recognize and remember individual faces. "They recognize individual people that are important to them, and when somebody does something dangerous, they mark that person, remember that person, as far as I can tell, for their life," Marzluff states. 
So... this means there are
30-some-odd-million flying monkeys circling around out there in this country at any given time. They have marked our faces as good or bad, depending on what kind of mood we all were in the day of our individual encounters. And finally, they never, ever, forget a face.

It suddenly occurs to me that I have never really come to terms with my fear of flying monkeys.

Flying Monkeys • 8" X 8" framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Monday, November 16, 2015

SOLD - Detective Mysteries

It's late fall. Darkness arrives too early. It's cold, and we we find ourselves with no choice but to withdraw to the safety of our homes where we can only imagine what lurks outside our windows, tapping in time to what we choose to believe, is the howling wind.

I head to the public library weekly this time of year, for about a month, search out a bunch of good detective mysteries, and jump in with both feet. I find that I can generally scare the hell out of myself in good form.

Detective Mysteries • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12"• $200

Monday, November 9, 2015

SOLD - Working Harbors

Carver's Harbor is a real working harbor, and bedlam at daybreak. But we don't mind. We don't even mind the sound of tires squealing down the main street, ricocheting across the harbor at 2am, or firecrackers clapping a celebration somewhere up on the hill at 3. It's all part of the package.

We used to anchor the claudia along the shoreline, and out of the way in shallow water. The harbor was always chock-full of working boats - there was no room for others, though ours was probably accepted and admired by the fishermen as an ocean survival exercise. The unwritten rule was to just stay the heck out of the way.

When we took on the claudia II, we were launched in to a whole new set of maritime restrictions. We now had a five-foot keel and needed more water to anchor, which struck Carver's Harbor from future logs. So imagine our surprise when, on a whim and looking for a lunch stop last summer, we found a mooring we could use for the night.

Tom counted over 100 lobster boats as we zigzagged our way to town in the dinghy that day. Some of the vessels we passed were pretty impressive. Others were genuine mysteries. You can tell a lot about the captains of these boats by looking at the size, design and condition of their boats, not to mention the names on the stern. But that's bait for another blog.

Working Harbors • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Monday, November 2, 2015

#228 Bug Light Moon

I was out at Bug Light one evening last week trying to imagine what it might feel like to be sitting there on a summer evening waiting for the moon to rise. The moon would be further north than it is now, so I have sketched it that way here.

One of the many floating cities that visit Portland's harbor every season lumbered by, lit up like a, well, city actually. With a scheduled 6:54pm moonrise, I wondered if the cruise ship would obliterate the object of one of my favorite games - guessing where the moon pokes up on the horizon. It was going to be close. Fortunately and soon after the iron beast passed by, I was able to detect a faint reddish glow left behind in it's wake.

As it ended up, I was only two knuckle joints off on my calculations. I then settled back and watched as the moon slowly lifted off like a huge luminous balloon, heavy with millions of souls like me who were holding on for another glorious and sleepless, all night ride across a seemingly endless night time sky.

Monday, October 26, 2015

#227 Room With a View

I just finished E.M. Forster's classic Room With a View. I had never read it, or at least I don't remember ever having read it.  It was delightful and insightful, full of foibles and poils of wisdom. It's fun to jump in to non-fiction like that once in a while. Too much of it though, and I get carried away.

I found myself looking at rooms with views afterwards. Maybe I needed this exercise to realize how fortunate I am. We have views everywhere we look.  The only exception is our neighbor to the south. Their house sits fairly close and broadside to ours. But for some reason it doesn't bother me. I like the closeness of community and I do love them dearly.

This is the view from our kitchen. It really is stunning, for a field anyway, and as it appeared on an  overcast day when it had just stopped raining. All was quiet. Once in a while we'll catch a glimpse of a few deer out along the darker treeline before they make their night time prance across the field, the road, and to the salad bar that is our cedar hedge.

Room With a View • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12"• $200

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

#226 Tripping

I've been reading an odd but entertaining little book entitled Driving Mr. Albert by Maine author, Michael Patertini. It's a journal by the author about his time spent with Dr. Harvey, the guy who stole Albert Einsteins brain. The two of them drive across the country together with a couple of pieces of Einstein's brain floating in a Tupperware container full of formaldehyde stashed in the trunk of their car. Their mission is to meet with Einstein's granddaughter. The reason is never really fully discussed, nor is whether or not she will actually receive them.

This is my kind of non-fiction. It's also sort of like what it's been like for me driving around Maine this fall. I feel like I've had another brain in the car.

Have you ever been tooling down a road, with your head wrapped up in a thought experiment, when suddenly a piece of landscape up and hooks you by the corner of your eyeball and knocks you on to another planet with a - whoa, what was that? It's been happening a lot lately. The foliage has been unfurling distraction to the point of dangerous. We're all languishing in a kind of sense-saturated stupor. You start seeing things you've never seen before. It's reminiscent of a good old fashioned 60s shroom trip, except it's legal and you can still drive normally.

Sailing though the foothills the other day, I was caught by this sweet little snapshot through the trees. The colors are on the other side of brilliant now, but still a nocturne. That knobby knoll in the background? It really is shaped like that. And the trees in the foreground weren't really violet. They just appeared to be.

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

SOLD - Bewitched By the Moon

I have been thoroughly bewitched by the moon - and it's not even visible right now. I think I might have been zapped during the super moon. I don't remember this ever happening to me before - not even during menopause, the mother of all phases. Of course it is that time of year.

Bewitched By the Moon • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Monday, October 5, 2015

SOLD - Fall and Autumn

Leaves have begun their astoundingly beautiful downward death spiral - a morbid thought for such a beautiful process. But it is fall, after all.

While I was reminiscing about the good ol' days when you could take a long autumnal walk in the brisk mountain air through fields of tall grass, without fretting about contracting Lyme Disease, it suddenly occurred to me that I had just used the words fall and autumn interchangeably. Have you ever wondered what the difference between autumn and fall is? Me either. Here you go, from the Grammarist.

"Fall is in fact an old term for the season, originating in English in the 16th century or earlier. It was originally short for fall of the year or fall of the leaf, but it commonly took the one-word form by the 17th century, long before the development of American English. So while the term is now widely used in the U.S., it is not exclusively American, nor is it American in origin.

Autumn came to English from the French automne in the 15th or 16th century, but it didn’t gain prominence until the 18th century. After that, while fall became the preferred term in the U.S., autumn became so prevalent in British English that fall as a term for the season was eventually considered archaic. This has changed, however, as fall has been gaining ground in British publications for some time."

Fall and Autumn • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Monday, September 28, 2015

SOLD - Space

The bloodredsupermoonlunareclipse last night was pretty cool. I was in Kingfield where it is good and black at night - you can really see and feel the universal energy cavorting around out there.

I figured I'd better stay up. I might not be around for the next one. Besides, you never know if making an effort to witness something unusual like this counts for extra points in whatever kind of ledger might exist as one enters the next big adventure. What's the risk? So I ate a dozen gingersnaps and surfed between The Avengers and Sleepless in Seattle while I waited.

But then, as I stood outside watching the eclipse roll along, I got sidetracked. Whenever I look up at the sky, I see space. Sounds like a Yogi-ism, bless his soul, but what I mean is, I see lots of space.  I can't even imagine how much space is up there. This always makes me feel better. I can live in a small place, drive a small car, and survive those long, cold, dark Maine winters, only because I know I can always go outside, look up at the sky, and see all the space I need.

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

Monday, September 21, 2015

SOLD - Lobster Pots

Penobscott Bay is peppered with lobster pots. They don't tell you that in the cruising guides. There are places where pots are dropped in so thick, it's like a maze challenge for pond racers. We got stuck in one a month or so ago that was so tight, we were forced to drop our sails and ignite the inboard. Tom negotiated our way through the tangle from the bow with hands signals and a few new nautically-themed expletives.

Trying to see the line through reminded me of when I was a kid and used to drive our VW bus in to NYC. Like our high-sided boat, which makes for ugly, but in this case useful lines, my drivers seat was high enough for me to see the traffic pattern. I might still be there otherwise, as might we.

Lobster Pots • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12"  $200

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

#221 Buck's Harbor - Take 2

Just another slant on Buck's Harbor. Kind of fun to mess around and loosen up once in a while.

Buck's Harbor - Take 2 • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

SOLD - Buck's Harbor

For the past two years, we've sailed to Bucks Harbor as a first or second stop on extended cruises down east. Buck's Harbor is a narrow swath cut in to the coast line leaving a heart-shaped chunk floating in the middle. It's at the beginning of a delightful reach (hopefully), with the tide, down Eggemoggin Reach. But you never know.

We took our kids to Buck's Haror many years ago, and with book in hand, traipsed up to Condon's Garage featured in McCloskey's quintessential story, One Morning in Maine. If I was on the marketing committee for Buck's Harbor, I would have tried to preserve that place, but alas, it is no longer. On our morning walk we found a high-priced restaurant, a yuppyish general store/cafe, and a meditation retreat. I think there was a gallery there too.

I did a quick sketch of the road back down to the harbor, and the yacht service float where we had purchased our mooring the night before. The road was lined with Queen Anne's Lace - very pretty in the morning light. When we got there, the nice kids at the dock were dealing with an irate woman. She had a loud, distinctive southern accent, and was evidently confused as to why the yacht services provided in the past for free were no longer free. It took her about 20 minutes to run out of hot air.  We were trying to buy an ice cream sandwich, but were kind of enjoying the show, sad to say. The kids handled her a lot better than I, or Donald Condon for that matter, would have, that's for sure.

I found this story about the closing of Condon's and the good ol' days on the internet. Thought all you One Morning in Maine fans might enjoy it.

Buck's Harbor • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Closing the book on Condon’s; Garage made famous in McCloskey tale still lives for generations of readers - By RICH HEWITT, BDN Staff Writer, 2007

One morning in Maine not so long ago, Donald Condon woke up and did not drive the few miles from his home to Buck Harbor and the garage where he has worked steady for the past two decades.
Condon closed the garage in May and moved the business to his home on Herrick Road. The closing of any established business in a small town is remarkable; this one, more so.

Though an ordinary garage, it is extraordinary, for this is Condon’s Garage in South Brooksville, the iconic small-town Maine garage immortalized for generations of readers by writer Robert McCloskey in his children’s classic, “One Morning in Maine.”

Though the action at the garage covers only a few pages of the story, Condon’s Garage and the building across the street “where Mr. Condon’s brother kept store” have enchanted young and old alike, many of whom have been drawn to the quiet coastal village just to see the buildings, meet the people who worked there and have an ice cream cone, as the two sisters Sal and Jane did in the book.
“Over the years we’d get probably 10 or 20 people a year coming in and wanting somebody to sign their book,” Donald said.

And, although he and his second cousin Phil, the son of the Mr. Condon in the book, would try to push that task off on anybody they could, they never really minded the visitors.
“All those people were genuine,” he said. “They seemed amazed that they could read something in a children’s book and then get to actually see the real thing. Mr. McCloskey did a nice job with the book. He used some poetic license, but not much.”

In recent years, he said, they started handing out used spark plugs to the people who came in, an echo from the book in which Sal makes a wish for her little sister Jane on the used spark plug that Mr. Condon had removed from her father’s outboard motor.

“They’d go off happy with that,” he said.

The building is silent. Outside, it is not much changed from the picture McCloskey drew in his book, which was first published in 1952.

The road, paved now, still leads up from the harbor and the gas pumps still stand outside. The white clapboard front remains inviting, but the double doors are closed and inside it is dark.

The sign proclaiming “Condon’s Garage,” which had hung over the business, has been taken down and sits in a corner inside. Old receipts, gas and oil cans, old rags and toolboxes abound on the counters and floors; saws and gaskets hang from nails and old parts and outboard motors sit on stands or benches as if waiting for someone to work on them.

But it already feels empty. At some point, Condon said, he probably will put the building up for sale. For the latest generation of Condons, it was time to move on.

“Phil was getting out of it, and I thought I might downsize a bit,” Donald Condon said recently.
It was a practical decision. The building, with just a wood stove, was hard to heat. And it was built too close to the road.

“I don’t know why I haven’t been run over yet,” he said. “It was designed to handle the traffic of the 1920s, rather than what we have 80 or 90 years later.”

Still, it was a decision that ends a tradition of more than eight decades of Condons running a garage at that site.

The building was built in 1924 by Donald Condon’s great-grandfather for his son, Russ. Originally it was planned for three uses: a garage and store on the main floor, and a movie theater to show silent pictures.

The theater was never used. Talkies came in; silent pictures died out, and small town theaters went with them.

The garage operated steadily until World War II, when it closed for a few years. When the war ended, Phil’s father took it over. His name was John Richard Condon, but everyone called him Dick. He’s the one in the book.

Jane McCloskey, the younger of the two girls depicted in the book and the daughter of author McCloskey, remembers the garage, the store and Mr. Condon, but does not recall the specific trip from their home on Scott Island to South Brooksville recounted in the book. In the story, the outboard motor won’t start, so the father, McCloskey, rowed to Buck Harbor.

“I was pretty young at the time,” she said recently. “We took lots of trips, but I don’t remember my father ever rowing to Buck’s Harbor. We usually went to Little Deer.”

To a young girl, the garage was a little intimidating, McCloskey said.

“It scared me a little,” she said. “It was one of those guy places, lots of grease and lots of metal. And he had a barrel filled with water that he used to test the outboards. He was a nice man – quiet. He used to talk engines to my father.”

McCloskey lives in Deer Isle and only passes by the old garage every few years or so. Still, she said, it is “kind of sad” to see the garage close.

But that is the way of things. The store, Condon’s Store, across the street closed years ago.
McCloskey remembered it as a real general store where you could buy anything from shoes to life jackets, hardware to embroidery thread, along with groceries and, of course, ice cream.

Now a gallery, the store also served as the town’s post office for years, and Emily Webb, who was postmaster then, recalls that the store also drew people even after it closed.

“People would come and ask, ‘Is this the store in the book?’ Webb said. “Mothers would come and sit on the porch and read the book to their children.”

And they still come.

“There was one here yesterday,” said Webb, who now works at the Buck’s Harbor Market around the corner.

Though he doesn’t think the flow of devoted readers will make its way to his new business, Condon said he expects people will keep on coming to see the old garage and store.

“I imagine so. As long as the book is published, I think they’ll still try to look it up,” he said. “There’s been a lot of ice cream cones sold here because of that book.”

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

SOLD - Burnt Coat Harbor

I used to think I had made a big mistake trying to make a living as an artist. There were a lot of sacrifices made by and forced on to family and friends over the years, not to mention the money thing. But unfortunately, it's an urge, and a drive akin to that of the tides. Every time I tried to go straight, I'd self destruct.

I think this drive is also about about having to satisfy an urge to do stuff outside of my comfort zone, and maybe that's why I love skiing and sailing too. I was not raised in to these two activities. I was  uncomfortable, scared and sometimes terrified. Now I can't imagine life without them. The fear and the terror I can still feel every day have led the way to an astounding gratitude for having survived work, the ocean, and the hill.

And so it is with this sense of gratitude that I write and paint what I see out there in Maine. Maybe that's why I landed here 50 years ago. I loved Maine the first time I stepped foot in it - there was no other place I wanted to be. I learned to push my mental and physical envelope right out my back door.

Burnt Coat Harbor
Burnt Coat is a well-protected harbor on the southwestern side of Swan's Island in Penobscott Bay. We picked up a mooring there one afternoon to escape a howling SW that was supposed to maintain gusts of 25 all night. We loved the harbor - having had sailed there on the little boat for lunch years ago. It's still a working harbor and does not offer any amenities to yachtsmen, which has kept it honest all these years. Somehow the islanders have managed to hold on to their way of life.

It was fun to watch the goings on in the harbor itself. There were some late night returnees - lobstermen and their families and friends returning from big doings on the mainland. Awakened by the hum of big engines, I stuck my head out of the v-berth. The boats were  lit up like major league baseball parks. It was like watching aliens from space land - very exciting.

The same boats left early the next morning to check traps. It was Monday morning and work as usual, after all. As I sat eating my breakfast in the cockpit, they all waved as they gurgled politely by, respectful of us late rising interlopers. I waved in return and was feeling kind of special to be included in this ancient daily ritual. I found myself wanting to say a silent prayer, wishing them and their boats a safe journey, and prosperous day, but it occurred to me I might be a liability, so I just wished them a safe journey. It was an lovely interlude - a glimpse of the best part of Maine, and actually, of me.

Burnt Coat Harbor • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

SOLD - Learning to Feather

According to Tom, my rowing style is appalling. I zig zag, and I windmill my oars. "We'll never get there," he groans.

His brother Dave, a real fisherman, told me he "learned to row from masters at rowing, and they always feathered their oars.  I deplore windmilling, and whenever I see one I think to myself, 'There goes a rank amateur'."

For those who don't know what feathering is, it's a slight flick of the wrist, when the oars are out of the water on the forward stroke, that turns the paddles of the oars parallel to the water, so that they can skim back over the water into dipping position. It's quite lovely, but, in my opinion, totally unnecessary. As far as I'm concerned, you row to get from point A to point B without getting run over by, or hitting or destroying other boats in the anchorage.

In the name of tradition however, and at the risk of being called a "rank amateur," I will learn to feather. I will thrash around until I get it right. Besides, it's good exercise.

The most entertaining part of this learning process by far will be, not me out there humiliating myself. I could care less. It will be listening to Tom bellow instructions from the bow of the claudia II. About ten seconds in to the session, he will turn, totally exasperated, and go below pretending not to know who I am! I'll just keep circling around the boat anyway. It will be pure entertainment!

The dinghy at the bottom of the sketch above is our Puffin dinghy tied to JO Brown's dock in North Haven.

Learning to Feather • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

#217 Cherry Island

A couple of years ago, my friend Darby and I took a trip to the village of Saint Andrews, Canada. Darby had done a solo trip up there a year or two before, and wanted to return for some R&R. We spent a long fall weekend at a cottage right on the water within the village. The cottage had two bedrooms, a kitchen and common room and a big deck that hung out over the water. The village of Saint Andrews is touristy, but it was the off season and the rates were good. I found it and the people delightful.

The weather was spectacular - warm and sunny, but cool at night. We walked, talked, went sightseeing, hung out at the beaches, wrote, read, dined - everything two old farts might dream of doing during a respite from the daily chores and work of life at home, albeit it a beautiful home.

From our deck we witnessed the goings on in a working harbor of fishing boats. At low tide we could walk down below on the rocks, sand and seaweed. At high, it lapped underneath us. I had never seen a tide so severe - it move uncomfortably fast in and out. I found myself on constant watch - one eye was always glued to the tide.

We took a side trip to Campobello before re-entering the US. I'd never been to Campobello. It was like being transported to another time. But that's another story. On this hazy morning ferry ride between Saint Andrews and Campobello over the Bay of Fundy, we passed Cherry Island. In that light I thought it was beautiful.

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

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

SOLD - Fog

Fog. It's everywhere these days. It's out on the water trying to kill us as we sail our way back to Rockland. It's on 295 as I squint my way home to Portland. It's outside my window, trying to get in. It's reminding me of a very scary horror movie. For those sci fi fans, maybe The Crawling Eye comes to mind.

While waiting for the fog to lift in the Fox islands Thoroughfare this past weekend, I saw this beautiful, more traditional-looking lobster boat on a mooring behind us. Everything beyond was in the fog, of course.

It could be worse. The Grand Banks, near the Canadian island, Newfoundland, and Newfoundland itself has over 200 foggy days a year.

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

#215 The View

I keep thinking I'm going to switch gears and move in to other subject matter. My intention was to do that this week, but then I encountered this view. You stop your car, and sit there saying to yourself, how can anyone make something like this up?
It was an overcast day driving back from the movies and an adrenalin pumping session with Jurassic World. We took an alternative route back to Kingfield over some back roads and up along a lazy ridge. I looked out and saw this, and exhaled a directive to stop the car. Being a Taurus, I could have sat there all day.

The View • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12"• $200

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

#214 A Thwack of Lupine

We've been sailing the Claudia on the lakes up in the western mountains while the Claudia II is being repaired on the coast. It's been fun. We trailered to Flagstaff last Sunday, and Rangeley this past.

On the way back to Kingfield from Rangeley, we noticed a plethora of lupines alongside Route 16. There's one famous field just outside of town overlooking Haley Pond with Saddleback Mountain in the background. I've done a quick sketch of it - figured we all needed a splash of color on this foggy Maine morning.

It appears as if someone has spent their lifetime spreading lupine seeds hither and yon, and it's finally all come together like one big thwack on the landscape. I don't remember seeing so many lupine, there's just no way to describe how beautiful they are right now. And I certainly have not done it justice here. You really need to get up there and check it out for yourselves.

A Thwack of Lupine • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

SOLD - Cows Are Good Listeners

On my way to Kingfield last week, I took a different route and passed a farm I've been driving by since I moved to Maine over 40 years ago. It's the Williams family farm in North Anson. It really hasn't changed much over the years - the family and their herd seem to be making it just fine.

I stopped, turned around and parked by the side of the road just to look. It was a pretty, partly cloudy day. The reds, greens, blues, blacks and whites were striking. And then I noticed some of the cows perked right up and began to move toward me. I would have gone up to the fence to pet them, but figured it was electric. So I just started talking to them from the road.

They stood right there and listened. I kept talking. I talked about anything that popped in to my mind, like what was happening down in Portland, and that I was on my way up to Kingfield to weed my garden, two places they would have no way of knowing about had I not stopped by. They really paid attention as they chewed away. Their ears remained alert.

I learned that cows are good listeners. You could say we all learned something new about one another that day. That's a very good thing.

Cows Are Good Listeners • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

#212 One Rainy Day in Maine

One rainy day a few years ago, we limped into Christmas Cove through a pea soup fog looking to have some lunch and stretch our legs. The Claudia - our first little sailboat, and a real Tom Sawyer Huck Finn boat, was not a great vessel for bad weather.

Twenty one feet long and open (no cabin), she was fun to sail because we could maneuver through shallow water. We sailed her for ten years all around Penobscott Bay. We built a platform for sleeping on after a couple of years of sleeping on the hull, and a tent out of nylon, mosquito netting and 1/2" plumbers pipe that I had made, which was great unless we had a downpour. It was like sleeping on a raft - we were only about eight inches above the water.

After lunch aboard under our little dodger, we tied the Claudia to the public dock and meandered down this road and that looking at real estate. Most of the places are old and traditional out there with a few huge exceptions. It's the kind of area magazine and TV ads tell you to expect to see on the Maine coast.

I liked this place because it was still pretty Maine-looking. It was the kind of place I would have liked to have curled up in next to a wood stove with my blankie, and a good old fashioned murder mystery. Kind of like today.

One Rainy Day in Maine • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12"• $200

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

#211 The Eastern Prom

It was hot and humid last night here in Portland, so I decided to take my dinner down to the Prom.

It really is a pretty special park overlooking the islands in Casco Bay. With the comings and goings of people, and watching the activity in the bay - the barges, tankers, fishing boats, pleasure boats and ferries - it's pure entertainment.

I was going to do an impressionist interpretation, maybe with nudes just for fun. But I decided to portray the park for what it is - a place for common folk like me.

The Eastern Promenade • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

SOLD - City Flowers

I don't know if I like flowers. Maybe I'm annoyed that they are always so happy-looking. It doesn't matter what you say, do or throw at them - they're  always so happy-looking.

It's also annoying that they somehow keep cropping up in my work, as flowers are known to do randomly out there. I'm continually being pestered - do you like me yet, they ask, I don't know, maybe, I reply.

I decided to paint tulips this time because everywhere I walk these days, tulips are front and center. There's no getting around them. I understood this to be a hint of sorts, so onto the canvas they went.

I also have to admit that urban gardens are a lot of fun to find.  City dwellers do some crazy stuff. Those with limited budgets in ghetto apartments like mine will do the most ingenious things to make their places look better. Of course it is a bit like putting perfume on a pig, but effort counts for something, and I have to admit, I always forget where I saw them.

City Flowers • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

#209 Forsythia

It was foggy this morning. My brain was foggy too from lack of sleep. I've been switching my entire computer system over to a much needed update. It's been a tussle computer chatting with software companies, downloading enormous programs, and trying to figure out how to use the whole blessed thing.

I was going to do a fog painting, but after lunch with a friend, the sun came out on my way home. I passed a row of forsythia along the roadside. I would never attempt to paint forsythia - it's too hard. I don't even think I can spell the word. But I decided to knock off a sketch anyway, just to remind myself of how bright and sunny a Maine spring can be, and how bright and sunny my brain will be again when I get some sleep.

This is a painting of hope.

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

Monday, May 4, 2015

#208 The Boatyard

There's something really satisfying about hanging out in a boatyard. You get to work outside near the water, breathe that invigorating salt air, rock out to the sound of halyards clanging, grinders grinding, polishers whirring, hammers hammering, and fellow sailors cursing.

And then there are the boats. You get to look at boats all day - all kinds of boats, and their bottoms, keels and props.

It's also a great comfort to be able to look around and discover you're among kindred spirits, that you're not the only sucker out there throwing your life's savings into the bottomless money pit that is owning a boat.

And finally, there are those confessions of harrowing stories that keep adrenaline junkies going back out there for another year, the stories that make you forget that feeling you felt of profound relief last fall, when you could haul your boat without having killed another vessel, critter, yourself or anyone else.

The Boatyard • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

SOLD - The Old Portland Company Buildings

I was walking back from town the other day along the river when this view of one of the Portland Company complex buildings in the late afternoon light stopped me in my tracks. I'll miss the complex the way it looks right now, and I'll miss this walk - I've been doing it since I moved here.

I've been thinking long and hard about those buildings. There's has always been something really comforting about them, even when the ruckus of an early evening rock and roll jam session bumped it's way through the alleyways from somewhere out in the back, or when I was spooked by the echo of my own footsteps as I'd slink through those eerie deserted canyons after the crews had gone home for the night.

I think it might be the color of the brick - the warm reds and browns that remind me that there was a time when buildings looked like they were literally constructed from the ground up.  More importantly however, these building are like the tracks they helped lay down from Portland to Montreal. They're not just a photo or an account-of in a history book, they're those tracks I can still walk in places, the glimpse of an immigrant worker standing in one of the upper windows, the screech of metal working against metal, and a blast of heat from furnaces that forged time along from the Civil War. We've all got a story somewhere in those bricks.

The Old Portland Company Buildings • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Monday, April 6, 2015

SOLD - Spring Has Sprung

Contrary to advice from sages throughout history, it's time to stop stewing in the present, and start ruminating the future.

And so I will imagine for you a spectacularly beautiful day, warm and sunny, gently brushed by a soft little breeze that releases itself to afternoon and a night time sprinkle for the garden, the whole of which repeats itself because it is right.

Spring Has Sprung • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Monday, March 30, 2015

SOLD - Faking Spring

When we were kids, my father planted a row of roses along the driveway, and a fairly good-sized patch of daffodils out in the backyard. The roses were hellish to maintain - an obstacle course of thorny branches to get to a non stop onslaught by Japanese beetles. The daffodils were easier, but dad had planted double bloomers. We had so many daffodils in bloom the first year, my father decided to send us kids door-to-door with a wagon full - a buck or two got you a dozen. It took us a while, but we got the job done. Believe it or not, people actually refused us. How could anyone refuse a couple of kids trying to sell a dozen daffodils for a buck or two?

I could care less about roses these days unless someone else is growing them, in which case I can get totally stupified by their addicting perfume. Daffodils don't excite me much, but are a nice splash of color in the spring when there is non to be seen out there anywhere.

I've also discovered that a dozen daffodils from the local greenhouse in March is a good cheap way to fake it 'til you make it - spring that is.

Faking Spring • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Monday, March 23, 2015

#204 March

March - the month I start looking around for something to pound because it's time for spring, it's nowhere in site and I'm at my wits end. Isn't it wonderful then, that we have an alternative in the maple tree.

No one really knows who discovered maple syrup, but several legends have been handed down over the centuries. This legend comes from the Algonquian Indians.

Woksis, the Indian Chief, was going hunting one day early in March, the "Season of the Melting Snow." He yanked his tomahawk from a maple tree, in to which he had hurled it the night before, and went off for the day. The weather turned warm, and the gash in the tree dripped sap into a trough that was close to the trunk.

Toward evening Woksis's wife (who has no name here but I will refer to as "She who should have been chief because she was so clever") needed water in which to boil dinner. She saw the trough full of sap and thought that might save her a trip to get water. She tasted the sap and found it good.

She used the sap to cook venison for suppah later that night. The water eventually boiled down to syrup, which sweetened the meat. Woksis found the gravy delicious and spread the news how the Great Spirit had guided his wife in making a delicious new food he called Sinzibuckwud (meaning, "drawn from the wood" in the Algonquian tongue).

Soon all the women were  "sugar-making" ("seensibaukwut"). From that point in time on, braves performed the "Sugar Dance,"  and maple sugar was produced and celebrated each spring in March  after the long, cold winter.

My guess is The Great Spirit had redirected those people from pounding on one another after that long, cold winter, to pounding maple trees. It saved a few lives.

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

Monday, March 16, 2015

SOLD - Royal Robin

Robins have always been harbingers of spring for me - I was taught this somewhere along the line, and had added my own theory which was, the more I saw, the faster spring would arrive. It's what has kept me sane during the final obstacle called March all of these years.

Spring was certainly going to be early this year for sure - I saw so many. Unfortunately, and based on info gleaned from the internet plus what I witnessed this winter, robins aren't harbingers of spring because duh, they hang around year round.

Up here on the hill, and I have never seen this before, there has been a street gang of 25 or so robins flitting around the neighborhood all winter. They were startling to see with their bright orange breasts in an otherwise bland and bleached winter landscape a city can be. They reminded me of the older and enlarged Henry VIII, a little arrogant the way they puffed up their chests (to stay warm in this case, I later learned) over their twig-like legs.

While robins no longer represent harbingers of spring for me, they will become instead, a reminder of spring's inevitable, determined and colorful arrival in the face of all that seems otherwise.

Royal Robin • 8" X 8" framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Monday, March 9, 2015

SOLD - White Night

In the fifth century BC, Hippocrates , the father of medicine wrote, “one who is seized with terror, fright and madness during the night is being visited by the goddess of the moon," to which I would add ...in all of her blinging, glittering glory.

White Night • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Monday, March 2, 2015

SOLD - City Moon

When my cat Ms Kitty and I fled to Portland, we landed in a third floor studio on William Street. It was simple and affordable, and felt like Manhattan (though I had never lived there). I was both terrified and thrilled. I had never lived in a city before.

My drafting table was set up in one corner, and my computer in another. I painted every day on that drafting table because there was time to - I was a freelance graphic designer with a blank work slate. An alcove served as my bedroom, my bed was next to a window. At night Ms Kitty and I would lie there and look out that window over the rooftops at more rooftops. It was magical, especially if there was a full moon overhead. It also became a hunk of time away from all of those feelings that get dragged along with change.

I live in a second floor apartment now, and still love sitting in my reading chair by the window looking out over rooftops. This painting is nowhere in particular. It's just a depiction of the peace I can still conjure up looking out of my first city window.

City Moon • 8" X 8" framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Monday, February 23, 2015

SOLD - White

Although China views the color white as representative of death and illness, an attitude adopted by many up here in Maine this winter, many cultures subscribe to the notion that it represents  freedom, purity, and innocence. That is why, for example, white is worn by brides in Western countries. Hmmmm.

In ancient Egypt, white suggested omnipotence and purity, and in Taoism, the white in the yin and yang symbol represents the active positive force.

Since the color white now defines Maine, I've decided not only accept it, but to embrace it and think about other fun things in the world that appear white besides snow and ice, like clouds, paper, salt, sugar, teeth, bones, light bulbs, flowers, white caps, clothing, signs, chalk, paint, parsnips, onions, milk, eyeballs and lightning - which ironically, is pure heat.

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

Monday, February 16, 2015

SOLD - Lovely Afternoon Breeze

This is a sketch of an overnight in Pulpit Harbor last summer. We had anchored and were out on a dinghy excursion. There was a couple sailing the inner harbor - the soft little breeze was delightful that afternoon. I was hoping this memory would warm me up, and you too, and maybe remind me that all wind in Maine does not sting, nor is it a ruthless son-of-a-bitch.

But as I was painting away, our building, which sits on top of Munjoy Hill here in windswept Portland, was swaying back and forth with and against a wind that blows a straight shot all the way from Mt. Washington. This morning, the Mt. Washington Observatory recorded a gust at 141 mph. I missed that one, but am sure there have been more gauging by the sploshing of water in my glass atop my desk.

Lovely Afternoon Breeze • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Monday, February 9, 2015

#198 La Ventana

Figured I'd post something summerish. This is a sketch of La Ventana, Mexico - a distant memory now. Every time I mention my trip there, I get really bad looks and a snide remark about the weather while I was gone. So I'm not saying anything about it here. Just figured it would warm up people's innards.

I went out yesterday to buy and deliver a paper to a friend in need. I wore my old down coat, essentially a sleeping bag with arms. I froze anyway. The only fun thing about this outing was that no one knew who I was, not that anyone does anyway.

La Ventana • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Monday, January 19, 2015

#197 Jack and Ander's Way

It's like spring here in Portland today. Makes me want to jump in our boat and head out for a sail. This is Perry Creek on one of those rare occasions when there were very few boats anchored. We took a ride up the creek and on the way saw this dinghy ashore.

Jack, the name of the dinghy, also happens to be the name of one of my grandsons. He and his brother Anders are celebrating their birthdays this week. To give equal play, I will name the walking path, marked by the buoy, Anders Way because I know Anders will likely want to lead the way when we all take a walk down this path, this summer, on an overnight to this very spot.

Jack and Ander's Way • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

#196 Extreme Cold

I don't find much use for cold like this other than the spectacular color of the sky on a clear day. But surprisingly, there are a few theories out there about the benefits.

Extreme cold will off disease-mongering insects and microorganisms. Though, let's face it, those suckers will evolve in to it - probably way faster than we've managed to.

Cold weather may also help us slim down by stimulating metabolically active brown fat. Brown fat is the heat-producing, calorie-burning fat that babies need to regulate their body temperatures. Most of it disappears with age, but PET scans have shown that adults retain some brown fat.  So if you want to loose a few, go out and shiver for half an hour. Of course you might catch a cold, but that will shed a few more pounds.
"Whole-body cryotherapy" was developed in Japan to treat pain and inflammation from rheumatic and other conditions. Patients spend one to three minutes in a room cooled to -166. Finnish researchers reported the results of a study of 10 women who for three months took cold-water plunges (20 seconds in water just above freezing) and submitted to whole-body cryotherapy sessions. Blood tests were unremarkable except for a two- to threefold jump in norepinephrine levels minutes after cold exposure. Norepinephrine is a chemical in the nervous system that wears many hats, including, possibly, a role in pain suppression.

This was kind of interesting too. Taller people tend to get cold faster than shorter people because a larger surface area means more heat loss. And fat's reputation as an insulating material is well deserved, although for warmth during the winter, you want it to be the subcutaneous fat layered under the skin, not the visceral fat that collects in the abdomen.

Extreme Cold • 10" X 10" acrylic framed to 18" X 18" • $500

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

SOLD - Thrashing Around

I haven't skied for a long time. I haven't painted for a long time. Figured I'd combine the two and do what I do when I haven't done either one in a long time. Bite the bullet and thrash around until I can imagine it again.

Thrashing Around • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $200