It could be worse - you could me right now. I keep forgetting I have snow tires, having not had them for 50 some odd years. They're in our shed - warm, clean and snug in a plastic bag. I've got an appointment to have them put on next week which doesn't help me right now, but it is what it is. I think I can remember what it's like careening the state without them.
Fortunately, being a freelancer has its benefits during times like this. I can work from home. I don't have to travel until tomorrow. In the meantime, cheer up! Maybe, just maybe, this storm will clear out tonight and leave in its wake a uniquely-silent-other-worldly-city-snow-walkabout, where the only sound is that of the breathless cursing by snow shovelers. On the other hand, you might be pitted against the maniacal-fire-breathing-snow-throwing-iron-dragons that are our city plow trucks. Be careful out there.
Cheer Up! • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250
That moon still gets to me. Maybe it's witnessing a ball so huge suspended up there with no strings or base holding it up. Or wait, maybe it's gravity I'm in awe of. As I explained to my grandson Jack, I don't see the wind, I just see things in the wind. So actually, I don't see gravity, I just see the moon in gravity.
The gravity of this realization is beyond comprehension, like the moon, and gravity. So I guess I'm back to square one. Just plain awe.
That Moon • 8" x 8" mixed media framed to 12" x 12" • $250
We have snow on the ground. I was tempted to do a snowfall painting in celebration, but decided to get a few other themes in before. Somehow I missed a whole season.
It started many years ago when I decided I wanted fruit trees, a vegetable garden or two, and flowers beds. The number of plots grew every year because, in hind sight, I forgot in the spring what I had to do the fall before to put everything to bed for the winter.
Today, seasonal yard work around here is a big project. I figure we might as well get used to it because when we're too old to work, ski and sail, hike and everything else we pack into a year, this land and our home will be who we become full time. Weeders.
Somehow I Missed A Season • 8" x 8" framed to 12" x 12" • $250
The leaves were already on their way out by the time I found time to stop and snatch this sketch. One of these days I'll do it justice, but right now, it's the way it looked just before the big blow.
I guess I was taking it for granted - it's a scene I see every time I go over the bridge in Kingfield. This is one of the reasons some of us live up here. As a local transplant once said to me when I asked him why he left Brooklyn, New York, "you can't beat the commute to work."
Looking Upriver • 8"x8" acrylic framed to 12"x12" • $250
There aren't too many of them left along the coast of Maine -
places where fishermen live where they work, that is. There's a little stretch in Stonington where the natives seem to be hanging on. It doesn't seem to change much from year to year, thankfully.
A sure sign that things might be tipping for the worse, however, was an experience we had this past summer. You never used to have to worry about getting a real Maine lobster roll in Stonington, but my daughter - she was so excited, bought one in town, closed her eyes, opened her mouth big and wide and took a bite three times her size only to discover that someone had put tarragon in the mayo. Who the hell puts tarragon in the mayo in a lobster roll, she gagged? I didn't mind it too much, but it sure wasn't what I was expecting either. Is there a curse that can be used on these interlopers who think they can change the real Maine lobster roll and get away with it?
A Fisherman's Place 8 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" * $250
The week before we hauled the boat is when I saw the biggest full moon I've ever seen.
We had dinner in Rockland and then watched Maiden. I had seen it. Tom had not. The guy behind us was on his fifth go around. The Strand is a great little theater. But Maiden was even better. It was a great night. Fun dinner, beautiful theater, great movie. A trifecta.
On our way back out to the boat in the dark, I was in the bow of the dinghy scanning for navigational markers and lobster buoys with my penlight. We would have been thrown in the clinker had we been caught by marine patrol. Actually we could have been run over by a cruise ship. But we weren't.
Tom spotted it first - over my shoulder. It was so big I couldn't see it at first. And then I did. A monster was cresting over Vinalhaven. That's the biggest f...... moon I've ever seen, I exhaled. And it was. We watched it float up and into the cloud bank, and that was the end of the show.
And finally, who had the most cribbage wins for the 2019 summer sailing season? It wasn't Tom!
The Biggest Full Moon I'd Ever Seen • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250
When it dawns a beautiful summer day here in Maine, albeit with her pinky toe now fully submerged in fall, it's hard to imagine there's a hurricane just south of us plowing her way up the coast. It's like witnessing the inner mind of Mother Nature and her daily battle to either act out good or not so good.
The ancients believed we humans, collectively, influenced the behavior of nature. Although I'm simply trying to hang on to summer here, I hope this painting also helps those facing Dorian to fill themselves with memories of a peace filled day. What's the risk?
Holding On To Summer • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250
There are only so many ways to describe moonlight. I decided to use the word yūgen. Yūgen had flown by me on Facebook defined as a Japanese word to describe mystery and concealment. As it turns out, yūgen is one of the nine ancient Japanese aesthetics. Their meanings are greatly edited here, but for me, it is the words themselves that I find captivating for some reason - maybe because they are in and of themselves both beautiful and lyrical to look at and speak.
1. Wabi-sabi 佗寂 (Imperfection) - The philosophy of wabi-sabi is one of imperfection, impermanence and incompletion.
2. Miyabi 雅 (Elegance) - Miyabi is about elegance, refinement and courtliness. It is also about the elimination of anything vulgar or unsightly.
3. Shibui 渋い or Shibusa 渋さ (Simplicity) - The aesthetic ideal behind shibui is one of simplicity, subtlety and unobtrusiveness.
4. Iki 粋 (Spontaneity and Originality) - Iki is often compared to its older and more universal cousin wabi-sabi. While iki is about simplicity and temporality, it also encapsulates qualities
like originality, uniqueness and spontaneity.
5. Jo-ha-kyū 序破急 (Modulation and Movement) - Jo-ha-kyū is the concept of modulation and movement. It can
be thought about like a tempo in how you do things and connote how all
things should begin slowly, build up quickly thereafter to a rising
crescendo, and then end swiftly.
6. Yūgen 幽玄 (Mystery and Concealment) - Yūgen is a concept that values mystery and concealment. It describes an element of profound depth with questions that may
remain unanswered even as the plot unravels.
7. Geidō 藝道 (Discipline and System) - This concept is embodied in the discipline, ethics and systematised
approach to apprenticeship embodied in many Japanese traditional arts.
8. Ensō 円相 (Void and Absolution) - Ensō is represented by a circle that symbolises a
holistic form of absolution, enlightenment, strength, elegance, the
Universe and the void.
9. Kawaii かわいい (Cute and Lovable) - Lovable, cute or
adorable, kawaii is found almost everywhere in modern Japan and an integral part of Japanese society.
Edited from Japan Talk on the “9 Principles of Japanese Art and Culture.”
Yugen • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250
ONE DEAD RUN AT A TIME
Sailing with the wind square to your stern is called a dead run. If
you have a main and a jib, you can sail wing on wing. The jib flies to
one side of the mast, the main to the other. You are pushed across the
water like a butterfly. It's lovely.
Decades ago, I took a friend
out for a spin on a borrowed Laser. For those who don't know, a Laser
is a small but feisty single-handed racing boat with a very tall mast
and way too much sail for it's size. As a result, it's very "touchy,"
with a response time of 0 seconds. I had single-handed a sailfish a
couple of times in my career and figured, heck, all little boats are
alike - I could handle this one. My friend had no prior sailing
experience, but like me, she was gung-ho for a new adventure. No
worries, we said, we have life jackets, the sun is shining and the water
temp is delightful.
There was a brisk breeze tacking off the
dock close-hauled upwind. I was feeling really special - like I really
knew what I was doing. We were going fast and loving it because
honestly, we were speed freaks having accumulated a legendary number of
speeding tickets between us in our day. What a blast we were having.
And then it was time to go back downwind, or jibe-ho as they say. For
me it meant spinning the boat around 180 degrees into a dead run. The
first jibe resulted in an immediate sail slap to the water. The boat
went over so fast, we flew through the air and into the water before we
could yell fore! Choked with laughter, we righted the Laser and jumped
back into the saddle and took off again. As I started to haul the sail
back in, the mast immediately pitched from the left to the right and
back again. My friend brilliantly ducked the lightning fast and deadly
pendulum that was our boom, eventually pinning herself tight to the
deck. But we were in the drink again before we knew it.
dramatic. I'm thinking seven, but hoping it was only five times we
rolled over trying to get underway. We were like a death roll wind-up
toy, and my friend now had justifiable reason to finally ask me if I
knew what the hell I was doing. I don't remember what my reply was, but I
think I lied hoping it would somehow morph true.
By the grace of
God, and I'm not kidding here, we eventually got the hang of it. We
both figured out how to throw our weight around - hiking in nautical
terms, and were to win the race against impending death when we finally
bow-butted our home dock. It was freakin' awesome! we decided over a
cold one later, and over several more later on. We scared the shit out
ourselves, were exhausted but on an adrenaline high, defined ourselves
as Olympic contenders on perseverance and raw guts alone, had a great
swim, got some color, and survived!
We never sailed together
again - both determining that I needed to hone my technique. She and her
husband eventually bought a sailboat, which shocked the hell out of me,
so I didn't have to feel guilty about destroying her aspirations. Me, I
continued to test my fear of death rolls for many years. I still freak
sailing a dead run, but not so much that I feel like it's still a game
of high seas chicken - like who's going to take a dunking first, me or
the boat. You just gotta hang in there and take one dead run at a time.
Sailing Downwind • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250
Ever round a corner while on a walk and bump into something that makes you stop for minute? I found this stop in Stonington one day. It's the work of mother nature, but she doesn't own the property, so I tried to be a little discreet while snapping away. I often wonder, do owners of these roadside patches look out their windows and ask themselves, how am I suddenly a participant in an unannounced free-and-open-to-the-public-gardengeek-tour? Do they take pride in their work and like showing it off, or do they consider fencing us nosy gardengeeks out? Hopefully they generously recognize it's part of the deal when they snap up prime-location property in Maine's most popular tourista communities.
Public Gardengeek Tour • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250
Trees. They're really quite astounding. I’ve just started reading a book called Lab Girl. It’s good, and a great way to escape to another universe for an hour or so.
Trees are important. They give us oxygen and store carbon. They provide shelter for wildlife and humans, and stabilize the soil. At one point, a third of our planet’s land was covered with trees. Today there are eighty billion trees in the protected forests of the western US. The ratio of trees to humans is well over 200. In the last ten years we’ve chopped down around fifty billion of them - and there will not be trees re-planted. Every ten years we humans cut down one percent of those forests.
I'm gong to take a walk to appreciate trees tonight, and pray we figure out how to curb our appetite for them.
Trees • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250
This is a memory from long long ago in a galaxy far far away, when we children had no idea what was really going on out there in the world. I was lucky. This was not, and is not a scene a lot of children will ever know in their lifetime. All the more important therefore, to suggest it to them as a possibility now.
Constant bombardment of information forces me to be involved. It is a part of my life. There is too much at stake to ditch my brain. A side must be taken, even if it means bucking the powers that be, choosing peace over war, or love rather than hate. Intellectual liberty is what makes a democracy a democracy.
To be able to balance on the bongo board, I occasionally stop all activity, close both eyes, and conjure up a prompt that will, like a quiet harbor, release all surrounding chaos to a quiet mind.
And then I share my meditation with the world to balance out the karma I create with the other stuff I post.
A Meditation Manifesto • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250
Every year for the past several, I've done a painting for the local garden club - Friends of the Eastern Prom. It's for their annual hidden garden tour. This is a particularly difficult assignment for me to do because I know nothing about flowers. I'm a wiz with vegetables, but flowers are a totally incomprehensible language. The flowers I buy, and are given, are complete mysteries to me. It's a lesson in something, not quite sure what.
Another City Garden Tour Poster • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250
It was over a decade ago on one of those days you could sell a clam shack on a no-beach-rock-bound-wind-battered-all-day-shade-side of an island with no ferry access in a heartbeat to someone from away. Frenchboro was holding it's annual lobster festival and we just happened to be there on one of those spectacular summer days.
Set up on a hillside in the churchyard near the head of harbor, local fisherman's wives were, and had for over fifty years, been preparing for their annual fundraising lobster feed - a bunch of picnic tables with plastic table covers and the atmosphere only a hillside on a harbor on a remote island can offer. Although lobster was the star, the homemade pies made you nod yes please, though your bloated stomach sloshed no way. I had chosen a pecan pie, and unbeknownst to me, this artist had thrown a handful of chocolate bits into the mix.Yeowza!
The Frenchboro Congregational Church always hosts this event on the second Saturday in August, rain or shine. It benefits the church and outreach programs in the island community including the Historical Society, library and Solid Waste Committee. It's gone mainstream now with live music, a road race, children’s games
and other activities.
We stopped by last summer, missed the dinner, but made a donation to the cause. It's a good honest one.
Frenchboro • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250
We were anchored off Isle au Haut one beautiful summer afternoon - remember those? After a good long leg-stretcher on the island, we headed back down to the town float where the dinghy was tied, and came across these young folks fully entranced with something down under. All eyes were glued to one spot. Even big sister got in there for a look. The scene reminded me of my three brothers and I, but was the polar opposite of what our water excursions were like.
I was content to sit on the beach in my chair looking cool, the only big worry being not to let my tan go a shade lighter. My brothers, however and of course, tried to get into as much trouble as they could, but not on purpose. Trouble just seemed to be attracted to them - a magnetic pull they were born with.
Inevitably something would happen - a busted toe, the discovery of a dead horseshoe crab, the terror of a shark (dog fish) slithering around their legs, or a full on no-mercy mud slinging fight at low tide. Compared to those days, these kids looked pretty tame, sweet even.
I wanted to peek over their shoulders, but decided to leave them to their discovery and take this pic of what appeared to be a period of peace and tranquility. Sometimes it's more fun not to know what's really going on behind the scenes. It might be perfectly normal, or were they scheming to snag whatever it was to hide it in their mother's apron pocket when she wasn't looking, or better still, under their other younger brother's pillow that night?
I'm sure adults were looking at my brothers and I the same way. God, they'd whisper, were they raised in a barn?
What Appears To Be Peace and Tranquility • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250
When it finally warmed up for a bit and the clouds allowed the sun some air time, the snow melted as fast as a Popsicle* in mid-August. This year the Easter egg hunt around here was for lost gloves, rakes, chairs, anything green and some sanity. There are probably plenty of treasures up on the mountain too where
chairlift lines are veritable graveyards of poles, gloves, hats, goggles
and cell phones to name just a few. It's winter's great lost and found, full of surprises.
Unfortunately, the roads and lift lines are also littered with our trash - discarded beer cans and bottles, cigarette butts, coffee cups and nip bottles. Get a grip people.
*The name was trademarked registered by Frank
Epperson of Oakland, Calif., presumably from (lolly)pop + (ic)icle. ...
Seeing that it was a success, in 1924 Epperson applied for a patent for
his “frozen confectionery” which he called “the Epsicle ice pop.” He renamed it Popsicle, allegedly at the insistence of his children.
It's pretty easy to pick up a case of whiplash throwing your head back to look up at the sky for signs of the sun, then flipping it forward to the ground searching for any hint of spring. If you slow the rotation down by stopping midpoint to look straight ahead, spring emerges. It's in the color. The color is subtle, but if you gaze long enough, you'll see it out there.
Toss into that gaze some memory, a smidge of wishful thinking, and a dose of desperation, and it becomes a veritable vernal springtime color show experience not unlike those spectacular Philmore East Light Shows of my youth.
Antidote To Spring Whiplash Syndrome 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250
I was in bed reading one night when suddenly the avocado and kiwi I had thrown into my clothing satchel the week before popped in to my head. Luckily they weren’t in as bad shape as the banana I found last month, and fortunately their skins were tough enough to hold innards under extreme pressure.
While I was rummaging for the avocado and kiwi, I discovered two bars of dark chocolate I had purchased during a two-for-one sale a while ago. I don't remember tossing them in the satchel. I do remember thinking I had bought two bars of chocolate, looked for them, but never found them. I figured I had left them in the shopping cart or worse, never bought them and just thought I did. As it turns out, they had settled on the bottom of the satchel - sunken under a sea of clothing. How does that happen?
Which reminds me, I found a missing dryer ball all the way down in the ankle of my pajamas. How does that happen? And while we're at it, how is it that spring gets lost? Is it too stuck in the bottom of some satchel or pajama bottom somewhere?
Is Spring Stuck in a Pajama Bottom Somewhere? • 16.5” x
10.5” acrylic unframed • $350
I was meeting a friend at the Portland Diner the other day and was late.
I didn’t see her in the new addition, so stepped up to the original diner and glanced around to see if she was there yet. A waitress swooped down the aisle from the opposite direction. I told her I was looking for a friend.
She said, oh yes, she's right here and pointed to the booth to my right.
An old guy sitting on a stool hunched over a big piece of pie at the deserted counter across the aisle looked over his left shoulder at the booth at about the same time I did.
“Well, if she’s sitting there, she’s invisible,” he rasped turning back to his pie.
He was right - all I saw was a cup of steaming coffee.
The waitress quickly added that my friend was currently in the ladies room. She never cracked a smile and asked if I wanted some coffee.
I replied no thank you and fell into the booth trying to contain hysterical laughter in my cupped hands, afraid someone might think I was a head case.
I think I've whined about winter's staying power in the past. Here in Maine the first day of spring will often pass us by like a cruise ship heading south vibrating with Jimmy Buffet music and fans.
The southern part of the state can be springlike for a minute when suddenly a sea breeze kicks in like a frigid vortex dipping its way south - a hand stretching down from the north pole cupping us back to winter. The western mountains and north too still have big filthy snowbanks, bitter gales that howl through your bones like a freon syringe, and a lot of worn out rotator cuffs.
So I have decided that this is it for winter paintings from me. I'm throwing in the towel. I'm fed up. This wintah is ova for me, O-V-A, ova!
Last Wintah Painting Again • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250
first day of spring was a corker! It was such an incredibly beautiful
day yesterday that I soaked it all up and in skiing instead of working. Today I pay the price with a double work load, and weather-wise, a reminder of similar situation last summer.
After a stunning sail across the bay to North Haven - sunshine, a favorable breeze and following sea, we
woke up the next morning to gray and fog, and decided to delay our cruise a bit to see if the weather might cop a better attitude. So we
rowed to the public landing, walked over to the
community building to check our email, and ate something chocolate
because there was chocolate sitting there on the counter to be eaten.
took a stroll up and around the village to stretch our sea legs, came
back to the landing and rowed back out to the boat where we prepared to let
go. The weather hadn't changed moods, but it never makes much sense
hanging around in a cozy cabin with our noses stuck in good books when we could
be freezing our kahunahs and kahunohs off in a potential downpour
looking for adventure in pea soup fog instead. One does not spend a
kazillion dollars to keep a sailboat afloat simply to float nowhere.
Waiting For the Weather To Cop a Better Attitude • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12"• $250
Years ago I was working with a Buddhist practitioner who wisely concluded that I was, among other things, a dysfunctional workaholic. My first assignment was to find five things I like to do other than work, and then go out and actually do them. Whoa - tough one!
I put hiking on the list because I was surrounded by mountains and miles and miles of hiking trails including the Appalachian. I bought myself some decent leather Raichle boots, figuring that if I spent a goodly amount of money I would be forced to carry out the assignment and like it, whether I liked it or not.
I struck out on my inaugural solo-soul-searching-sojourn up in to Avery Peak - one of those bumps in the background of this painting that make up the Longfellow Range in Carrabassett Valley. Sauntering along, I'd periodically stop and ask myself if I liked this hiking thing. I honestly didn't know, so I just kept putting one expensive boot in front of the other, asking, climbing, asking, and climbing until I eventually, and to my surprise, summited.
Looking west along the spine of the range, I was riding a gigantic sea serpent cutting through an ocean of undulating green swells that were the many ridges below. The stunted trees were like druids riding along, grooming the patches of pale green, blue and lavender moss growing in and around the bold rock that was the mighty beast's hide. And then I sat down and smoked a cigarette. It was heaven.
I got hooked on hiking and eventually unhooked from smoking, and continued to solo up into those mountains over many many years. I witnessed the mountains morph from green and lush in the summer, to colorful show offs in the fall, and then hauntingly dark and moody in the winter. At some point I realized I did the same thing. It was a hard-earned Zen truistic-mystical-moment.
Those Moody Mountains • 10" or so x 8" acrylic framed to whatever • $250
Oh My Gosh Corner might be the most famous piece of road up here in these parts, but the one that gets to me is about halfway along the access road where you veer a bit to the right, hit a little rise up and into a view of the mountain that really lets you know what kind of a day you're going to have up there - and "Holy Oh Shit" blows out of your mouth like a freight train, leaving you gasping for mercy.
Holy Oh Shit Corner • 8"x8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250
I've driven the same stretch of Route 27 for about a quarter of my life
now. It's not bad as roads go once you get past Augusta. The Belgrade
Lakes region is lovely, as are the fields of working dairy farms through
Farmington. The intervale running beside the Carrabassett River before
you get to Kingfield is unique in this state as is the drive north along
the river and up through the valley
with its rolling ridges and some of Maine's highest and prettiest
mountains towering in the background. If you cruise northwest all the
way through Carrabassett Valley, you will pass Stratton, Eustis and
Coburn Gore, and in to Quebec, Canada if you feel the need for a weekend
hiatus from the hijinks of our great country.
I've seen some
of nature's best along this route. I've also witnessed some of man's
worst - like the slow and insidious erosion of Maine's countryside to
strip malls with bright lights and acres of black asphalt parking lots.
But until they all return to dust, there's a pretty little piece of
Route 27 right around New Vineyard that is still in tact and I hope
never changes. Even during the coldest, darkest and most colorless
months of the year, there are still parts of the countryside that belong
only to nature. I hope we see fit to leave them that way. Route 27 Through New Vineyard • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250
The only constant is change - I get it, but this city was way more interesting when it was authentically gritty and hard working, when gulls would fling dead herring at tourists on Commercial Street, when streams of sticky, smelly bait juice flowed under foot making a walk in some parts of downtown treacherous, when there were bars where you tipped more than you paid for your beer, and because of that, you likely got a "howdy ma'am" from a drunken sailor who couldn't help himself but be happy trying to find his way home.
The Way It Was • 8"x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250
I've watched cats get off-the-ground-and-in-to-the-air-like-a-cyclone-wound-up batting an apple around the floor. You have to wonder what thoughts are whirring in and around their tiny processors. And although I've never witnessed it, I bet it's not unusual for one of these psychos, in a full on frenzy, to end up having taken bite taken out of an apple at some point. And if a bite is taken and ingested, what happens?
As it turns out cats can eat a slice or two of apple now and again without harm, but those apple seeds are killers. Unbeknownst to me, apple seeds contain cyanide. They contain only a small amount so they won't harm humans, but cats are too small to handle them. I find it unlikely however, that the attention span of said cat will get them that far into an apple core anyway, no offense.
When the local bears relax into hibernation, I wake up. I become a processing center for calendars - thank you to my fans for a fabulous year, and buy into holiday merrymaking like a fool. So when January rolls around, unlike getting back into the saddle, pedaling a bike and swinging a baseball bat, I begin the slow tortuous and arduous process of getting back into painting. What is it that makes us think we can start where we left off? Is it an invincible boomer thing - a reluctance to look our future in the eye without tinged lenses? Maybe.
In the meantime, here's a simple wintah painting. While I understand many are up to their ears in it already, winter is still an awful/pretty time of the year here in Maine when we settle down and take a minute to look around.
Wintah Wake Up • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250