Essence of Island Life, the Last DIAA Show for 2018

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Part of the essence of island life, at least in Maine, is that summer comes to a screeching halt. All of a sudden the take-out shacks close, the summer homes close up and lobster gear (including fishing boats) start to fill the yards.

On Sept. 25, the Deer Isle Artists Association opened the final show of the season, “Essence of Island Life.” I don’t always pay as much attention as I should to the  DIAA exhibit themes, but this time I did.

Essence of Island Life

I submitted three oil paintings and three watercolors, and all arguably depict the essence of island life. Two small oils feature Eggemoggin Reach, which separates Deer Isle from what William Butler Yeats once called ‘the old bitter continent.’

And then the biggest oil painting I’ve ever done: Naskeag Point. OK, Naskeag Point is a peninsula in Brooklin, Maine, which isn’t exactly an island. But I think the trees, the islands, the water and the clouds do give a fair representation of the essence of island life.

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Naskeag Point, oil on canvas

My watercolor Powder Island shows a familiar scene in Stonington Harbor. Fishing boats and dories pass it all day long on the way to and from Fish Pier.  The quarries on Crotch Island used to store powder on that middle island for blasting rock. The island quarries are a whole ‘nother story that can wait.

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Powder Island, watercolor

The vantage point for Powder Island is from Inn on the Harbor. Dan and I stayed there while deciding exactly which coastal town in Maine we should move to. The inn helped us make up our mind.

One of the inn’s new owners, Dana Durst, was walking on a sandbar in Smalls Cove late one afternoon in July. Smalls Cove faces west and gets tremendous sunsets, but I almost prefer the quality of the pre-sunset light. I really like this painting, and I kind of hope no one buys it. Which usually means someone will.

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Smalls Cove, watercolor

So if you’re in Deer Isle, stop by and see The Essence of Island Life: An exhibit of baskets, painting, photography, pottery and weaving.The reception with artists (which, sadly, I will miss) is on Sunday, Sept. 30, from 3-5 pm at the DIAA gallery in Deer Isle.

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Brooksville Farmers Market, Every Tuesday

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Who knew that art lovers patronize the Brooksville Farmers Market?

Actually I did know. Paul Rickert, a wonderful watercolorist, used to sell his paintings at the lively little market in Brooksville, Maine.

The market is near Buck’s Harbor Marina and Buck’s Harbor Yacht  Club, so as you can imagine it attracts quite a few yachters and summer cottagers. Many of the cottagers go back generations to Brooksville. The Brooksville Farmers Market is also near a charming country store called (you guessed it) Buck’s Harbor Market and a fine restaurant called, yup, Buck’s.

Other vendors include Blue-Zee Farm, where Renata sells the best red peppers ever along with blueberries, lettuce and other produce, and Poland Farm, where Kevin sells farm-grown beef and pork. Sometimes he brings his guitar and sings King of the Road for me. (Along with other songs.)  I did a watercolor of Kevin a few years ago:

Brooksville Farmers Market. Watercolor on 140-lb. paper. 12″ by 12″.

I can’t leave out Courtney Haight, who, when he isn’t playing the steel drums, sells heirloom tomatoes, vinegars and barnboard tables.

Vendors also sell jewelry, coffee, lime fizz, jam, granola, books, photographs, eggs, lard, ceramics, textile art and lunch.

Brooksville Farmers Market

This spring I thought I’d try selling prints and cards at the Brooksville Farmers Market. I asked my mom to come up with a display (she’s much better at it than I am) and borrowed a tent from my friend Spoon Bob.

Part of my display t the Brooksville Farmers Market. Dad painted the “Artwork by Leslie Landrigan” sign.

As an afterthought, I included a few original watercolors in mats.

And I brought along four birdhouses that my dad painted over the winter.

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Birdhouse by Luke Miller.

The birdhouses, a steal at $39 each, have all gone home with a happy owner. So have a surprising number (to me) of original watercolors, along with quite a few prints.

These two guys are easily my best sellers.

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Window Kitty. Print.

 

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Sand Beach. Print.

So every Tuesday I schlep the tent, the tables, the tablecloths, the fake calla lilies, the box of cards, the box of prints, the easel, the framed painting, the cash box and the print rack, I drive them to Brooksville and I set them up. From 9:30 a.m. to noon I’m there, meeting new people and swapping market gossip with the other vendors.

So please come on down and say Hi!

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The 12 by 12 (By 12) Is Here!

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The Deer Isle Artists Association’s popular 12 by 12 (By 12) exhibit is scheduled to start Tuesday, July 31, at 10 am sharp.

Be there at the starting gate if you have your eye on a particular work of art.

The 12 by 12 (By 12) features paintings, prints and collages (also known as wall art) no bigger than 12″ by 12.” It also includes 3-dimensional art, such as ceramics, baskets, fiber art and sculpture, also no bigger than — you guessed it — 12″ by 12″ by 12″.

Every work of art sells at an extremely reasonable price of $144 ($12 X $12). The gallery hangs new work as pieces sell. The show lasts two weeks, as all DIAA summer exhibits do, until August 12.

The exhibit is important to the DIAA because it raises money for operating costs.

If you’d like to meet the artists, the reception will be held on Sunday, Aug. 5, from 3 pm to 5 pm. Wine and lemonade will be served, and there will be plenty of food as well.

I’ve shown my work in the past two 12 by 12 (By 12) exhibits. This year I’m donating three watercolors to the show.

They are: Farmers Market,12-by-12-Farmers-Market

Farmers Market, Watercolor, 12″ by 12″Caterpillar Hill and

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Caterpillar Hill, Watercolor, 12″ by 12″

and, finally, Cape Rosier.

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Cape Rosier, Watercolor, 12″ by 12″

These are all Maine scenes. Farmers Market, as its name implies, pictures a scene from the Stonington Farmers Market,

Caterpillar Hill is the view from a stunning lookout on Route 15 on the way to Deer Isle (or the way back). It overlooks Penobscot Bay, the island and the Penobscot River. If you happen to drive by, check out the informational markers. I believe they explain the disastrous Penobscot Expedition during the American Revolution. It didn’t go well for Paul Revere.

Cape Rosier is a part of Brooksville, also part of the Blue Hill peninsula. I’ve just recently discovered this beautiful part of the world and plan to paint much more of it!

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Paintings and Prints at DIAA “Distinctive Marks” Show

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I’ll have both paintings and prints in the Deer Isle Artists Association show, Distinctive Marks, starting Tuesday, June 19.  My paintings will all be watercolor (though I am doing oils these days too), and they’re all new.

Like this one:

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Barred Island

All my work for this show will be landscapes. Because they were painted between November and June, the palette ranges from somber to bright.

November Sunset, for example, shows Causeway Beach in (you guessed it) November.  As I recall I painted it just after the furnace went out on a very cold day.

November Sunset, watercolor, 12″ by 16″.

A very long, wet, dreary spring followed our very long winter here in Maine. Only recently did the temperature exceed 70 — and that was in June, for godsake. But suddenly the sky cleared, the sun came out and  the flowers bloomed. Many, many flowers bloomed, and they did it all at once.

So after toiling over a muted palette I wanted to paint something bright and exuberant. I had plenty of scenes to choose from, but I picked one of my favorite views: from Highland Avenue in Stonington, looking down at the harbor.

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Lupine Madness, watercolor, 11.5 by 11.5.

Distinctive Marks is an exhibit of 3-D works, painting, photographs, pottery and sculpture . Also showing work in the Distinctive Marks show will be Emily Brett Lukens. Ron Deprez, Mary Eaton, Steve Ettlinger, Alan Flowers, Stephan Haley, Jill Kofton, Jerry Levitt, Luna Lyman, Julie Meranze-Levitt, Woodley Osborne, Cynthia Stroud-Watson, Maura Tillotson and Alice Wilkinson.

A reception for the artists will be held Sunday, June 24, from 3-5 pm at the DIAA gallery.

The Deer Isle Artists Association, founded in 1972,

Founded in 1972, the Deer Isle Artists Association is a member-run nonprofit organization committed to creating and exhibiting art. Our more than 100 members include painters, sculptors, printmakers, jewelers, fiber artists, photographers, ceramicists and other artists.

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Inn on the Harbor, New Home for My Work

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There are at least two wonderful places to stay in Stonington: Inn on the Harbor and Boyce’s Motel.  Dan and I stayed at both while hunting for our dream home in Stonington, and we had nothing but good experiences.

Putting cards in racks at Inn on the Harbor.

Jay Brown and Dana Durst bought Inn on the Harbor a year ago and worked their tails off freshening it up. Over the winter they held community potlucks in their dining room, which is how I got to know them. (There is, by the way, a rich potluck culture on Deer Isle. You’d better have a couple of go-to hors d’oeuvres recipes if you want to survive the winter here.)

At their last potluck, I asked Jay and Dana if they’d be interested in selling notecards I’d made of Deer Isle scenes in winter

On the Hard, notecard, 5.5″ by 4″.

… spring

Oceanville Garden, notecard, 5.5″ by 4″

…summer

Deer Isle Bridge From Caterpillar Hill, notecard, 5.5″ by 4″

and fall.

Scott’s Landing in Autumn, notecard, 5.5″ by 4″.

They said sure, bring them on down.

But then the dilemma presented myself: How do I package them? So I ordered clear bags. Then I thought I need to explain what they are. So I ordered a postcard to go in the package with the cards.

While I was at it, I decided to order some more postcards.

Church of the Morning After, pastel
Blue Hill Overlook, watercolor
Clamming at Causeway Beach, watercolor
Moving Day. Watercolor
Boys o Summer, watercolor
Sand Beach, watercolor

The postcards arrived yesterday, so I spent this morning assembling what seemed like thousands of little doodads: notecards, envelopes, stickers, scotch tape, postcards. Fortunately the cats were not in terrorist mode and I got it all done without a mishap. (They find it comforting to chew on the cellophane bags.)

All the while I remembered two things people had told me: One, a salesman for R.R. Donnelley in Chicago. He said, “Anyone can write a book, not everyone can sell it.” The same applies to art, I thought. It’s one thing to sit in a studio and create images; quite another to schlep paintings around, reproduce them, frame them, price them, keep track of them (seriously) and convince people they don’t suck.

And I remembered what my friend Michael Daugherty said to me over the winter. He’s the former co-owner of the Isalos Gallery in Stonington with his wife Rebecca. Michael told me people have no idea the amount of work gallery owners put into selling a work of art. I take his point.

Anyhoo, my notecards and postcards are now on sale at the Inn on the Harbor in beautiful downtown Stonington, Maine. Stop in and see for yourself.

 

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The Jordan Pond House Gives Me Fits

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Jordan Pond Intruder, Watercolor on 140-lb. paper. 9″ by 12″.

The Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park was originally a restaurant built in the 1870s next to (surprise!) Jordan Pond, a deep, clear lake formed by a glacier. At one end are two mountains called ‘The Bubbles.’

Jordan Pond, looking toward The Bubbles.

In the 1890s, the Jordan Pond House hosted high-society events for the wealthy summer people of Bar Harbor. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., bought it and gave it to the National Park Service in 1946. That was the year before the Year Maine Burned.

In 1947, 200 wildfires in two October weeks wiped out nine Maine towns, left 2,500 homeless, consumed 2,000 acres in Acadia National Park and burned many of the seasonal estates and grand hotels  in Bar Harbor.

Jordan Pond House

The Jordan Pond House survived that fire, but not another one in 1979. It was rebuilt with a large gift shop. Today it serves tea and popovers on the veranda overlooking the pond, along with locally sourced Maine cuisine.  I’m told the food is a cut well above the usual Aramark park fare.

What I love about the Jordan Pond House is the way people cluster under the entryway, which is covered with some sort of vine. I’m guessing wistaria but it could be something else.

I like the way the vines filter the light, the way the entryway frames human figures. But I’ve never been able to take anything resembling a decent picture of them, no matter how fast I am with the smart phone. So I had to make this painting up pretty much from memory with a few reference photos.

I had a terrible time with this painting. It took me three tries to get the vines right, the flowers gave me fits and the background didn’t work. I left it on the dining room table for two weeks before realizing I needed to lighten the background. Then it took another day to realize it needed something in the middle. I put in the dog, though I don’t think they’re allowed in Acadia.  Hence the title, Intruder at the Jordan Pond House.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Boys on Beaches

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boys on beaches
Rock Throwing at Sandy Neck, Watercolor and Gouache on 140 lb. paper, 9″ by 12″, $300.

Boys on beaches having fun are irresistible subjects for me. Boys on beaches wearing red are even more so.

I love paintings that show a person’s mood or emotion in an identifiable setting. Boys on beaches are almost always having a blast, and their body language shows it. They’re as joyful as — well, Louis Armstrong playing Potato Head Blues.

But I digress.

Friends ask why I do representational art. The great Edward Hopper explains why:

The inner life of a human being is a vast and varied realm and does not concern itself alone with stimulating arrangements of color, form and design.

He also explains, sort of, why the color red on a Cape Cod beach is so vibrant:

…there’s a beautiful light there — very luminous–perhaps because it’s so far out to sea; an island almost.

The painting above is taken from an image of my nephew Scotty throwing a rock at Sandy Neck Beach in Barnstable, Mass. He was 10 years old and visiting his grandparents in nearby Sandwich during Easter vacation. Scotty and his older brother and sister were getting restless, so Grandma and I took them to the beach. That’s the power plant and the Sagamore Bridge in the background.

It took me a year to get around to it, but I finally finished Scotty this week.

boys on beaches

I’ve done several other paintings of boys on beaches. One, Boys of Summer, was just accepted into the New England Watercolor Society Regional Juried Exhibition. (Very exciting.) They’re walking on the boardwalk on Town Neck Beach in Sandwich.

Another of my favorites was also set at Town Neck Beach:

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Cape Cod Potato Chips. Watercolor on 140-lb. paper. 12″ by 14″. $600.

I painted the last two paintings five or six years ago. The boys are probably in their late teens by now. I hope they’re still able to cut loose at the beach.

 

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Oscar and I Hold a Closing Opening Party

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Our Closing Opening started with the salmon. My sister Christen, who lives in the Pacific Northwest, sent Dan and me a honking big smoked salmon for Christmas. We didn’t think we could eat it all before it went bad.

So one day Oscar Turner and I were toiling away at the Deer Isle Artists Association gallery when Hub White stopped by. We joked about how many artists have drawn or painted the Church of the Morning After. We should have an exhibit here and invite the musicians to play at the reception, we joked.

Hell, Oscar and I should have our own closing opening on our last day, we said. We could serve that salmon.

So Oscar and I asked Cindy Bourque-Simonds if we could have a party. We promised up and down to clean the gallery and to get it ready for the ART matters 2 session the next day. Cindy said yes. She’d even bring brownies.

On our last day as artists in residence, Oscar and I cleaned after I finished my painting of Mom and the champion yellow birch. We left our paintings up on the wall.

Most if not all the work Oscar and I finished by our closing opening.

We took some of our stuff home and packed some of it away in the closet. So sad to end our artist-in-residency.

Still, there’d be a party.

We had sent out invitations.

We counted plastic glasses, napkins, paper plates and plastic cutlery hidden away in the DIAA cupboard. Oscar and Diana brought tablecloths, flowers, wine and more hors d’oeuvres.

Dan made little lobster pizzas (we’re hoping to introduce them in grocery stores this summer). I made salmon hors d’oeuvres. Lots of them.

In the end Oscar and I were grateful and happy so many people came out on such a wintry night. Though sometimes I think Deer Isle year-rounders in winter will go anywhere that’s warm, light and contains another mammal or two.

You can go to a party on Deer Isle and not one person will ask you where you work — unlike, say, Washington, D.C. Of course everyone already knows what everyone else does here. Don’t have an affair unless you want everyone to know about it.

Our guests included artists– Buzz Masters, Sarah Doremus, Peter Beerits; Rebecca Daugherty, Deborah Lothrop (aka Blossom’s mom), Maureen Farr, Judy Rader, Katy Helman and Cindy Bourque-Simonds – as well as a surveyor, three innkeepers, a jam-maker, a physiologist, teachers, a salesman, a Maine guide and novelist.

Spoonmaker Bob Gillmor came all the way from Blue Hill. Leave it to Bob to tell us about Gallery Punch. It’s a concoction of vodka, whiskey, champagne and something else designed to get art patrons drunk so they’ll buy expensive paintings.

No Gallery Punch. Just wine, beer, seafood and chocolate.

We weren’t selling our paintings, but perhaps we would have if we’d known about Gallery Punch.

Diane Horton took our photo. With a real camera, too.

Oscar had a blast. “What a great night,” he said.

Plus the salmon was all eaten.

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Painting the Champion Yellow Birch

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I began painting the champion yellow birch on my second-to-last day as artist-at work in the Deer Isle Artists Association gallery in January.

The Champion Yellow Birch

I had vowed to do a painting in oil in the DIAA gallery because I can’t do it at home, at least in the winter. The fumes concentrate in our gas dryer and our gas stove, making our clothes and food stink — something to which Dan strongly objects. Imagine that.

I brought some canvases, paint, oil brushes, miscellaneous solvents and an easel to the gallery in early january. For three weeks they taunted me. Finally on Day 22 I took the plunge.

I had an image in mind. In the fall of 2016 I took my mom, visiting from Cape Cod, to the Yellow Birch Farm on the Reach Road in Deer Isle. It’s an amazing place, owned by Missy Greene and Eric Ziner. It has goats, vegetables, Missy’s amazing ceramics and Eric’s wonderful metal sculptures.  I met Missy at the Stonington Farmers Market, where she kindly offered to sell our frozen clam chowder pies from their farmstand.

But I digress. Mom and I ran into Eric at the farm, and he told us how to find the champion birch tree in the woods. It’s actually a former champion; Eric said they delisted it because people were taking too many pieces from it.  So we found the tree in all its autumn glory. I took a few photos of Mom admiring the champion yellow birch and tucked them into my subconscious.

When I got out my oil paints, I knew I wanted to attack it with bold outlines of black paint. That approach worked with a painting I did in Florence a few years ago.

Florentine Trapeze Artist

Anatomically she’s a little off, but I like it anyway.

Oil is a very different medium than watercolor. It seems to take a lot more time to finish an oil painting (and definitely more time to clean the brushes), but less time to master the medium.

I’m not sure if I want to leave The Champion Yellow Birch the way it is, or work on it some more this summer when I can paint outside. Stay tuned.

 

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Getting Phyllis Just Right

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Sometimes paintings magically work the first time I put them down.  More often I have to try and try again. In the case of Phyllis, I painted about a dozen versions before I got it right.

Phyllis started out as an image of a kid walking on Cadillac Mountain. I painted it at home, before my artist-in-residency at the Deer Isle Artists Association gallery.

Walking Cadillac Mountain

I liked it well enough, but it wasn’t quite what I was getting at. The vegetation seemed a little overworked, the figure was a little stiff, the feeling it elicited wasn’t exactly awe at Cadillac’s majesty and all that.

I tried painting three adults at the edge of the painting.

Three on a Mountain

Nope, that didn’t do it for me either. I liked the image of the woman, but again the vegetation looked overworked.

So I shifted gears and painted a panoramic view of Frenchman Bay from Cadillac Mountain. All of these paintings were adapted from a couple dozen photos I took with my cell phone.

Cadillac Mountain Panorama

I was pleasantly surprised by the way the painting glowed (thank you, quinacridone gold).

I decided to leave it alone and go back to my images of people on Cadillac Mountain. I set my timer on my cell phone and finished in 30 minutes.

Phyllis on Cadillac Mountain

Cindy Bourque-Simonds, who manages the DIAA’s exhibits, dropped in with her dog. “Who’s that?” she asked, pointing to the woman I’d made up on the top of the mountain.

“Phyllis,” I said.

Phyllis looked cartoony and the mountain looked too pink in some places, too muddy in others. I tried again.

Phyllis Again

Better.

Then I thought I’d combine the Cadillac Mountain Panorama with Phyllis.

Version No. 1:

Phyllis on Cadillac Mountain

Version No. 2. I didn’t even finish Phyllis. I knew what I had to do.

Cadillac Mountain, Unfinished Phyllis

Final Version. Finally.

Cadillac Mountain, Finally Phyllis

 

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