Deer Isle in Four Seasons

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Spring is easily the dreariest of the four seasons in coastal Maine — raw, cold, wet, overcast. It snowed yesterday, which at least gave the plow banks a fresher appearance.

Spring is also the season to plan for the summer tourists, who arrive in droves from July 4 to Labor Day. I decided to make a batch of notecards to sell to our visitors. Deer Isle in four seasons seemed a good idea, especially since I had paintings of each season.

Unfortunately, I’d sold two of the paintings and one was too big for notecard size. So over the past two days I repainted the big one and the two I sold (I figured I’m allowed to do that), all in notecard size.

The painting above shows a gardener (real) and a cat (fictional) on the Oceanville peninsula on Deer Isle. When spring finally does come to Maine, the wildflowers, especially the lupines, are so abundant they almost make up for April.

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

For summer I chose the Deer Isle Bridge from Caterpillar Hill in Sedgwick, Maine.  A fellow artist once said to me, “You can sell those bridge paintings all day long.” (Meow. It was just after I’d sold one.) The bridge itself is quite steep so the sailboats on Eggemoggin Reach can sail under it.  More than a few drivers are terrified to drive over the bridge, and it isn’t unusual to see a car stopped on the mainland side of it as the driver realizes he or she has to go over that thing. The driver will then proceed very, very slowly, hugging the center line.

The daily traffic count over the bridge is 123. So to all my Washington, D.C., friends who post pictures of their lovely spring flowers when they aren’t stuck in traffic, I say, “Take that.”

The view from Caterpillar Hill actually deserves the adjective ‘awesome.’ From it you can see the site of the worst American naval disaster until Pearl Harbor, the Penobscot Expedition. Paul Revere was court-martialed for it, but that’s another story.

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

For autumn I already had a little painting of Dan hiking through Scott’s Landing, which is Island Heritage Trust property. It used to be the old ferry landing. Then the bridge was built in 1939 and changed the island — not for the better, say some. Scott’s Landing is great for collecting beach glass and watching birds, usually sassy crows, hungry seagulls,sanguine ducks and the occasional cormorant. The poor cormorants are getting eaten by eagles as the fishery declines.

On the Hard, notecard, 5.5″ by 4″.

For winter I chose a painting of a lobster boat on the hard. Stonington, one of two towns on Deer Isle, is the top port for lobster landings in Maine. Last year fishermen hauled 17.4 million pounds of lobster from the sea. Lobster fishermen make a good living, and many of them take their boats out of the water in the winter and go to Florida.

Three paintings in two days, however small, is a lot for me. Fortunately my wonderful sister Christen Miller sent me a new paintbrush (among other things) for my birthday. It was the perfect size for what I was doing. I’ve had painting instructors who told me it doesn’t really matter what brush you use. To them I say, “Wrong!”

And to the summer tourists eager to spend money on memories of Deer Isle, I say, $20 for all four seasons.

 

 

 

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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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Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself

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I may as well start off with the David Copperfield crap about how my art and this website all got started.

Portrait of the artist as a young Barnard student. With Alexis Adler and Leah Haygood.

I was born in New York City, grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, returned to New York City as a Barnard undergrad and did some time in corporate America in Chicago while wasting much of my youth at Wrigley Field. Then I fled to New Hampshire where I started a journalism career, which took me to the Massachusetts Statehouse (yes, I have great stories about it) and then to Washington, D.C., as an Associated Press reporter.

I was not cut out for Versailles on the Potomac, and it would be an understatement to say Arlington, Va., never felt like home. I left AP to work for a labor union, which at least gave me more time to paint. In 2015, my husband Dan and I moved to a former stonecutters’ boardinghouse in Stonington, Maine.

Me at a farmers market

Here we make and sell frozen clam pies at farmers markets and local grocery stores while maintaining our website, the New England Historical Society. I paint and Dan delivers the mail.

While working as a reporter, I had very little free time. Watercolor suited because it was portable and quick. For a long time I practiced endless still life paintings of household objects. So boring.

A practice still life. Figs, I think.

During the oughts I got turned on to John Yardley, an English watercolorist who does lots of light-infused street scenes.

Browsing by John Yardley

It was just around then that cell phone cameras got to be quite good. I started taking pictures of scenes in downtown Washington, D.C., feeling predatory but shameless as I followed an orange coat or a white shirtsleeve until it caught the light just right.

I think I surreptitiously followed this poor woman all the way across Capitol Hill

Sometimes it took hundreds of cellphone images and lots of sketches before I could extrapolate a painting from them.

Sometimes I’d snap a photo and immediately see a painting, like this one. I was walking in front of the Capitol on my way to work, and just after this bicyclist passed me I whipped out my cellphone to capture him.

Bicycling to the Supreme Court. Watercolor on 140-lb. paper. 6.75″ by 10.5″. $200.

I found I love to paint people in streetscapes and landscapes and all kinds of scapes. I like to paint animals, too. (Dan says that’s all I should do.)

Moving Day. Watercolor on 140-lb. paper. 9″ by 12 “.  $300.

Painting people and animals means knowing how to draw.

I spent a lot of time in Washington sitting still – for hours on the Metro as it lurched toward the station or in rooms listening to people prattle on sententiously.

I used that time to practice drawing people. I’d look for someone on the Metro wearing earbuds (they rarely move except to the music) or I’d draw a politician in a hearing room. Sometimes I’d draw from C-Span images. (You’d be amazed at how much reporting comes off television monitors.)

Another place I found ideal for sketching people is the racetrack. Race fans sit very very still while they pore over the racing form, oblivious to me as I observe and record them. Saratoga is a wonderful place to paint, filled with color and motion, stock still subjects and plenty of filtered light.

She had no idea she was being immortalized
Run Away J.
Watercolor on 140 lb. paper, 6″ by 9.5″. $100.

I also like to paint on Cape Cod, where my parents live. The light on Cape Cod, as Edward Hopper noted, is luminous.

Red Boat, Blue Boat. Watercolor and gouache on tinted 140-lb. paper. 5.5″ by 8.5″. $200.

So now my home is in Maine, where my hero Winslow Homer lived, though I’m on Deer Isle and he was farther south. Every other person on this beautiful island is an artist or a fisherman. I found a lot of things to paint. I also joined the Deer Isle Artists Association last year and learned a lot about making and selling art in the Deer Isle gallery.

Lobster Boats at Sunset. Watercolor on 140-lb. paper. 8.5″ by 11.5″. $225.

I’m taking the next step with this website. With the help of my husband (thank you, Sweetiepie) I’ve posted images of a decades’ worth of my best paintings. Most are for sale, though some are already sold. I’m open to doing commissions (I even paint signs and I’m real good at lobsters) and I’m open to negotiations. Just email me at [email protected] or call at 207-348-3129. I’m on Instagram and Facebook as well.

 

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