When You’re In Deer Isle, Paint Deer Isle

paint-deer-isle-settlement-quarry
Facebookgoogle_plusredditpinterestmail

Since I live on Deer Isle, it only makes sense to paint Deer Isle.

A few years back I went to Florence, Italy, with the Art Students League to paint. We spent the morning in a studio painting models, then roamed the museums, restaurants and churches of Florence. I had the good fortune to meet Jules Maidoff, a well-known American artist who has lived in Florence for many years. Jules told me not to waste my time in a studio. “You’re in Florence — paint Florence,” he said.

Point taken.

To Paint Deer Isle

During Maine’s long winter, thoughts turn to spring, and so does my painting. I chose to paint Deer Isle conservation land because the Island Heritage Trust hosts an annual art show during its birding festival, Wings, Waves & Woods.

The IHT owns and manages some of the most spectacular land you’ll ever see.

Among my favorites is the Settlement Quarry, which many years ago produced the granite for the New York County Courthouse (now the New York State Supreme Court building). Granite quarrying was a boom business here back in the late 19th-early 20th century. My house, in fact, was once a boardinghouse for granite workers (There’s a former whorehouse next door, but that’s another story.)

paint-deer-isle-settlement-quarry
I can’t leave out the Settlement Quarry when I paint Deer Isle! Oil on canvas. 2″ by 40″.

Climb to the top of the Settlement Quarry and you’ll get a stunning view of Penobscot Bay and the islands. It really rivals anything you’ll see in Acadia National Park.

My New Spring Line

I also included my painting, The Marge, in the show, because it shows the beach at Scott’s Landing, another Island Heritage Trust property.  Along with several paintings of Scott’s Landing, I have quite the beach glass collection that testifies to my hours on that beach.

The Marge. Oil on Canvas.

Sometimes I paint in watercolor, and sometimes I paint in oil. Sometimes I paint both, though not at the same time. I had painted Scott’s Island, where the author Robert McCloskey lived, in watercolor last fall. Something about that painting made me go back to it, so I repainted it in oil. I’m not sure if that’s allowed in the art world, but I don’t care.

View-From-Kezar-Mountain-FB
I really didn’t paint Deer Isle here, but I painted FROM Deer Isle. View from Kezar Mountain, oil on canvas.

The Last Best Place

I also included a photo that’s IHT-ish — Marnie Reed Crowell‘s back yard. Marnie has written a book about the IHT lands called Beads and String — a Maine island pilgrimage.  One day in December Dana Durst from Inn on the Harbor and I had tea at Marnie’s house in Goose Cove.

We talked about the island, about how it’s changing and whether it will turn into Nantucket if the lobster go away. Marnie calls it ‘the last best place.’ Then the sun started going down, and we rushed outside to see the amazing light. I took a zillion pictures and then decided to paint Deer Isle from Marnie’s back yard.

paint-deer-isle-goose-cove
Goose Cove, Oil on canvas. 

So my new spring line of paintings will be at the the IHT barn at 420 Sunset Rd. in — where else? — Deer Isle until Friday, May 24. Stop by and see some other exquisite work by Carolyn Walton, Lorraine Lans and Frederica Marshall

Facebookgoogle_plusredditpinterestmail

ART matters 4: How a Reporter Turns Into an Artist

Facebookgoogle_plusredditpinterestmail

One of the amazing things about Deer Isle is that 60 or 70 people show up once a month in winter to hear three artists talk about their work.  It’s remarkable because Deer Isle’s population is smaller than small, according to the government.  A couple thousand people live here, maybe, in the winter. Also, for four years, we haven’t run out of artists.

Hub White puts the discussions together at the Deer Isle Artists Association, and his wife Pat and Cindy Bourque-Simonds make cakes that can only be described as astounding. The artists yammer on for a while, then the audience asks questions, then everyone has cake and coffee and mingles.  It’s called ART matters.  (Hub likes to brand it with the typeface.)

In April, I got to get up and speak with Katy Helman and Carole Ann Fer for the ART matters 4 Altered Surfaces discussion. Katy also paints, and Carole Ann makes pots.

art-matters-katy-helman
Sink or Swim by Katy Helman.
art-matters-carole-ann-fer
Plaid Porcelain dish by Carole Ann Fer.

ART matters

So what do I say, me, a self-proclaimed artist, to a group that includes some heavily credentialed artists? They’ve gotten art degrees, taught art in colleges, studied and worked at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts.

I decided my ART matters talk should describe how my training as a reporter influenced the way I do art.

And I used as an example my recent painting, Mail Boat.

Reporters’ minds are like radar, always searching the environment for a story. Always observing the familiar for some new spin, some new twist, that will suggest a story.

And reporters are always looking for story elements as well. Ledes, nut grafs, kickers, money quotes. One day when I was working for AP in Washington I sat through a Senate Commerce Committee hearing. Sen. Trent Lott got excited about something and said, “We’ve got to make it look like we care.” I thought, “There’s my money quote.” The editor took it out of the story.

So when I took the mail boat to Monhegan last year, I noticed the amazing morning sunlight. “There must be a painting here,” I thought, much the same way I thought that Commerce Committee hearing offered a story.

I took a whole bunch of photos, the way I’d take a whole bunch of notes in my reporter’s notebook.

artmatters2artmatters3

artmatters1

I didn’t realize I had a painting until well after I’d returned home and looked through the dozens of photos I’d taken.

So I decided on this guy:

artmatters4

Putting It All Together

I brought Mail Boat and a few other paintings to ART matters, and I described the painting’s elements the way a reporter would describe a story.

island-light-mail-boat
Mail Boat 

I view the lede as the sunlight on the crewman’s face. The lobster boat serves as the nut graf, or the paragraph that puts everything in context. And the reflection on the door works as a kicker — a tidbit that keeps the reader going.

Every news story should have a human element, but I don’t think I have to point out where it is in Mail Boat.

So…ART matters turned out to be great fun. Katy and Carole Ann gave terrific presentations, we all got our egos stroked with kind words from the audience and the cake exceeded all expectations.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Facebookgoogle_plusredditpinterestmail