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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Looking for Signs of Spring on Deer Isle

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It’s easy to get obsessed with signs of spring, since there are so few of them here on Deer Isle this year.

It’s May 6, and I’m still wearing wool socks while my friends in metro Washington, D.C., torment me with Facebook images of cherry blossoms and azaleas along with complaints of 90 degree weather.

The Portland Press Herald tries to put a positive spin on the weather forecast:

Enjoy the sun today; we won’t see it for a while

That’s for sure.

Two nice days lie ahead, sandwiched between damp weather patterns.

By ‘damp weather patterns’ they mean several weeks of cold, overcast, rainy, foggy, dreary weather.

You don’t need the news media to forecast the weather here in Stonington. Here’s how to do it, per one of our neighbors:

Today you can’t see the stone. 
Here’s Stonington Harbor on a typical spring day in 2017.

Signs of Spring

Here on Deer Isle the grass did get green, and the occasional crocus and daffodil peek out along the stone walls.

In between rain showers I’ve been outside looking up to find the ultimate signs of spring: those lovely green leaves. I found wonderful things, and I’ve been having a blast posting them on Instagram.

I went a little crazy with the filter on this one:

Buds

This one is from the tree on Pres du Port’s front lawn.

Buds and moss

It was so encouraging to see this tree starting to leaf out a few days ago:

The blue sky didn’t last long

These guys have a little longer to go.

From Dunham Point Road

I took all these photos with my cellphone and altered them with Instagram filters. I think they show that art is as much about seeing as it is about what you do with what you see.

I haven’t abandoned my paintbrushes, though. I’m working on a Stonington streetscape right now for the May 26 ‘Make a Detour’ exhibition at the Deer Isle Artist Association. Hope to see you there!

 

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Day Fifteen: clapboarded churches stood so white against the blue sky

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A storm. The lights flicker. If there’s a power outage perhaps the Central Maine Power drones will locate the source quickly.

Oscar calls and says we should forgo the DIAA gallery because of the roads. He posts on Facebook a picture of ice on his roof.

Ice on Oscar’s roof

Dan is skeptical, I say I’m going in anyway. Then Dan looks at our eaves and sees ice. We hear few if any pickup trucks roaring by. If even the crazy pickup drivers are staying home, I am too.

Oscar’s Greenhead painting

Oscar has been working on a painting of two white buildings on Greenhead, a peninsula that sticks out in Stonington Harbor. At the end is the Greenhead Lobster Company. Greenhead is Stonington’s answer to the red fishing shack in Rockport, Mass., which artists once called Motif No. 1 – and now everyone else does.

I’m also working on a painting of white buildings, Mark Island Light. I put them both up on the wall.

Oscar is reading a book of poems by Stu Kestenbaum, I wish I could remember which one. Stu is our neighbor in Deer Isle, former director of the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, current interim director of the Maine College of Art, member of the Church of the Morning After, occasional pickleball player, very nice guy and Maine’s poet laureate.

Oscar held out a page with the poem Only Now, the first 15 or so lines heavily underlined.

We throw away so many things, pack them into translucent garbage bags where you can see through to the once beloved objects. The humbling moment is to realize it’s all heading to the dumpster, not just my journal and last month’s bills, but all of history, and all that will be left is an ember rotating in space. Don’t worry, it will all start over again. This isn’t the only world, this is just one try at it. This is the world that had ice and snow, this is the world where the apple blossoms fell to earth, this is the world where the clapboarded churches stood so white against the blue sky, like a remarkable original idea that gets our attention.

He pointed to the line about the clapboard churches. “That’s what we’re doing,” he said.

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On Day Four, Still Doing Watercolor

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I have to play pickleball right after art today so I won’t paint with oil yet. I’ll be too messy and stinky. I gather some turkey soup and a few brushes and I pick up Oscar. I’m a little late because the power outage messed up the clocks. Also because I had to stop and take a picture of the old sardine factory near Oscar’s house for a New England Historical Society story.

The old sardine factory

Oscar says it’s okay I’m late, he wasn’t ready yet. We chat with Diana in the kitchen and tell her everything we did yesterday sucks. She says often the first thing you do is.

“Have fun,” she says as we leave.

“It’s work,” I say.

“I know, but it’s fun to work,” she says.

Oscar has a red Moleskine book he uses to help communicate. It has names and addresses, business cards, sketches. The book is ragged, he says it’s time for a new one. He hands me an envelope.

it’s my Christmas card. I love it.

He asks me to write my name and address in his new book. I see it’s from the National Gallery of Art. I point to my fountain painting. That’s from the National Gallery, I say. He tells me he loves that place. Shows me pictures he took there, of paintings by Picasso, by Stuart Davis. That’s what he wants to do with his Church of the Morning After painting.

I should bring in my Picasso book, the one Jean-Michel Basquiat used to pore over when he was living with my friend Alexis Adler. About the time he met Andy Warhol. We’re not sure how Alexis ended up with the book, but I was so glad she returned it to me several decades later. With Basquiat’s smudges and scribbles in it.

Scull by Jean-Michel Basquiat

(“I like the druggy downtown kids who spray paint walls and trains
I like their lack of training, their primitive technique
I think sometimes it hurts you when you stay too long in school
I think sometimes it hurts you when you’re afraid to be called a fool” – from Songs for Drella.)

Oscar shows me another book. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. “I can’t use the right side of my brain anymore,” he says. “I can’t do architecture.”

“I have to find a way,” he says.

By 10:30 on Day Four all I’ve done is lift mistakes from my paintings. I lift the sky from the Maine lobster trap painting. I lift the sky from the Acadia Panorama painting, which looks like two separate paintings fighting with each other. Maybe if I lighten the sky it will be better. Maybe if I replace the cobalt with cerulean and a dash of cadmium the sky and the land will stop fighting each other.

Day Four Visitors

Hub White comes in, our first visitor. He’s a DIAA board member. “It’s because you don’t have a visitor’s chair,” he says. He finds one in a closet.

Oscar and Hub both studied architecture at the University of Michigan — at the same time, Oscar realizes.  We talk about how gray it is in the Upper Midwest, how it gets dark here at 3:30 pm, what it’s like to paint big and to paint small.

Someone mentions John Singer Sargent. It’s his birthday today. Hub says he likes his travel paintings and his watercolors better than his society portraits. I say I think Sargent did too. I think he had to suck up to a lot of rich people to make a living, then when he didn’t have to anymore he painted what he wanted to paint. Like ‘Gassed.’

Gassed

Andy Warhol sucked up to rich people, too. Wonder if he’d been so successful if he hadn’t befriended Edie Sedgwick. Probably. There are plenty of rich people in Manhattan.

Edie Sedgwick and Andy Warhol

After Hub leaves, Linda Campbell drops in. Her surveying office, Due North, shares the building. I say I hear she’s becoming a drone pilot. She says there’s so much to know: airspace, weather, kinds of planes. She was taking a class at UMaine-Orono and everyone in it works for CMP, Emera or big construction companies. When the power went out on Wednesday the power companies sent drones to look for the outages, she says.

Annie Taylor Gray comes in briefly. She drove three hours to Bangor and back for a two-minute dentist appointment.

When I get home I post a photo of our Day Four work on Facebook.

“There was a lovely feeling in there today,” posts Annie.

Insert emoticon.

 

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Lucky Me! 3 Weeks To Paint at DIAA

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I am so lucky. I get to paint for three – count ‘em, three — straight weeks at the Deer Isle Artists Association gallery with my friend Oscar Turner starting next week.

Oscar at the DIAA gallery over the summer. We were gallery sitting together.

It’s a huge space – well, way bigger than my studio at home, which was once a stonecutters’ boardinghouse. My workspace in the old stonecutter’s bedroom gets a little cramped.

My workspace at home

In summer, the DIAA gallery hosts new exhibits every two weeks. In winter, the gallery is still heated (to all you non-New Englanders: heat is a big thing). But there are no shows. So the DIAA allows artists to use the space to paint for a month at a time.

Cindy Bourque-Simonds, the DIAA board member who manages exhibits, used the space in December. She told me people stopped by to chat and even brought coffee. I’m excited about the opportunity, looking forward to spending time with Oscar and hoping people will drop by for a visit.

The DIAA’s big space means I can paint on big canvases. And it also means I can work with oil paint, something I can’t do at home. And I can finish watercolor paintings I started last year, like this one.

Work in Progress

I can also work on 12” by 12” oil paintings for the popular summer 12 by 12 show, and they’ll be dry. Last year I brought a few still-wet paintings to the show and asked DIAA president David McBeth if they were okay. He gestured to a long row of paintings propped up against the fence and said, “Just put them over in the wet paintings section.”

The 12 by 12 show. All paintings are 12″ by 12″ and cost $144.

Here’s a 12″ by 12″ painting I sold at the show last year:

Oceanville Garden. Watercolor on 140-lb. paper. 12″ by 12″. Private collection.

Best of all, I can paint uninterrupted by the household chores and clam pie tasks that always loom. I’ll still be on the hook to write for the New England Historical Society, but I do that early in the morning anyway.

I start on Monday, January 9, the day after DIAA’s latest ART matters 2 discussion. The ART matters sessions are one reason I love living on Deer Isle. DIAA Board Member Hub White brings three artists together on Sunday afternoons once a month in winter. They show their work and chat about what they do. Then the audience joins the conversation.

There are only a few thousand people who live on this island, but Hub can easily find 20 artists and each ART matters discussion brings standing-room only crowds. So you can talk about art here without getting a blank stare.

 

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