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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Pickleball and Fast Painting on Day Twelve

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Day Twelve falls on Saturday, a short day. I have to be at the gym at 2 pm to help set up the pickleball tournament.

I go to Oscar’s house to pick him up. and we chat with Diana about having a party at the end of our artist residency. Saturday, Feb. 4 would be best. Diana has champagne, I have salmon. “There are plastic glasses at the gallery,” I say. “People who go to art receptions know to expect cheap wine in plastic glasses.” Oscar holds up a bottle of beer. We’ll have that, too.

At the DIAA gallery my drawing of a Bar Harbor streetscape awaits me. I’m going to finish it today. I’m going to paint quickly. And I’m not going to use cerulean. I depend on it too much.

Painting as fast as I can on Day Twelve.

I go with cobalt and burnt umber rather than my cerulean and cadmium for walls and pavement and shadows. The focal point of the image is a woman’s hair. I will use cadmium and Quinacridone gold for her hair. I will use Prussian blue for her blouse. When I finish, I’m not happy. My values need adjusting. I darken the background but not the walls around her. It’s time to go but I’m not done. Oh well. Oscar likes it a lot.

I go home and make Hoo Mee chow mein for lunch. I can blame my unhealthy meal when I’m easily eliminated from the pickleball game. And my flannel shirt, not exactly ideal athletic wear.

Setting up the Island Community Center gym for pickleball.

I play with Alex Shorey, a Deer Isle-Stonington High School senior and pickleball devotee. It was Alex who decided we’d wear plaid flannel shirts as our team uniform. We are done for as soon as our opponent Linda Campbell realizes my backhand is weak. I sit on the bench and chat with the spectators. Oscar is watching, trying to figure out the game.

Though Winterfest is sponsored by the Healthy Island Project, there is a huge table of brownies, cookies and Rice Krispy Treats at the gym entrance. I tell Oscar to go get some chocolate. Then I get some myself. “There must be a billion calories on this table,” I say.

The woman presiding over it laughs. “I’m doing the social part of well-being,” she says.

Bennett Gray and Judy Rader won the pickleball trophy.

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On Day Three, Two Deer Isle Artists in Residence

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Oscar lays out his things and starts work on a sketch of the guys jamming at the Church of the Morning After.  It’s not much more than a fish shack. Everyone is welcome to listen or play there on Sunday mornings at 7.

I show Oscar the pastel I’ve done of the outside of Church. He shows me a watercolor sketch he did.

“It’s the best thing on the island,” he says, meaning the Church. He tells me he wants to do a new painting in color. It’s the most ambitious thing he’s done so far, I think. I work on a new painting of Cadillac Mountain.

We take a break at lunch and walk to 44 North for coffee. Rufus recognizes me. “I met you before,” he says. “Last summer. You do the web work for the Farmer’s Market.” We chat. Oscar orders some Sumatra coffee and explains he wants it ground fine, not too fine. Rufus says he wants to have sketching sessions in the summer at the 44 North shop in Stonington. Maybe Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. “Oscar would love that,” I said. “He can walk to it.”

As we come back from 44 North, Oscar points to a house. He’s trying to tell me something but I don’t understand. Later I do. He was pointing to the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts building on Rte. 15. “That’s where Stu Kestenbaum works,” he says.

“He’s a nice guy,” I say. “I play pickleball with him.”

Oscar tells me he went to one of Stu’s poetry readings. Stu is the poet laureate of Maine. Oscar sat up front, loved Stu’s poetry. Afterward he talked to Stu. “I can’t talk. I get frustrated,” he says.

Oscar can’t always say what we wants to say since he had a stroke. But he usually gets across his meaning. Besides, a lot of idle chit chat is overrated.

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