On Day Four, Still Doing Watercolor

Facebookgoogle_plusredditpinterestmail

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.

 

Facebookgoogle_plusredditpinterestmail

Diary of a Deer Isle Artist in Residence, Day One

Facebookgoogle_plusredditpinterestmail

Monday, Jan. 10

It’s freezing this morning. Below freezing. The power is still on, though, so I gather my water color supplies and drive the 13 minutes along 15A to the Deer Isle Artists Association gallery.

I’m greeted by a large empty space with three tables covered with butcher paper. Two folding chairs lean against the wall.  I have no doubt Cindy Bourque-Simonds did that for me. I feel welcome.

I’m all alone in this big space with my computer, paper, paint.  The sun streams into the big gallery windows. Subarus and pickup trucks come and go from the post office across the street and the library next door. Heanssler and Eaton oil trucks roar by frequently. We’re so low on heating oil at home that Dan went out and bought 10 gallons of diesel to put in the furnace.

I fill my Maxwell House coffee container with water and start work on a painting I’ve been working on for two years. A fountain in the National Gallery of Art. I took a picture of it at a time when I was unhappy and roaming around art galleries, train stations, skating rinks and botanical gardens, looking for images I could paint at some later, happier date. Like now,

The painting is too dark. I do a little work on another one, a painting of a house on pilings with lobster traps and buoys. It’s too dark. When it’s time to leave I put it on the wall anyway.

I post a picture to Facebook. “Leslie, You need to paint bigger,” my friend Kerry Petertil writes later.

I try to lock the door. It’s so cold out the key won’t turn. I call Dan. He comes to my rescue. He realizes the problem isn’t my mechanical ineptitude. He opens the side door. We lock the front door, go out the side door, lock the side door, put the key back in the lockbox and go home. Popcorn for dinner.

Facebookgoogle_plusredditpinterestmail

Lucky Me! 3 Weeks To Paint at DIAA

Facebookgoogle_plusredditpinterestmail

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.

 

Facebookgoogle_plusredditpinterestmail