To the Lighthouse on Day Sixteen

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Today I finally fix my painting of Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. There’s a triangular rock under a pine tree with too much light on it, and it ruins the composition. I feel it staring at me from up on the wall, like a portrait with eyes that move. Finally I can’t take it anymore. I take the painting off the wall, paint out the rock and put it back on the wall. There. Much better.

Incitement wall.

There’s a bumper sticker you see on Deer Isle that says “Incite Art. Create Community.” (You also see “Fish Forever.”) I believe the Stonington Opera House printed it about 20 years ago.

It doesn’t say, “Paint A Lighthouse.”

Oscar and I create some community today as we incite art in the DIAA gallery. We host a parade of visitors, people stopping by on the way to the Post Office or the library or driving through town.

Hub White stops in and I give him the bad news: His ART matters 2 discussion series will fall on Super Bowl Sunday – and the Patriots are playing. With this arty crowd it probably won’t affect attendance much, not half as bad as a Bagaduce Chorale concert.

Hub sighs. “Next year I’m going to notify the NFL not to schedule the Super Bowl on the same day as ART matters,” he says.

Oscar looks up from his painting. “Is football still big at Michigan?” he asks.

“OSCAR, did you GO to Michigan?” says Hub. (They both studied architecture at the University of Michigan.)

Rebecca Daugherty and Michael Daugherty drop in. They live directly off their work, writing and painting and paddling kayaks. They used to run an art gallery in Stonington called Isalos, and now Rebecca is painting in a studio in Stonington’s old elementary school. Michael is a Maine Guide who wrote a book on kayaking and is working on a novel.

I am embarrassed about my lighthouse paintings. I give Michael and Rebecca my shtick about how it was Edward Hopper who made the lighthouse a cliché. Rebecca says Winslow Homer painted lighthouses before Edward Hopper and they were awesome.

Edward Weston, “Pepper 30.”

Michael says you make things your own. “When Edward Weston photographed peppers, people said peppers had been photographed before,” said Michael. “But Weston said, ‘These are my peppers’.”

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

I guess this is my lighthouse.

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Day Seven Brings Pine Trees and Masking Fluid

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I start Day Seven by writing a story about how Harrison Gray Otis swindled John Singleton Copley out of his Beacon Hill property in 1795. Or so Copley thought. Copley was seriously OCD and fought the deal for years. The story didn’t generate much traffic for the New England Historical Society but I got to look at Copley’s portraits. They are sublime. They shimmer, they gleam, they glower, they smirk. They put me in the presence of Revere silver and Newport block-and-shell cabinetry and revolution.

John Singleton Copley, detail from self-portrait

This is how good Copley’s portraits are:

Back when I was a foolish young Cubs fan, I frequently and vividly discussed my admiration for the flakey slugger Dave Kingman. One evening my friend Fiona Inglis and I had an epic night out in Wrigleyville, three hours of laughter, booze and Thai food. (Or maybe Indian or Mexican.) Fiona is a fan of after-dinner liqueur. I am not. Fiona tried to persuade me to order a glass of Frangelico. It’s delicious, she says. You’ll love it. It’s like ambrosia. It’s the best thing you’ve ever put in your mouth.

I stand firm against the Frangelico.

Fiona keeps trying. (Remember, we are well-lubricated.) Finally she comes up with her winning argument. “It’s as good as Dave Kingman’s shorts,” she says.

That’s how good John Singleton Copley’s portraits are.  As good as Dave Kingman’s shorts.

Day Seven is a short day of painting. I would skip pickleball, but the big Winterfest tournament is coming up and I have to practice.

I pick up Oscar at 2 pm and we work diligently for three hours. Oscar is working with masking fluid. He offers me some if I need it. He also gives me half a clementine and some chocolate.

Katy Helman drops in. She saw our paintings on the wall and thought there was an exhibit. Then she saw me.

“Why weren’t you at pickleball?” I ask. She explains she’s mentoring a high-school student named Mason through Haystack. He took her workshop in digital photography. Katy used to teach art at the Deer Isle Stonington High School.

Katy shouts out the door to Mason to roam around Deer Isle Village and take photographs while she visits.

She looks at my lobster trap painting. She likes what I did with the light on the buoys. “Yeah, but I lost my mind and painted the sky Pepto-Bismol pink,” I say. “I have to fix it.”

“Can you fix watercolor?” Katy says. “I know nothing about it.” Katy does abstract paintings in oil.  Very playful. Very unlike what I do. But we both love the square format.

Katy walks over to the table. My heart sinks.  She’s going to see my damn lighthouse.

“Yeah, it’s a lighthouse,” I say.

Katy shrugs. “People do things for all kinds of reasons, their own reasons.”

I say, “I want to make prints of it and sell it in Bar Harbor.” Katy nods. “Commercial reasons are good reasons.

At the end of Day 7 Oscar isn’t happy with his painting. I’m kind of liking the lighthouse, even though I spent the last three hours painting nothing but pine trees. Oscar says it’s the best thing I’ve done here. I agree.

At the end of Day Seven
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