Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Binging on purging

Liquidating three properties in 14 months, of which one was my own, has been an exhausting task. This phase I'll call 'binging on purging' .. eliminating stuff accumulated over decades of living and collecting by my loved ones... is over.

Farewell! Angel of Death.  My dark, heavy companion and I have split ways, for awhile any ways. I am confident, we'll see each other soon enough.

So with this respite, I have decided to purchase a T@G trailer.  Here's a pic of my RIG. (Isn't ironic after purging a ton and half of possessions I go and buy something else).

desperate to paint

So my first 'shake down' was traveling to the Grand Isle State Park Vermont to camp with my very good friends, Mary and Jan. This area is known as the Lake Champlain Islands. 

Everything went great except the weather.  It rained every day except for my travel day. Starting an evening camp fire began an hour and half before an enjoyable fire could be sustained.

Presently I’m drying and wringing out. Otherwise the trailer and car performed beautifully… and so did I.   

I mostly sketched from the back of car and sometimes from the front seat with wipers on.

One outing, when I heard thunder over my shoulders and saw the thickening clouds I began hurrying to pack up my painting gear.  At the same time four rugged fishermen (you know, the ones in camouflage rain gear) landed their boat and asked, weren’t they pretty enough for me to paint.

Hee hee!    ‘Maybe next time but now let’s get the heck out of here.’ 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Floating Studios

How many well known artists have found great pleasure painting from a boat?

I know of two:  Daubigny and Monet.

A couple of years ago I attended the Peabody Essex Museum's, Impressionists on the Water, exhibit where I delighted in viewing, "The Boat Trip" by Charles-Francois Daubigny in 1861.  It's a collection of 16 small etchings made into a book telling of his painting adventures aboard his Le is quite humorous.

Claude Monet began his adventures aboard his floating studio on the Seine soon after seeing Daubigny prints on display in Paris.  The painting below sure looks peaceful.and 'far from the maddening' crowds of on lookers.
Now that I am summering at my cottage near Long Sought for Pond,  I scrubbed down my 8 foot sailing dinghy in anticipation of my first painting session on the water. I practiced my boat set up on dry land the night before. Simplicity was key because  "Don't Rock the Boat!" was my mantra.
Leaving the tripod head and post attached to my Stratus pochade box,  I 'stepped' it into the hole where the mast is usually positioned at the bow and secured it with a bungee cord. Within a tightly covered, plastic legal file box, I placed all my painting items.  One of my concerns was turpentine spillage in my boat and possibly into the water. So I brought along a Masterson covered palette tray. I placed it on top of the plastic file box (positioned between my legs) with the open can of turp, paints and brushes on it as I painted.  

Next I gathered my oars and PFD for tomorrow's rendezvous.

Five o'clock in the morning.  It was cold and calm...just the way I liked it.  I cast off, rowed through sea smoke rising up from the warm pond. Mayflies and their dancing partners reflected in the mirrored surface dipped and bobbed, a bullfrog bellowed somewhere near the shore line.

the scene and the painting's early stage

the Stratus pochade set up

two hour, 12x16 oil painting

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

there is a word for that

The word is "catenary": a curve created between two points:

  • the gentle dip of telephone wires between two telegraph poles.
  • a tightrope cable between two stanchions under a circus big top. 
  • playmates and their skipping rope 
  • silky spider thread bejeweled with dew drops
  • the high flying string tether between kiter and his kite
Oh the weighted, subliminal beauty of the catenary line created between two points.

My dear father, Joseph, passed away December 23rd. 88 years old died in his sleep shortly after I returned home from visiting him in South Carolina.

Within one year, the experience of this third death has created not a catenary line I hold between two points of birth and death but a parabolic curve with a deep, tragic trough stricken heavily with the weight of grief.

  • like a telephone wire after an ice storm, 
  • like the tightrope of an aerial acrobat carrying three fellow travelers upon his shoulders 
  • like the string of the kite which lost its loft, 
  • like the skipping rope befuddled by a playmate's misstep. 

This past Sunday in the parking garage, I sat in my car frozen with fear. My car was packed with painting gear and a rendezvous with another painter was planned but I couldn't move.  "Go home, go home", came hissing in my ear. "Go home".  I called my friend and cancelled.

Wetlands in Littleton, MA

Here is the painting I painted after wrestling off fear and grief.   Fresh air did help in dispelling what ailed me in that parking garage...for the time being.

Love you Dad.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Merry Christmas

Phew! 2000 miles logged in during another car trip. This time, an overdue visit with my dad who lives in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

I scheduled two overnight stops along the route for some painting time. First in a quaint seaside town of Beaufort, North Carolina and second in historic city of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Unfortunately the wet weather splashed, dashed my hopes into high waters, completing one hastily done painting along Cove Creek, NC.

Off the beaten path from Beaufort I stayed at Cove Creek Fishing Lodge.
I painted the neighboring creek scene from a narrow gangway running between two boat ramps.  I had to keep an eye on incoming wakes churned up by working tugboats pushing barges of potash and outgoing large shrimp boats and the other eye on storm clouds gathering behind me.  And then, my third eye was on the canvas and investigative Bogart.

Here's the unfinished painting before the heavens opened up. Bogart and I ran for cover under a rickety metal awning of a cement block storage shed.

Although the skies were threatening, the light of an overcast day can create beautiful greys, along with subtle combinations of low key chromas. Oooo, that blue-grey and orange combination.

I decided to get myself over to Beaufort for some sight seeing and a lunch of fried oysters where I watched dozens of pelicans splash and dine on something salty, delicious in the placid river.

On the way home, I stopped in Fredericksburg, Virginia for a visit to Belmont: the studio, galleries, estate home and gardens of the American Impressionist, Gari Melchers.  The 27 acre estate is located just across the Rappahannock River in the town of Falmouth.  Unfamiliar with history of this successful artist, I was delighted to acquaint myself with his beautiful work during a two hour tour on an overcast dampish day.  If I couldn't paint outdoors, this was the best way to spend my morning, reveling in Melchers masterful brushstrokes.

Here is Melchers' very human interpretation of that holy night when Christ was born: with Mary, an exhausted new mother and Joseph, her pensive husband.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

I'll go to it laughing.

My trip to Ocracoke Island, NC began with about 20 minutes of viewing time of a double rainbow arching over 290 in Worcester, MA. A sign of good times ahead? With 1700 miles in hindsight, yes it was a good sign, a very good sign indeed.

A trip into Annapolis to pick up my long time, good times friend Terry and her painting gear, food. We were off to Chesapeake's eastern shore Cape Charles, Virginia for a sleepover at Cape Charles Hotel: a pet friendly and tres contemporary accommodation.

lower Hoopers Island
Next day we headed to Swan Quarter, NC to catch a ferry ride to Ocracoke. Took a side trip and had the best crab sandwich EVER at Old Salty's Restaurant on Hoopers Island on the Maryland's Eastern Shore. For a lark, Terry and I decided to continue to the road's end and onto Lower Hoopers Island over Hoopers Island Bridge (how the citizens ever procured funding for this impressive civil project to nowhere is beyond my understanding) over the Honga River and Bay to this scene:

Great Dismal Swamp

Proceeded into southeastern Virginia and northeast North Carolina where we ventured into the massive Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge with lots of sightings of the Bald Eagle.

The swamp was used as an escape route by runaway slaves seeking passage north to freedom.  In the region, Harriet Tubman is honored with historical markers and new exhibit halls to tell this story.

Arrived at Swan Quarter an hour ahead of schedule. Had a lunch of wine and peanut butter sandwiches at a public boat ramp from the back of car.  Trust me... there is NOTHING in Swan Quarter except the ferry terminal.  The three hour ride through the Pamlico Sound to Ocracoke Island was uneventful except for my departure off the ferry when I tore off the front panel below the car's bumper when I exited a little too fast on the ramp's steep incline. (OOOps, easily repaired at the VW garage back home)

The ferry terminal is located within walking distance to the small town of locally owned businesses and small dwellings. Nothing of grandness or ostentatiousness distracts from its quaintness. Its welcome to visitors is of one big hug of friendliness. I would liken the island feeling to a southern version of Maine's down eastern Monhegan Island.

  • Shrimp boat sightings and fresh, locally caught fish bought at Ocracoke Seafood Market. Yummy!
  • A candlelit Halloween performance by a local island girl sings Appalachian ghoulish folk songs at Coyote's Den
  • Home visits via of golf carts of FEMA officials (Hurricane Matthew)
  • 'Wake up' rooster crowings every morning at 5:30a
  • Pesky mosquitoes
  • Beautiful weather, beautiful island scenes for painting

Terry and I met an island plein air painter from Virginia Beach, Peggy Powers, who painted with us twice daily. Her husband slammed on the car brakes when he saw us unloading our painting gear from the car at the start of our painting session and told his wife sitting next to him, "Those are plein air painters!!" How did he know.... was it the turp can swinging on the backpack or,,, maybe it was our plein air couture that caught his eye: large brimmed hats, paint smeared pants, crusty old gals. Whatever reason, we were glad she introduce herself and joined us for daily painting and conversations. She was a delightful surprise to our trip.

All good vacations come to end. We drove to the other end of the island to catch the ferry to Hatteras and the Outer Banks.  With gusty, thirty mile per hour winds there were high rollers breaking over the boat's bow and a slanted horizon.  On land the drive wasn't any easier with shifting sand dunes drifting across the highways. On Pea Island, large steam shovelers sat atop the marauding dunes moving tons of sand out of harms way.  Driving over the many OBX bridges, we saw dredgers below working to open up choked inlets. Every town we entered, debris lined the roadways. All remnants from hurricane Matthew.

I toasted our return to Annapolis and my last vacation day before leaving for Sailors., a raw oyster bar where I dined on Kusshi oysters from Canada and ended with a shot of Pilar rum.

A quote from their web site to end my blog:

"I know not all that maybe coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing"- Herman Melville
I know not all that may be coming, but  it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.”
― Herman Melville
“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.”
― Herman Melville

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Felling kind of dark lately?

Feeling kind of dark lately? perhaps the semi-global reign of blood and terror, climate doom and gloom, and the fiasco of recent american politics has put a lid on my hopefulness and optimism diminishing the flame of a bright future.   Reflecting on all that I lost this year; my husband, Ken, his mother, Jean, my furry feline, Percy, my awareness of being alone makes me quake with such sadness, fear and guilt at times.

This cold morning I stumbled across an open field of chopped down milkweed and scrubby poison ivy to reach a beautiful Maple specimen. I've painted this tree from afar many times but today the tree beckoned me to come closer.

(The photograph to the left is the same tree with me painting in the foreground taken by the Newburyport Daily News. 2014).

At its threshold, I went on through, side stepping fallen limbs, disentangling briars from my pant legs, parting low branches to arrive at the tree's interior. To my surprise this was a stand of several trees, disguised as one large tree creating one hugeness of single presence from afar.

Everything within and under this umbrella of color glowed warmly; my blank canvas was sunflower yellow, tree trunks were buttery, crumbling cement posts marking an abandoned farm path were coated in sherbert. The morning's sunlight came pouring through the restless canopy of a tangerine, orange and lime leafy spectrum,   Swirling at my feet dancing leaves, above my head an arched, multi-branched cathedral, and all around striking me endlessly were the colors of Natures stained glass.   

As I painted, the trees richly colored leaves were fast falling by the tugs of snappy breezes. Falling like the sins of impatience, gluttony, pride.   Soon these trees would be stripped of their majestic cloaks, no longer boastful.  When the cold northern winds blow, they will stand open and leafless. Mindful of what can be.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

the lighthouse, the artist and the widow

There are 68 lighthouses in the state of Maine. None are more famous  than the lighthouse affectionately called, The Nubble.  It is located on Nubble Island in Cape Neddick, York, Maine. Today was a typical day with touring buses and a parking lot filled with cars, off-loading visitors by the hundreds in Sohier Park for a glimpse and a photograph or two of the iconic American lighthouse. 

plein air oil painting on 12X16 panel
Tripping through the Universe,  the robotic spacecrafts, Voyager 1 and 2, houses 12 inch golden phonographs  containing a wealth of information describing Earth and the human race.  A photograph of the Nubble Lighthouse was selected alongside other iconic structures like the Great Wall of China just in case ET makes a rendezvous with the spacecraft to learn something of Earth.

But here along the ocean's water edge, the lighthouse has important symbolic meaning.  It is a symbol of safety during intense hardships. It can also represent a strong, singular person standing tall against unrelentless, brute forces of life. This may explain why lighthouses are so popular in tourism, photographs, paintings and written works.  In the face of adversity, it shines a light toward salvation.

studio oil painting on 9 x 16 panel
I found my viewing spot not alongside the hundreds of visitors but at a 'closed for the season' ice cream stand a couple blocks away up on a hill. Other than the sighing of deep regret and disappointment expressed by strangers who had approached the closed store in search of a cold cone delight, I was quite content to paint the lighthouse from this vantage point. 

While painting here though I began to wonder if ice cream stands could be lighthouses too; symbolically speaking.