"Painting is just getting one spot of color in relation to another spot of color - after you have covered acres of canvas you will know." - Charles Hawthorne (from Hawthorne on Painting)
Friday – Day 18
The workshop has ended, we all head home today. It was terrific; our man, Stan Moeller is a wonderful painter and a very articulate and patient teacher.
Wednesday was a free day to paint; I went early to Gull’s Cove and got a nice little painting done there. There was a slide show that Stan put together that evening as well as a critique of works done thus.
Thursday we had a model sit for us, little over three hours. We were set up in the lawn outside of Monhegan House. On Friday, another model and she, too, was tremendous. Natural curly flowing hair, beautiful face, very much Botticelli model, or DaVinci more so – classical.
We had dinner together, I stayed on or near budget and will pack tonight so that I am ready to vacate by 9am. The ferry for me (Boothbay) not until 2:45pm so I will walk through Cathedral Woods and out to Blackhead, then paint near the wharf for couple of hours. Looking forward to concluding this leg of the journey.
Tomorrow Rockland and Camden, a visit to Farnsworth Art Museum to see the Wyeth-Rockwell Kent exhibit, then Portland Head on Monday, beginning driving back to Chicago on Tuesday. It’s time.
"Light is the first thought of painters, and there is no object so foul that intense light will not make it beautiful." – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Tuesday – Day 15
We head up early to the lighthouse. I have been looking forward to this; it is a wonderful vantage point to see the entire town, and I suspect a great place to take in the sunset. Stan has made arrangements for the gear to come up in a small truck. I venture up the hill ahead of everyone and meet the gear and begin setting up, eager to start.
We all paint in a near vicinity; Stan does a "starting" demo on t'other side of the lighthouse and we watch. The strangest thing happens: someone, a tourist, comes 'round the building, says, "if any of you are set up painting over here, there is a seagull going after your paints." We all rush around and, indeed, a seagull has pulled all the paints out of Roderick's bag and has punctured the Indian Yellow; mercifully, it is in a plastic bag, but it is everywhere.
An hour later, I have stepped over to see how Cindy was progressing, and seemingly the same seagull has gotten into my bag, and is dragging away all of my paints in a plastic bag. I aggressively shoo it away, and discover that it has punctured my cadmium yellow, which is now everywhere, in its baggie. The clean up. No longer on friendly terms, I have a foe. It's every man or seagull for himself. Weirdest thing I have ever heard of; later that afternoon, I will hear a story that Monhegan artist, Kevin Beers, had relayed a similar story, seagull getting into his yellow. It's worth a study, I tell you, what is that all about?
Mid-afternoon the history center and art museum open for business and everyone has a break to view the many Monhegan artists on display. No Don Stone represented as you have to be a dead artist to be included. So they won't have his work for some time. It takes me only about half an hour to get through, but I still am excited to continue painting, and fired up seeing all this glorious artwork. I have decided to use tuneage today, and have my MP3 player and am listening to Peter Gabriel's "New Blood" which is perfect for top of the hill inspiration.
Later, people begin trailing back to town but I stay and begin another painting of the overlook, anticipating a sensational sunset. I get to a stopping place (I no longer can see anything as I am squinting directly into a vanishing sun), so decide to hike back to town the long way, by way of White Head, and Gull Rock. Wow!
Yesterday, we had ventured to Lobster Cove. There on the point sits the incredible Jamie Wyeth house, originally build by Rockwell Kent in the 20's, I believe. It's tough going, I have brought too much gear, including the wheel cart and the path is steep, full of rocks and crags. So I make several trips just to get gear out to the point, an exercise in frustration. It's extremely windy and I will be in direct sun all day. On goes the sunblock. Up goes the umbrella. Fifteen minutes later, still setting up, the umbrella and entire easel catches a gush and over it goes, spilling all of its contents, including canvas, into a pocket of trapped sea water. Well, this is fun. I re-set, no umbrella. All good, let's go. I decide to work big and loose. 16 x 20" and the subject is "Christmas Cove." I will learn later that there is a tremendous painting by Jay Hall Connaway of same. Again, I walk in the shadows of the greats.
Half way through the painting I walk back into town and up the hill for a sandwich. The legs and lungs certainly do get a workout. I will be lean and mean at the end of this adventure. We will have a critique of works thus far completed back at Monhegan Place and a bottle of beer from the Novelty next door is a must. We put up the works starting with first to last in order to view any sort of progression. I also am able to show the Gloucester "Highlander Sea." After the critique I am able to meet in the lobby Remak Ramsey, a TV and Film actor of note who also has a special fondness for Monhegan and spends the summer season here. He has an impressive art collection and has purchased artwork of Monhegan artists, including Jamie Wyeth and Rockwell Kent and donated them to museums so as to assure they are seen by an appreciative audience.
Tomorrow is a free paint day to do whatever we like. We will lose two of our group to home, Joanne and Elaine. Joanne and her husband have a place in the Caribbean near St Martin's and said to me, if ever in the area, stop in to paint. Deal. I was able to enjoy a few slices of pizza with the group night before and really a swell bunch of people. All in all, a very good day.
“The object isn't to make art, it's to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.” ― Robert Henri
Sunday – Day 13
Long day today. Up with the sunrise as I then walked up to Burnt Head and found a spectacular vista, the sun coming up, crashing surf and cliffs below. Took a few photos and back down the hill for cereal. I have discovered that I have a refrigerator in the room, so much easier to stay on budget, trying for $10 a day. Today I had half a French mini-loaf and some cheese for lunch; for dinner I suspect much the same and a can of soup. My paint shorts had a lot more room around the waist I noticed today as I hauled myself up the hill once more.
Started the workshop yesterday. It will be terrific. Led by painter-teacher Stan Moeller, who is really wonderful – clear, articulate, and willing to give a lot of attention to fellow painters. The group is small, several coming from Clinton, Maine.
We painted down near the wharf; Stan did a demo of the Island Inn. I tried a small painting of “Uncle Henry’s”. There are many several famous and somewhat iconic houses and structures to be painted, Henry’s being one. Also, Chadwick House; Triscott House; the Red House; the Sentinels; Jamie Wyeth’s House (built by Rockwell Kent); Kent House; the Vaughn Cottage; Fish Beach Cottage; certainly the Lightkeepers’ House, now the history museum; the Monhegan schoolhouse and library; and the wreck of the D.T. Sheridan on Lobster Cove. I haven’t enough time, nor canvases.
We took lunch and came back to the same location for another subject and painting. I did not paint well today, but I am trying to pay attention and don’t have the kind of focus I need to concentrate on my own painting. And that is okay by me. Joined the others for dinner at Monhegan House, where most them are staying - I am up the hill considerably - and I had a shrimp and seafood bisque for $10 which was terrific.
Today we spent virtually all day at Fish Beach which was awesome. I was able to do three paintings. One of the wharf across the rocks, one quick-sketch of the harbor and three schooners, and the last of the lobster traps at sunset and a picnic table at which a watercolorist was painting, so I included him. I painted better today, still tentative. See if I can break-out tomorrow.
End of day.
Friday – Day 11
I have arrived on Monhegan Island! I was close to getting out and kissing the ground, not because I was so thrilled to be here, which I was, but rather because the 90 minute ferry ride, indeed, took it out of me. Man with the stomach of steel, got a tad soft…and green. Felt my head spinning around. Never have I been sick at sea, but this gave me a run of it. Didn’t seem like a particularly rough crossing, and no one else really seemed to be struggling; I was fine for the first half, standing port and at the bow of the ship, holding firm with head held high, as though I were the prow figurehead itself. But two or three healthy swells and the joyride became a chore.
In any case, I had checked out of camp by 8am and driven to the Pier, picked up boarding passes and dropped all bags, then drove up the hill to my designated parking. I learned my lesson regarding luggage when I was in Greece in 2007 for five weeks with a production of “Lysistrata” and a whirlwind tour of the ancient amphitheaters. I found myself hauling around all of Greece no less than five bags – two of which, I am sure, never got unzipped. For that trip, I was very pleased to have checked out of the library a hardbound book on the history of Greece, three inches thick, which I never cracked. One of the fellow actors saw it in my bag and asked to borrow it for an afternoon, so it was not for naught. Think I even suggested he return it to the library in the States for me, but he demurred.
But I learned then: economize. Okay, five bags in Greece; for this trip to the East coast I am hauling no less than… six bags, plus a Trader Joe's bag filled with trail mix and canned goods. I think sometimes I truly went to college to get stupider. Common sense out the window; I mean a guy’s gotta have choices in painting hats and shoes, doesn’t he? Don’t judge me. But then I was wondering, love, should you have a convenient moment, if you wouldn’t mind help carrying some of this damned luggage up a hill?
Let’s talk parking. Boothbay Harbor is, apparently, notorious for limited parking, certainly not overnight. I will be gone eight days. I hadn’t considered what to do with the car. There’s a parking lot at the pier: $20 a day. It’s not in the budget. I am not about to blow almost $200 on parking, now I am in a jam. So, I had mentioned to my new painting buds at Boothbay Paint Out on Wednesday, maybe someone knows someone in this tight artist community can help me out. Someone mentions this gallery owner, that gallery owner, each has a couple of spaces. But wait, First Friday is coming up (the day I leave) they will need all available parking.
I am directed to an artist, Greg Lauderer, building his own home up on the hill. I call Greg, he says stop by anytime. I run over to meet him and we talk about painting for an hour in his driveway. He tells me where to park the car etc and not only do I have this problem solved, I have a new buddy. His is a real inspirational story, and he is building a beautiful home; his wife, Beth, is a flight attendant, flies out of Newark, and they have a system as to how she gets there as base from Boothbay.
I am on my way to Monhegan.
The Island is at once mystical, magical, challenging, and enchanting. And often fogged in. To try to give it more words at the risk of becoming loquacious I will not as many writers before me have graced the leaves with better and more gracious words.
I gather all bags to the side on the wharf and breathe. Then inquire with a driver where be the Hitchcock House, my lodgings. There are no cars allowed on Monhegan, only utility trucks and a few pedestrian golf carts, and not a lot of those. The island only just got electricity twenty-five years ago.
It’s a hill, a right, a left at the church, a steep hill, a left etc. I hump up three or four bags like pack mule. I am wearing long underwear – from the sleep in the tent night before – jeans, and two or three top layers. Sweating through all, thoroughly. When I arrive at the cottage, I shall don shorts and tee shirt. Nope, those are packed away in the bag yet to be claimed on the wharf. Down I descend. I meet my lovely proprietress, Barbara, who also has the Black Duck Emporium. She says, find Susan McDonough in a pickup truck with signage Monhegan Trucking, she will gather and deliver for $3 a bag. I find Susan. Susan delivers my bags – and me in tow – to the top of the hill. She drops some knowledge, see this person, paint here, stay clear of this person and that property, and whatever you do, have a helleva time.
I hope to see Susan again, sooner than later, but certainly with her truck on the day that I depart, the following Saturday.
I’m in! I change into shorts, tee shirt. Waste no time, I hike for an hour to the lighthouse by way of the tremendous cliffs – thanks to Susan for the scoop on the secret access to Trail #5. Yep, just outside my lodgings. I am walking in the shadows of Robert Henri, George Bellows, Edward Hopper, Rockwell Kent, Andrew Wyeth, Jamie Wyeth, Remak Ramsey, Zero Mostel and his son, Josh, and Edward Henry Potthast. Just try to stop me, just try.
I find the lighthouse, I descend into town, find the school, the library, and back to the wharf. I again attack the hill, and turn right from Hitchcock House towards Burnt Head, so as to pop in on master painter Don Stone. He is in. He is delightful. He is famous and he is inspiring. A painting group arrives at their appointed time, led by painter-teacher Tim Horn from San Francisco, interrupting by hours my audience with the master, but I have things to paint. I convey to Don that I shall see him again within the week.
Inspired I go to paint. I find what is known as Swim Beach and the Red House. Two hours later, I have a fun little impressionistic piece, 8 x 10”. This is going to be fun!
Day 5 - Saturday
It's a crime, it is a crime that one guy should have so much darned fun painting. I beat the sun up and head for the harbor. I am looking for boats. See many several in one particular yard, pull in and park. I ask a guy working on a boat about setting up paint shop and he tells me go to the office. I do so, first guy I see, as it happens, has his name on the marquee. Frank Rose, of Rose Yacht Yard. He's a good old boy, says, knock yourself out, another painter is in here all the time, and I really like his work. I tell him I'll be out of there within two hours or so, he says, take more time and get a good painting. Chicago, huh? A circuit judge was here last week from Chicago pulling his boat out of here.
I show him the painting from yesterday, he asks, Highlander Sea? Then starts dropping knowledge to me about specs and measurements, including how light it is, tells me it was built for speed. I mention the Adventure and off he goes, more specs, more history, I am impressed.
After I am painting a while, Ted Nugent walks up to me, sure looked like him anyway, he says, ""Whatcha paintin'?" I point, "that one." "Yeah, it's a great boat. Shrimp boat." A bit later, another crew member in the yard, a resemblance to Robert Shaw, comes up and asks, "Gonna make her pretty?" I say, kidding? she's gorgeous! Him: "well, she's old and tired but we try to keep her going." Me: "There's a lot of us like that walking around on this earth," which makes him laugh.
I decide that I will enwrap this lovely boat in a sunset as it appears the crew believes her to be in the twilight of her existence. Don't quite finish, it's a good sketch, but need to keep moving in order to get to Kennebunk by noonish. The traffic on this one-lane main road is getting backed up, it is the holiday weekend, and tourists will be in soon.
On the way out of town, I spy the gallery for Jeff Weaver, a very good painter, nice guy, does a lot of paintings of Gloucester including one that I see of the fabled paint factory. Even a few of Monhegan. It is nice to make his acquaintance. I will spend the Labor Day weekend with Jeff and Leigh Olson, and will blog the hightlights so as to prepare the way for Boothbay and Monhegan. Cheers
“I looked along the San Juan Islands and the coast of California, but I couldn't find the palette of green, granite, and dark blue that you can only find in Maine.” – Parker Stevenson
Day 4- Friday
Arrive Gloucester by 7am and have a look-about in search of boats to paint. Winding through town and I am floored and absolutely charmed. Pull in to the harbor and find a ship yard; take a bunch of reference photos, but looks tricky trying to paint here on the piers, lots of “no trespassing” signs, that sort of thing. Hasn’t always discouraged me in the past, but… well, these are sailors and fishermen and they look fairly tough. I am wearing my “Steppenwolf Theater” tee shirt, you kind of know what I am saying?
So I continue making my way around the harbor, more stops, more boats. I come up to a turn in the road, and here is Rocky Neck Art Colony, one of the oldest in the nation. There also is the Gloucester Stage Company that I just passed; Israel Horovitz was its founding artistic director since the 70’s till 2006. I am becoming more and more enamored of this magical place.
Winding through Rocky Neck, galleries sprawling throughout; make a turn and there is my boat. Holy Toledo, is it beautiful! I march into the yard and make inquiry, asking permission to do a painting. I am directed to the head of the yard, she introduces herself to me as “Viking Gustafson” – okay, that’s rather cool. She is General Manager of Gloucester Marine Railways. I have struck gold – she is entirely accommodating. "We love our artists here. Several painted here the past couple of weeks, one right over there yesterday. Set up wherever you like", she says, "just be careful and mind the open doors where there will be lots of traffic."
I am on fire and ready to paint.
Heading back to the Kia for equipment and I stop in my tracks, not twenty feet from where I just was conversing with Viking. Two pennies – one up, one down; I decide it is yin yang. A show of balance. These are my pennies from heaven. They are a shotgun blast of good luck, good journeys, 'Irie-Mon', I’ve-got-yer-back, guardian-angel style. And they are here on the very spot where I will paint. On closer examination, the up penny appears to be from 1962, year of my birth. Okay. Let’s rock n roll!
I set up the easel and begin with a sketch, which is not always the case, but here I feel a need for clarity insofar as composition and direction. Too, I have been on the road driving, and should warm up a bit, find a groove. The painting comes together quite quickly and I am working larger than usual – after all, it’s a HUGE ship! I have a 20 x 16” canvas rather than my usual 11 x 14”.
This wooden boat arrived in the yard week or so ago and is anticipated to be ready to launch by end September. It is the famed “Highlander Sea,” a Boston pilot ship. It is almost 122’0” in length and the beam mast is 25’ tall. It was built in 1924 and the current owner is selling it for an asking price of $2 million. The crew has been teasing me while I have been painting, having fun. When I hear the guy working on it say its sale price, I reply, “Hey, that’s weird, when I finish this painting, its sale price will be two million. That’s crazy, why don’t we just swap?”
Another guy behind me, a crew member, watching me paint, leans up and says soto voce, in his best Gloucester ‘downeastern’ accent, “If I were you, I’d keep the painting.” I ask, “You mean that if I threw this painting into the water when it was done, at least I would be assured it might float?” “Oh, this boat will float, don’t you doubt it,” he says. “They are just so danged expensive to maintain.”
The accent is infamously: “Paak the Caa in Haavaad Yaad” for Park the Car in Harvard Yard.
And doubly funny to me: these guys working in the yard, all of them, they all bear an uncanny resemblance to Robert Shaw, "Quint" the shark hunter, in “Jaws.” All of them. Talk like him, same teeth-or lack thereof-wearing exactly the same clothes. And, I suspect, many of them perhaps drink much the same as he.
So. I finish the painting, shy of three hours. I want to pose a picture standing with Viking at the painting. She throws a tee shirt at me, “wear it proud.” It reads, “Gloucester Marine Railways.” I am loving it. Put it on, and I begin speaking exactly like Robert Shaw. Just kidding.
I am very pleased with the outcome of the painting. It's a good painting, really. Asking price: $ two million, ha! And I'll give you a ride in my new boat, then drop you off in my new Fiat (you gots ta read the blog, people, to get these references... :)
I finish a bag of trail mix for breakfast and bid all adieu in the yard – they have been very kind to me. Heading out of Rocky Neck, I take a turn into a residential neighborhood, looking for another spot, and I happen on a woman sweeping her drive. I ask if she might have any suggestions. She says, want to look in the back yard and see if you see anything? She introduces me to her husband, George. George shakes hands, he has an empty Heineken bottle in his hand, a tad unsteady and reeking of three days' effort. It’s ten in the morning.
Don’t catch her name, she disappears into the house. I will call them “George and Martha.” However, they have a remarkable and expansive home, impeccably manicured, and now I get it, why I was invited for a perusal of the back yard: the house is directly on the harbor and we are looking into the town and port of Gloucester. It is a spectacular view, this view of George and Martha’s.
George-of duo George-and-Martha-tells me to use the access road that snakes along the harbor below their property to get to the iconic Gloucester paint factory located on the point of the harbor. It is amazing. Shuttered. It was recently purchased by a not-for-profit organization and will be newly outfitted as a research center for marine studies, as is my understanding. I have George's blessing to use the road; I have a hesitation to ask for a Heineken, but then think better of it. It's ten-fifteen in the morning. I thank them and off I go.
As I pull up to the gate and begin unloading gear, up pulls the owner, CEO of the organization, a very charming Scotsman. Oh, this serendipity, it simply astounds! I give my story, he tells me to use the property as I like to get the best perspective, oh, lock up the gate when I leave. I hear him tell someone he is running into town for some garbage bags, something. I grab a five-spot and ask him to bring me two waters as I will be in direct sun the next few hours. Remember my budget, those five dollars are not anticipated, every dollar counts. But he has just told me that he is fund-raising $2 million for the project. I almost suggest that he can have my new boat, also worth $ 2 million....
When he returns about twenty minutes later, bearing two ice-cold waters, he reaches for change and I say, oh, please, put it toward the effort (thinking it will be cents). Tell him kiddingly that I will need a tax write-off receipt. But then I see the bottled waters are only $1.19 each. Shoot, I think, could have used that change. But he is, thanks in large part to my help, well on his way now towards the cool two million in funding :)
It will become an even better day of painting after I leave the paint factory, but I shall cut to the chase. The storm passes quickly and I go into town and begin a third painting. I lean the boat against a tree near where I am painting, many people stop by and comment. Decide to end the day as I lose daylight and get an early attack on the day tomorrow.
"In our definitions, we grope after the spiritual by describing it as invisible. The true meaning of spiritual is real; that law which executes itself, which works without means, and which cannot be conceived as not existing." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Day 3 - Thursday
Break camp at Lake Erie, empty everything from car onto picnic table and re-organize, re-pack the car. Much more efficient. I know where everything is and can now find it when needed, including canvases and framed paintings. I do not have the cargo storage on top of the Kia as during the California trip in May & June, so this makes getting at things much easier.
Hit the road and prepare myself for another eight and a half hour day of driving. Will try to get to spitting distance to Kennebunk so as to arrive Saturday noonish. Looks like Gloucester, Mass, puts me there and I can paint all day on Friday. I will spend the holiday weekend with Jeff & Leigh, day trip from their place Monday and Tuesday, and participate in a Paint Out in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, on Wednesday. It is from Boothbay that I will catch the ferry to Monhegan Island on Friday. On the way, hope to get to Portland Head, the first and arguably most beautiful lighthouse in the States; it was ordered by George Washington in the late 1700's.
I land at a truck stop an hour this side of Gloucester and sleep for six hours. I am ready to paint.
"I believe the most important single thing, beyond discipline and creativity, is daring to dare." - Maya Angelou
Day 2 - Wednesday, 29 August
“When you start on a long journey, trees are trees, water is water, and mountains are mountains. After you have gone some distance, trees are no longer trees, water no longer water, mountains no longer mountains. But after you have traveled a great distance, trees are once again trees, water is once again water, mountains are once again mountains.” – Zen teaching
Start of another journey, indeed. Headed out for Indy to visit the Gabreks (however, Lori was out of town on business) as well as to deliver a commissioned piece of artwork. Mark and I had some dinner, then back to the house where I presented first the photo art that Diann has gifted them as they were so hospitable to us in June. The piece is "Morning at Lake Douthat" which is one of my favorites of her's; it is sunrise on a lake in Virginia. I had been teaching at Governor's School, hosted by the university in Newport News. Di had flown out to help me drive back from Virginia to Chicago and we were tent camping on the lake. This scene is what we saw when we exited the tent next morning.
I showed Mark the painting. I had done a 16x20" oil of the lake place in Brown County and I was very pleased how it turned out. Actually, it had, in my opinion, a slight resemblance to the work of master painter, Richard Schmid, who was for a long time an iconic presence at Chicago's revered Palette and Chisel - from the 60's onward - and now resides in Vermont with his wife, also an artist. Fair to say he is an influence in my work.
A couple of things came to light at dinner as we reminisced old times: both of us, Mark and me, shared a penchant for Taco Bell tacos when we were young and foolish. We first started patronizing the Bell together when the first Fort Wayne store opened in 1975, something like that. I used to drain down three or four taco sauce packets, just open them and drink them, after knocking down four or five crunchy tacos (they were $o.29 then!), which also had sauce poured on them.
Too, we tracked the fact that we both played baseball in parallel leagues - he at Village Woods and I played Little League at Hillcrest from age eight years old to twelve, then moved on to Senior League which was hosted at Paul Harding High School. Mark played Babe Ruth league, the like-companion to Senior league. We also started playing soccer same years, including a visit to the State Championship in Carmel where we lost 2-1. We both had stories of brief football careers, mine lasting through the first try-out in fifth or sixth grade; I remember thinking to myself that day, "now there's something I never need to do again." Mark said he made one of his first tackles, little running back named Mike Stronzcek, who hit him straight on - Mark's reaction, wow, this isn't even fun to me, as he slowly picked himself up from the ground, teeth rattling.
Anyway, got on my way as Mark was leaving for work next morning. Drove an indirect route eastward across central Indiana so as to visit Hagerstown, IN, where I had my first summer theater job with Nettle Creek Players in 1981. Right across the street from the tent theater was an awesome smorgasbord restaurant called Welliver's where many of us went virtually each Sunday evening after performances. Operating as Willie and Red's since 2010, it was destroyed by fire just a few months ago and was, for me, a bit chilling to drive by, as the building was almost completely boarded up; you could say, I suppose, 'smorgasborded up'.
Continuing on through to New Castle, IN, home of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, and my mind starts wandering. I am reminded that I attended a basketball workshop at Harding H.S. in 1975 with Kyle Macy, named "Mr Basketball" in that year. Born in Ft Wayne, he was a point guard at Purdue and went on to playing, then coaching, professionally. I think he now is a commentator. I specifically remembered having to do dexterity drills like holding a basketball between your bent legs, one hand on the ball from in front of the knee, the other from behind the other knee, and then rotating around quickly and switching left to right, never letting the ball move in the air between your knees.
These are the things I think about when driving cross-country on a painting trip.
At one point, passing through Columbus, I get a heavy metal station and have a wild hair of an idea. I try calling the radio station to make a request (I NEVER listen to metal music, trust me; my fondness for Peter Gabriel's music would betray me thoroughly). I just think it's funny that I am traveling to Maine to visit, before attending the workshop on Monhegan Island, a buddy of mine and his partner, Leigh, whom I have not yet had the pleasure meeting. This buddy, Jeff "Oly" Olson, was the original drummer for the metal band, Trouble, with whom he traveled extensively in Europe on tour back in the day. Jeff has appeared on each of the Trouble studio recordings as well. He now conducts a heavy metal podcast each Monday night, interviewing metal musicians, for his start-up business and label, "Retrograve." In addition, Jeff works for the stellar brew company, Allagash. This intrigues me more than the metal music. Beer. Wine. Maine.
However, this has always been one of my favorites of "Oly's" stories: they were playing a huge stadium in Europe, some tens of thousands of people in an open air venue in Holland, not unlike Woodstock, audience going nuts as the band takes the stage, and the singer for Trouble yells/shrieks into the microphone, "Is everybody Heeeeeeeeeeeeeerrree!" Oly said the other band members kinda looked at each other, then at the crowd and everybody - band and audience - was, for a shared moment in time, completely dumb-founded. It cracks me up. Oly said later, the reference clearly was intended to knick a famous moment of Jim Morrison and the Doors onstage, but in the moment it was lost.
The Kia and I make a stop in Old Hilliard, Ohio, to top off the brake fluid and to cash a check from a recent art purchase. I now am flush with cash for this trip, and here is how the budget works this time: I have three or four bank envelops, each with allotted amounts, the envelops designated "Monhegan Lodging," "Monhegan Workshop Fee," and "Gas-Chicago to Maine." I will be on a cash-only basis for all expenses for these three or so weeks.
Note that I haven't any envelops marked for foodage (yet), nor for fuel for the return trip. You sell a painting, you eat. Well, not to that extreme, but sure would like to have an envelop after my first sale on this trip - hopefully sooner than later, ha - designated: "Clam Chowder". If the piece that sells is 16x20" rather than 11x14" which, by necessity, commands a healthier purchase price, I will also write on the chowder envelop "... & Lobster." But I did go to Trader Joe's before leaving Chicago to stock up on and gather various trail mixes and couple of bottles of wine, as well as several canned goods for the Coleman stove. No worries. I am flush with canned goods now.
I arrived just before dark at Lake Erie State Park so as to camp and set up for a meal. I, Paul, borrowed from Peter exactly $8 for a visit to the market which resulted in a pork chop, a can of white potatoes, and a sack of organic broccoli/cauliflower. By light of my trusty old friend, the Coleman (florescent) lantern, I set to it browning the potatoes, steaming the veggies, then started the pork chop. Halfway through, I added the potatoes and veggies to the cast iron skillet with the chop, grilled them all together and ate directly from the skillet under an incredibly full moon. I wouldn't have wanted even $18 to buy this meal in a restaurant; my $8 served me just fine.
Now I have to find money to pay back Peter.
"Boat on Dry Docks" 20 x 16" oil 2011 [SOLD]
"Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire; you will what you imagine; and at last you create what you will." - George Bernard Shaw
Here we go... again! I am leaving tomorrow for three weeks'painting in Maine - my first time there, and I am thrilled. Apprehensive but thrilled; have not had the time to prep as much as perhaps I did for the journey West two months ago. But the art spirit is ready and willing to sally forth again.
I will run a few errands tomorrow morning. Then I head to Indy to visit and deliver a couple of artworks to dear friends, Mark and Lori Gabrek. I have done a 16 x 20" painting of their lake place in Brown County and have had so much fun doing it. Have not, as yet, digitized it, but will do so tomorrow and try to post.
Will hope to visit the Indiana Art Museum as well, to kick start the inspiration. Get away on Wednesday morning and stop-overs/tent camping (1) outside of Cleveland, (2) Syracuse, New York, and then (3) Gloucester, Mass, painting all the while en plein air. This places me spitting distance to Kennebunk, Maine, where I will rely on the kindness of friends to stage me for a few days while I make some day trips out to paint the environs. A paint out in Booth Bay Harbor on Wednesday next week, then the Slam Dunk: a week painting on the legendary Monhegan Island eight days, from Friday to the following Saturday.
It has been a busy week. We closed SS! THE TAMING OF THE SHREW with Chicago Shakespeare Theater after a resounding four-week success of their new program "Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks". It's free! Underwritten in part by Boeing, the production traveled to eleven park districts and hosted an average of six to seven hundred theater-goers each performance; seems to me the largest capacity was something over 950. It was an absolute joy in which to participate. I even committed myself to completing a series of twelve paintings, one for each of the parks locations, many painted from life (I would arrive an hour or two ahead of the rest of the cast) or from a combination of rough sketches and photo references. The series, when complete, might gain legs as there may be an opportunity for exhibition down the line. Especially cool for me was meeting Mayor Rahm Emmauel when he visited the production in Garfield Park.
In typical fashion, I heard he was there, and just before the performance commenced, marched right out to the center of the lawn where he was seated in lawn chairs with his wife, and shook hands. It was not until later, during the performance, that we all espied from backstage the several (subtle but heavily-armed) members of the security team watching him intently from every vantage point. I am guessing I made an appearance on their wireless: "yep, got him, Shakespeare actor, costumed - are those Pumpkin Pants he is wearing! - aggressively approaching..." (wondering what code name they used for the mayor during this performance: "bard" maybe) "aggressively approaching 'Bard I'... keep an eye on the Pumpkin Pants...." Over.
Anyway, a great success. The production was put to bed on Sunday after four weeks, some twenty or so performances, thousands of people in attendance, many new to Shakespeare, perhaps even to the concept of live, professional theatrical presentation. Wow.
So, a week to get ready for this trip. On Monday, I met with the owner of the new Fiat dealership which celebrated their Grand Opening on Thursday. I had done, on spec, two 18 x 24" paintings of Fiats against a backdrop of rural America (my reference photos from outside of New Harmony, IN came into service in a big way), as well as a grove of trees as backdrop, through which a beautiful Fiat has just passed. The owner liked them very much.
"Lincoln Park Home" 16 x 20" oil, 2012
So, the owner asks me to execute three large wall murals to be completed by Opening on Thursday. I am not a muralist. (Yet, apparently). Like my theater days running a company - the dreaded all-nighters. I worked from their closing at 8pm until wee hours, 3 am'ish Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. My body was aching but the check was cut and in the bank by Wednesday at noon. Tried negotiating the throwing of a Fiat in to the mix, but it did not go over well.
The balance of the week was spent peddling other artworks that I have completed during my brief honeymoon period with Lincoln Park these past five or six weeks. At right is a tremendous home, the owner of which I met only yesterday as he now considers purchasing. I suggested we could waive the purchase price if only I could have the home on time-share two weeks out of the year and that I would need additional parking space for my new Fiat - as of press time, my call has not been returned.
Anyway, welcome back and see you soon! Ciao, baby