The year that was had its share of challenges for everyone. For some it was just impossible and heartbreaking. New Year’s makes it feel like we get a do-over, that we get to Reboot and start again without causing the system to crash. Life isn’t that easy or simple. Some things you can’t fix but there is always hope if you look for it. Right now, we need to look hard and long at the future and what is ahead with a greater understanding of the fragility of those things we’ve always held dear.
I’m an optimist but I know things can fall apart. I also know that when they do, all you can do is put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. I’m hoping for a better 2021, though I know it won’t be all better once the ball drops in Times Square. I’m targeting 2021 as the year I have my first book published. I’m not sure how, but I’m going to give it my all to make sure it has every chance at success. Like painting, working at making my book the best it can possibly be is my first goal. When I’m satisfied with it, which will probably be never, the editing ends and the publishing begins.
Creating paintings of our boat trip from Maine has been a fun respite from my writing endeavors. Sometimes you have to step away and take a breather before returning with fresh eyes. Painting has allowed me to do that.
From Chapter 16:
“It was 8:30 a.m. when we left Barefoot Marina, and another pretty day on the water. The weather was finally cooperating, four sunny days in a row and more sunshine to come. Once the ICW fed into the Waccamaw River, the water was deeper and wider and beautiful. We made our way up to the fly bridge to enjoy the sunshine and the mild temperatures. Ahead of us was a row of sailboats. The sunlight pushed past a row of sumptuous clouds, creating a glistening spotlight for the middle sailboat with its sails unfurled. That was a picture that would definitely make a fine painting someday. Up ahead was the Ocean Highway Bridge which connects Pawleys Island to Georgetown, South Carolina’s third oldest city after Beaufort and Charleston. When we reached mile marker 400 where the Waccamaw River meets the Great Pee Dee River, Georgetown Landing Marina, awaited us, a perfect place to stay.”
Happy New Year, and let’s all resolve to be kinder to one another. If we try to understand someone else’s point of view instead of insisting on our own infallibility that which divided us only grows wider. Look for common ground and understanding and you’ll find it.
Monhegan Island, if you’ve ever heard of it, either you are from Maine or have some connection to the art world. It’s a small rustic island, 12 miles off the coast of Maine with a population of 70. I’m not quite sure when I first learned of it’s existence but I knew it was a place where artists have been going for more than 100 years. It could have been through Robert Henri’s book “The Art Spirit”, which took up permanent residency on my night stand probably ten years ago. It’s a series of lectures Henri gave to his art students making it an easy book to just pick up from time to time to read excerpts. Henri first went to Monhegan in the summer 1902. He was so taken with the place he bought land there. Eventually he brought more artists there, his students Rockwell Kent, George Bellows, and Edward Hopper among others. The Wyeths also spent time on Monhegan. So wherever or whenever I first learned of Monhegan Island, one thing was certain, I desperately wanted to go there.
Last summer, it was my turn to be inspired. There’s a rugged beauty there, and a purity. I’m not the first to say it, and I’m surely not going to be the last but there’s something to paint everywhere you turn. I did a few Plein air sketches while we were there and I’ve worked from those and my photographs ever since. Inspiration is a fine thing and it can push you to do your best work. The magic of Monhegan has taken me to a new place. It is humbling to know that some of America’s greatest artists have painted in the same place.
Monhegan Island isn’t the only place in Maine where artists have been drawn. There are more places I want to go this summer as the time approaches to make the trek back north. Edward Hopper was a frequent visitor to several places along Maine’s coast. Some I’ve been to while others remain on “the list”. Two years ago I visited Winslow Homer’s summer home. The view from his front yard was incredible. Waves crashing against rocks just grabs a person and says in clear and unambiguous terms, mother nature is a powerful force. It’s constant, powerful and mesmerizing.
Perhaps a list of places to get to would be in order before we head back. Regardless of where this summer takes us, these are my Maine paintings for the past year.