And we’re off

The locals were eager to share their million-dollar views and, by the way, did we need a washroom?

Ed and I did multiple value studies trying to sort out our painting sites for today.
The Canadian Maritimes shipbuilding industry dates to 1606, when two small boats were built at Port Royal. The availability of timber and proximity to the sea meant that by the nineteenth century, Nova Scotia’s shipyards were recognized worldwide.
There’s no sign of this boatbuilding industry left today, but Parrsboro built 10 barks, 2 barkentines, 11 brigs, 187 schooners, 1 full-rigged ship, and 41 brigantines. How do I know? At four in the afternoon, while I was sorting photos on my computer, Ed Buonvecchio was reading Parrsboro history.
Meanwhile, Poppy Balser was sitting on a stoop Instagramming and Mary Sheehan Winn was drafting a lobster boat. We were scattered along the harbor but linked by our cell phones.
Ed and I spent the morning doing value studies of possible locations. Because we’re in one car, we needed to agree on our final locations, without a lot of last-minute discussion. We listed the possibilities and then each listed them in order of priority. Our lists ended up being very nearly identical. In the end only one question remained: should we choose the Two Island overlook with the blue roof or the red roof?
Nova Scotians are very friendly. Several stopped to chat as we worked. Inevitably, they suggested that they, in fact, had a better view from their back deck. And, by the way, did we need a washroom?
At one point, I tossed my keys to Ed and took off with a stranger in his Ford F-150, which is the official truck of Canada. I wasn’t overly worried. He’d mentioned that he’d met his hero, George Herbert Walker Bush, several times. A man with such taste had to be trustworthy. He turned out to be charming and witty, and I returned to his property several times, to show it to Poppy and Ed in succession.
Thanks to Mary and her local connections, I’ve learned a lot about Parrsboro in two short days. In addition to her living relatives, she’s related to someone in every cemetery in town. “Aw, hello, Uncle Remus!” she would exclaim as we passed an old burying ground. “Hello, Cousin Louise!” At one point, she jumped from the car and tore crosslots looking for a grave. She caught up with me at the bottom of the hill, breathless. “That was easier than I expected,” she puffed.
That insider information made me smug. “Poppy,” I said when she arrived, “I know absolutely everything.”
“Do you know where the weir is?” she challenged. Fishing weirs are an ancient technology for catching tidal fish, dating back to prehistory. They’re dying out now, but Poppy is a master at painting them. And Parrsboro has one, just across the water from Parrsboro’s hypermodern tidal turbine, which unfortunately failed under the enormous hydraulic pressures of the Bay of Fundy and is being rebuilt this spring.
After we visited the weir, we took off at breakneck speed. I had less than three hours to show her all the sights before we were expected for the opening festivities. We were so short of time that I changed my shirt in the parking lot of the Cape D’or Lighthouse. It was so desolate that I could have had a sponge bath with nobody noticing.
We arrived back in Parrsboro with enough time to wash our faces and hands and scurry in to our appointment. By the time you read this, we’ll be out in Port Greville painting. Can you tell I’m excited?

Reconnoitering

Research is not a luxury in a plein air event. Planning and preparation are key to success.

The back tracks of Nova Scotia can be a bit rough for an elderly Prius.

Yesterday, Mary Sheehan Winn and I spent more than ten hours tracking back and forth over the same 79 km-mile strip of land between Advocate Harbor and Five Islands. I used to consider this kind of reconnoitering a luxury, because it involved an extra day on the road. I’ve come to realize it’s a necessity. What am I looking for?

Subject: I’m interested in boats, tides, cliffs, rocks, clouds, water, and the small fishing villages that cling to the edges of the sea. That drives me to the outermost points, along the cliffs and the small dirt tracks that run along them. In this part of Nova Scotia, the waterfront is still occupied by people of modest means. Mobile homes share the coastline with old farmhouses.
I wrote earlier that we couldn’t find the fishing fleet at Parrsboro. That is because they tie up on the outside of the public landing, and the tide was down when I was here. With Mary’s help, I found them, but they’ll still be hard to paint. They’re across a wide basin from the closest vantage point.
Near Port Greville, Nova Scotia.
Weather forecast:Unfortunately, the forecast gets wetter and cooler as we approach the weekend. I’ll plan for things which need sparkle for tomorrow, and do things which can tolerate less light on Saturday.
Tide: The tide affects every seascape. This is most true here on the Bay of Fundy, which has the highest range in the world. At low tide, channels cut sinuously through the mud across Parrsboro harbour. At high tide, the town comes sharply into focus across shimmering water. Every possible painting has several permutations.
Angle of Light: Cape Blomidon curls into the Minas Basin like Big Boy’s giant lock of hair. It looms across every vantage point. Its color and clarity depend on the hour. The light can make a mediocre composition shine. For example, Five Islands are too widely spaced to make a good painting from the shoreline. But at the witching hour of dusk, they are lit up by the setting sun.
A lonely lobster boat on a rising tide.
Composition: If you’re not careful, it’s very easy to make an empty painting of the sea. I’m searching relentlessly for a composition that has foreground interest without sacrificing the sense of place.
Moon phase: We’re in a waning gibbous moon, and the sky is going to cloud over as we move forward in the week. If I’m going to do a nocturne, it will be tonight.
Character: Yesterday I was asked if I thought the Minas Basin looked just like Maine. Actually I think it looks more like the Great Lakes. Those red cliffs are the same sandstone that underlies Niagara. Because it’s soft, the scree at water’s edge is worn into flat cobblestones. Part of my examination is to put into words how I know this is the Bay of Fundy, rather than Cape Cod or Wisconsin.
Granite and basalt on much of the North Atlantic coast, but sandstone here.
Permission: I use this prep time to ask people if I can paint on their property. Yesterday, when I did so, a woman told me about a problem in their neighborhood with a rogue black bear. That’s very handy to know.

All the planning in the world won’t make a ‘great’ painting, however, and somewhere I need to build in a few hours to rest before our canvases are stamped and we’re set loose on an unsuspecting public.

Homeland insecurity

I’m not a very good liar, and the US-Canada border crossing is no place to hone my skills.
Ed Buonvecchio is looking forward to seeing the uniquely Fundy method of ditching boats.
Several years ago, I was crossing back to the US from Ontario with several of my painting students. One of them caught the eye of Homeland Security. The rest of us cooled our heels in a badly-lighted waiting room while Jennifer convinced two border officers that she is an utterly blameless citizen.
Jennifer is chirpy about most things, even an unscheduled brush with law enforcement. “Those young men were cute!” she twanged in her Virginia accent. “Ah didn’t mind spending half the night with them at all.”
Yesterday, I traveled to Canada with Ed Buonvecchio. Ed and I make up 2/3s of the Maine contingent to the Parrsboro International Plein Air Festival. He’s just come back from another long road trip. He’s tired.
Pink seas at Parrsboro, earlier this year.
Perhaps it’s my grandmotherly good looks, but I usually have no problems crossing borders. However, I’ve been mindful about it ever since Poppy Balser was stopped coming into the US for Castine Plein Air in 2016.  The question that tripped her up was, “Are you going to be selling any work?”
The accurate answer yesterday was that we are not going to sell work directly, but the festival’s organizers, Parrsboro Creative, would be doing so.
I’m not a very good liar. That doesn’t mean I’m honest; it just means that I don’t do it well. I don’t volunteer information, but it’s pointless for me to try to dissemble. A child would know I was telling a fib. Ed is, if anything, even worse.
It turns out that Ed, like my friend Jennifer, was flagged on the background check. We cooled our heels in a beautiful, airy, tiled building. Ed answered questions and fretted. I paced, trying to catch up with my husband on our Fitbit challenge.
Cobequid Bay farm, by Carol L. Douglas. I last painted up here, oh, about three weeks ago.
In the end, I’m like my pal Jennifer, always looking for the silver lining. I learned something important: it’s OK for American artists to work in Canada as long as our tools are worth less than a certain dollar amount. We can also bring in materials and supplies, as long as they’re worth less than a certain dollar amount. I haven’t found the magic numbers, but I figured our easels and brushes were probably worth less than $150 each, and our supplies under $100 each. (Those numbers may seem low, but these are pretty well-used items.)
I’m looking forward to painting with Poppy Balser again.
I’m relieved. That means we don’t have to try to pass ourselves off as amateurs when we cross over with our paints, brushes and canvases. That’s just easier on everyone, artists and customs inspectors alike.
“Ed,” I said in my biting Western New York accent, “That young man was cute! I didn’t mind spending time with him at all.”
Ed just rolled his eyes.
—-
Addendum: I have no internet here, so my posts may be erratic for the rest of the week.

You call this working?

For me, serious illness was a  corrective to the impulse to tiptoe around my calling. It reminded me that time is precious and fleeting. 

As I tried to figure out how my carefully-planned day went so haywire, a friend pointed out, “you hate packing and you love boats.” That is the only explanation for giving up what I absolutely had to do in order to join Howard Gallagher and Ken DeWaard on the Dirty Dory.
Camden is full of beautiful boats. It’s easy enough to find opportunities to paint them at rest. It’s much more difficult to see them under sail. I have a few photos from last year’s trip on American Eagle. Two years ago, Howard took the late Lee Boynton and me out to see the start of the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta. We shot pictures of modern boats. But opportunities to shoot the massive old schooners under way are limited, and I should grab them when I can.
Mercantile raising her sails.
It takes a skilled navigator to get in position while not annoying the schooner crew, and Howard is that. Here’s the video he shot while we were out:
One of the boats we followed out was the ketch Angelique. She is distinctive for her brown-rose tan-barked sails. In 2016, Poppy Balser and I sketched her as she stood off Castine in a harbor that already hosted Bowdoinand J&E Riggin. It was a magical morning but eventually I finished and left. Poppy stayed; Angelique docked; Poppy scored. Timing, as they say, is everything.
Angelique at the Dock, watercolor, by Poppy Balser.
The same was true yesterday. I returned to my studio to frame and photograph paintings and clean and pack my car. Ed Buonvecchio called; we chatted about the recent Finger Lakes Plein Air Festival. Kari Ganoung Ruiz, who won Best in Show, is a friend and a fellow member of Greater Rochester Plein Air Painters. She was my monitor for my 2015 Sea and Sky workshop. Kudos to a fine, fine painter.
Ed and I are heading to Nova Scotia this afternoon to paint in the Parrsboro International Plein Air Festival. I was there earlier this year with Bobbi Heath. The landscape is spectacular and I’m expecting great things to happen.
Angelique leaving Camden harbor.
This three-day event is full of meet-and-greet events, more than this old recluse is accustomed to. The culmination is a Collector’s Gala on Saturday night. I’m a little anxious at its posh description. Oh, well. One bright side to owning only one dress is that one doesn’t need to dither about what to wear. No, I’m not packed, but in the end, will anyone remember what I wore?
My husband says that after my first bout with cancer, I quit doing things I didn’t want to do. That’s not entirely true; every life is full of mundane and humdrum chores like packing. What has changed is that I try to not let obligation stand in the way of opportunity. Serious illness is a great corrective to the human impulse to tiptoe around our true calling. It reminds us that time is precious and fleeting.

But wait, there’s more!

Packing for a road trip is my most hated job. Perhaps a list will help me stay more organized.

To me, a successful job of packing means I come home with one clean pair of panties. I’d rather waste space on painting tools and supplies than on my personal gear. My last trip, however, ran a little longer than I’d expected. Washing clothes on the road was no big deal, but I didn’t have sufficient meds. It was a lesson that one can, in fact, cut it too fine.
I leave for Nova Scotia tomorrow. The forecast is for temperatures ranging from 9° to 24° C, which is 50°-75° in real money. That means double packing, because I must must be prepared for any weather.
Packing is my least-loved part of my job. I’ve decided to make a list, in the hope that it makes me a little more efficient. This is in addition to my list of painting supplies, which you can find here for oils, for watercolor, and for acrylics.
Feel free to comment with additional suggestions.
Rain happens, especially in the Northeast. In a plein air event, that’s no excuse for not getting your painting done.
One week of clothing for the traveling artist

Clothing:
Fleece or cotton hoodie
Fleece or wool sweater
Cardigan or shawl for evening
Hiking boots
Hiking socks
Totally paint-spattered shirts—number of days +1
Totally paint-spattered capris—number of days divided by 2
One pair of long pants
Painting hat
Underpants—number of days +2
Bras—2
My bathing suit—not that I ever use it, but I can dream
A swim towel—ditto
Sandals
Raingear—a jacket AND waterproof pants
Sleepwear
One moderately dressy outfit for casual events
One actual dress or skirt for reception
Jewelry
Nobody does the painting hat quite as elegantly as Marjean Coghill.
Grooming:
Cosmetics—especially for you guys. You look downright unkempt at times
Sunglasses, glasses cleaner and cleaning cloth
Sunscreen
Insect repellent
SPF lip balm
Aloe vera lotion for when you forget the sunscreen
Deodorant
Hairbrush and/or comb
Hair ties and bobby pins
Nail clipper
Razor
Shampoo and conditioner
Body wash
Prescription medications and vitamins. I sort mine prior to leaving into daily med containers
Toothbrush—I can get five weeks out of my electric toothbrush without a charge. I’ve tested this.
Toothpaste
Floss
Monthly feminine supplies
(You’ll need a clear plastic bag if you’re flying for some of these things)
Downloaded media will be your best friend when you’re stuck on the road back of beyond.
First aid:
A small first aid kit in your trunk
Over-the-counter allergy meds
Aspirin and/or your favorite NSAID

Odd equipment for when I am traveling overland and have space to burn:
Bandana—I can soak this in water and stay cool on a hot day.
Porta-potty
Foldable wagon
Headlamp for nighttime painting
Small secateur clipper
Extra plastic poncho to cover easel in case of monsoon
Folding chair
Water bottle and a larger jug to refill
Nutritional bars and trail mix—no chocolate, unless you like cleaning up melted food
Brush soap
Baby wipes

Electronics
Camera and charger
Cell phone and charger
Laptop and charger, if applicable
GPS if applicable
Fitbit charger
Spare charged external battery—this is a lifesaver when traveling
Headphones
For every show, there will be an opening, and you’re supposed to dress for it. Try to look as good as this posse, please: Mira Fink, Crista Pisano, me, Marlene Wiedenbaum, Laura Bianco, Kari Ganoung Ruiz (who just took Best in Show at Finger Lakes) and Tarryl Gabel.
Lastly…

Cash
Credit cards
Remember to turn on foreign cell service, if necessary
Download any media to phone or Kindle before leaving your wifi behind.

The one thing you shouldn’t say to another artist

I hate the word “mindfulness,” but I’ve resolved to be mindful about offering unsolicited advice to my peers.
The Three Graces, available through Camden Falls Gallery. My to-do list includes painting more boats in the water.
I’m just smart enough to know when to ask other people for advice. It’s usually very helpful, and I have many friends I also consider to be mentors. Then there’s unsolicited advice. I’ve come to dread the phrase “you should…” It always means another project I don’t have time to finish.
That’s pretty ironic coming from someone who teaches. Much of my time is spent saying “you should…” to my students. I can justify that by saying that my students sought my help. But I’m starting to think that “you should…” is the least helpful and most corrosive way of framing ideas.
Dawson City, Yukon. My undone list also includes finding a venue for the paintings from my Trans-Canada trip.
“You should…” isn’t an offer of help. It often ignores the realities or ideas that prevent someone from doing what the speaker thinks needs doing. 
“I already know I’m failing on a daily basis, because of the things I don’t get done,” an artist friend said recently. “I don’t need any help seeing that.”
Most professional artists are one-man shows. We do our own marketing, publicity, office work, and cleaning. Non-artists would be shocked at the number of hours we work, especially when our work seems to progress slowly.
I should put my remaining urban paintings on sale on the internet, since they’re unlikely to sell in a gallery here on the Maine coast.
I use Bobbi Heath’sorganizational system, here, to manage my work flow. Bobbi was a successful project manager in the corporate world. Her system is similar in concept to that which my husband’s software development team uses, although they don’t have cute Post-it notes. My calendar is computerized, as is my bookkeeping.
In other words, I’m as organized as I ever will be, and I still can’t get everything done. In fact, I have a standing to-do list that’s far longer than the working hours in my week. When I add another task to it, something else has to come out.
A great frame in its place, but its place isn’t here.
One of the big “you should…” tasks on my list is changing my frame style. What worked in New York is too heavy and formal for Maine.
I have a plan for a stunning, light floater frame, drawn for me by artist Ed Buonvecchio. A friend showed me another frame, with a wood liner, that is equally airy. I have the woodshop in which to build either style. What I don’t have is the time to do the work. So I ordered a different gold frame for the 2017 season, and my real update will have to wait another year.
There’s a lesson in this for me. I hate the word “mindfulness,” but I’ve resolved to be mindful about saying “you should…” to my peers. Is there a better way to express the idea? Should the idea be left unspoken? Does this person want my input, or would simply listening be more helpful?

What does it mean to be a successful artist?

To make progress, we must experience the doldrums as well as the exhilaration of creativity.
This sketch of the Ellwanger Estate in Rochester went from being something I hated to being a favorite painting.
One of my artist friends is struggling right now. Her current work feels stale to her, but when she pushes the boundaries, she is uncomfortable. She worries that the results feel like “too, too much.” Like most of us, she is looking for that sweet spot that combines marketability with room to grow and challenge herself.
Another artist friend wonders how to tell if you’re a successful artist. She proposed that you are a success if you bring joy to someone. I pointed out that a lot of people have some really awful art hanging on their walls. It apparently makes them happy. Bringing joy, then, may be setting the bar too low.
I spent one memorable spring consistently overshooting the colors. I wasn’t happy then. I am now.
In other career paths, success is measured by dollars. In art, financial success is dependent on things other than artistic mastery, like connections, marketing skills, organization, and financial resources. Many great painters have labored in poverty and obscurity through most or all of their careers. Artistic success, then, must first be defined in artistic, not financial, terms. The problem is that the goal is constantly shifting.
As artists, we struggle to achieve some effect or transmit an idea. This struggle can be quite lengthy, lasting weeks or months. When we succeed, we can churn out art, seemingly effortlessly. During that short golden period, work is fun and exciting. We feel like we’ve finally ‘got it’.
I worked on site on Lower Falls at Letchworth for the better part of a season. That meant hiking to the bottom of the gorge with my painting kit. It was no fun.
Sadly, this is a fleeting thing.
Soon another question or problem surfaces. We realize a deficiency, or we need to explore a different subject. The searching and questing starts again. Work feels halting, incompetent, and difficult.
There are times when it seems like I’ve never held a brush before. I’m awkward, unpolished, and incapable. No, I’m not suffering from amnesia. If I’m doing my job right, I haven’tdone this before, because part of what we artists do—or ought to do—is explore uncharted areas. Luckily, I’m a process-driven, rather than results-driven person. Otherwise, I’d lose my mind.
The struggle at the Lower Falls meant that painting its mate, Upper Falls at Letchworth, was easy.
Some of the pieces that felt most awkward at the time actually turned out to be road-markers for the forward journey. That’s why I’m never keen on scrubbing out ‘failures’ after a painting session. I just can’t tell what a painting means when I’m working on it.
Embracing a cycle of success and struggle is the heart of the artistic process. To make progress, we must allow ourselves to experience the doldrums as well as the exhilaration of the creative process.
The Long Road Home is another work that had to be dragged out of my fingertips.
When someone is at the bottom of one of these cycles, I recommend they read (or reread) the classic Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. They address the pertinent issues of habit, persistence and routine. If nothing else, the book reminds us that we’re not alone in this struggle.

Roadside Route 1

How important are signs? Just say “Red’s Eats” or “Moody’s Diner” to a summer visitor and then sit back and listen.

Driving to Belfast yesterday, I mused, as I often do, on the many Mom-and-Pop businesses along the way. They’re as much a part of the Maine landscape as the rocks and the lobster boats. Their signs are idiosyncratic, old-fashioned and different than in most tourist destinations. Without them, Route 1 would be much less interesting.

Signage, in its most utilitarian form, instructs us. Beyond that, it is a social art form. It decorates, it identifies, and it communicates ideas to passers-by.
“Your house has a name!” my Scottish friend Martha exclaimed when she visited me last summer. Middle-class Americans don’t generally name their houses. Britons do. But our sign has been there since long before we bought this place. It is called Richards Hill after the first owner, from when the surrounding area was farmland. It wasn’t my place to take its nameplate down, even though I have a different business sign at the street.
In fact, many buildings along Route 1 have multiple signs from different periods. These are like layers in an archeological dig. There’s a motel in Lincolnville with a dull 1990s-era street sign. But its office sign is perfect mid-century neon.
In my town (Rockport) business signs must be small, not internally lighted, and conform to a setback. That isn’t true everywhere on Route 1, but it does contribute to the aesthetic of hand-painted, hand-carved signs that prevails here.
Neon, which was introduced in the 1920s and reached its peak in the 1940s, is used sparingly. It’s not permitted in Rockport, but in general it’s expensive, and the tubes break.
Part of the reason signage here is so charming is that Mainers are basically frugal. They don’t change what ain’t broke. Signs last a long time if maintained.
The other part is that big-box stores, by and large, have little presence here. There are some, but they’re not ubiquitous and despoiling, as they are in so many places. The absence of their large, lighted signs is refreshing.
Signs tell us a lot about the people within the businesses they advertise. There are antique shops on Route 1 that are barely more than a rotating flea market. Others are quite elegant, and their signage is more tasteful.
Signs also reflect personality and background. Here in Maine, they tend toward the ‘colonial’, which speaks both to their mid-century vintage and the predominant WASP culture.
How important are signs? Just say “Red’s Eats” or “Moody’s Diner” to a summer visitor and then listen as they start bubbling over. Signs are part of a place’s cultural heritage and its community memory. They are landmarks, sometimes more important than the buildings they mark. They’re individual, clever, and evocative. That’s art, folks.

How to choose a view

Writers are told to write about what they know. What should artists depict?
The Red Truck, by Carol L. Douglas
Yesterday I stopped to sit for a few minutes on a stone wall in Rockport. In my solitude, I noticed the beautiful asymmetry of the house across the street. Its white clapboard and modest door were framed by dark spruces and a dandelion-studded lawn.
Most people zip down this street with no more than a passing glance at the historic homes and the harbor below. Yet there are many quietly memorable moments: a brook burbling over granite, ancient gnarled beeches, sunlight glancing off cedar shakes. The only way to see them is to get out of the car and walk.

“Yes, well, views are very nice, Hastings. But they should be painted for us so that we can study them in the warmth and comfort of our own homes. That is why we pay the artist for exposing himself to these conditions on our behalf.” (Poirot: The Adventure Of The Clapham Cook)

Drying Sails, by Carol L. Douglas.

 “How and why do you choose the views you paint?” a reader asked. The answer depends, in part, on why I’m painting. If I’m in a plein air event or on the road, the views I choose will tend to be more iconic. Here in mid-coast Maine, I have the luxury of intimacy.

Anything can be the subject of a painting. That doesn’t mean content is unimportant. I paint what matters to me: boats, rocks, water, skies, earth and trees. This was never a conscious choice, but the impulse is so strong that it drove me from Western New York to Maine.
Keuka Lake, by Carol L. Douglas
I don’t think you can force this choice. Most artists experiment with subject matter before finding their métier. Piet Mondrian’s windmills and Vincent Van Gogh’s dark peasant studies are two examples.
Composition must drive any painting. In Rochester last week, a student showed me her first design, of a row of peonies marching at a diagonal across her page. I suggested she move 90° to catch the slight S-curve in the row. The difference was staggering.
Castine Lunch Break, by Carol L. Douglas
Closely tied to this is the question of light. Sunlight is the major organizing principle in landscape painting, but we can’t always order it up. In today’s drear, I’m going to suggest to my plein air class that we concentrate on close-ups rather than vistas. The architecture of objects can partly cover for the absence of light.
“There are no lines in nature, only areas of colour, one against another,” Edouard Manet said. The northeast is overwhelmingly cool in color: blue or grey skies against similar seas and green foliage. I look for color patterns within that, particularly those with a flash of warmth: the orange line in the seaweed, the pink of granite, a yellow glint in the sky. After light, color patterns are paramount.
Dinghy, Camden Harbor, by Carol L. Douglas
I also think about meaning. This is old-fashioned, but I don’t see the point of painting if my work says nothing. I hope that my paintings speak about the relationship of man to his environment, about the enduring qualities of the earth, and about simple joy.
Rocks at the American Yacht Club,by Carol L. Douglas.
Addendum: if you’re a landscape photographer, you might be interested in this contest sponsored by Machias Savings Bank.

New name, same vision

Penobscot East Resource Center has changed its name to Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries. It’s still the same great group.

High Tide, Scott Island, by Carol L. Douglas
Artists are besieged by requests for auction items. I’ve written before about how you should contribute if you support the organization’s goals, but not because you think it will give you a tax deduction.
One organization I endorse is the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries (MCCF) in Stonington. This non-profit is dedicated to maintaining sustainable fishing off the Maine coast forever. They think this should be a three-pronged approach:
  • ·         Preserve our diverse ecosystem;
  • ·         Assure continued access to fishing;
  • ·         Maintain profitability for community-scale fishermen.

Much of the charm of the Maine coast comes from the fishing industry: the lobster fleets bobbing merrily in small harbors and coves, colorful traps stacked on wharves or fashioned into Christmas trees in the holiday season.
Stonington Green, by Bobbi Heath
The tourist industry is closely entwined with the fishing industry. So is the landscape-painting industry. That’s especially true for people like me, who paint a lot of boats.
For that reason, I’ve contributed painted buoys to MCCF’s auction for several years. My personal favorites were the Mermaid Madonna and the Lobster That Ate New York, although the lupineand fishones probably netted the group more money.
Stonington Public Landing, by Carol L. Douglas (courtesy the Kelpie Gallery)
Last year, Bobbi Heathjoined me in contributing a buoy. This year, we’re both contributing again. Happily, the organization has opened the auction up to include conventional paintings. I found painting on a cylinder to be devilishly difficult.
On Friday, I delivered a painting done off Stonington, entitled High Tide, Scott Island. I did this off the deck of American Eagle last summer. It was an idyllic day, and I hope my happiness at being on the water is apparent.
I also delivered Bobbi’s painting, Stonington Green. Administrative Director Bobbi Billings recognized the house as belonging to someone she knew. That kind of validation always tickles me, and I wish Bobbi Heath had been there to hear it.
The auction will be held on August 7 at the Opera House in Stonington. For more information, contact MCCF here.
Stonington waterfront (unfinished) by Carol L. Douglas
Friday was one of those days where every curve in the road elicits a gasp of delight at the wonder and glory of spring. Stonington is absurdly beautiful, but it’s also two hours from my studio. I’m lucky to get up there once or twice a summer. That has a bad effect on painting, because the pressure to choose the ‘right’ scene is immense.
I set up on the deck of MCCF’s office. It provides an iconic view of Stonington, with its repeating mansard roofs. I gave myself a strict deadline, after which I would have to be on my way. There’s a lot of drawing in the painting, and I have to adjust a roofline, but I very nearly made it.
Friday’s rainbow off Lincolnville.
I finished in complete solitude in the limpid light of late afternoon, the tide having filled the basin that lies before the town. In the distance, I could hear a foghorn bleating. The Maine coast produces erratic weather and distorts sound, so I had no idea where it might be raining. I packed my gear and reluctantly headed west. I wasn’t much past Orland when this Spring’s ever-present rain hit my windshield in earnest.