fbpx

Reunion

The aurora borealis didn’t show up, but my friends did. Our plein air event at Ocean Park is off to a great start.
The new sandbar, 10X8, oil on canvas, by Carol L. Douglas

I arrived in Ocean Park in a flurry of excitement. The sun has been kicking up an electro-magnetic storm and it was possible the Aurora Borealis would be visible as far south as Boston. While Ocean Park is two hours south of my house, I thought there was a good chance we might get a glimpse of them.
I’ve seen the Northern Lights many times, but never with paints in hand. I’ve painted them in my studio but I long to paint them en plein air.
Goosefare Brook oxbow, 8X6, painted last year. It’s gone now.
To that end, Frank Gwalthney and I drove down to Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. This 50-mile-long Federal preserve touches Ocean Park. In addition to sheltering sea birds, it also provides an oasis of dark sky in Vacationland. But, alas, there was no shimmering green light, merely beautiful stars.
I spent five weeks painting in Canada and Alaska last year and never saw them there, either. They are fickle and shy.
Still, it’s not what you don’t have; it’s what you do have, and what I have is a happy band of painters whom I treasure as friends. Anthony Watkins set up to paint the Ocean Park Ice Cream Fountain. The rest of us headed off to the mouth of Goosefare Brook.
The Heavens Declare, 48X36, oil on linen, by Carol L. Douglas. Once again, I miss the chance to paint Aurora Borealis in the wild.
We’d heard that the tides had scoured out a new channel for the brook, but I was unmoved. Goosefare Brook wiggles around in its basin annually. My skepticism was misplaced. The oxbow is entirely gone. Its hundreds of tons of sand now sit out in the ocean as a new sandbar off the creek’s mouth. This has created a tidal pool of still water, suitable for young kids and anyone else who doesn’t want to fight breakers.
We understand that the ocean is unfathomably powerful, but that tangible proof is more convincing than any number of warnings.
Straight-on breakers, 10X8, by Carol L. Douglas
Despite our slow start and happy chatter, we all managed to turn out credible first paintings. In a few minutes, I’m heading downtown to start my first painting of the day. I think it will be a streetscape. If you’re in southern Maine this morning, stop to see me. You can get directions at Jakeman Hall, at 14 Temple Avenue. (If you’re new to Ocean Park, you may need to set your GPS for Old Orchard Beach.)

See you soon!

Friday flotsam and jetsam

What’s a studio visit all about? And how do you prep for it while prepping to go on the road?
Outrunning the Storm, 30X48, is finished and awaiting delivery to Camden Falls Gallery.

Bobbi Heath is co-hosting Leslie Saeta’s Artists Helping Artists this month. They discussed this blog yesterday in the segment called What We Can Learn From the Top Rated Artist’s Blogs.
Thank you! Artists Helping Artists is the top-rated art show on blogtalk radio.
Bobbi will be recording the next one during the middle of Castine Plein Air. That will be a tough balancing act, since she’s also a participating artist.
My host for Castine texted me yesterday. She’s in New Jersey and wanted me to know that it was 95° F. there and 59° in Castine. That’s perfect painting weather.
We don’t have or need air conditioning here in coastal Maine. The air off the North Atlantic keeps us comfortable. The average high temperature here is 76° in July and 75° in August. Bear that in mind if you’re thinking about my workshop in August.
I’m packing for next week’s events. Yesterday, I got a text from another painter. “I’m bringing 14 frames to Castine,” she told me. “I have four that are a different molding than the others. I want to try them out. And most of them are already wired so they aren’t extra work. And I have seven sizes, mostly in pairs. Am I nuts?”
This is what’s on my easel. It’s based on a pre-dawn sail out of Camden last summer.
That’s a lot of frame for the six paintings she’s limited to, but her car is big enough. I always carry a variety of frames, so I can choose finishes and sizes depending on what I end up finishing.
I’m expecting a studio visit when I get home next weekend. Before I leave, my studio needs to be prepped. I keep regular open hours so it’s always presentable, but there are special considerations for a gallerist’s visit.
Although my studio isn’t vast, it is first and foremost a workshop. What I’m working on right now is part of my story. I don’t clear it away unless it’s unusually fragile.
There are many reasons for a gallerist or collector to visit us: to select work for a show, to see new work, or just to get to know us better. The same rules of hospitality that you apply in your house are appropriate in your studio. Turn off the stereo, ignore your phone and offer your guests refreshment.
Spring at the Boatyard will be going soon as well, en route to the Rye Art Center in Rye, NY.
Some experts recommend preparing a presentation on your work and its evolution. I have a strong internet presence, so I think that’s overkill. If I didn’t, a binder with earlier work, postcards and clippings would be appropriate.
If a person is interested in earlier work, I can pull out representative samples from storage. But most people are not interested in my past, but what I’m painting now.
Ready for visitors: neat, clean but not stripped of my work.
My studio functions as a gallery during the summer months, so there’s already a small selection of work hanging. However, the studio visit isn’t primarily to ‘sell’ art; it’s really to get to know the artist better. Think of it as a professional visit between two peers.
What do we talk about? The work, mostly: where it was done, what it means to me, and where I’m going with the ideas. Artists tend to be shy about this kind of interaction, especially when nervous. It helps me to remember that I don’t need to “sell” myself; the visit itself indicates a genuine interest in my work.

However, you don’t need to fill dead air space either. Give your visitor a chance to really look at your art.

A pigment that’s older than modern man himself

In life and in death, our ancestors covered themselves with iron oxide.
Image of a horse colored with yellow ochre from Lascaux cave, France, c 17,300 BC
“What is the oldest pigment?” a reader asked me this week. That’s one of the few questions that archeology can answer definitively.
It’s ochre, one of the iron-oxide pigments. These minerals are common and easy to manipulate. Primitive man needed only to find suitable rocks and scratch or grind them. Adding water, he had paint. Adding milk, he had paint with a protein binder.
Ochre’s history is far older than modern man. A quartzite hammerstone found near the Danube shows a 500,000-year-old partial handprint of ochre. The earliest known cache of milled ochre comes from a Homo erectus site that’s about 285,000 years old. By 250,000 years ago, Neanderthals were using ochre at the Maastricht Belvédère site in The Netherlands. By 40,000 years ago, ochre was being manufactured in an ongoing process in an Ethiopian cave. That workshop lasted 4500 years.
Image of a human hand created with red ochre in Pech Merle cave, France, c.  25,000 BC
All that makes the Upper Paleolithic cave art at Lascauxseem downright modern.
Sienna, umber and red oxide are other iron-oxide pigments from antiquity, but none are as venerable as ochre. In ancient practice, different hues might have come from different rocks, or they could have been ochre that was heated or treated to change its structure.
The easiest way to manipulate ochre was to toss it in the fire. Burned, it turns red. Evidence of this dates from 100,000 to 70,000 years ago in deposits in Blombos Cave in South Africa.
Ochre filled a large niche in the prehistoric world. In addition to its obvious uses as a paint, it was a medicine, cosmetic, tanning agent and mastic.
Paintings in the Tomb of Nakht in ancient Egypt, c. 15th century BC
“[It] is not unusual to find a layer of the cave floor impregnated with a purplish red to a depth of eight inches. The size of these ochre deposits raises a problem not yet solved. The colouring is so intense that practically all the loose ground seems to consist of ochre,” wrote archeologist André Leroi-Gourhan of prehistoric Europeans. “One can imagine that the Aurignacians regularly painted their bodies red, dyed their animal skins, coated their weapons, and sprinkled the ground of their dwellings, and that a paste of ochre was used for decorative purposes in every phase of their domestic life. We must assume no less, if we are to account for the veritable mines of ochre on which some of them lived.”
Red ochre is closely associated with prehistoric burial rites. The so-called Red Lady of Pavilandwas a male skeleton dyed with red ochre about 33,000 years ago. 
Remains of the Red Lady of Paviland, Wales, c. 35,000 BC
“I found the skeleton enveloped by a coating of a kind of ruddle … which stained the earth, and in some parts extended itself to the distance of about half an inch around the surface of the bones … Close to that part of the thigh bone where the pocket is usually worn surrounded also by ruddle [were] about two handfuls of the Nerita littoralis. At another part of the skeleton, viz in contact with the ribs [were] forty or fifty fragments of ivory rods [also] some small fragments of rings made of the same ivory and found with the rods … Both rods and rings, as well as the Nerite shells, were stained superficially with red, and lay in the same red substance that enveloped the bones,” wrote its discoverer, the Rev. William Buckland.
Some prehistoric graves used cinnabar in place of ochre. That would have been a costly trade item. Even in death, society has always been divided between the haves and have-nots. Ironically, what they had in this instance was toxic.

Historic New England, two towns apart

Looking for me? I’ll be in Ocean Park and Castine next week.

Wadsworth Cove garden, 12X9, oil on canvas board, Carol L. Douglas
For plein airpainters this is haying season, the time we are working flat-out. However, I’ve had company this week. My nephews are in school, so they can’t visit during the off-season. We shoehorned this visit in between my trips. I hit the road again on Sunday.
My first stop is historic Ocean Park, ME. This invitational event is small, featuring Russel Whitten, Ed Buonvecchio, Anthony Watkins, and Christine Mathieu—and me, of course. This year the lineup is augmented by the return of Mary Byrom. She’s a fixture in southern Maine painting.
Last year, Russ, Ed, Anthony and I ended up painting as an ensemble, larking about together as friends rather than competitors. It was an entertaining, productive plein airexperience, and I can’t imagine how it could be better.
Curve on Goosefare Brook, 8X6, oil on canvas board, Carol L. Douglas
Ocean Park is one of about a dozen remaining daughter Chautauquas in the US. It’s the only remaining one in Maine. Another camp meeting site, the Northport Wesleyan Grove Camp Meeting, exists today as the Bayside Historic District in the town of Northport. If there are others in this state, I haven’t run across them yet.
This movement started in 1874 with the New York Chautauqua Assembly, initially to train Sunday school teachers, but eventually dedicated to adult self-improvement. Chautauquas were usually set up in the woods, on lake or ocean shores, within day-travel distance of cities. They provided a potent combination of preaching, teaching, and recreation, and they became a craze. Among my few family photos are pictures of my grandmother and her sisters at Chautauqua, NY, around 1910.
Ocean Park ice cream parlor, 12X16, oil on canvas board, Carol L. Douglas
Ocean Park was founded by the Free Will Baptists in 1881. Except for internet and electricity, its Temple, meeting halls, and library remain unchanged. Historic, pretty cottages line its streets.
The sale of work will be at the Temple on Wednesday at 5 PM, but the exciting part of the week is earlier, when the artists are at work. Our whereabouts are posted on a sign outside Jakeman Hall; come see us!
After we pack our tents on Wednesday evening, Mary, Anthony and I will be trundling north for the fifth annual Castine Plein Air. Castine is historically significant for entirely different reasons, but it’s an equally beautiful town.
Wadsworth Cove spruce, 6X8, oil on canvas board, Carol L. Douglas
Located at the mouth of the Penobscot River estuary, Castine predates Plymouth Colony by seven years. Much of the town is 19th century New England clapboard and whitewash. Established in 1794 and in the same building since 1833, the post office is one of the United States’s oldest. Set far off the beaten track, Castine retains its small-town feeling even during summer tourism season. In fact, my only recommendation is that, if you want to stay over for the show, you reserve lodgingnow.
Castine has two excellent museums and a fine library that usually features an historical display, so it’s worth visiting on its own merits.

Castine Plein Air is juried and highly selective. With 39 artists painting within the confines of the town, you don’t need to check with the organizers to find us. We meet at the village green early on Thursday, and then paint until Saturday. The reception will be held from 4 to 6pm on Saturday, July 22.

How to critique work (and still have friends)

Imagine if we visited the Sistine Chapel looking for things to criticize instead of enjoying it for what it is.

Kaaterskill Falls, by Carol L. Douglas

Anyone who has ever taught teenagers knows they are simultaneously hypercritical and thin-skinned. They must be taught to be constructive and humble. A few years ago, there was a flash-in-the-pan video of an art student destroying her own work during a critique. She was mocked for being oversensitive, but listen to the girl criticizing the work. She is larding her critique with personal comments. That’s what happens in an unstructured critique class.

For that reason, we routinely used the “sandwich rule” in our class. We began by pointing out something the person did well. We then discussed the problems of the painting. We finished by pointing out something else that the person did well, so that each session ended on a positive note.
This method has been mocked as “fluffy bun—meat—fluffy bun,” but that misses the point. Often, people have no idea what they’re doing well. Their own self-doubt gets in the way of seeing what is successful in their painting. That needs articulation as much as the negatives do.
Camden in the fog, by Carol L. Douglas
We are taught from a young age that education is about correction, but it is as much about encouraging what is successful.
One problem with formal critique is that we sit there wondering what brilliant insight we can come up with about the work, rather than spending time absorbing it for what it is. Imagine if we approached the Sistine Chapel like that.
I once ruined a painting because of muddled criticism. It especially rankles that I’d paid a high-profile artist to deliver it. “It looks like a crude Chagall,” she said. Dismayed, I painted over the whole thing. Years later, I realized she was flat-out wrong. Criticism is, after all, just an opinion. Today, I’m confident enough to trust my own judgment, but I wasn’t at the time.
Lunch Break, by Carol L. Douglas
It’s easy to misconstrue a student’s intention. For this reason, it’s best to listen first, before offering commentary.
A critique session isn’t just about learning what’s wrong with your painting. It’s also about learning to read artwork, and learning to write artwork that is readable. To this end, I ask some general questions of the class, such as:
“What do you notice first? Second?”
“Why did you see those things in that order?”
“Does this evoke a feeling or response in you?”
“What is the point of this work?”
I am often asked to critique work over the internet. This is difficult. Our cameras and displays are not very accurate. I may not know the person in real life. Since we’re not having a personal conversation, I am guarded in my comments.
Piseco Outlet, by Carol L. Douglas
There is a very small coterie of artists I trust enough to ask for criticism via text or email. They’ve demonstrated that they’re knowledgeable and sympathetic to my painting goals.
Today, for my last class of this session, we’ll be critiquing work. Frankly, there’s enough negativity in this world. If we err, let us err on the side of kindness.

Those darn kids

Kids usually stop drawing when they hit puberty. That might be preventable.
12-year-old Cora Pahucki and her painting from Ellicott City Plein Air.
It’s the season when plein air painters hit the road. I expect to see Chrissy Pahucki twice this summer, first at Castine Plein Airnext week, and then at Adirondack Plein Air in August.
Chrissy has three kids. Usually, she has one or more of them with her. As they’ve gotten older they’ve started painting alongside her, sometimes even entering open-to-the-public quickdraw events with her. “Ben calls dibs on Castine every year,” she told me. “Cora will be at Morristown, NY, with me. Samantha will do the Adirondacks.”
During the off-season (meaning the other ten months of the year), Chrissy teaches art at CJ Hooker Middle School in Goshen, NY. She’s an award-winning teacher as well as painter, and she must have nerves of steel, since she has been known to take her class plein air painting.
One of Chrissy Pahucki’s paintings (unfinished) from Ellicott City Plein Air
This weekend, she was at the Ellicott City (MD) Plein Air Festival. Her daughter Cora, age 12, was with her. Kids painting in these events are so unusual that Cora scored a mention in the Baltimore Sun, here.
Each time I see their work, I wonder what kind of adult artists Ben, Samantha and Cora will end up being.
Meanwhile, I have houseguests. My three nephews range in age from 17 to 11. All of them carry sketchbooks with them when they travel, but Gabriel, who’s going into the 11th grade, is a marked man. He has that book in his hand everywhere he goes, and he uses it.
People often tell us artists about kids or grandkids who love art and show great promise at it. Sadly, most of them will stop drawing when they hit adolescence. Only a few will continue to express themselves with pencil or brush.
Another painting of Cora’s from Ellicott City Plein Air.
Cartoonist Lynda Barry has speculated that paper ceases to be the same thing for adults that it was for kids: “[W]ith kids, a piece of paper is a place for something to happen. And for adults, it’s a thing.”
Very little study has been done on the question of why kids stop drawing. What we know suggests that at puberty kids suddenly realize their efforts are unsatisfactory. Young children don’t care about proportion and perspective; they are working expressively. Older school-age kids want realistic results. If they can’t solve drafting problems to their satisfaction, they give up.
Another painting by Chrissy Pahucki from Ellicott City Plein Air.
Of course, drafting skills aren’t intuitive; they must be taught. Our western tradition has by and large abandoned teaching the discipline of drawing in favor of fostering genius and self-expression. It’s the rare child who perseveres through that, or has an art teacher who understands the importance of drawing.

In every class, there are one or two kids who’ve reasoned out how to draw. The rest of their class believe that these kids are blessed with some mysterious “talent” that sets them apart, but what they really had was the opportunity to see how drawing is supposed to work. 
I’ll bring Gabriel along with me for my last regular class of this session. “Hey!” said his younger brother when I announced this. “I like to draw, too!” But I know that lad. He’ll be off collecting seashells and I’ll be thinking up ways to stop him from slipping into the ocean, rather than concentrating on my class. Unlike Chrissy Pahucki, I can’t do two things at once.

Goodbye, Old Paint

Max cheated Death so many times that when it finally came for him, I was unprepared.
In his element (water), as he would like to be remembered.
Max, my ancient, wheezy Jack Russell Terrier, finally passed away yesterday. Requiescat in pace, you old reprobate. I hate to admit it, but I’ll miss you.
Max was atrociously old—balding, bedsores, few working teeth, and unable to fully control either bladder or bowels. I said I would never be a nursemaid to a dog, but he was saved by his good humor. He’s not unhappy, we would tell ourselves, and we’d get out the mop and bucket and clean up after him again.
Max was the Great Houdini at escaping death. At nineteen, he was frail but not sick. I thought that he might outlive me. Or, since he frequently caused me to trip over him, we might die together. His very kind vet, Dr. Carissa A. Bielamowicz, told me that this is true of the breed. They tend to die of simple old age, not illness.
It wasn’t until his late teens that he started to act like a normal dog.

He was never a good dog. We ended up with him because he wouldn’t stay home. He would trot off to ginger up the neighbor’s dairy cows, or swim across the Erie Canal to chase cars on the state highway. “That dog’s going to get killed,” my mother said, and arranged for him to move to our house. We had him for more than sixteen years.

He was constitutionally unable to walk on a leash. People were just too slow and incurious for him. He was an inappropriate hunter. His victims included several cats and an African Grey Parrot. He could catch songbirds in mid-flight. And, of course, he chased cars whenever he could slip out. He was fractious with the mailman and with other dogs, but his worst ire was for a neighbor’s Jack Russell Terrier. He and Lucy snapped and feinted at each other whenever they met, which was often. “Just like they’re married,” we said.
In his killing days, when he still had teeth.
Like many small dogs, he was fearless. He loved to pester Canada Geese and gulls, swimming out and snapping at them, unaware that he wasn’t a water dog. Once he tried that with a Mute Swan. It didn’t go well, but he was undeterred.
His fearlessness made him a great plein air buddy. Many times I camped and painted with him as my only companion. He would have died defending me. His last painting trip with me was last fall. “Don’t fall in,” I kept telling him, as he tore up and down the rock cliff chasing the tide. “I’m not coming in after you.”
My studio will seem empty without his muddleheaded presence.
I’ve had dogs all my life, but he will be the last. There are fewer places where dogs and people can roam unfettered. Dogs are great instructors when they can snuffle and burrow and show you the world through their eyes. I’ve learned much about natural history from them. But leashed and fenced, they become a management issue.
Dog and boy, much younger then.
Max started failing again on Wednesday. On Thursday morning, he could no longer stand. His boy—my youngest child—sat with him for most of the day, quietly chattering with him. I took refuge in housework. “Cleanliness is next to dogginess,” I told Max. He was in too much pain to laugh.
As he relaxed into his final rest, I realized just how much effort he had been putting into merely surviving. But he was a dog, and dogs never complain.

The perfect size painting class

Bigger art classes are easier for the instructor, but not necessarily good for the students. Neither are very small classes.

A delightful day at Owls Head.
“Do you ever offer private lessons and if so, what advice can you offer me on what I should charge?” a painting instructor asked.
There are very few things I won’t do for money, but private painting instruction heads that list. Learning to paint is all about repetition. I show you a technique, and you repeat it until you’ve got it. The best balance for plein air painting, I’ve found, is a class of 6-9 people. Fewer, and I am crowding my students with too much information. More, and I can’t pay enough attention to their needs.
The wilder the terrain, the fewer students I can teach. That’s why I often use a monitor at my Acadia National Parkworkshop. He or she handles problems of logistics, freeing me to concentrate on painting questions.
The rockier the terrain, the fewer students you can teach.
“How many people are in the class?” a person wrote me this summer. That was one smart cookie. We’ve all taken workshops where the instructor tries to manage a group that’s much too large. Teachers cope by doing long demos, but that’s unfair to the students. They might as well watch a video.
Rushing around on rocks can lead to injury, as we discovered a few years ago.
It’s easier indoors. Classes at the Art Students League were very large, but I wasn’t neglected. I benefitted from the instruction happening around me as much as from what my teachers told me.
A big group is easier to teach than one or two people. Teachers are only human, and humans are essentially proprietary. The longer we spend at a students’ easel, the more we want to take over.
Demos have their place, but they’re no substitute for one-on-one attention.

When I’m first looking at a student’s work, my mind is fresh. One or two things immediately jump out at me for correction or praise. I can articulate them and move on without meddling. That keeps the focus clear and directed.

Give me a enough time there, however, and I start deconstructing the painter’s vision. Students tell horror stories of teachers who have repainted whole sections of their work. That’s hard to avoid when you’re spending too much time with a single painting. You get proprietary.
The right size class makes for lots of attention but no hovering.
Handicapping conditions don’t necessarily require private lessons. They can often be accommodated surprisingly well in a class. Several years ago, I taught a mobility-impaired student in an outdoor workshop. We made sure there was a safe, flat, level site available at every painting location. She brought an assistant with her.
If you choose to teach private lessons, you should charge based on your hourly earnings for teaching a class. Tot up the number of students you usually teach, multiply by the class fee, and divide by the number of hours you spend on that session. Add travel time if you’re expected to go to the students. $50-75 an hour is not an unreasonable fee for your undivided attention.

I’m working, and other falsifications

In which our heroine blows off painting for a walk in the Maine woods.

Breaking Storm, by Carol L. Douglas, 48X30. It’s finished, so perhaps I deserved a day off.

I had every intention of working on the Fourth of July. It’s one of the best business days at Camden harbor. At such times plein air painting becomes performance art. It drives some painters mad to be interrupted constantly. I don’t mind.

Still, something Poppy Balser told me has been resonating. She’s taken the summer off from events to spend time with her kids. My youngest is twenty and has a summer job. However, this may be the last summer he comes home from college.
Rock hound with his dad.
This child is a rock hound. He loves picking the stuff up and turning it in his hands, puzzling out its story. He goes to school in the Genesee Valley of New York. Its red Medina sandstone is great for building gloomy Gothic insane asylums, but not so good for mineral or gem inclusions.
Mt. Apatite pit mine.
Van Reid is the author of a series of witty historical novels about coastal Maine. Last winter he told me about an abandoned feldspar quarry near his house. On Saturday, we hiked up to see it. It sits alone and silent in a vast empty wood, rimmed with ancient rock.
Yesterday was simply too glorious to work. Instead, I asked my son if he was interested in driving west to Mt. Apatite, near Auburn, ME. This public park contains a series of abandoned pit mines. Mined until the 1930s, they continue to attract rock hounds today.
Pegmatites are igneous rocks with exceptionally large crystals. They often contain minerals. In Maine that means beryl, tourmaline, zircon, garnet, mica and quartz, not that I’d recognize most of those things. But pegmatites are beautiful in themselves. One can trace the folding and cooling of the earth’s crust in them.
On Mt. Apatite.
There are rock hounds who search old mines for marketable gemstones. We were just interested in looking.
Mica may have little economic value, but it made the woods seem as if it had been sprinkled with fairy dust. It glinted on the path and between the blueberry bushes. There were enough garnets in the rocks that even I could find them. But don’t bother going there to find your fortune in gemstone; these garnets won’t survive being pried loose from their stony prisons.
Mica in the wild.
Minerals are apparently endlessly mutable. There are over 5,300 known mineral species. Their chemical composition is often very complex. For the human mind, with its desire to classify and categorize things, they are irresistible. Plus, they’re often beautiful.
We were poking around along a cliff when an older gentleman loped easily down the rock face toward us. He introduced himself as Dan. He was clearly knowledgeable about minerals and the history of the place. He told my son how to tap the Cleavelanditeto split it, and gave him some hints about proper gear, locations, and the history of the mines in the region.
“It’s gotten really busy here ever since Mindat,” he lamented (referring to a massive online database of minerals). It’s all relative, I guess: on this busiest holiday of the summer, there was nobody there but the four of us.

Happy Independence Day!

I’m all for the Tenth Amendment, but there are times when States Rights are a pain.
Fox Island Thoroughfare Light, by Carol L. Douglas. Painted plein air from the deck of American Eagle.

While we’ve been legal residents of Maine for more than two years, we still pay income tax primarily to New York. It is one of a handful of states that tax telecommuters reporting to an office within its state.

Periodically, bills are proposed in Congress to standardize the rules for taxing telecommuters. These are quickly batted down. Powerful states, New York in particular, stand to lose a lot of money. Compared to poor Maine, New York is an 800-lb gorilla in national politics.
This is nothing new. By 1750, New Hampshire and New York were tussling over the Grants, the territory we now call Vermont. It wasn’t sovereignty that drove them, but money. They were each selling land grants to speculators and settlers, not particularly caring if the grants overlapped.
Replica Green Mountain Boys flag from the Battle of Bennington, 1777.
In 1764, King George III settled the debate in favor of New York. New York promptly demanded a topping-up fee to validate the grants issued by New Hampshire. This fee was almost equal to the original purchase price. For settlers scrabbling to live on a hard, unforgiving and cold frontier, it was impossibly high. By 1769, surveyors and law enforcement were being physically threatened and driven out.
Some of these settlers appealed for help from a bumptious fellow from Connecticut named Ethan Allen. Allen had left school after his father died. His only involvement with the court system was from the wrong side. Still, he was fiery, and he was willing to find the lawyers he needed.
Schooner Mercantile, by Carol L. Douglas. 
The case pitted small landowners against powerful New Yorkers, including the Lieutenant Governor and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which was hearing the case. As is customary in such cases, the little guys lost.
That transformed Allen into a Vermonter. He returned to Bennington and met with the grantholders at the Catamount Tavern. From their grievances, the Green Mountain Boys were born. They intended to stop New York from exercising any authority in the Grants. Allen himself sold off his Connecticut property and moved north.
In October, 1771, Allen and his Boys drove off a group of settlers, telling them, “Go your way now, and complain to that damned scoundrel your Governor, God damn your Governor, Laws, King, Council, and Assembly.” That’s an idea I’ve often endorsed, although never so poetically.
In response, Governor William Tryon put a £20 bounty on the heads of the rebels. By 1774, he was exasperated enough to raise that to £100. He passed legislation to suppress the “Bennington Mob”, as he called them. It imposed the death penalty for interfering with a magistrate and criminalized all public assembly in the Grants.
If this unattributed portrait is any indication, Ethan Allen was a character.
On March 13, 1775, the conflict spilled into outright bloodshed.  A small riot in the town of Westminster resulted in the death of two men at the hands of Colonial officials. This might have resulted in an early War Between the States, but the fracas was overtaken by events.
On April 18, 1775, 700 British troops were sent to confiscate militia ordnance stored at Concord. Local militia resisted this early effort at gun control. The colonies united in force against the British. Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys passed down through history as patriots* and heroes, not as tax rebels from New York.
*The reality was a bit more complex, but I only have 600 words here.