Sleepless in Buenos Aires

Coronavirus has the traveling public aware, alert, and concerned… but nobody’s panicking.
Athabasca Glacier, by Carol L. Douglas. This is a Canadian glacier, but I’m looking for its Southern Hemisphere mates.
As of this moment, I have been traveling for 28 hours and am still eight hours short of tonight’s destination. It took me about the same amount of time to get around the world to Australia, but that was just two flights. I’m enjoying the airport hopping, since each one has its own character. But at the end of this, I have to get into a car and drive. Here’s praying for a short nap during my next flight.
The Aerolíneas Argentinas (AA) and Virgin Airlines (VA) counters were side-by-side at Miami. “Try not to mention the war,” my husband whispered. It’s been 38 years since the Falklands conflict, and Fawlty Towers jokes have a scarce and shrinking audience. While my sympathies were with Margaret Thatcher in 1982, they were with the Argentines yesterday. Above their ticket counter, VA advertised an upscale business-class called Upper Class, which offended my inner prole.
Meanwhile, AA did everything right, including a free upgrade to an exit row and two real meals in Turista class. Dinner—served with an Argentinian Malbec—was quite good. Meanwhile, on American carriers, the norm is now seven pretzels and a small glass of soda.
So far, the pandemic precautions have been sensible both in the US and here. At Logan, they were dousing surfaces with isopropyl alcohol. The only point at which I was concerned was in the people-mover at Miami; it was as crowded as a Manhattan subway at rush hour. Both American Airlines and AA had large cleaning crews waiting at the gate. The Argentines collected a health dossier and itinerary for each passenger while we were still in the air. They staged us through customs so we weren’t mixed with planes from Madrid and Rome. Some passengers were pulled aside for extra surveillance. And of course everyone, employees and travelers alike, is dousing themselves with hand sanitizer.
The Argentinians are concerned but calm. I asked an agent whether she was worried. “Yes,” she answered with resignation, “but what can I do?”
The Argentinian soldiers patrolling the terminal are wearing white polo shirts, black trousers and a rakishly-angled beret, cut to flatter. I mentioned to Jane Chapin that they look quite dashing compared to American soldiers. “They don’t get paid anything so they have to look good,” she answered.
Beaver Dam at Quebec Brook, by Carol L. Douglas. You won’t be seeing this painting at an opening on April 2, because of the pandemic. Consider it just another tiny data point in the immense scope of our current disruption.
I’d intended to use this post to announce a show opening in Portland on April 2. Yesterday I received an apologetic note saying the revelry would be delayed due to the pandemic. I’m flattered; Maine Farmland Trust must have expected a large crowd. However, the work is up and ready for viewing at 509 Ocean Avenue in Portland. But in this brave new world, I suggest you call before you go. The number is 207-338-6575.
People keep telling me they’re registering for Ann Trainor Domingue’s June 6 workshop, Uncovering Your Mark. If you’re one of them, I suggest you do it soon, because more people have expressed interest than there are seats remaining. Although the flyer says you can mail a check to me, I suggest you pay Ann directly. If you have questions, you can email Ann hereor me here, although I don’t know when I’ll be in cell-service range. The workshop is strictly limited to twelve, and there will be no exceptions; there’s no more room in my studio.
Before the first juried show KCAS will have an instructor’s show at Studio 9, formerly known as the Art Loft.
Consider applying to Spring Renewal, April 30-June 1. This is the first juried show of the Knox County Arts Society (of which I am the treasurer). You must be a member, but if you summer or live full-time in mid-coast Maine, you should join anyway. Your membership entitles you to a host of benefits including discounted classes, juried show invitations, lectures, get-togethers, and more. Plus, you’re helping to revitalize Rockland’s Art Loft, now known as Studio 9. Contact Karin Strong, membership coordinator, or David Blanchard, president, for more information.
Then go right to the prospectus for Spring Renewal, here, and enter. It’s in the Art Loft, which means you’ll be showing on Main Street in Rockland, one of the hottest art markets in New England. What are you waiting for?

Two opportunities to hang out with me next Saturday

I have an opening in Tenants Harbor and am teaching a free modeling class in Camden. If you still miss me after that, it’s your own darn fault!

Glade, by Carol L. Douglas, watercolor on Yupo paper
There will be wine
I’m setting up right now for an opening next weekend, September 7, from 5 to 7 PM. This is a duo show with Midge Colemanat the Jackson Memorial Library in Tenants Harbor, ME. I’ll be showing work I did last September at the Joseph Fiore Art Center. These are eight sets of large paintings. One is in watercolor, its mate is in oils, and each pair is of the same subject. They address the question of how working in alternating media, back-to-back, would influence an oil painter. A year later, I have the answer, which I’ll share with you on Saturday evening.
This is the first time they’ll be shown as an integrated set, and the first time I’ve shown watercolors in a serious way. Students are sometimes surprised that I teach watercolor, but it’s a delightful medium that I’ve been painting in since I was very young. Watercolor has the advantage of being very portable and light.
Round Pond, by Carol L. Douglas, oil on canvas
That isn’t true of these paintings. The size was dictated by a watercolor full sheet, so both the oils and watercolors are 24X36” in dimension.
The Jackson Memorial Library is a gem—a perfect place to display artwork. It’s a new building set close to the school so that kids can walk a short distance through the woods for their library classes. It was tailor-made to be a great art space.
Saturday, September 7, 5-7 PM
Jackson Memorial Library
71 Main Street
Tenants Harbor, ME 04860
Michelle reading, by Carol L. Douglas, oil on canvas
You should be in the pictures!
Earlier, I’ll be teaching a free introduction to figure drawing for models and artists, offered by the Knox County Art Society at the Camden Lions Club. If you’ve ever toyed with the idea of being a figure model but are unsure about what it entails, this is for you. Artists get the free benefit of being there to draw along.
I’m an experienced figure teacher, but this is first time I’ve ever taught models how to strut their stuff. I’m working with an experienced figure model. She will demonstrate short, medium, and long poses. Prospective student models don’t have to doff their clothing for this session.
Artists interested in sampling a life drawing session are also invited to attend, to both observe the instruction and to draw.
I’ll be covering the history, practice and protocols of nude modeling; gestural/athletic poses; reclining, crouching, bending, standing poses; changing direction; considerations of negative space; torso twisting; working with the lighting; positioning of limbs; facial expressions; using props; and incorporating fabric folds.
Couple, by Carol L. Douglas, oil on canvas
If they wish, students completing the session will be considered for paid modeling assignments for Camden Life Drawing.
The session runs from 9:30 to noon and is free to all; the suggested donation for artists is $10. Advance registration is requested. Contact David Blanchard, 207-236-6468.
Saturday, September 7, 9:30 AM to noon
Camden Lions Clubhouse
10 Lions Lane
Camden, ME 04843

When bad things happen

It’s not what you say or what you do, but how you make people feel that matters the most.
Damariscotta Overlook, by Carol L. Douglas.

Yesterday started auspiciously enough, with clearing skies and a warm sun. I was potting around in my studio when I noticed something awful. The rain on Saturday night had pounded torrentially on the roof above our heads. It also washed its way down an interior beam of my studio and across four of my watercolor landscapes. They were fixed with Krylon acrylic, and the result was a series of sticky driplines.

I reeled. The damaged work represented a quarter of my oeuvre for this residency. “I bet you feel like crying,” Clif Travers said, sympathetically. If he’d looked closer, he’d have seen tears pricking at the corners of my eyes.
Well, there was nobody to blame and nothing I could think of to do about it. My studio space at the Fiore Art Center has a spanking new roof, door and siding. Water must have migrated along a beam from elsewhere and down the wall. This was freak damage, which can happen anywhere, at any time. Furthermore, our work—as precious as it is to us personally—is still just stuff. It was a rotten experience, but by no means did it rise to the level of disaster.
Damariscotta Lake, by Carol L. Douglas. I’ve finished this residency with eight pairs of landscapes, one in oils, one in watercolor.
“It’s no use crying over spilt milk,” I told myself sternly, and set off to paint.
Paint is a perverse mistress. I’ve struggled for a month in oils (which are my primary medium) while watercolor has flowed much more smoothly from my brush. Here on this last day, in the grip of distress, the paint flowed freely from my brush. In fact, it went so smoothly that when Anna Abaldo of Maine Farmland Trust contacted me about the damaged paintings, I declined to talk. Why drag myself back to earth when my work was going so well?
Clouds over Teslin Lake, by Carol L. Douglas. This was painted in 2016, and is quite small.
When we eventually met up, she—with very few words but immense compassion—made me feel infinitely better. She has a plan to deal with the damage, which is in itself reassuring. More importantly, the experience cemented my already-high confidence in her character. “At the end of the day it’s not what you say or what you do, but how you make people feel that matters the most,” said Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.
Point Prim, watercolor, by Carol L. Douglas. This was painted in 2017, with a pretty bad head, I’m afraid. That’s all Poppy Balser’s and Bobbi Heath’s fault.
Later that evening, Lois Dodd—who’s a personal idol and Maine’s greatest living oil painter—came for supper. I’m totally star-struck around her, and can’t think of a thing to say. However, she’s a lovely, warm, articulate lady. She critiqued one of my paintings. That’s an experience I’ll treasure.
David Deweyslipped me a small notebook before our meal. It contains a series of charts that were the basis of Joseph Fiore’s color exercises. They’re little mathematical puzzles, and they fascinate me. Today I’ll stop at a drugstore and buy some graph paper, and tomorrow—my painting finished for this residency—I’ll sit quietly and try to puzzle them out. I couldn’t ask for a better end to a lovely month.

Come see me on Sunday at Open Studio Day

Gallery, studios, music, ice cream, a beautiful lake—and it’s all free!
Clif Travers works on his great tree for long hours every day. I help him along by constantly asking, “Are you finished?”

 I’ve been at the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Farm this month. This Sunday (September 30th) I get to show you what I’ve been doing. You, the public, are invited to Open Studio Day, from noon to 3. Stop and see what we’ve accomplished.

Our resident gardener, Rachel Alexandrou, will offer hourly tours of the Center’s garden. Rachel has odd ideas about what a Maine garden can support. She grew red cotton, cardoon, artichokes, amaranth, and tiny black grape tomatoes in a small riot of color. When Rachel isn’t gardening, drawing, or taking photographs, she’s entertaining us with mournful songs on her ukulele. However, she’s a bubbly person, so they’re frequently interrupted with peals of laughter.
Rachel Alexandrou is outstanding in her field. (Courtesy Maine Farmland Trust)
Clif Travers has made himself an enormous tree of recycled tree products. He’s now painting it in oils, a highly-detailed process. On first read, it’s stained-glass, reminiscent of hours spent in church as a child. But his tree is oddly anthropomorphic, standing protectively over creation. In a nod to Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo, many of its parts are made of vegetables. Certain viewers, however, have insisted they’ve seen a hot dog, lamb chop, and other meat products. It is, as far as I can see, totally gluten-free.
Each morning, I’ve met Heather Lyon creeping out of the house at dawn, heading down through the fields to the lake. There, she’s shot beautiful footage of herself in various interactions with water. Wearing a $6 reflective survival poncho she bought at Renys, she was transformed into a beautiful, otherworldly creature. Heather also chilled herself and a collaborator in the very cold waters off Pemaquid Point for the sake of swift-moving footage with seaweed and a crab or two.
Heather Lyon in her studio. (Courtesy Maine Farmland Trust)
I came here with a high-minded idea of painting the confluence between man, water and the land. In reality, I ended up thrashing around between watercolor on Yupo and oil painting. I alternated media every day, painting each subject first in oils, then in watercolor. After a month of this, I can say with certainty only that my brain hurts.
The Gallery here is showing Nature Observed: The Landscapes of Joseph Fiore, with oil and pastel paintings by the late artist and environmentalist. These paintings have influenced my thinking all month. If you practice or love plein air painting, you should come by just to study them.
Damariscotta Lake, by Carol L. Douglas, watercolor on Yupo.
There will be live music on the lawn by jazz trio The Extension Chords, with Myles Kelley on piano, Katherine Bowen on bass and Owen Markowitz on drums. Coffee, tea and local ice cream will be served.
The Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Farm is a program of Maine Farmland Trust. Its mission is to actively connect the creative worlds of farming and art making. The Center’s purpose is to continue and evolve the dialogue between human and environment within the context of our current culture and time.
My own studio is more of a repository than a workspace. As usual, I’m working out of my Prius.
It’s located on Damariscotta Lake at 152 Punk Point Road in Jefferson. Bring a picnic and enjoy the Center’s grounds for the day.
MFT also runs MFT Gallery, at 97 Main Street, Belfast. It is open Monday through Friday from 9 to 4. On Fourth Friday Art Walks, it is open until 8pm.
Maine Farmland Trust is a statewide, member-powered nonprofit working to protect farmland, support farmers, and advance farming. Maine Farmland Trust created its gallery to celebrate agriculture through art, and to inspire and inform the public about farming in Maine.

A month in the shadow of a great painter

Ghost stories, cemeteries, and the work of a great painter

Clif and I visited this old cemetery in the waning light.

If I had any talent for poetry, I’d have exercised it last night. I’m at the Joseph Fiore Art Center in Jefferson, Maine for a one-month residency. My room faces east. I watched the slow rotation of the night sky, the stars overflowing their courses. The dawn rose red and fiery, glinting through the trees off the waters of Damariscotta Lake.

I spent yesterday with the other visual artist in residence, Clif Travers of Kingfield, ME. Clif is both a writer and painter, and recently returned to his hometown after a long stint in Brooklyn. His work here will involve panels and prose, brackets and blocks. I’m curious about what the end result will be; I imagine he is, too.

Moving into a temporary studio is more daunting for a studio painter than for me; I simply had to offload my extra supports and was done.

My studio away from home.

When we’d both finished, Clif and I took a quick jaunt to Rising Tide Co-op in Damariscotta and Pemaquid Point. It’s rare that I can play tour-guide to a native Mainer, but Kingfield is way inland and north.

There is a family cemetery set within the aptly-named Rolling Acres Farm. It’s of a type I identify more with Scotland than America, a set of small ‘rooms’ separated by carefully-laid up dry walls.

Katahdin, 1975, Joseph A. Fiore, courtesy Maine Farmland Trust

I’d already retired when Clif called up that I should come down and see the waning day’s pyrotechnics. The few white stones glowed peach against the dark woods. We set off through the hayfields to photograph it, me in my bare feet.

“Maybe this place is haunted,” Clif enthused. Well, I was raised in a notorious haunted house, but it was late and I refused to tell him about it. Ghost stories need their buildup, after all.
My workspace is in an old barn, redolent of old hay. But I don’t expect to spend much time there. I’ve a goal in mind for this residency. It involves the intersection of water and land, and—mostly—painting big. Unfortunately, my monster Rosemary & Co. brushes are delayed, so I’m going to have to be flexible in my approach.

View from Bald Rock, 1971, Joseph A. Fiore, courtesy Maine Farmland Trust

Who was Joseph Fiore (1925–2008) and why is there an art center dedicated to him in Jefferson, ME? Fiore was born in Cleveland, the son of a violinist. He was musical himself, and that is very evident in his painting. He attended the experimental Black Mountain College on the GI Bill and studied with Josef Albers, Ilya Bolotowsky, and Willem DeKooning. Later, he taught there.

With those instructors, it’s no surprise that Fiore was, foremost, an abstractionist. However, his work is rooted in nature and he also painted lovely, loose, realistic landscapes. His paint is worked very thin, and his brushwork is loose and measured. Leaving that much canvas is the mark of a good draftsman, because any dithering shows.
After Black Mountain closed, Fiore settled in New York, where he taught at Parsons. In 1959 he and his wife began summering in Maine. They bought an old farmhouse in Jefferson, which they used for the rest of his life.

Clary Hill, 1970, Joseph A. Fiore, courtesy Maine Farmland Trust

Fiore and his wife Mary were avid supporters of Maine Farmland Trust. When the Trust purchased this waterfront farm, the idea of the art center was born.

My first response to being surrounded by his work was a kind of intellectual shock, where everything I thought I knew about painting was challenged. Now, nearly 24 hours later, I’m adjusting somewhat. But the opportunity to be submersed in another artist’s work is not to be sneezed at, so I’m adjusting my plans to allow time with the paintings every day.

What about an artist’s residency?

Mature painters can apply for a residency at one of these great Maine art centers.

Courtesy Hog Island

This time of year, I can see the water of Rockport harbor from my bedroom window. I’ve been around the world, and I’m lucky to have landed in one of earth’s great beauty spots.

For those of you who dream about painting here, I’ve assembled a listing of visual artist residencies in the state of Maine. I have only included residencies that do not charge participating artists a fee. There are others, such as Skowhegan’s summer program, that are wonderful but cost the artist money.
Bremen, ME
Applications due February 1, 2018
Residency Length: 2 weeks
Directed toward the artist whose work brings a broader appreciation of the natural environment, culture, and/or history of the coastal Maine ecosystem, and/or supports the mission of the Seabird Restoration Program to promote the conservation of seabirds and their critical habitats.
Applicants should be in good health and should be able to regularly walk the 6/10-mile uneven wooded path to the main campus for services. Expect solitude and immersion in nature, including varied weather and the possibility of ticks and mosquitoes.
At its nearest point, Hog Island is approximately ¼ mile from the mainland. Camp staff can ferry you back and forth if necessary. Residents who are comfortable with ocean navigation are welcome to bring a kayak and tie up at the cottages for their own transportation and at their own risk.
Courtesy Haystack Mountain School of Crafts
Deer Isle, ME
Open application starting January 1, 2018
Residency Length: May 27 – June 8
Haystack’s Open Studio Residency provides two weeks of studio time and an opportunity to work in a supportive community of makers. The program accommodates approximately 50 participants—from the craft field and other creative disciplines—who have uninterrupted time to work in six studios (ceramics, fiber, graphics, iron, metals, and wood) to develop ideas and experiment in various media. Participants can choose to work in one particular studio or move among them depending on the nature of their work. All of the studios are staffed by technicians who can assist with projects. Note: this is not a workshop and participants are expected to be technically proficient.
Courtesy Hewnoaks Artist Colony
Lovell, ME
Applications taken during the month of February, 2018
Residency Length: up to 2 weeks
Magnificently situated on the eastern shore of Kezar Lake, Hewnoaks offers an extraordinary setting of inspiration and beauty. By resurrecting its art-making traditions we aim to honor its creative history and preserve its environmental integrity.
Painters, sculptors, photographers, filmmakers, choreographers, actors, musicians, writers and curators are welcome. Preference is given to Maine artists. Artists are expected to work in their living space.
Courtesy Maine Farmland Trust (Rolling Acres Farm)
Jefferson, ME
Applications opened on December 1, 2017
Residency Length: 1 month/ 6 weeks
Residencies are for Maine artists, except for the Visual Arts program.
Six, month-long residencies: two in July, two in August and two in September, for visual artists. One placement is for an out-of-state or international artist, and one for a Maine artist.
One writing residency a minimum of four and maximum of six weeks long, July through mid-August. Applicants in the following categories can apply: Poetry, Prose, Fiction/Non-fiction.
One performing arts residency a minimum of four and maximum of six weeks long, during mid-August through end of September. Applicants in the following categories can apply: Performance/Dance, Storytelling, Songwriting.
Art & Agriculture- Seasonal Resident Gardener Position
This is a part-time, 5-month seasonal position for someone with at least 2 years of organic gardening experience and an affinity with the arts. The resident gardener will be living on-site with the visual arts and writing residents, and is encouraged to use their time at the Fiore Art Center for their own creative pursuits if desired. 
Courtesy Monhegan Artists’ Residency
Mohegan, ME United States
Applications opened on February 1, 2018
Session length: 2/5 weeks
The Monhegan Artists’ Residency provides free comfortable living quarters, studio space, a stipend of $150 per week, and time for visual artists to reflect on, experiment, or develop their art while living in an artistically historic and beautiful location.
There are two 5-week sessions for artists with significant ties to Maine and one 2-week session for K-12 visual art teachers in Maine.
Courtesy Schoodic Institute
Winter Harbor, ME
Deadline: January 15, 2018
Session length: 2 weeks
In exchange for a two-week immersive experience, artists lead one outreach presentation with the public, and donate within one year one work of art that depicts a fresh and innovative new perspective of Acadia for park visitors.
Three categories of applicants are considered at present: Visual Artists; Writers; and At-Large Participants working in such forms as music composition, performing arts, indigenous arts, and emerging technologies. Applications are reviewed by appointed juries including park staff, community members, past program participants, and subject matter experts.

Courtesy Tides Institute

Tides Institute

Eastport ME
Deadline: February 1, 2018
Session length: 4/8 weeks

Founded in 2013 and now in its sixth year, The StudioWorks Artist-in-Residence Program at the Tides Institute & Museum of Art (TIMA) offers residency opportunities to visual artists from the U.S. and abroad to deepen and develop their practice within a community setting. The studios, museum and housing are located within the historic downtown and working waterfront of Eastport, Maine and overlook the U.S./Canada boundary.