You’ve got mail

Hard to see how one can have a mailbox here. Where does it go?
Since my husband had already field-tested my router in Rochester, setting up my internet connection was basically plug-and-play.  That was a pleasant surprise for my overtired brain, which was expecting the usual scramble of crossed wires and endless holding for technical support.
The house is 125 years old, and the center of this bedroom floor has never been finished. I’m afraid I might break with tradition, though.
My New Year’s resolution was to unsubscribe from every email advertising list, and I kept it. Still, there were 444 messages in my inbox when I got back on line. Amid the detritus, I found this one about my workshop: “I’m interested in joining you in Maine but the form I have has your Rochester address on it and from following your blog I know you’re moving.  Where should I mail it?”
I always was a sucker for a cute wood stove.
This has me flummoxed. There is no mailbox at this house, and my pal from West Rockport told me she doesn’t have one, either. I’d just buy one and put it up, but there’s a sidewalk running along the curb. I can’t see any way a person in a mail truck can lean over far enough to shove the mail in a box. Nor am I keen on going into town every day to get my mail.
This morning’s project is to sort out the mailbox issue and to ponder a life where it’s easier to get email than physical mail.
My pizza-baking daughter is coming to visit later this month. I may not have my studio set up, but I’m ready for her!
This afternoon I head down the road to Olana for the annual New York Plein Air Painters retreat and a nice chin-wag with my pal Jamie Williams Grossman. That beats the heck out of setting up housekeeping any day. I know where my paints are. If I can find my clean clothes, I’m golden.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in August 2015. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Addendum: The post office supervisor is going to check this out and then get back to me. In the meantime, they’re holding my mail for pickup. They couldn’t be nicer folks.

Receiving angels

My studio. Clifford doesn’t stay here but I have to remove some doors before he can be moved. Wish you were here.
Since Friday, I’ve loaded half my earthly belongings on a 16’ rental truck, hooked my Prius up to it on a trailer, driven a gazillion miles, unloaded the truck and trailer and returned it to a rental center in Waterville, ME. It’s no surprise I’m moving slowly this morning.
The only way to live like a vagabond is to organize the hell out of your life, and that’s what I usually do. When you’re 25 and moving into your first home, you have a strong back and lots of young friends. When you’re my age, you have a weak back and you realize, sadly, that your friends are all in the same boat.
My business life, still shrink-wrapped.
But I have a husband and children, and they have friends, and the combination got that truck loaded and out of Rochester. The problem was on the Maine side, where it was down to me and a crusty old codger who busted up his back as a stone mason. It took us five hours of brutal hard work to get the heavy stuff off the truck and into either the studio or the garage.
That’s my modem and router. I decided I needed coffee before I got it working, which is why this is late. Coffee, food, internet: McDonald’s.
When I suggested he ride to Waterville with me to turn in the truck, he told me he was going home and taking a nap instead. “You can’t get they-ah from he-ah,” he told me in his broadest Maine accent.
This, my friends, is about a thousand pounds of paper and steel. Unloaded by the crusty old codger and me. Youth and talent are no match for old age and treachery.
I can’t back the Prius off the trailer without a spotter. It was a Sunday, the rental place was locked up tight, and the only people around were hanging out the windows of the bar across the street.
“Just gun it and pray like mad,” my friend had suggested as he drove away.
I sloshed around in the mud, disconnected my car, pulled out the ramps, checked to make sure everything was neat. As I was about to take a deep breath and follow his advice, an old beater driven by a young gearhead pulled into the lot.
It’s a darn good thing I pulled out my stuff for Olana before I left Rochester.
“You work here?” I asked him. Well, he didn’t, not exactly, but he guided me off the ramp anyway.
‘Lean less on your own understanding and more on God’s provision’ is something I give lip service to, but am not very good at. But, boy, it’s nice when it works.
Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in August 2015. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Painting in Paradise

My painting of the Dyce Head Light from last year.
Because I can count on my fingers, I was distressed to read that artist Bobbi Heath is going to be on crutches for the next eight weeks. That brings us perilously close to Castine Plein Air, where she and 40 other fantastic artists (including me) will be painting from July 23 to 25.
This is the third annual Castine Plein Air Festival, and in that short time, it’s shot to the top of my favorites list, right up there with the Rye Art Center’s Painters on Location. It’s not just because my friends are going to be there, although that’s certainly part of it.
Me, painting at Oakum Bay (Courtesy of Castine Arts Association)
Castine sits at a commanding position at the mouth of the Penobscot River estuary. In the age of the fur trade, it controlled about 8000 square miles of prime hunting land. It was occupied by the Penobscot people, and its age of exploration opened with a visit by the Portuguese explorer Estêvão Gomes in 1524. He was followed by our old friend Samuel de Champlain in 1605. In 1669, the Mohawk raided.
Mary Byrom, painting at Wadsworth Cove. Life’s a beach. (Courtesy of Castine Arts Association) 
No town with that kind of reach was going to be allowed to sit unmolested, and at some point, the French, Dutch, English and Americans all had their hands in.
I mention this because the town is absolutely full of historic sites. The town itself is graciously old New England, with clapboard houses skirting down to the water, the Maine Maritime Academy, the Dyce Head Light, and beautiful waterfront views everywhere. There’s even a little beach.
I did this painting of a reenactor’s tent at the Castine Historical Society last year.
Very few people wander across Castine by accident. It is unspoiled, but the downside of that is that accommodations are limited. So if this paint-out in an unspoiled landscape appeals to you, you should make reservationsnow.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in August 2015. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

The Fine Art of Packing

Texting and falling into a fountain, 6X8, Carol L. Douglas. Artists can justify keeping anything as still life props.
Sometimes God likes to remind me that I’m not superhuman. Like this week, when my work has been limited by asthma. The combination of pollen, dust and exertion has pretty much done me in by early afternoon, and I’m about 20 boxes behind in my packing.
Every American family should pack once a decade. That way we would relentlessly cull our stuff. It would be nicer for our children when we die, for one thing.
Yes, all the weird stuff has to come with me. And much of it requires special handling in packing.
Every studio is full of odd and useful things. In my case, several plaster heads, one blue glass head, a Vaseline glass figurine, several compotes, and a glass bowl full of rocks from Maine. That last one has me baffled; I use those rocks for still lives, but I can’t really see moving them back to Maine.
Paintings and frames are a hassle to pack.
The fine art of packing consists entirely in tossing stuff out until your current house is empty and you fall in love with it again. I’m not a hoarder. I can be relentless with books, with clothes and with furnishings. But there’s still an awful lot of stuff here to go through, and time is slipping through my fingers.
Where there was once order, there are now… boxes.
Meanwhile, I remember what it’s like to paint. Really, I do.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in August 2015. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Hidden gems

A vintage photo of the Tidal Falls from August 1954, by Ellis Holt.
Yesterday I was packing art books when I came across a forgotten little volume, The Plein Air Artist Guide to Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island, by Gail Ribas. Leafing through it, I realized that students driving to my workshop at Schoodic Point will drive right past the Tidal Falls at Hancock.
The Tidal Falls is about halfway between Ellsworth and the turnoff to Winter Harbor.
Reversing falls are caused when tides force water up against a prevailing current. They dot the coast: in Blue Hill and Lincoln, ME, at Cobscook Bay down east, and on the St. John River in New Brunswick. And there’s one right along our motor route to Schoodic.
Corea Heath is also managed by the Frenchman Bay Conservancy (photo by Bob DeForrest)
The farther north you wander in Maine, the bigger the tidal range gets. In fact, the highest tidal range in the world is not far away, at Burntcoat Head in Nova Scotia. Its mean spring range is 47.5 feet and its extreme range is 53.5 feet. The bigger the tide, the more noticeable the reversing falls phenomenon is. (I suppose that’s why nobody notices them in the Great Lakes.)
It’s amazing what you find when you start packing.
The Frenchman Bay Conservancy owns 4.2 acres overlooking the Tidal Falls at Hancock. There are a pavilion, picnic tables and grills—in short, the perfect set-up for a break from driving.
Beautiful Corea, ME.
I love a good boreal bog, so I’m excited about another property owned by the Conservancy: Corea Heath. This is on my workshop itinerary for the week, so you don’t need to hunt it out on your own. It’s a 600-acre habitat for inland and coastal waterfowl and wading birds, migrating land birds, and rare plants.
Rising from the edge of the wetland complex is a mixed forest of hardwoods, spruce, fir and pine, including a beautiful stand of the fire-dependent jack pine.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Beautiful Winter Harbor

Part of Winter Harbor Yacht Club’s fleet.(Credit unknown.)
Yesterday I saw this photo essay of Winter Harbor, ME in Yankee Magazine. I hope you click through and enjoy the pictures.
This is the closest town to Schoodic Institute in Acadia National Park, where my workshop will be held August 9-14, 2015. (There are just a few openings in the workshop, so if you’re interested, I hope you let me know soon.)
Winter Harbor itself is a quaint little fishing community of 500 people with a general store, a gas station, and a great little Main Street.  It includes a summer colony called Grindstone Neck. This colony was formed in 1889, modeled along the lines of Bar Harbor. As usual, I stumbled across it in my perambulations while looking for a painting site.
This group has its own yacht club, which in turn has its own yacht. The Winter Harbor 21 (or Winter Harbor Knockabout) is a 31′ racing sloop designed and built by Burgess & Packard, of Marblehead, Massachusetts, specifically for the club.
Cloverly, the first boat to be rescued and restored. (Credit unknown.)
In 1906, club members Fredrick O. Spedden and George Dallas Dixon Jr. commissioned  Burgess & Packard to build seven boats to a specific design. These were launched in 1907. Two more were added in the 1920s.
By mid-century the small fleet had been dispersed until only two remained active. In 1976, the club’s then-commodore, Alan Goldstein, decided that he wanted to find and buy one back. After two years, he found Cloverly rotting in a barn. His enthusiasm was catching and by the mid-80s, all nine boats were restored and  back in Winter Harbor.
Near Winter Harbor, ME. I promise you that Yankee Magazine‘s photos, here, are much better than mine.
The Winter Harbor 21s are the oldest intact one-design racing sailboat fleet in the United States.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

New beginnings

The next home of my studio is a classic Maine farmhouse.
Yesterday I wrote about Maine’s prettiest villages. I’ve worked in many of them, but the bulk of my perambulations have been centered in Camden (#1), Rockport, (#6), Damariscotta (#3) and the villages and hamlets between them. This stretch of coast has open ocean breaking on rocky outcroppings, graceful harbors, and bucolic pastoral moments, all within a few miles of the amenities on US 1.
I love painting in Camden because I love the passing parade. (Photo courtesy of Howard Gallagher of Camden Falls Gallery.)
The problem has been in finding a central location from which to work and teach. Yesterday I solved that problem by buying a building in Rockport.
Sails drying in the sun, by Carol L. Douglas.
This being Maine, we are only the third owner of this 115-year-old Maine farmhouse. We bought it for its large, light painting studio. But we also like its cozy, classic informality. It reminds me of the tourist cabins of the Maine of my youth. The prior owners have taken meticulous care of it, and I am grateful for the chance to be its next guardian.
This sunroom is going to be my Maine teaching studio.
Camden harbor is my favorite place to paint. I enjoy the passing parade as much as I like the boats.  Last summer I tried every day to make it to the public dock in time for sunrise. I was staying in a snug little cabin in Waldoboro and I have to admit, I seldom succeeded. My new studio is about a mile down the road. I bet I’ll even have time for a second cup of coffee.
Main Street, Camden, by Carol L. Douglas.
Starting on June 1, I’ll be hanging out my shingle at 394 Commercial Street, Rockport (well, as soon as I design a shingle, that is). However, my 2015 workshop will be at Acadia’s Schoodic Institute, which is a whole different kind of beautiful—wild landscapes, bigger seas, and definitely ‘the one less traveled by.’ There are just three openings left, so if you’re interested, you should probably register sooner than later.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Prettiest places in Maine

Wadsworth Cove (Castine), by Carol L. Douglas

Down East recently did a poll asking its visitors to identify the prettiest villages in Maine. It’s nice to see that many of my favorite haunts have made the list:

1. Camden
2. Boothbay Harbor
3. Damariscotta
4. Wiscasset
5. Kennebunkport
6. Rockport
7. Stonington
8. Castine
9. Blue Hill
10. Northeast Harbor

I might add a few other places to this list, including Round Pond, Lubec, Corea, Bayside, and Searsport.

Damariscottaby Carol L. Douglas

I’m sitting here in off-the-grid Waldoboro, ME this morning, thinking of how many of these places I’ve painted in, and enjoying the idea that I’m going to be able to spend this summer painting in all of them again. More on that tomorrow.

A FitzHugh Lane Day at Camdenby Carol L. Douglas

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Ripple Effect

Semicolon, by Barbra Whitten
If you’re in Portland, ME a week from today, go to see Ripple Effect: Monoprints by Karen Adrienne, Kris Sader & Barbra Whitten. I know Barb Whitten through Camden Falls Gallery, where she is an indefatigable gallery assistant. Turns out she’s a wonderful printmaker, too.
“For as long as I can remember, I have loved words,” Whitten said. “What gives these mysterious collections of marks, arranged in specific and particular ways, the ability to represent sounds and transmit ideas through time and space from one person to another?”
Parenthesis, by Barbra Whitten
Barb and her co-exhibitors are members of Circling the Square Fine Art Press . This is an open-access cooperative in Gardiner, ME, population 5,800. You can take printing classes in Rochester, NY (including linoleum block printing from my very own painting student, the multi-talented Victoria Brzustowicz). However, I know of no cooperative presses here in our county of 750,000 people.
Later this year, Circling the Square will collaborate with Estampería Quiteña in Ecuador in a printmaking exchange entitled A Sense of Place.  These two fine-art presses will create limited edition prints that will be exhibited simultaneously in both Ecuador and Maine, with a companion catalog documenting the project and the work.
FYI, by Barbra Whitten
All of which speaks to the remarkable art culture in the state of Maine. Small state, big art scene.
Ripple Effect  will be at PhoPa Gallery at 132 Washington Avenue, Portland, ME, from April 22 to May 30. The opening reception wil be Friday, April 24, 5-7. An artist talk is scheduled for Sunday, May 17, at 3 PM.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Giving it away

Photo courtesy of the Gunnings.
George and Donna Gunning and Burt Truman have made 2,474 eagle canes and given them free of charge to any Maine veteran who wants one.
About eight years ago, the Gunnings heard about the Eagle Cane Project, an Oklahoma-based organization that makes canes for disabled post-9/11 veterans. George Gunning is a Navy vet and Donna grew up in a Navy family. The idea moved them. They were joined by Burt Truman, who spent two decades in the Navy, Army Reserve, and Air National Guard.
Their version offers a personalized presentation cane to any Maine veteran who has served anywhere, in any conflict. Each cane has a carved and painted eagle’s head, the recipient’s name, and medals indicating their branch of service and honors.
Photo courtesy of the Gunnings.
The canes are funded solely through donations.
The trio were recently honored in the Senate by Maine’s junior senator (and former governor) Angus King. “Earlier in March, I was meeting with members of the Maine Veterans of Foreign Wars, and one of the gentlemen had with him a beautifully carved cane that caught my eye. Thinking it was the only of its kind I asked him where he found something so unique. Needless to say, I was shocked and impressed to hear that, although it was personalized, it was one of thousands made in the same Windsor workshop,” he wrote.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.