A Fisher of Men – Painter’s Notes

A quick note of thankfulness …

So many of you have reached out through comments and hitting LIKE buttons and even LOVE buttons to let us know you are watching… and listening. They tell me that this helps with algorithms and patron outreach which is important for the business of art…but it is from the soul of the Artist I speak this morning.

I want to let you know that those words and clicks mean the world to us. Our isolated self-quarantine has been just this side of brutal, especially for Herself … my people person. We are holding tight to each other as we ride this roller coaster of a year and mostly doing just dandy…but trust me…we read and re-read every one and your kind and generous responses to the new work and the newer videos is breaking open our hearts.

So, as ever…thanks for the support.

And now on to today’s Painter’s Notes…

A Fisher of Men  –  36 x 48

Oh dear soul…this is Arthur.

But it started with Rick.
Or more specifically a photo that he put up on social media five years ago.
A side shot of himself coming home from clam digging at night
with the water below him and the moon, shining above his shoulders,
caught in the wire basket he had dangling from a long clam rake.
I told him right away I was stealing it. He said it’s all yours.

A few years passed and somewhere along the way
I was watching our friend Arthur from across the dinner table
one deep winter evening and the Muses bumped me from behind.

I came home and made a quick sketch
using Arthur, in the fullness of his
seasonal whiskers, and wearing his cabled fisherman knit sweater,
as the model standing in for Rick,
with a delicate old hay rake
that I found at the local second hand store
substituting for the clam rake.

You can see it’s a pretty rough idea here …
but don’t let that fool you.
The Muses like to tease.

When the time came to pass that the Muses
were ready for me to bring this painting idea to life
I found Arthur freshly shaven so the bearded fisherman
was slightly more respectable than I had envisioned.
He did arrive at the studio with the sweater on and we quickly found him a proper cap
and out we went to find some angle of light to bring this thing to life.

I must pause here to share something of the measure of this man.
Arthur has one of the softest souls I know.
He is quiet…and patient in that stillness…
but the depth of what his eyes have seen and his heart has weathered
have molded a profoundly philosophical soul
and mellowed into a peaceful countinence
which is a great comfort to sit next to
on a wooden bench
out in the garden
on a cool summer’s eve.

So, back in the studio yard…

I ask this dear sweatered man to put that rake up on his shoulder
and take a couple determined steps.
He patiently tries to hear my direction which is muffled
by the camera in front of my mouth.
The light changes and we try the rake on the other shoulder.
I begin to see something else happening…but am fighting it.

So we take a break…
and while I head inside to look on the computer to see what the camera has captured
I can overhear Himself and Herself talking on the porch.
Arthur was describing a sermon he was going to be giving over the upcoming
Thanksgiving weekend. As a retired minister one of his abiding faiths
is in seeking social justice,
and we can go deep into many a good night…and a bottle of dry sack…
opining over the state of this most imperfect union.

But something I overheard had clicked…
and I went to the bookshelf and found my version of the King James,
Audobon’s Birds of North America,
and bade Arthur to try one more pose please…

This time with the book in hand.
I told him this was his bible.
He immediately started to page through.
No, I just want you to carry it.

Snap.
Everything changed.
The man who was kindly tolerating my earlier directions
with no real idea what I was on about
had completely changed his demeanor.
He stood taller with a visibly more confident authentic spirit and stride.
His firm grip on the book…THE book…made all the difference.

It doesn’t happen often.
But at 62 I catch it right there on the whisper now.
Something transcendent washes in
surprising even the Muses
and I jump right out of my own way.

This time it was stepping aside
and making way …

For the Fisher of Men

 


The Morning Bell – Painter’s Notes

Morning again here in the studio.

Before today’s Painter’s Notes I want to give you a heads up…

There are just four more days until the Granary Gallery Show opens…
Though, as you well know by now, there will not be an “Opening Reception”…
the gallery is very much OPEN and the staff are doing an amazing job and going out of their way to make a safe and welcoming environment for people to get in touch with art.

Herself and I have created a video aptly titled…”Wish We Were There” …by way of letting our island community know we are there with them…at least in spirit. The gallery sent me a list of questions and Pat agreed to read them to me on camera and you can expect some frivolity ensued.

I’ll be posting that video here on the blog on Sunday Morning… we hope you’ll pour a cup of tea and join us for that short studio visit.

So…4 days and counting…

That leaves three paintings to go…and today…

we go back to Menemsha.
I’ve spent so many hours on this dock that this painting almost painted itself.

The Morning Bell  –   24 x 30

One of my enduring memories of that most special
week we got to spend “living” in Menemsha
up there on Crick Hill
was wakening to the early morning
sounds of the harbor.

When the wind is right
you can hear the bouy bells
playing a rhythmic bass line
and the gulls picking out the melody

Before the charter engines
crank up you can still make out
the water lapping against the bigger boats
some ropes and chains a’ rattlin’
against the mighty masts
and…

If you’re really early enough…
the putt putt putter of Louie’s
trawler making her way out
for the first cast of the day.

So…
even though this particular painting
is righteously full
of the colors
that bring the harbor to life
for most artists

What I hear…
is just as evocative
as what you see.


Jack the Lad – Painter’s Notes

This one is special…

I’ve already introduced you to Jack the Lad
and his pal…

Now you get to see the behind the scenes story of our collaboration…

Jack the Lad

This painting came into being by way of a commission.
And a most challenging one at that. The gentleman you see seated in the center is a loyal patron of the gallery who wanted to immortalize his pup Jack …who is an even more loyal visitor, indeed many would say, ambassador to the gallery.

I met Jack there, in the gallery for our first meeting, on a bright October morning. He was sitting with rapt attention focused on his pal, or more specifically his pal’s pocket wherein there was a stash of green beans. I knew instantly that anyone who would carry a pocketful of beans as treats for his dog would be a subject worthy of exploring and that any pup who would gaze that lovingly into the eyes of a human for…a bean…be still my vegetable gardeners’ heart.

So, the challenging bit that I mentioned at the start was not the subjects themselves, but rather the fact that there was a very short overlap in our schedules. We had a brief time together in the gallery so the pressure was on…but I needn’t have worried. I fell instantly in love with both of them.
It was easy to do as neither of them ever stopped smiling.

Jack, the lad, wandered freely among the paintings and antiques but his spirit was primarily drawn to people. He quickly took the measure of each human who entered the gallery and adjusted his greeting accordingly. The wagging bushy tail, energetic and playful with a group of young children…then softly gently laying down before a woman and her cane…and always, always with one of those soulful brown eyes checking back in with the bean man Himself.

The Granary Gallery is a special place. That big old Red Barn is more like a general store than an art gallery, at least for the regular patrons, and the year round Islanders. Like the bar at Cheers, where everybody knows your name, new friendships are made and old ones deepen each time the bell rings above the opening door.. and the owners and staff make the kind of genuinely gracious human connections which these days is an art all of its own.

Looking back now, despite the brevity of our meeting…or maybe because of it…what lingered throughout the months afterwards, as I worked to find my way into this commission, was the tender upbeat energy that those two souls exuded. This painting became a blended portrait both of them and the gallery itself.

There are lots of details which, like the scavenger hunts the Granary makes for the children to have fun exploring the gallery are just that…fun. But zoom in a bit, just past the red dots under the cormorant statue, and before you count those blue violet bottles on the window shelves…just there beneath the table, at the foot of the tie-dyed man you will see what this painting is really all about.

The heart tugging twinkle in that all adoring look
that tells us all we need to know of Jack the Lad…


Storm Study – Painter’s Notes

It’s an early start for me in the studio this morning…

but I want to take you to the end of another day…

last October…when the wind was raging

and the clouds were heavy and dark

and the sea was gathering it all in

Storm Study – 12 x 20

We kept chasing this sunset.
After we watched it move in
and over the Vanderhoop House
up on the hill
we thought it was spent.

Wanting to make our last night…last
we took the Moshup Trail
where the wind picked back up
and blew a sand devil across the road.

I turned around and the clouds
were on fire…so…
I parked at this trailhead
and taking one step out of the car
was blown back into my seat.

Undaunted..
I managed to make it half way up this dune
before my weak knees gave out
but not before I caught a glimpse
of what the sea had to say…

Right before
everything in the world
changed.


Aquinnah Sunset

This is the next painting in order of the way we spent our last night on the Vineyard last October…after Derby’s Wake we drove on up to Aquinnah to see if there was a sunset there…

Aquinnah Sunset – 20 x 30

Anyone who has spent time
on the island of Martha’s Vineyard
will know how dramatically
the quality of light
can change
in the blink of an eye.

Last year,
in what now seems like
emotional light years away,
we extended our annual fall visit
letting the island and our friends there
hold us a little longer
and a little closer
because we needed to be held.

On our last night
when up-island was as quiet as I’ve ever seen it
we sat in the car in Menemsha
saying our goodbyes to the harbor
we alone were there as the heavy clouds
were obscuring any promised sunset.

We decided to make the loop
out to Aquinnah
and as we came upon the lighthouse
and rounded the bend
the winds howled
and the heavens parted
for waves of color to break through.

Looking back…
From where we all are now…
I can seen how powerfully looming a harbinger
the raging…
and then clearing…
of that Nor’easter was.

We thought our world
had shifted something mighty back then…

And then…
the reckoning.


Painter’s Notes – 2

Next up for this year’s Granary Gallery show is…

Derby’s Wake – 16 x 20

Part of what makes October special
on Martha’s Vineyard
is the Derby.

Fishermen from all over the world
come to test their mettle
against each other
and the sea.

When the weather blows in stormy
as it did last year
and Nor’ easters backed up
one after the other
it was really exciting…
to grab a couple cups of chowder
at Larsen’s and drive up to the beach.

From that vantage you could
see the bravest amongst those shore rod and reelers
fighting the waves and wind
and feel all cozy and safe and warm
as you rooted for them to beat the odds.

On our last night on the island
we drove to Menemsha to say goodbye
and no one was home
we were the only ones in the parking lot
and this boat was the sole vessel afloat.

Turns out we were there at the exact moment
when all those fishermen were at the other end of the island
celebrating the victorious among them
at the awards ceremony.

So this is literally…
In the Derby’s Wake.


Painter’s Notes…now premiering on YouTube !!!

OK…

NOW I can finally tell you that I have finished all of the Painter’s Notes for this year’s Granary Gallery show and …. they are all up on my new YouTube channel.

I’m going to test a link here to see if it will take you there...click here.

Ok that seems to have worked…at least it does on my computer but please let me know if it’s not appearing on your end.

You can enter my name in a YouTube search and find them as well.

I’ve had some help along the way…thanks from my tech gurus Barbarella and Paul…and a whole lot of patience as I came home later and later each night…love ya babe…but for the most part, climbing this learning curve has been fun.

I’m going to publish them here on the blog as I have in the past but this year I’ll be including the brand spanking new video versions along with the traditional printed ones.

In the shameless self promotion department…if you like what you see they tell me it really makes a difference to hit that like button…and if you also click the subscribe link you will get notices of all future videos that I share. Bonus tip…there will be at least one more coming…a studio visit which Herself is already ironing her outfit for.

So we’ll start with the big one…Menemsha Morning (video link above)

This painting is
the culmination
of a dream I have had
for over 40 years.

To spend the night
and wake up
in the village
of Memensha.

Last year
that dream came true.

And every morning
for a week
I got to experience
for my creative soul
everything
magical
that harbor
has to offer.

It did not
disappoint.


Signaling Home

To officially launch the New Paintings for this year’s Granary Gallery show…

I am going back to the beginning…

Signaling Home – 24 x 36

And…to experience that ocean breeze just a little closer to you…just visit my YouTube channel and enjoy this short video which tells the story behind this painting.


Postcards from the Ledge – 26

We have come to the final new painting for this year’s Granary Gallery show…

Morning Menemsha – 48″ x 92″

In this day and age it is hard to keep things on the Q-T, and when you quietly post your first ever YouTube video so that you can practice with how to do that…

and then you decide it looks sorta cool so you tell one or two friends that it’s up…but please don’t share it publicly yet…

and then you tell a few more people and swear them to secrecy, knowing that you want it to be saved for the big finish in the website rollout of new paintings…

because you hope that someone out there actually reads these blog posts and enjoys the anticipation each year as much as you do…

and then you get the green light from the gallery that the paintings arrived safely and the word is getting around…as it does on an island…and people are trickling in to SEE this painting…

and then you are peeling potatoes in the studio kitchen and check in with your phone and see that your WIFE has actually gone ahead and posted the video ON FACEBOOK…

well…drumroll… you’ve been scooped.

So without further ado…

here is a little fly by video I made so you can get up close and personal with my painting…Morning Menemsha


Postcards from the Ledge – 25

It’s a wonderful day in the studio…

and I’m happy to report that the paintings have arrived safely at The Granary Gallery and all who helped along that journey are also safe and sound. Bless you all.

The lightness and positive energy I am feeling now clues me in to just how anxious I had been. It’s always a pretty stressful time as a self-employed artist to pack up your entire year’s worth of work and haul it hundreds of miles…across land…and sea…but…throw in economic uncertainty, civil unrest, cultural upheaval, political warfare and top that all off with a PANDEMIC …well it’s been a stressful time for us all hasn’t it.

Which makes it all the more wonderful today and I’m going to celebrate the positives…

AND…

I’ve got one very special positive to share with you today…

Jack the Lad – 26 x 30

I give you Jack..
the Lad…
and his pal Graham.

Let’s Zoom in a little…

There they are.

I’ll have a lot more to say about this in the Painter’s Notes…but after much anticipation on both our parts…Graham and Jack finally got to see their painting today…

It fills my heart to share the delightfully tender and upbeat energy those two souls exude.

Sure wish I could have been there for the unveiling Graham but this photo is all I need to see. May we all enjoy a bit of this happiness today.