I was just thinking about this salty old dog today. Herb Slater, one of a kind. Yet another of our Captains who made old bones. Just love that mischievous twinkle. I’m looking forward to giving Jane a big hug in a few weeks but I’m sure gonna miss Herb peaking out of his workshop doorway in her antiques shop. Here’s a nice read from Peter Magee, in the Vineyard Gazette, about Herb and the old swordfishing captains of Menemsha.
As I write this, on the coldest night of this snowiest winter, this little creek is frozen solid. It flows just a few feet from our log cabin front porch and all that magnificent autumn color has settled onto the forest floor. The rods and reels, vest and fly boxes, weathered wicker creel and landing net, which my brushes spent hours studying and rendering, have all been packed up along with the finished painting, and sent north to the gallery. Now I wait. For this painting was a commission. The fisherman found his way to my work, and told me his story.
Then, with a hearty hug and a healthy dose of trust, he said goodbye to his gear and we dodged the vineyard raindrops, loaded it all up and drove back here to the studio. I love to do commissions because, beyond the familiar draw that compels me to the subjects I choose to paint, there is the lure of listening for someone else’s connection to an object or a place. For this project, there was the added challenge, even though I live a pebbles’ throw from this creek, of not ever having been a fly fisherman. But, after painting every tiny hair on all those flies I can honestly say… I am thoroughly… hooked.
This fisherman has requested to see no image of the work until he can stand in person before it. I can only hope that I have captured a hint of the grace, of the peaceful sport and of the gentle man. For tonight, I write these notes, while I await … the The Presentation.
And yesterday, at the gallery…
And this morning, the creek which modeled for the painting last fall was displaying another kind of beauty…
With appropriate nod of copyright credit to Adrienne Rich, I carved this quote on many a chair slat over the years. Today, as I begin my day in the studio office, it is a trusty touchstone.
The entire rest of the studio, who am I kidding, the ENTIRE studio is in chaos. Stacks and piles of creative detritus have displaced any semblance of order and calm. Remember that bucolic “winter of hibernation” that I so piously settled into…well all that intense creative energy leaves mountains of not so creative debris in its wake unless you clean up after yourself. Which…I…do…not.
Someday, very soon, there will be a reckoning. But here I come to find that it is already March. MARCH for goodness sake. The mantras of inward patience crash headlong into the outward pressures of deadlines for show dates and demands from galleries to provide new work…which is a stupendously wonderful place for an artist to be do not get me wrong…but hello…March !
This would be a good time to let you know that my summer show at the Granary Gallery has been moved up this year. I’ll be reminding you, and my own self, again, but for those who do make travel plans to join us for the openings I wanted you to have a heads up.
The date this year will be July 12th.
And that would account for the WILD part of the patience. One less week of prep time does mean I have to move some serious paint around now and I have been putting in some very long days and nights at the easel.
I’ve got a new theme going this year, stay tuned, and, as the finished paintings begin to gather in the front corner of the studio, I have to laugh at those muses. While all around me is this insane mess and clutter…each of the panels, when I stop to look, has a quiet calm space and a slightly more muted palette which settles my eye and quiets my mind.
Make of it what you will…I’ll keep plowing ahead until the board of health comes tapping on my chamber door…wait…is that ? …
NO…it’s just Wolsey …ever and always my feathered muse.