The Caretaker

Today we leave the Chilmark store and continue up island…past the long lines of devoted fans waiting in line at Chilmark Chocolates, down the hill and over the little bridge that was washed away by Great Hurricane of 1938, slow down when you reach the Quitsa Pound, and just after the dog leg you hang a left onto Greenhouse Lane.

Now this is not a public road, just a sandy old chisled up vineyard kind of a lane that has been used gently for centuries. For the last three decades it has led me to the closest thing I have ever known to home. Camp Sunrise, in all it’s humble glory, sits on the edge of the bluff overlooking the dramatic vista of the Atlantic Ocean. And sadly, that sentence is soon to become past tense.

Much of the island’s south shore has been devoured by the recent series of intense storms leaving unprecedented erosion. A handful of vintage buildings which, for the last few years now, have been tenuously clinging to the craggy edge of the planet…are losing their grip.

So the beloved old chicken coop of a cottage must be torn down. I can hardly bear to write that sentence. So many years of magnificent memories there. A new house has been designed for the meadow behind the marsh and it promises to retain the “character” of the old place. I will get over myself and summon up excitement to see it.

And I have a few more compositions from the old place which I haven’t yet painted, and which need to be painted to tell its story. And now, there will be new chapters as well as new vistas…

It seems fitting then, that this painting got finished this year…

The Caretaker – 18″ x 24″

The Caretaker

It has come to pass.

For the second time in my lifetime,

the bluff on which this tiny house sits

has been carved away by the elements.

The spirits have reclaimed the sands

and stopped just short of its fragile wooden front porch.

It was easier to take the first time.

We were younger

and there were more of us

to remember how the pieces fit back together.

Now its time for the next generation to take care.

We older ones

the veterans of the storms

we’ll tend to the ashes

and kindle our memories

And lean gracefully into the wind.

Palette Progression

Here’s a look at the process…

Having come a tad late to the painting party my process and palette have evolved from a rather spotty beginning. Well over two decades passed between those mid-70’s intro to color classes in college and the decision to paint full time at the beginning of this century.
Today I use a pile of disposable waxy palette sheets tucked into an old plastic watercolor box. It thoroughly offends my aesthetic senses but it does the job nicely when it comes to the daily rituals of setup and cleanup.
I have six drawers full of oil paint tubes. Most of them are Old Holland colors but along the way I have tried many others and if it gets reordered once…it’s a favorite. The main players change depending on the subject matter but for the most part the palette is arranged chromographically (a word ?) by hue.
The medium I use is Fine Detail Liquin and I use so little of it that even the smallest caviar jar dries out before it is emptied. (Notice how I dropped that fancy culinary delectable in there ?)
That tiny jar along with two former artichoke jars half full of odorless turp sit next to the palette and the brushes…well they surround.

A while back I took some progressive shots of the palette as I worked through a painting for the Granary Gallery show this summer. I typically use one palette for the entire painting unless I’m working on a mammoth panel and then I go through many palette changes. For this painting, I kept the same one going and you will be able to see subtle changes from day to day. I also took photos of the panel at the end of each day for comparison.

So here’s a look at the road to… The Caretaker