My biggest problem is perspective. I do alright with the landscape part of painting. I am not big on details. I don't paint individual tree branches or leaves because I figure people can get the general idea of a tree by its' shape and the area of where the artist or painting was. I rely on the viewer to use their imaginations to help them see what they want to see. There are some parts of the painting that should be done right. I am more of a traditional painter in that I like real things to look somewhat real. If I am painting an animal or a person, I want my painting to look like that animal or person. A boat should look like a boat, A leaning boat should look like a leaning boat.
I have always had a hard time painting perspective. The fog at the end of the road, the buildings lining the streets or flowers far away versus ones up close. I have trouble painting the shadows and the light. When the bow is turned just so on a lobster boat in relation to the angle of the stern. How to get the shadow beneath the boat to ripple on the waves. How to get the waves to look like water? I practice and fail and practice some more. Sometimes, when the music is just right, and I am lost in the moment, I can get it. And then I wonder how? And why can't I do it again?
I love boats. I prefer lobster boats over sailboats, but I love to watch the big sailboats with their colorful spinnakers zip by. I love the kayakers go by close to shore. I wave to them as they pass by the house and I smile when they wave back. The best time is at sunset, when the lobster boats come home, their boats in silhouette against the mountains. The guttural motors, each one different, as they head to the harbor. Some race in while others move slow, their gentle wake behind them and I know I'll get it some day.
I have two studios. This post today is about the studio that makes me cry if I think about it too much. This studio is the place my soul searches for. It's the only place where I feel whole and complete. My heart sings when I am there and I never, ever want to leave.
If Once You Have Slept on an Island
If once you have slept on an island
You'll never be quite the same;
You may look as you looked the day before
And go by the same old name,
You may bustle about in street and shop;
You may sit at home and sew,
But you'll see blue water and wheeling gulls
Wherever your feet may go.
You may chat with the neighbors of this and that
And close to your fire keep,
But you'll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell
And tides beat through your sleep.
Oh, you won't know why, and you can't say how
Such change upon you came,
But-once you have slept on an island
You'll never be quite the same!
By Rachel Field
I have been going to Islesford my entire life. Of my 52 years on this planet, I think there are two I did not go up during the summer. I stay in a house called The Studio. It was built by mother's grandfather for her great uncle who was an amateur artist. Back then, it was just a single square room with a view beyond belief. The house it is now went through some changes when my uncle Malcolm and his wife added to it back in the 1960's. It sits on the North Shore of Little Cranberry Island. I see the mountains all day long, a sight I never grow tired of seeing. I love to hear the slow steady rumbles of the lobster boats in the mornings as they head out. I used to be able to identify each boat by its' motor. But that was a long time ago.
I love to sit on the deck and wave to the tourist boats as they come by. Sometimes the tourists wave back. I love watching the sailboat races go by, glad I am not on them as how far over they sail makes me nervous. I love watching the sun sink low at night and I wait to see what will be given to me as my evening present appears. I love watching the lightening streak across the mountains when it is dark and I love to listen to the rain pound against the roof. I love the thunder shake the windows as it booms in the night. I love the smell of the ocean. I love listening to the waves against the beach below the house and the bell buoy clang as it rocks on the waves. When I was little, Bear Island Lighthouse used to light up my room.
I love the people who have known me my whole life. I love the restaurant where I had my first job at 16. I was unable to serve alcohol so the other waitresses had to do it for me. I love the one room school house named after Ashley Bryan, one of the sweetest, kindest most amazing person I have ever met. It wasn't until I was in high school when I knew just how amazing he really is. I love that I can go anywhere and not get lost. I love that I can sit in my living room and paint wildflowers and a sailboat at the same time. I love feeding our garbage to the seagulls in front of the house.
This is the place I go to recuperate from the winter. I only live three hours away but it sometimes feels so far. I talk so much about Islesford I often think my friends' eyes start to roll back in boredom. Not again, I think they are thinking. But I don't care. Of all the places I would ever want to be in this entire world, it is there. Always.
Whenever I see a work of art, I always wonder what the artist was thinking when they created it. What were they thinking about? What was it that made them create THAT piece of work? In this blog, I am going to try to tell you what made me paint or create the works of art I do. Some of them will have stories or memories, some may have feelings or thoughts. Some may be funny. Some may not. This will be an exploration into why this artist does the things she does.
This little painting was a 4"x 5" acrylic done on a canvas board. It is not for sale because I believe it was sold last summer. The Life Saving Station established on Islesford in 1878 was the first Coast Guard presence on Mount Desert Island. It was used as a lighthouse depot to aid ships until 1945 when the facilities were moved to Southwest Harbor. Today, The Station is privately owned and can be rented during the summer months.
I love this building. My younger cousin, Meagan, had her wedding here a few years ago. The house is astounding. The view is beyond impressive. From the description of the house, there is a 360 degree view from the top of the 4 story tower. Getting to the house can be a hike but it is a gorgeous walk from the docks.
The Coast Guard Station sits on the backside of Islesford (Little Cranberry Island) and looks out toward Baker's Island. The nearest house is at the beginning of the 3/4 mile rocky, bumpy dirt road. There are some places on that road where the bushes and trees seem to reach out and grab you. Beach rose bushes are scattered along the rocky dunes of the beach. Sometimes, the walk seems to be longer than it is and with nothing else around, I often feel lost, but then I round the corner and there is the house. I don't go out often as it is usually rented or the owners are there. I prefer to sit on the beach and just look. I have actually only been to the house a few times.
The first time was for a party way back when I was a teenager working at the Islesford Dock Restaurant. A lot of the older people from the restaurant (20's) were having a party out there and I was invited. I was never a drinker and soon realized this was not the place for me. I had to walk that long, difficult road in the dark with a pathetic flashlight, all by myself. It was scary! There were no streetlights to guide me, no house lights to show the way. This was a side of the island with minimal houses nearby just woods and scrub brush. I was (and still am) a great reader of all books Stephen King, Clive Barker and Dean Koontz.....masters of horror and all things scary in the dark. To make things even better, I believe it was raining. I grew up with older cousins who loved to jump out of the paths at night and scare me. To be walking along what I considered to be one of the scariest roads on the island during the day, at night was truly a nightmare.
I don't remember the year, but I was taking a painting class on Islesford. It was taught by Henry Isaacs and Ashley Bryan, two of Islesford's well-known artists. It was a 4 day event run by the restaurant just after the summer season ended. Our group often went to special places on the island where the views were best. One of those places was The Station. The choices were endless of what to paint. There was Baker's Island, Great Cranberry, the beach, the rocks, the seals sunning themselves just offshore, the beautiful trees.....it didn't matter. It was so hard to not just do nothing but sit and enjoy. The restaurant crew brought lunch out to us so we could sit on the deck or on the lawn and just be amazed that we were all in the most beautiful place in the whole world.
Then there was Meagan's wedding. A joyous, happy occasion bringing family and friends together in a spotlessly beautiful location. The day was perfect and the two bald eagles that flew over at the end of the ceremony was the icing on the cake.
I make A LOT of dryer balls. What is a dryer ball, you ask? Let me tell you. First of all, why are dryer sheets so bad? Here is a list why:
1. Dryer sheets can leave a residue on your laundry.
2. They can create a "perfume cloud" where your dryer vents outside.
3. They can contain harmful chemicals that stick to your clothes, become airborne and rub off on your skin.
4. The chemicals can cause health problems like asthma.
5. Some contain EDC's (endocrine disrupting compounds) that can affect developing reproductive and nervous systems, cancer, and metabolism.
6. In some tests, they are WORSE than bathroom and kitchen cleaners.
7. Companies are not required to list all the ingredients in a dryer sheet.
8. They should only be used once.
Which brings us to dryer balls. My dryer balls are about 98% wool. The reason they are not 100% is that there may be some acrylic yarn in the core. I use leftover yarns from my knitting projects for the middle. I also get leftover balls from friends. Some of these may be wool/acrylic blends. The majority of the ball is made from unspun sheep's roving. My dryer balls have no plastic, no rubber, no tennis balls and no pointy edges. I have been making them for three years and have sold over 300. I try to make them from local sheep wool and they can last for YEARS. My trial set of balls are almost 4 years old and going strong. Here is why a set of dryer balls (3 for me) works better than a dryer sheet:
1. Dryer balls work together in the dryer to help break up laundry so they don't stick together. This helps the clothes to dry a little faster.
2. The dryer balls help to soften clothes and towels because they are continuously rubbing against the laundry during the cycle.
3. As with anything you use, try not to overstuff your dryer. The balls work best in medium to small sized loads. If you have a bigger load, section it to smaller loads, it's better for the dryer. You can try adding more balls to see if that helps.
4. There are NO CHEMICALS added at all.
5. The balls are all unscented. I have known customers who will add essential oils to their balls to give a hint of smell. Just be sure to let the balls sit for an hour or so to make sure the oils sink into the ball so they won't stain your clothes. I do advise my customers to do this AT THEIR OWN RISK.
6. Static electricity.....do they take it away or not? Yes and no. If you remove your clothes from the dryer as soon as it stops, then the static electricity is greatly reduced. If you let your laundry sit for a bit after the drying cycle is done, the static electricity does come back. I am working on a solution to this.
7. They help with lint.
8. They can last a long, long time.
I get a lot of skepticism as to whether or not dryer balls actually work. I was skeptical when I first heard about them. A friend gave me an old set of hers and said "Just try them." I have been using them ever since. I wanted my dryer balls to be pretty. I start with a wool core, wrap unspun sheep's roving around the core and needlefelt it every few rounds. This maintains the shape I want as well as keeping all the ends together. When the ball reaches a size I like, I then decorate it with leftover yarns or colored roving. I then needlefelt it a bit more to make sure it feels the way I think it should before I tie it into the leg of pantyhose. When I have about 10-12 balls in a leg, I toss the string in the wash with towels or whatever needs to be washed. The balls go through both a wash and a dry cycle. When they are fully dry they get cut out of the leg and strung together, 3 balls to a set. I try to put two decorated balls with one plain. There have been some days when seeing a colorful dryer ball in the dryer has made me smile. I know, it's the little things sometimes.
The final question I often get is where to keep them when you don't need them. My set comes on a string. Just cut the string and pull the balls off and toss them into the dryer. Just LEAVE THEM. Mine live in the dryer all the time. That way, I know where they are. Sometimes, they try to escape when the laundry is done and I am folding clothes. They love to hide in sleeves, pockets of pants and bottom sheets, folds of towels or they just try bouncing out. Find them and toss them back in. There is a warning to them....be careful of pets walking away with them, children stealing them to throw at each other or to teach themselves the Art of Juggling. Try not to throw them at your spouse or partner. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.