Developing a style

Lupines in field

As I finish up the (impressionistic or abstract) paintings…18 of them…it becomes apparent that some things are more fun than others and that some things work better than others. One painting that wasn’t working well after two tries (shown at the bottom of this post) is about to be ‘re-purposed’ as a totally different picture. While that is not uncommon in the art world, when working with thick acrylic paint layers it is more of a challenge than repainting a thinly-covered canvas. I will have to use doubly-thick layers to cover up the original.

I just ‘discovered’ Church Bizarre, in Murray Harbour (PEI) last evening…a new shop that

Near Iona

is eager for locally produced items. They appreciated the local photos that make up my postcards and magnets and also took a few of my new paintings on consignment. The amusing thing is that the owner politely indicated that tastes differ and mine are certainly different from anything else they are carrying!

 The most enjoyable part of this exercise is discovering how much I enjoy painting wet-into-wet with acrylics...I have to work fairly fast where I want colors to blend, but an entire painting can be done in the time it takes for the paint to develop a skin…2 or 3 hours maximum. That leaves no time for pondering and fiddling with details. The more I paint, the more I find that I need only develop an impression in my mind of what an area looks like and can gradually move away from a concern for details being just right.

Incidentally, the last picture below is the one that is NOT working and should be covered over soon.

Instant publisher

Yesterday I got some samples of books done by Instant Publisher, and it looks like a highly viable option for small run book printing (as opposed to Print on Demand). While my usual printer, Lightning Source, will do as few as a single book at a time and has automatic connection to Amazon ordering, Instant Publisher offers far more options relative to paper types and bindings. I suppose the difference is that LS has to be fully automated so a job flow of inter-mixed, single-book orders can run without special setup…they only allow a limited set of book sizes, paper choices, and bindings. IP, on the other hand seems to have a business model patterned after cookbooks and yearbooks…Aunt Minnie’s Cherished Recipes isn’t going to sell thousands, but it requires kitchen-friendly printing…glossy pages or even card-stock…color…spiral, lay-flat binding…all things that can be done for a run of a few hundred.

IP is also more flexible in terms of accepting manuscripts produced by word-processing programs…I get the idea they have often cleaned up files before printing…they have gone so far as to produce custom software to do that interface, and it must be working OK. 

Finally they do not have a setup fee, although there are fees for providing ISBNs and other extra charges for special sizes or other special handling. But the bottom line to me is that they provide a more flexible set of options for special requirements.

So, do you have a special book just waiting to be published?

Compleat Cruiser

I am almost done reading  The Compleat Cruiser: The Art, Practice and Enjoyment of Boating by L. Francis Herreshoff (first printed in 1956). It has been one of the most enjoyable books on short-distance (non-blue-water) cruising I have encountered because it is told as a story. The reader casually is introduced to Mr. Goddard and his young-teen daughter, Miss Prim (for Primrose) who are taking short sailing trips around  the North Shore above Boston, MA.  While there are details slipped in about boat designs (the author’s skill and fame), the account paints a picture of the enjoyment of the journey. The moments of concern due to occasional squalls or shallow water fade as we are go along experiencing the cooking of meals and sitting on the boat in the quiet of the evening or engaging in informal ‘races’ with fellow sailors who happen to be going the same direction. The evenings often entail sitting around with these other boaters discussing everything under the sun…with a focus on sailing. More than any other book I’ve read, this one brings out the fun of simple short-run cruising.

I have often read books promoting the benefits of simplicity in cruising…no motor…no special electronics…no water heater or pressure…etc. Herreshoff makes some of those same arguments relative to initial cost of boats, maintenance costs, insurance costs, and so on. If he were still living and still making the same arguments, however, I would take him to task over a few items which were either prohibitively costly or totally unavailable back then.

  1. I think every boat above 20′ ought to have a depth sounder/fish finder. These can be had for about $100 and make running aground much less likely…especially if you are single-handing and couldn’t use a line.
  2. Navigation without a GPS in this day is foolish…especially if you might get out of sight of land. I recently changed my hand unit (~$200) for a low-end chart-plotter which cost about $450. Half of its value is the inclusion of charts which otherwise cost about $20 each.
  3. LED running lights and cabin lights are far superior to the old incandescent ones and the oil lamps in the cabin (I ;know some argue the atmosphere is better inside with oil). Add a solar charger (say 15 watts) and a deep-cycle battery and you have all the   power for your lights unless you run all night every night.

To be sure, power boaters define ‘necessities’ differently, but I consider the above items to be essential and affordable for those with small cruising sailboats. 

Slowly is good

Yesterday I spent an hour or two hooking up sails and running the lines (‘halyards’ and ‘sheets’). It was far different than the times when I tried to launch the boat and rig the mast and sails all in one day. In particular, the stress level is far less when I don’t set a time limit on myself.

In the ‘God is good’ category, the first rung of the mast steps broke as I stood on it two days ago. That heads-up allowed me to be much more careful when trying to get the sail-hoisting ropes around the top pulleys. I used a strap to clip myself in and tested each rung on the way up. Half-way up a weak rung broke, first on one side and then the other. As evidence of my relaxed state…could it be wisdom?…I carefully backed down instead of trying to get past the 4′ gap that resulted–particularly because I didn’t have a solid confidence in the next rung. Since then I have devised a temporary rope step which should safely get me past the missing rungs and I am going to replace the outer nylon rope that was only to keep feet from slipping off the rungs with a non-stretching 1/8″ aircraft cable having rope clips under each rung so the outer end of each will have a solid support…the same approach I used on the previous mast. I think I can restore the broken pieces by drilling a hole and setting a short length of threaded rod as a pin and using a liberal dose of epoxy. See how time to think has helped…I think a word is ‘meditate’ or ‘masticate’ as a cow would chew its cud. I’ve heard that word in reference to Scripture passages, but the principle works with other problems as well.

How nice to be puttering on the boat in the harbor. On a Saturday evening the area was practically deserted except over at the ferry dock. No one is fishing then and no one fails to get on the ferry for lack of space, so there aren’t groups of folks wandering around with 75 minutes to use up. The sun was shining and the winds were light…5 mph on my new weather station! All in all, a moment to treasure.


A ‘real’ artist again

With my published books being ousted from the Artisans on Main Gallery, and my photo prints priced so low (when compared to the surrounding matted reproductions of paintings), it is clear that the majority favor the laborious one-of-a-kind works. There is, of course, the famous quote from Groucho Marx:



Belle River Shore

Still, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em…I have decided to see if the artisans group will accept me as a member. In the next week or two…I aim to submit a set of acrylics to be ‘juried’. I decided a couple weeks ago to use up all my resources in hardboard/panel-board and set out to paint 18 pictures all at once…all in thick acrylic and all done entirely with palette knife in an impressionistic style. I first laid out two 4′ x 8′ sheets of plywood on sawhorses in the garage (the truck has been outside for about a week and is probably getting irritated an being ousted), laid out all my ‘canvasses’, and went at it…all at the same time in a round-robin, production mode. For specific inspiration I grabbed some of my postcards and photo-magnets. First I put down a layer of white acrylic as a primer and then went around laying down a single range of colors at a time…first blues, grays, and whites to represent the impression of skies and clouds…then greens and yellows for grass and trees…then reds, browns and whites for beaches and fields…and finally whatever was left–purples and pinks for lupines and grey-greens for beach plants (dusty miller?). It was more fun than finger-painting back in 1st grade!

Continue reading A ‘real’ artist again

Now in the water!

Today the boat finally got launched. This year’s problems were relatively minor…one tire continued a slow leak after being re-seated and had to be removed a second time…the wind-vane (brand new) broke off when the mast top swung over the wharf before I had the boat tied up. Oh, one of the mast step rungs snapped off as I was climbing up to remove the mast-raising hook. But on the positive side, the boat floated free the first time and the mast raising went without a hitch. The early-morning rain stopped and the day was sunny. The wind was out of the northwest, which didn’t interfere with the launch or the mast raising. 

Still, even with my wife’s help, I am exhausted. There are so many memories of things that went wrong I continue to wonder what will be next. Perhaps by Sunday I will have the halyards up and the sails attached and actually be able to go sailing!

Its official–no books

Books are not art in the context of the Artisans on Main Gallery. The politics of this particular motion notwithstanding, it seems sad that the definition of art sits in the hands of some 20 folks who all seem to be painters, sculptors, or quilters. Worse yet, the collective view of paintings seems to be that the best style is represented by most of the paintings…acrylic, oil, or watercolor in a highly realistic nearly photographic form. It struck me that there are no abstract works (unless you count quilts) and virtually none that are not fairly detailed. Perhaps that is what sells…although very little seems to sell in any given week. 

I recall hearing about a very snooty… that’s the only word I can think of…group of people who juried for an art gallery back in Indiana. The standards were so high that no watercolors were accepted which used opaque white paint anywhere…white had to be achieved by the white paper showing through…either by careful avoiding of the area or by using masking fluid and removing it later.  That is always the risk of rigidly defining art. The very same issue plagued the impressionists who were denied a presence in the salon in Paris.

My writer friends who produced the books (which are soon to be removed from the gallery) would argue vehemently that their works are art, just like the earlier argument that religious poetry is not unique in having a ‘spiritual’ content. Perhaps this is just a sifting process so that the true bias of the active ‘members’ will be seen. As one email hinted recently, perhaps the group has become too selective and critical and will end up without enough members to continue.

Synchronizing with the ferry

Here is the ferry departure schedule from Wood Islands for the rest of the Summer:
June 29 – Sept. 3  6:30, 8:00, 9:30, 11:15, 13:00, 14:45, 16:30, 18:15, 20:00
and here are the departures (and arrivals) from the other side:
8:00 (9:15), 9:30 (10:45), 11:15 (12:30), 13:00 (14:15), 14:45 (16:00), 16:30 (17:45), 18:15 (19:30), 20:00 (21:15), 21:30 (22:45)

Basically the two boats make the 75-minute trip on a steady basis with about 15 minutes to unload/load at the ends. Since the cars leave the area like there was a fire on the boat and other cars race up for the boat at the very last minute, the impetuous traffic times are well defined. For making the 2-mile trip to the ramp, the best starting times are 6:30-7:30 (no arriving traffic at the first run) , 8:15-9:00, and 9:45-10:30. 

As I indicated in the last post, the high tide on Friday is at 11:15 but ‘high enough’ runs from about 9 am to 1 pm. I think the best time to make the road trip is about 8:30, since that should allow up to 3 hours at the ramp to get the boat in if any problems were to spring up.

I don’t anticipate any issues with the fishermen since the lobster season ended two weeks ago and the traps should all be home by now. I’d better check to be sure there isn’t some other fishing activity that would be in the way.

Bringing the empty trailer to Graham is a longer trip but it will be empty and light. To avoid any traffic burst I should start out before 12:30 when the ferry arrives from Caribou, NS.

This sounds like a lot of trouble to just launch a boat, but with a 15′ width and no wish to in any way impede traffic or become involved in an accident, careful timing is critical. Since most of the serious boat problems have been associated with launching or retrieval, those are the high-stress times and my goal is to ‘never make the same mistake twice’!

They’re gone!!!

The young starlings…fledglings…have left the nest within the last two days. Finally I can launch the boat without doing harm to young birds. It also happens that the high-high tides are falling this time of month (6.9′) from 9:30 tomorrow (Wednesday) through 12:00 noon on Saturday. I think we’ll target Friday…11:15 is the high and that means the boat can be trailered to the ramp sometime in the morning…at a time to miss the ferry traffic…with plenty of time to extend the tongue and get the boat floated while the high tide lingers long enough to allow the trailer to stay safely up from the drop-off at the bottom end of the ramp.

The entire process takes several hours between extending the tongue, floating the boat, resetting the tongue, motoring the boat over to the wharf, raising the mast, and bringing the trailer home. Actually I intend to bring the trailer to Graham, my handy machinist/welder, to fix the width as well as adding a cradle/roller to align and capture the bow when bringing the boat onto the trailer again. Being about 15′ wide, I don’t like to have it on the road any more than possible, but it is no worse than much of the farm machinery one encounters here. I will try to be careful to pick times when ferry traffic is not racing along toward or from Charlottetown.

Probably I’ll have 8 weeks for sailing, barring any ill-aimed hurricanes.

Still waiting

The !@#$%^&* starlings grow up very slowly! How I wish the mother starling an empty nest so I can begin using the boat. I have now missed the full-moon higher tide cycle as well as the one two weeks before that. Winterizing will take on a new importance next fall.

The enforced idleness did have some good results, however. I discovered and fixed some minor rot associated with the cockpit seat backs. Perhaps I can use some of the time to devise a better latch system.

Also, since one strand of the back-stay has broken, I want to add some short reinforcement cable around the area. I bought some stainless cable to eventually replace the back-stay, which is in the shape of an inverted Y, with two stays that go straight (and separately) from the deck to the top of the mast. That would give me redundancy on all four sides so any one cable could fail or come loose without allowing the mast to come crashing down.