Wednesday, July 28, 2010

epic tale of history comix camp

Thwack! I still have sea shanties stuck in my head.....what's a comix camper to do?

The week of history about piracy and privateering in Casco Bay combined with comic creation turned out to be too darn fun.

Thanks to Casablanca Comics and the Fifth Maine Museum for help in
launching the pilot program!

Campers got off to a fierce start, working on a 4 panel comic about their journey to camp.

This one by Ruby has energy and character.

This is Annika's, also direct and graphic.

  I like the bad hair moment
that leaps to the hot air balloon.

Nicholas gives a lot of sound to his panels:

Love the final panel, where he's on the
ferry from Portland....HOOONK.

But it wasn't all drawing. My intrepid matey Patricia Erikson told fantastic tales of actual events
happening right out in the bay, like about the ghost ship, the Dash, that disappeared without a trace
in 1815.

Campers also learned about tying knots, like any good sailor, such as the figure 8 knot, the
clove hitch, and the bowline.

Every pirate helped cook cod chowder. Campers spent time in the galley, flushing the cod from Browne Trading Company and chopping potatoes.

More drawing time down at Hadlock Cove....where the girls started plotting their story lines.

Day 2: a tour of the schooner, the Wendameen!

Our intrepid tour guide Holly showed us the ropes.

We had a little time to sketch on board. This is Vincent's drawing, full of quick details..

Next we headed up to the top of the Casco Bay Garage for a change of view and perspective studies.

Daisy got the panorama.

Frederick drew the huge cruise ship in port.

We went below the pier for another point of view.

Back to the Fifth Maine, with time for drawing characters.

Day 3: Fort Gorges! Captain Mark Green buzzed the campers out to the fort in no time at all.

Lucky campers got to have a seat in the bow.
I've lived on Peaks Island for 18 years, ferrying past the Fort countless times. It was a thrill
to set foot on that old stone.

We heard more stories about ships seized right at the base of Munjoy Hill.
I handed out little viewfinders to aid in finding compositions, but the fort's arches
and windows provided excellent natural frames.

It was a challenge to capture all the repeating architecture. Jerzy managed to
simplify it beautifully.

There were several dark places that we could not go.
We had to leave sooner than we wanted to: it was a tide thing.

Thanks to Mark Green!
That much water time meant only one thing: swimming!
Girl pirates like cold water.
But there was still more work: cranking the ice cream. Arrrgghh! Rum Raisin!

 Day 4 got serious about paneling. Deadline time. There was a lot of
pencil sharpening, shanty songs on the boombox, and lots of erasing.

Day 5- time to assemble and sew the final comic books!!!

This is not as easy as it looks.

But there were plenty of comic books to read when you were all done
with illustrating your cover.

Each camper got 4 pages of panels to tell a story, and there's a fantastic variety.

Grace makes use of a floating title and a spooky shadow to open up her story.

Owen creates a talking helicopter scavenging the skies.

 Frederick has great humor.

Daisy used a cliff-hanger device.....

And Caleb threw in some WW2 elements, perhaps noted in the Fifth Maine's second floor exhibit.

This sparked a trip to Battery Steele, now part of the Peaks Island Land Preserve.

The walk provided some great nature sightings.

The last of the afternoon was spent at Picnic Point, playing pirate games, making forts, and
getting hungry for home-made ice cream.

Folks came along to share the refreshments and see the comic results. A few hardy campers sang
the comic shanty, which still sticks in my head, and we were done.

Huzzah to all pirates who can draw as quick as they laugh! Thanks for a sunny, silly week of art and history.

Friday, July 23, 2010

big on botanicals

I'm a lousy gardener, but I love botanicals of any kind. Here is a pastel done recently when our resident peonies made their annual splash, a miracle that never ceases to amaze me, since I didn't plant them.

Last week, I trekked to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in the company of a few savvy moms and groovy girls. I went mainly to catch the exhibit of Robert McCloskey's sketches. He's an illustrator
strongly associated with Maine, thanks to titles like Blueberries for Sal and One Morning in Maine, both well-read books in our house.

The exhibit is right in the Visitor Center and featured original art as well as sketches.
I love getting to see the rough process.

Interesting evidence of those bygone days of color separation.

It was actually hard to really concentrate on the show, with the new
Bibby and Harold Alfond Children's Garden beckoning outside.

The same sculptor who created the row of ducks in the Boston Public Gardens,
Nancy Schon, did this version of McCloskey's bear from
Blueberries for Sal, complete with a nearby overturned bucket of berries.

Nearby sits another icon of Maine children's literature, a topiary ode to Miss Rumphius,
Barbara Clooney's grand dame of coastal characters, and another household favorite.

The architects of this garden have surely made the world more beautiful. But wait, there's more!

I loved this swirly path, which my daughter insisted on walking completely, just to get dizzy.

 Another fun spot was in the two-story treehouse, a gnarly haven of spirited space.

And in the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses, I found
something to stimulate my tired soles.

The reflexology labyrinth was pretty hot for my tender feet, but it did the trick.

These gardens stirred me on all levels, and I'm eager to return. Meanwhile, back to drawing
still lifes in the shade of my studio!

Monday, July 12, 2010

color of peaks

 The Trefethen Evergreen Improvement Association, otherwise known as "the club", was the venue last Friday night for the sixth annual Color of Peaks art show. The TEIA is better known as the sailing and tennis spot, but once a year invites island artists to exhibit, while taking a portion of sales towards scholarships for island children to participate in club camps. The sight of the little sailboats bobbing about is a seasonal cue; summer has begun.

I worked on five new pastels for the show. This one, titled "Late Boat" went to a couple with fond memories of a child's exuberant leaps from the ferry dock.

And the one above went to another family of sailors...
This is a regular sight on my dog walks at low tide.

Not so common is seeing a heron wading in the fog, but I have seen this guy enough to
document him, lingering near what we've nicknamed Troll Rock.

As the event progressed, the fog settled over the dock much to the delight of those on the porch.


You can't beat a sunset view from this location, even with fog......and take note of the heron perched
on the piling.

Can you get how this might be inspiring? There's really not enough time in the day to capture it all.
The crowd here is an affectionate audience to start with, of the island, of the club, of the community we share.

Here I am with Fran Houston, a comrade in the frontier of self-publishing. She's just launched a website she created for her book, For the Love of Peaks. Filled with love and respect for the oral stories of Peaks Island elders. A keeper.

The club was built in the early 1900's as a casino hall. Wall space is at a minimum for hanging work, but the resourceful Friends of the TEIA find ways to showcase a wide range of work, even over the window shades. It's classic architecture; it just feels good to be inside. Everything glows, and the breezes blow through.

We ran into friends who had come out for the evening. My ole RISD classmate, Bruce Hutchison, on the right,
is an amazing illustrator.

Also in the show was my pastel of a marsh backshore, titled "Sudden Shower."

I like to draw different moments of the day, the changing light and environment.

"Moondusk" may seem unreal, but it is as true to the serene magic I witness on a daily basis.

Alright, so I haven't actually seen a mermaid. But only because I haven't been at Table Rock at her favorite moment, when the tide pools are singing with periwinkles.

Some of these originals may show up at the Gem Gallery. For now, I am putting aside the pastels to work on another poster for Portland Stage Company.

Oh, and prepping for next week's History Comix Camp, which I'll be co-teaching with Patricia Erikson. We'll be learning rope-tying, singing shantys, and sketching at Fort Gorges, and creating a comic book about actual piracy in Casco Bay.

Avast, mateys!