On the craft show circuit in New England the summer of 2013 has definitely been a season of extremes and we have had more than our fair share of heat and rain! Doing business outside under these conditions has been challenging, including dealing with all the talk about the weather. So at the risk of sounding a little sanctimonious I offer a simple observation. We all fall somewhere on the optimism-pessimism continuum on how we face what nature delivers us each day. When it is approaching 100 degrees, for example, it is a pleasure to see some people put aside an obsession with the negative aspects of the weather a bit and take on a more positive and optimistic attitude. So it was a pleasure at the Yarmouth Clam Festival a few weeks ago to see some great examples of this positive spirit in action. Four sweaty guys strolling by my booth smiling and singing barbershop, high schoolers marching in the parade, and bikers racing on as scheduled.... all in 95-100 degree temperatures. While we can't control natures events we can control how we react to them.
And today, as the United Maine Craftsmen show in Cumberland, ME was closed early due to severe rain and wind some folks went out with a smile, keeping the faith that the sun will come out tomorrow! They will be back I'm sure.
The psychologist Abraham Maslow used to write about "Peak Experiences" (http://www.timlebon.com/PeakExperiences.html). There is no better way to increase the probability of having a peak experience than by taking a vigorous hike up a mountain on a sunny fall day! I had a chance to hike up Saddleback in Rangeley one morning this week and I can report that in the western mountains of Maine the colors this year are spectacular. It was definitely a peak experience!
Last fall I did some paintings of river rocks. On one of the paintings I laid some real leaves on the painting and then took a photo of the composite. I really liked the result and I have since used the image on my trivets, placemats and coasters.
So today I went back and took a look at some of my other fall paintings. Here's a few examples of a watercolor painting of a bed of leaves ....photographed with one or more "real" leaves laying on top of the painting. Finding the real leaves sort of reminds me of the "Where's Waldo" books! Just click on the images below for a closer view.
If you have a chance to take a "leaf peeking" drive up to the White Mountains this Columbus Day weekend please stop by the Castleberry Fall Craft Fair in Lincoln, NH! Hope to see you there! (http://www.castleberryfairs.com/index.php)
I decided not to go up to my cabin in Rangeley, ME to paint this weekend since I was expecting a visitor at my "treehouse" down here in Andover. I also figured it would be much more interesting to watch Irene wrestle with my trees through my skylights. So with a new battery powered Multiflex LED Task Light and a few extra bottles of water at the ready, I decided to set up camp here and make a few pies. With the fall and holiday selling season coming up soon I felt I needed to make (i.e. paint) a few pies to add to the Table Saver/Trivet group.
I started with a pumpkin pie. But since there is usually not too much going on with the top of a pumpkin pie... except color... I added a few defects (i.e. cracks) to make it more interesting. I'll have to see if defective pumpkin pie trivets are still interesting (i.e. sell) to my customers in the fall. By the time the pumkin pie was done Irene still hadn't arrived so I decided to move on to something more textural, colorful, and well, sweeter. A cherry pie.
On a side note, a funny thing sometimes happens while painting. Little things, like cherries, start popping up out of nowhere in the painting. Its quite fun to watch these things emerge. Try too hard and they seem to stay hidden. I'm told that this happens in other areas of the arts too. It's a pretty sweet experience to bear witness to.
Time flies when you're having fun! The pies are done and Irene has passed. Goodnight Irene.
I got a call yesterday from an old college friend. It was his 65th birthday and he was planning to give his new medicare card a test drive. Among other things we talked a lot about music, especially older pop music...."back in the day" music....captured on vinyl, tape, & cd. If you've held on to all that stuff over the years but can't remember where you put it all (check the fridge!) there's still hope: Spotify! Millions and millions of songs for free. The best part is that you don't have to wait for the download. It's almost immediate. And yes, you can (sort of) "go back" in time. Strap on the headphones, close your eyes and go back to the Filmore East for Creedence Clearwater singing Green River, to a sleepy Woodstock night to hear Sly and The Family Stone, or to the college dorm to hear Simon and Garfunkel singing Homeward Bound. My guess is that you'll be up all night.
For a little taste, click on Paul below.
I bought a nice big book last weekend.... a beautiful book of botanical illustrations and designs that were an inspiration for the Art Nouveau movement at the end of the nineteenth century. It will surely end up on my coffee table along with a few other cherished books. I'm glad I got it while I still had the chance! Today Borders closed 400 stores employing 11,000 people. And I'm seeing that some libraries are going "book-less".
I guess I can put a Kindle on my coffee table but its just not the same. I can look at artwork on my computer, enlarged and in great detail, but its not the same as turning the pages of the weighty Audubon's Birds of America, Elephant Folio.
I think I'll just hold on to, lug around, or pass on a few "old school" books. Not for the investment value, but just in case the power goes out.
For the past few years I have pretty much stopped eating red meat. But I’m not a fanatic about it and I do allow exceptions. The “Maine” exception for me is when I drive up to my camp in Rangeley, ME. About half way up I usually stop at Roy’s in Auburn for one of the best burgers on earth….with cooked onions….served on a napkin. Roy’s is usually packed with a lot of heavy-set meat eaters enjoying lunch…and my guess is that for them it is more the rule than the exception.
I wonder if the moose in Maine make any exceptions in their diet? Unlikely since they are herbivores and eat only plants. This time of year they eat mostly the grasses and other vegetation around lakes and in fact need to eat about 50 pounds of the stuff every day! I’ve seen quite a few moose in and around Rangeley’s lakes over the years but had never painted one. So since I do get an occasional request for a moose painting I decided to paint a moose on my last trip up to Rangeley.
A moose looks like it was designed by a committee and my moose painting is no different. The moose I painted though also looks like he has eaten most of the grass around the lake, that he is bored with it all and that he’s thinking, maybe just this once, about making a dietary exception….perhaps raiding one of the backyard grills over the July 4th holiday! Probably not though since I’m sure he’s more disciplined that most of us part time carnivores....already looking forward to the holiday and another trip up to Maine. And a stop at Roy’s!
I just returned tonight from exhibiting at a classic, old American Craft Fair in Deerfield, MA. It was a beautiful summer weekend, loaded with plenty of Pioneer Valley birkenstocks & good old folk music. For the most part it was a nice vibe. But something, other than the large crowds of the past, was missing. The demographics of the American Craft world have changed. I exhibited at Deerfield and at other similar shows over 25 years ago and have just recently returned to this world.
Although I could be mistaken, it seems that the people coming out to this market are now a much older group of folks. I saw very few young adults and families and only a handful of teenagers. I just hope that the interest in and the value of handmade American Crafts is not eluding our young people today.