Regular readers of Maine-ly Painting (which number as many people as are now watching new Colbert Report episodes, I'm proud to say!) are aware that winter is not my favorite season. In truth, I eagerly await our week of summer here in Maine. Herewith are some thoughts pertaining to Maine's longest season and the picture I just finished.
I dreamed up a painting sometime last summer. As always, I thought it would be great fun to paint nearly twenty figures in a street scene from back in the day in a painting four feet long. I was all kinds of exited to do a full size charcoal study for it, and color sketches and what have you. (And as always, when I was several weeks into the project I was wondering what the hell was I thinking?) Knowing it would take up a large chunk of time, I thought I'd make it my winter project. You know, something I could sink my teeth into while I waited for spring.
I started the long involved process in early December of 2014. I signed it on April 10th, 2015. In between those dates we had the nastiest winter we had seen in ages. The April day I signed the lower right hand corner was a cold, miserable day with at least a foot of snow still on the ground. Since then we have had delightfully sunny and warm weather, and the snow is completely gone!
I should have signed it a lot sooner...
Don't get me wrong, I love painting these imaginative types of pictures. It is a challenge to bring the past come to life, to say the least. Let me show you the street these guys were marching down:
Lovely, isn't it? Can't you just picture a parade coming down this street? The difficulty is really of my own doing. For instance, look at the yellow house on the right in the painting. First off, what color was this house back then? I made it yellow just to put a spot of color on that side. But what shade yellow should I use? What color will it look like on the shadow side? What color are the shutters? What will they look like in the sun? Or the shadow? Multiply that by every element in this painting, and you'll get an idea why it took so long. Good thing I don't have hair anymore, or I would have pulled it all out!
Here in New England, as I just mentioned, we have had to endure a brutal winter. Maybe you recall that Boston had their worst winter in its history. We've had more snow in the past, but this year it was the cold. You see, we know winter is going to be cold-- no surprise there. Usually a winter will give us a few nights when the temperature drops below zero. This year below zero was the norm night after brutal night. We had several mornings when I awoke to see the thermometer had fallen to twenty degrees below zero. I lie. The coldest was twenty-four degrees below zero. Twenty-Four Freaking Degrees Below ZERO. That's not wind chill, people. They don't call it "Wind Chill" any more, but rather "Feels Like". Do you know what twenty-four degrees below zero "Feels Like"?
The frozen grip of Death.
my excuses the reason my painting took too long was the constant interruptions. Namely, snow blowing. In years past, we had a guy plow our driveway. At thirty bucks a pop. This guy would come and plow an inch of snow before it melted so he could charge me. I will admit that he was useful after big snows, but I still had to shovel a lot of snow to clear out the piles he pushed into the wrong spot. Year after year. Even after I told him not to. You may be wondering why I continued to use him if he caused me that much aggravation. It's simple. Everybody else charged $40.
So this year we bought a snow-blower in a "Damn it, I'll do it myself!" frame of mind. I was thinking that using it once a week or two (the average time between snow storms) wouldn't be too tough, and hey-- after a few years it'll pay for itself.
After this winters two storms a week, I think it's paid off now...
This was a shot of my poor, buried studio. As I looked at this sight day after day, I was reminded of a lovely day last year when my studio presented a far different look:
That my friends, is spring! And it's all I thought of...