One of the problems with having a common name is that people are always confusing me with someone else. For example, I regularly get calls from bill collectors about a Carol Douglas born in Buffalo in 1967.
Then there’s the disco star Carol Douglas. She recorded the disco hit “Doctor’s Orders” in 1974 (not to be confused with Carl Douglas, who released “Kung Fu Fighting,” in 1974).
It was lovely to see Facebook conflate my talk at the Schoodic Institute with her picture. But, yes, that’s actually me, and you’re all lucky I’m not singing. At 7 this evening, I’ll be speaking about the relationship between the New York painting scene and the Maine coast. That’s in Moore Auditorium at the Schoodic Institute.
Meanwhile, my intrepid band of painters gears up for another wrasslin’ with the rocks, both literally and figuratively.
Yesterday we painted facing the Mark Island light in Frenchman’s Bay. The brick lighthouse was built in 1856; and the keeper’s house was added in 1876. Not that these details mattered from the distance from which we were viewing the light. My painters’ goal was to situate the lighthouse within the vastness and majesty of its setting.
Within minutes the view was shuttered by one of those fickle Maine fogs that drops down on the coast. “I’ve changed the position of my horizon three times,” mused Michael. Most painters moved on to paint rock studies while they waited for the fog to lift.
“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” I heard one whisper.
To paint abstractly and loosely, you must concentrate on getting the drawing straight. That is especially true of rocks. Yes, you can get flip in a general jumble of rocks, but there is specific information in those rocks that tell the viewer that you’re in Maine.
Among the most striking features at Schoodic Point are the stripes of black basalt which cut through the pale pink granite. Basalt is a smooth, dark colored rock that forms from rapidly cooling molten rock. At Schoodic it formed vertically by sinking into crevices in the granite. These inclusions are called basalt dikes.
On the shore, the granite and basalt fractures into large squares that erode slowly. The sharp edges and geometric formations of these rocks are unique to the Maine coast. Even the most simplified painting should include their contours.
At lunch I showed my students how to make a wireframe drawing of the rocks and then build mid-tones and highlights into it. Intending to put this into practice at lunchtime, we returned to our painting sites. There a spattering of rain put us temporarily out of commission.
“Dolphins!” I heard someone cry. A pod of those most highly social sea mammals cavorted up the bay, following a fishing boat. Dolphins are among nature’s most uplifting creatures. Doctor’s orders indeed.
I’m up on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park, teaching. Interested in next year’s Maine workshop? Email me.