When Scott Nash challenged me to a Draw Off, I didn’t know what I was in for.


But I wasn’t gonna say no to my fearless leader in the Illustration Department at Maine College of Art.


2DRAW OFF!_blogIt was a foggy morning at the Fifth Maine Museum but the crowd was eager for action. Scott has done these several times, and takes requests from the crowd, kids first. Our first challenge: draw your opponent!

photo by Nancy Gibson Nash

photo by Nancy Gibson Nash

Another: draw yourself as your dog:

photo by Marty Braun

photo by Marty Braun

We got a few requests involving chickens; this one about drawing yourself as a cat:

photo by Nancy Gibson Nash

photo by Nancy Gibson Nash

The entertainment was enhanced by accordion music by Peaks Island’s own marvel, Nancy 3 Hoffman. It was a fast and furious blast.

Tall ships were on the horizon but visibility from the island was not great.


Daisy took this shot from the ferry into Portland.


We ventured into town the next day, fog still shrouding the bay.



We headed to the Peabody Essex Museum to see the excellent Thomas Hart Benton exhibit. The first room is a stunner of epic murals. No photography allowed, so I did this small sketch of a detail I loved, a woman in prayer.


I didn’t know Benton was such a prolific illustrator. I drew a detail from another painting, titled Portrait of a Musician. Drawing even a bit of his work slows down my seeing, and speeds up my appreciation for his mastery.


He said, “I feel my paintings in my hands.” The show includes a 3D printed replica of one of the clay models he made before painting. Benton had a thorough practice of sketching and sculpting before painting. There are sketches made on movie sets, and even an interview by Edward R. Murrow on a vintage television, in which Benton displays a distinct twitch.

There was one wall where photography was allowed, for a #PEMepicselfie. My family obliged.


The Picton Castle was still in port when we rode the ferry home.


The next day I crossed the bay again, this time with supplies on hand to finish making nature journals for my visit to the Louis T. Graves Memorial Public Library in Kennebunkport.


Their summer reading program theme is Every Hero Has a Story. That called for sharing John Muir Wrestles a Waterfall.


I brought along tales of my process, objects to draw, sketches and original art from the book, and plenty of sharp pencils! What a great roundtable of artists I met. Here is Aiden’s sketch of a mussel shell and a broken sand dollar.


I considered it a good omen when a deer ran across Log Cabin Road on my way to the library. Here is Jake’s drawing of one of the antlers I brought, and also used in one of the illustrations for the book.


I hope everyone finds more nature to document, just like Muir did in his intrepid travels.

I finally saw this ship in full sail in sunshine!


The Tall Ships are gone, but they’ve left their mark. Tomorrow I’m ready for the Peaks Island Sketchbook Workshop I will be co-teaching with Judy Labrasca.My bag is packed with paper and pastels, let the sun shine please. Draw ON!



  1. love love this, so wish i could be there for the workshop… and you have SUN!!!!

  2. terrific! you’re a superstar!

  3. DRAW! DRAW! It’s a draw!!! Jamie and Scott two great gladiators of pen and pastel! I would have loved to have been there cheering you both on!

  4. Jamie
    I really enjoyed this fun reportage. Wonderful pictures! How nice to get to see the ships in full sail, something we missed on that more or less foggy drizzly day when they came in. Nice shot by Daisy.
    All the best

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