matinicus magic

I’m thrilled to be working on a picture book for Tilbury House written by Eva Murray of Matinicus Island. I’ve been a fan of her writing since discovering her columns in local publications, and hearing her speak about Well Out to Sea, as part of the Peaks Island Lecture Series, a few years back. When editor Audrey Maynard asked if I was interested: a story set on an island? YES. By Eva Murray? DOUBLE YES.

It seemed only fitting to combine research with a family field trip. As an islander for 22 years, I have boundless curiosity about other islands, and what huge contrasts between Peaks and Matinicus! Peaks gets 16 ferries a DAY from Portland, a 15-minute trip one way. Matinicus gets 30 ferries a YEAR, a 2-hour trip one way. You can get there from here, with planning, cash, and some groceries.

The Maine State Ferry in Rockland, Maine has day parking, since we were heading one-way. The MV Everett Libby was our vessel.

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We passed Owl’s Head Light during a break in the clouds.

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Once we left the coast, I sketched another passenger who’s obviously done this trip before.

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I drew Marty, too.

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Matinicus is a rather flat island upon approach.

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The harbor is all about lobstering.

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Eva kindly gave us a lift to the Tuckanuck Lodge, owned by Bill Hoadley, a native of Nantucket who also spent many years living on Peaks.

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It’s a charming old house filled with antiques of all shapes.

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I enjoyed dialing on this rotary.

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It’s no small luxury to simply curl up and read amidst the peace and quiet.

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There’s no store on the island, so we brought ham, cheese, and apple juice. We set out in search of Eva’s Bakery, passing this sign along the way. Sums up the island ethos, a motto we could all use.

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How can a kid resist the real jungle gym at the island school?

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Gotta love public art.

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We stopped to buy stamps to see what the post office is all about. The old Post Office burned down, and this PO is a couple of rooms in a house owned by the church, where the minister lives.

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The real hub is Eva’s bakery, where her sweet goods draw a crowd.

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Armed with her bread and cookies, we set off for a picnic, past colorful trees and billowing grass.

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We marveled at snowy mosses while nibbling berries along the path.

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Sweet reward for finding the Southwest Point:

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The clouds parted and we found another trail to follow.

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After a warm social hour at Eva’s, we returned to our lodge for a hearty dinner.

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There are no street lights on Matinicus, so we strolled in the darkness.

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Bill’s call to breakfast is opera music, a heavenly start to a clear Saturday. Each mug at the table features one of his beloved dogs. The current resident, Sandy, keeps Bill on his toes.

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Here’s my sketch of 16-year old Emma, a snuffly pug who keeps fellow boarder, Peter, loyal company.

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We headed to Markey Beach with our drawing supplies. We had all this beauty to ourselves.

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I started a small pastel with a new travel set, but abandoned it in favor of beachcombing.

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We climbed around to the breakers sheltering the harbor.

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Now and then, the sound of a plane drew our attention. We’d be taking one of them back to Rockland the next day.

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Meanwhile, Marty did this drawing.

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It was pretty quiet over at the wharf.

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We returned to the Tuckanuck for lunch and lolling about.

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We decided to trek to the air strip, another scene I’ll be illustrating. Along the way is the church, which also doubles as a phone booth.

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Wild flowers are abundant.

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The narrow strip faces north towards Rockland.

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With no planes in sight, we found another trail. A single fairy house is a good sign.

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These are NOT blueberries, but rather an inedible feature of some forest lilies.

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Plenty of flora to document.

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Planes flew over now and then. Bill said the lobstermen were taking their paychecks to spend in Rockland.

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We reached the shore again, and clambered over these cool rocks.

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What’s the secret of this ancient boulder?

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Back on the main road, stunning patches of dahlias, first brought to the island in 1903, dazzle the landscape.

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Drowsy dog and dusty road by the PO..

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We got more cookies at the bakery and checked out the cemetery, where stones are adorned with golden lichen.

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We made it back to the lodge in time for lobster and more stories from Bill.

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With fog rolling in, we browsed his ample library, finding this antique novelty from 1889.

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Daisy documented a ton of startling illustrations, such as these.

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With no electronic devices for distraction, we retired early and slept like logs. In the morning, after one last trip to the bakery for donuts, Eva’s husband, Paul, brought us to our plane, the cheerful Island Spirit.

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This was the one piece of our trip that gave me anxiety.

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Yet, it was by far the smoothest and best flight I’ve ever had.

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Thanks to Penobscot Island Air pilot, Roger, the 12-minute trip was splendid. Look, there’s the boulder out on West Point.

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More islands closer to the mainland:

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Upon landing at Knox County Airport in Owl’s Head, we took a Schooner Bay taxi back to our car in Rockland. Heading back down Route 1, we stopped at a favorite landmark, which I included in my sketches for Eva’s book.

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The truck is a great icon of that Waste Not ethic on Matinicus, and is the work of amazing sculptor Jay Sawyer.  For the first time in our travels, his sculpture garden was OPEN. I sketched this scene.

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He showed us what he’s working on in his shop. Seeing his art was the best way to complete our trip.

Now it’s back to work here, with our hearts full of Matinicus magic. Thanks to Eva for delicious hospitality and to the Tuckanuck for sweet dreams.

Portland Public Library Bookmarks!

Posted by on Jan 18, 2018 in Children's Book Illustration, Illustration, Peaks Island, Portland Public Library | 0 comments

Portland Public Library Bookmarks!

Here’s the tale of how my Portland Public Library 150 Commemorative Bookmark came about. When Marty and I were contacted last May about participating in a series of artists’ bookmarks the library would use for fundraising, we said YEAH!!!! Of course! Well, right after asking when did they need the art, because that’s always my first consideration. Project manager extraordinaire Heather Wasklewicz didn’t need the artwork until the end of August. That meant I could stall until a couple of weeks before. I have a saying...

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Giving thanks

Posted by on Nov 29, 2017 in Book: Island Birthday, Children's Book Illustration, Drawing, Illustration, Pastels, Peaks Island, Portland Public Library, Publisher: Tilbury House | 2 comments

Giving thanks

Don’t ask me how a flock of wild turkeys has been roaming our end of the island for many weeks. Leading up to Thanksgiving Day, there were plenty of jokes about them. Peaks Island is part of the City of Portland, where no hunting is permitted, so these birds were just free range. When our daughter returned for college break, our first stop was at the delightful Dahlov Ipcar exhibit at the Portland Public Library. You can’t miss the fantastic reading nook with a mural of lively fowl! This First Friday is the closing reception, so...

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Illustration MECA field trip

Posted by on Nov 21, 2017 in Art Classes, Children's Book Illustration, Drawing, Illustration, Maine College of Art, Travels | 6 comments

Illustration MECA field trip

A week ago I traveled west with senior Illustration MECA majors, co-chaperoning another field trip led by our intrepid Department Chair Mary Anne Lloyd. This time we ventured in a wagon train of cars, landing at the venerable Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. While awaiting everyone’s arrival, we ate our bag lunches in the classroom, appropriately surrounded by the drawings of young artists. Our tour guide, Patrick O’Donnell, led us through early works by Rockwell, with the eye of a professional illustrator. We...

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Vermont vibes

Posted by on Nov 10, 2017 in Drawing, Pastels, Travels | 2 comments

Vermont vibes

What a gadabout autumn we’ve had. Last weekend we headed to Vermont for the first time in ages, to the rustic getaway house of my Kittery cousins, Mike and Wanda. They bought land from Mike’s brother Joe, a retired dairy farmer, Vietnam vet, and thespian. We were lucky to find the place in the remote hills of Marshfield just before dusk. While others were upset about losing power, this is how they roll there, off the grid. Dinner by candlelight with long stories. Mike did the dishes under a solar lamp. What a difference the sun...

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Pub Day for Ana and the Sea Star!

Posted by on Nov 7, 2017 in Book: Ana and the Sea Star, Children's Book Illustration, Illustration, Publisher: Tilbury House, School Visits | 6 comments

Pub Day for Ana and the Sea Star!

Finally, today is THE DAY!!! My twelfth book is real. Ana and the Sea Star by R. Lynne Roelfs is published! It is a small miracle when ideas manifest into a real book. When I first read the manuscript in July of 2016, it felt authentic, the story of finding a starfish. My photo below is evidence of that time a sea star washed into a Peaks Island tide pool a summer ago, and was gently placed back in the ocean. First I sketched out a rough storyboard, deciding what to show, the flow of the visuals, and varying points of view. I contacted some...

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October vibes at Moody Point

Posted by on Oct 28, 2017 in Book: Porcupine's Promenade, Drawing, Travels | 2 comments

October vibes at Moody Point

October adventures abound. Last week we had the pleasure of staying in an antique cottage at Moody Point, thanks to Brian and Lyn Smith. It’s only a short ride from Portland but the outing hit the refresh button immediately. We stopped in to peek at the new Mothers Wing at the Graves Memorial Library and then visited the Corey Daniels Gallery. That place is full of wonders. Being the lunatic I am, I saw moons and eclipses in this series of Portals by Harrison Walker. No surprise I was drawn to Sarah Bouchard’s Orbs. They breathe...

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A slice of heaven at Haystack

Posted by on Oct 13, 2017 in Drawing, Travels | 16 comments

A slice of heaven at Haystack

Haystack Mountain School of Craft’s legendary Open Door has been on my radar for awhile. This was the year I threw my name into the lottery aimed exclusively at Mainers for a three-day intensive of creative immersion and GOT IN, hallelujah! I gleefully made the 4 hour drive from Portland to Deer Isle last Friday. I’ve visited Haystack before, just to marvel at the steep spine of stairs down to the ocean’s edge. Now I could actually stay. Everything is rustic, with striking architecture and slanting light. I was the first to...

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Summer Days of Daisy

Posted by on Aug 28, 2017 in Book: Seven Days of Daisy, Peaks Island, Travels | 4 comments

Summer Days of Daisy

Summers in Maine are heavenly. If we could bottle them, we would. Here’s my capture of the fleeting flavors we tasted. Now that our daughter is back in Baltimore, it helps to reflect on what a Daisy-full time we had. Beginning with our trip to Ireland, we are thankful for family. There’s been togetherness and also departures. Here Daisy heads off to visit her beau, which involved a ferry, an Uber, a train, and another ride. There was fog. And more fog. Ferries vanishing. Fog veiled the shore of Long Island during our...

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Ocean Park

Posted by on Aug 20, 2017 in Book: Here Come the Humpbacks, Children's Book Illustration, Drawing, Illustration, Pastels, Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing, Travels | 5 comments

Ocean Park

I first visited Ocean Park in 2013 and delighted in the warm community there. Last week I returned to meet new friends and share a bit of my world and working methods. I spoke in Jordan Hall, and was surprised when Daisy, my daughter who inspires much of my work, showed up with her friend Jonathan, who has spent many fond summers at Ocean Park. I included this series of photos to show my process of creating a single illustration for Here Come the Humpbacks! by April Pulley Sayre. First I sketch into the layout provided by the...

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Story & Craft

Posted by on Aug 11, 2017 in Book: Here Come the Humpbacks, Book: Porcupine's Promenade, Book: Seven Days of Daisy, Children's Book Illustration, Drawing, Illustration, Illustration Institute, Peaks Island, Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing, School Visits | 1 comment

Story & Craft

This summer my cup runneth over with kidlit elixirs. I was pleased as punch to share in one of Pat Crowley Rockwell’s Story and Craft adventures at the Peaks Island library. She is an esteemed educator, the Assistant Principal at King Middle School, and a passionate advocate of children’s books and reading to kids. She featured A Porcupine’s Promenade by Lyn Smith, how could I not join in? After she read the story, I shared my little pencil dummy and showed one of the original drawings. Kids like to touch the rough sanded...

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