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.

Summer Days of Daisy

Posted by on Aug 28, 2017 in Peaks Island, Seven Days of Daisy, 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 Charlesbridge Publishing, Children's Book Illustration, drawing, Here Come the Humpbacks, Illustration, pastels, 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 A Porcupine's Promenade, Charlesbridge Publishing, Children's Book Illustration, drawing, Here Come the Humpbacks, Illustration, Illustration Institute, Peaks Island, school visits, Seven Days of Daisy | 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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Vinalhaven adventures

Posted by on Aug 7, 2017 in drawing, Island Birthday, Tilbury House, travels | 8 comments

Vinalhaven adventures

Our romance began on two wheels. It’s become tradition to roll the bikes outta the barn to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Because every island is unique in culture and geography, we love exploring other Maine islands, but getting motorcycles on two ferries in the same day can be tricky. We opted to take our time. After a Friday morning stop at Street Cycles, where Marty’s Versys 650 Kawasaki failed inspection, we kept on. Riding the roundabout way through Pownal, Lisbon Falls, Sabbatus, and Hope, we arrived in Rockland at the...

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Illustration Institute Inspires

Posted by on Aug 3, 2017 in Children's Book Illustration, drawing, Illustration, Maine College of Art, Peaks Island | 4 comments

Illustration Institute Inspires

This month has been jam-packed with visitors and events. I am inspired and jazzed about the new Illustration Institute’s Marilyn Faison Artist Residency. There are two houses on Peaks Island available to illustrators and authors for retreats, and they are just up the hill in the woods behind my house. This is the Stone Cottage, nestled in the pines at the top of Tolman Heights. I brought over a pie to Henrik and Wing, artists/residents for two weeks. They had decent time to be residential, like take strolls and dunk in the ocean. We...

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Book friends unite

Posted by on Jul 19, 2017 in Children's Book Illustration, drawing, Illustration, Peaks Island, Portland Public Library, travels | 0 comments

Book friends unite

It’s no secret that most children’s books are about relationships.  Author Lyn Smith and I traveled recently to visit fellow book creator,  Jo Miles Schuman.  Lyn and Jo met via Maine Authors Publishing and I’m always down to meet fellow book makers. We found her homestead along a winding road with acres and acres of rolling woods and wetlands beyond. We ducked beneath swooping swallows nesting in the dark rafters of her barn and into a sunny studio where Jo served a scrumptious rhubarb pie and carrot cake. Double dessert,...

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Book Friends

Posted by on Jul 12, 2017 in Art Classes, Children's Book Illustration, drawing, Here Come the Humpbacks, Illustration, Maine College of Art, pastels, Peaks Island, Seven Days of Daisy, travels | 0 comments

Book Friends

Way back in 2009, I visited the Friends School of Portland to read my first children’s book, Seven Days of Daisy. Friends do make the world go ’round. Fast forward to a recent sunny Tuesday, when I headed off island to visit their Stories by the Forest program. When I arrived at the Peaks Island dock, it was oddly quiet. Where is everybody? Well, yours truly had missed the boat! The summer schedule change got me! So, I promptly called the trusty water taxi. Here she comes, zipping across a placid Casco Bay. I made it to Cumberland...

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Ireland adventures: Cork to Dublin

Posted by on Jun 11, 2017 in drawing, Illustration, travels | 5 comments

Ireland adventures: Cork to Dublin

We headed to Cork on June 2, driving back up the Dingle peninsula about 40 miles to Tralee. While at the Dingle Library, I’d read an essay about the Two Paps, a pair of mountains which, upon seeing them, the writer felt nourished by. I kept looking for them as the landscape, quilted in greens, rolled by. Every so often we’d ride through a town, where the ancient hugs the modern. We took an hour’s detour down to Kenmare, so I could pick up a cashmere sweater for Grace, the only person to request I bring something very...

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Adventures in Ireland

Posted by on Jun 10, 2017 in drawing, Illustration, pastels, travels | 17 comments

Adventures in Ireland

Ever since a brief visit to Ireland in 1980, I have yearned to go back. Somehow, the years piled up until recently, when Marty, Daisy and I enjoyed two weeks of travels there. On May 22, we flew to Shannon Airport, during which the dusk to dawn was sped up, like a time lapse into the next day. We landed at 6 AM, sleepless, and rented a diesel powered Renault in which Marty bravely took the wheel to find our first lodging. The Carrygerry House is a mere 15 minute drive from the airport but felt far away in another time, situated above rolling...

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Tillie Time

Posted by on May 2, 2017 in Children's Book Illustration, drawing, Illustration | 0 comments

Tillie Time

I recently illustrated the cover of Mary Atkinson’s second middle grade novel, Tillie Heart and Soul, that just earned a starred review from Kirkus! As soon as I heard that Tillie was a roller skater, I was into it. After reading the manuscript, I began a little page of doodles. Then I began doing my homework for visual research on skater culture. And did more sketches. Tillie is a fifth grade girl living with her Uncle Fred. She’s an awkward but tough kid, and gets her share of scrapes. I wanted to show energy here, with hair and...

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