There is great beauty in shipyards and boats in dry dock. The Christina Eleni is all rust and lines and ladders — and observed straight on — very hard to draw. But that what makes it so much fun.
Today I clambered out onto the rocks at Halibut Point State Park so I could paint the Grout Pile – the mountain of waste granite pieces from the Babson Farm Quarry. Painting out on the rocks was a thrill – cormorants diving in the water and the lobster boats going by (with the occasional waft of diesel fuel). I had planned on setting up my easel but ended up just sitting with my board on my lap. It wouldn’t have been a pretty sight if the wind blew over the easel and knocked my sable brushes into the crevasses between the granite.
Granite. It’s difficult not to have it in everything I paint and sketch in Rockport. Cape Ann granite was quarried in this area and used in the construction of many famous buildings including the Statue of Liberty. There’s a Granite Street, a Granite Savings Bank and huge chunks of granite forming walls wherever you go. This morning I painted at the granite quarry at Halibut State Park for a second time, this time facing the spot I painted a few days ago. From the 60 ft fire control tower you can apparently see as far as Maine.
There’s something that happens when you hang around a vacation place for long enough. You start to differentiate the locals from the tourists. From my kitchen door I can see the back deck of the fish shop where I buy the fresh catch for my dinner. This morning I was looking around for something to sketch and I realized that there was a lot of conversation, noise and action on that deck. It wasn’t the daily onslaught of tourists eating their lobster rolls. It was the day’s delivery of fish and my favourite moment was when the fishmonger, in his bright yellow apron, leaned over the railing to catch his breath before the next delivery.
I have many thanks to send out today. The first one goes to Mary Kay Carbone of Four Winds Pottery in Rockport who found my work online, bought some prints to sell in her shop and encouraged me to spend some time painting in Cape Ann. This is truly a special place.
Secondly, thanks to my friend Fleet Woodley who suggested I try M. Graham paints, which I am experimenting with this week and really liking for their creaminess and saturation.
Lastly, thanks to Don at Island Art and Hobby in Gloucester who carries the M. Graham paints in his shop and who suggested I visit Halibut State Park because I might like the granite quarries. You were right Don. Not only did I love the spot but I also liked reading about how the place got its name: sailing ships rounding Cape Ann would “haul about” off this point of land.
I haven’t spent a full day sketching and painting in a really long time and after two fairly complex sketches and this painting I can barely type the letters on my phone. Suffice to say that Gloucester is my kind of town. One of America’s oldest seaports – with industrial buildings, a very busy harbour, and steeped in the history of America’s maritime painters – it is a place that could keep me sketching for a full year.
Rockport, Massachusetts, is really pretty and pretty overwhelming all at the same time. There’s too much to sketch – the boats in the harbour, the old fisherman’s houses and the famous “Motif No. 1” building that I painted last year. As is often the case, the best views are the ones that surprise you as you turn a corner. These little shacks didn’t seem half as interesting in the morning but later in the day the light changed and there was a good shady spot between a candy store and a sunglasses shop.