The mystery of memory

Somewhere in a file drawer of my memory there was a pirate ship on the water, a house next to it and a jetty that faded into a thick blanket of fog. I was pretty sure it was a scene from a childhood trip to the Massachusetts coast. When I was in Salem today on a museum visit I had to make my way down to the waterfront to see if Salem was indeed the place, and sure enough it was exactly the picture I have had in my mind all these years, minus the fog. It’s funny how strong those visual memories can be. And in case you are wondering what those bits and pieces from my file drawer are — the jetty is Derby Wharf with the Derby Wharf Light down at the end, the house is the Pedrick Store House and the ship is the Friendship of Salem, a replica of a 1797 East Indiaman. 

Now here’s the funny thing. The house was transplanted from Marblehead in 2007, the ship was built in 2000, and my childhood trip to the Massachusetts coast was long before that. So where was that memory from?


29 Comments on “The mystery of memory”

  1. Tony says:

    Spooky story – but know that exact same feeling! Hope you’re having a great holiday.


  2. Monique says:

    I hope I paint like you after my SB Craftsy class:)


    • I hope you like the class Monique. And if your sketches are as nice as you photography, you’ll be teaching the lessons.


      • Monique says:

        I am repeating the first section:) Nervous to get into the real deal.. have a wish list of course already..let me just say youare a NATURAL.
        Love it so the supply list agin in bed yesterday;)


  3. Linda Daily says:

    A beautiful painting and a wonderful story. Perhaps a childhood dream?
    Visions of Peter Pan and Captain Hook?


  4. Claire says:

    VERY Nice, your pen is so reel


  5. Susan says:

    What a beautifully rendered painting – the ship is incredible – a lot of work figuring out all the rigging. The story is a mystery – stronger than deja vu.


    • Thanks Sue. The rigging was so much fun to draw on this one. I started out with a fine pen but moved to a thicker one for some of that really complex black rope. As for the memory, who knows? It really is a mystery.


  6. Gayle says:

    Dare I suggest a “past life”? Actually,I’m a level-headed skeptic . . . most of the time, but fun to speculate just the same! Thanks for sharing this real-time drawing and also for your interesting story of a past memory.


  7. Louise says:

    Hi Shari, did you use masking fluid to save the thin pale lines on the base of the boat and there, for some of the ropes?


    • Hi Louise. I have a white gel pen that I use for little white lines. I also use Titanium white watercolour sometimes but I don’t often use masking fluid.


      • Louise says:

        Thanks Shari… A white gel pen? Interesting, I’ m trying to find an alternative to masking fluid or titanium white acrylic to make thin lines or details…Can you tell me what brand you use? And what you think of permanent white gouache for small white highlights in watercolor?


      • White gouache is good too. I don’t see a brand on my gel pen but if I see a similar one I’ll let you know.


  8. Chris Rusk says:

    Treasure Island (film), Adventures of Long John Silver (TV) maybe? I say this because I had an illustration project (school), go so easily that it drew itself. Many years later, I saw an episode of I Love Lucy (it had been in reruns when I was a toddler) and one of the scenes was my illustration.


  9. Joan says:

    Hmmm. Sounds like something out of the Twilight Zone, an early TV series that I never missed even though it freaked me out. I have to think it was some sort of time travel or in a more practical sense, a compilation of images that you retained from media of some sort, books, photos, TV. Very odd imagery but I’ve had some of those same experiences that are beyond reasonable explanation. Truly a mystery.

    The painting is so evocative of place. Love it.


  10. george smith says:

    Have not been able to comment for several because my old computer was giving me serious fits. Now I have a new one and can see your daily posts, which, like everyone will agree, are a treat for our eyes and minds. Shari you are most generous to share your life .work the way you do. I am thrilled to be back on board


  11. andre savard says:

    I love your sailling ship. Great sketch, and the rélfection in the water is beautifull.
    As for your memory, it’s like a déjà view, mystère some time.


  12. Marc Lépine says:

    Hi Shari, I had the same feeling of being there also. more than 25 years ago… But now I think it was the replica of the Mayflower on the Pier at Plymouth, MA. I just looked on Google Maps and it fits my memory… Have a look. And have a good trip and thanks for the daily delights!



  13. It must have been a unique Deja vu experience.


  14. Carolyn V. Johns says:

    Just started the first class, and looking forward to the second…etc….but have to mow the grass first….love your style….glad I’ve found your blog…..cj


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