Pokémon Go has taken my family by storm. It has its critics, but I love the way it blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. They call this “augmented reality,” and I’m all for it. After all, augmented reality is what we artists are supposed to be all about.
I left home yesterday to start seven days of augmenting reality the old-fashioned way: with a brush. Until Wednesday, I’ll be in Ocean Park, ME’s Art in the Park. On Wednesday I decamp to Castine Plein Air.
While I’m only likely to paint ten paintings over the week, I can’t say for sure what sizes they’ll be, or in what colors, or even what subjects I’ll choose. I have a larger-than-usual assortment of frames and boards with me, plus clothes, paints and tools. My little Prius seems packed for any eventuality, but I still managed to spill ketchup on my one good shirt yesterday.
Ocean Park was founded in 1881 as a Free Will Baptist Chautauqua. It still functions as a Chautaqua Assembly 135 years later. Its grounds are graced with a series of lovely meeting spaces in the classic Camp Meeting style of the last century.
I arrived at Porter Hall just a few minutes past the arrival time, and was actually the last expected artist to check in. My hosts are Ocean Park’s Education Committee Chairman Frank Gwalthney and his wife Helen. Although I’ve known them only for a year, they seem like old friends.
We sat and chatted until the sun started dropping. I went to Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge’s Goosefare Brook trail to paint while Helen went to the Temple to see PORTopera present Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Medium. That’s the Chautauqua experience in a nutshell: a whole lot of culture packed into a place of profound tranquility.
Ed Buonvecchio joined me at the mudflats. We worked fast against the sunset. Because I was looking directly west, I painted with my sunglasses on until the sun dropped below the trees. Then I put them on top of my head, only to accidentally shake them off over the bridge embankment.
Yesterday’s lesson was that climbing over guardrails and down concrete ledges was much easier 20 years ago. Nevertheless, I need those glasses. I managed to retrieve them without landing in Goosefare Brook, and decided that henceforth I’ll stash them in their case, not on my head.
A few minutes later, a thick fog started so swirl around us. It came up so fast and thick that I could do nothing but pack up and grope my way back to my car. Redolent of the sea, it was beautiful, soft and cool. And it’s here this morning, so my ideas for today’s first painting have changed just a little.