Sunday, April 3, 2011

Is it really Spring in the Maine Northwoods?

It's spring......right?
I've looked at the calendar and it's April 2, by the standard definition it's Spring but not here in the Northwoods of Maine! Although Rockin' Robin has showed up at the bird feeder, we got 12 inches of snow on Friday.  We still had about a foot of snow in the fields and areas we don't plow.  The only spots of bare ground were the driveway and the lawn area we plow for parking in the winter.  Now it's all back.  If the weather doesn't improve, the Easter Bunny definitely will have to be a Snowshoe Hare!!!!!! Oh, please Spring.... come soon.  I don't want to be rolling snowmen, I want to roll Easter Eggs!!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Yikes's is like mega winter

Yikes ....It is like mega winter here.  Tonight is going to be 23 below.....BRRRRRR. Tons of snow, freezing temps...this year the easter bunny will be a snowshoe hare!
I need to some spring painting. Think warm thoughts!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Maine:The Way Life Should Be

Maine...The Way Life Should Be........

The State of Maine used this catchy phrase for all of its tourism promotions throughout the 1980's and 90's. Truer words were never spoken! We love it here! It is such a beautiful much diversity. We have rustic, remote woodlands, pristine lakes, quaint colonial villages, scenic rural farmsteads, a rugged rocky seacoast with lighthouses, clipper ships and fishing boats, small towns and bustling cities, sandy beaches, lobsters and loons..... and I love it all! That's why we moved here from the urban squall of southern New Hampshire. We sought the peace of small town life and as an artist, I sought the unlimited subject matter and inspiration that surrounds me each day. Our life is idyllic. How blessed Bill and I are to be here in this place, in this time. Every night when I watch the evening news with its murder and mayhem, greed and deceit, it seems so unreal, so unbelievable and hard to relate to as I look out at majestic Mount Katahdin and listen to the mourning doves cooing as they pick at the seeds on the ground below the birdfeeder. Such peace and harmony here and the world pictured on TV in economic and social chaos, so difficult to relate to. We get our Directv satellite network feeds from New York stations as no local stations here in Maine are available to us. It is so bizarre to watch the news as reported from New York City, to watch traffic reports that show the crush of cars in morning and evening rush hours (on my drive to "downtown Sherman" I often don't see another vehicle till I am right in the center of town), the glitter and glitz of metropolitan social events (here "Hunting Blaze Orange" is the "black"). I chuckle as I think what a slave to fashion I was as a younger woman in those 20's,30's and 40's years...appearance was so important. I wouldn't go out in the front yard without making sure my makeup and hair were perfect. Oh, how that has all changed! I have only worn a skirt once since I moved here to Maine in 1992....for my son's wedding. My daily attire consists of jeans and a Tshirt, sandals in the summer and hiking boots in the winter. I wear jeans to church on Sunday. I'm convinced that God looks at my heart, not my attire! To go to a movie we have to drive about 50 miles. The only restaurant in Sherman is a little 7 table truck stop, very common fair but the best darn fish fry you could want on Friday night. For fun, Bill and I go ride the logging roads in the North Maine Woods looking for wildlife and beautiful scenery. Our social life revolves around church, we attend every Sunday and Wednesday evening driving 25 miles south to the town of East Millinocket..... and that's it. That's our life! I am going to try to be more faithful in blogging as I have many people who write and ask me to tell more about my life now, and my life growing up in rural New Hampshire. My sister keeps prodding me to write a sort of family history, about our childhood for our kids as the way we grew up is so different from the way our grandkids live today. So stop back and check the blog as I will be posting more pictures and stories of life in Maine.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring is Coming!!!!!

I am so looking forward to spring! It has been a cold long winter here in the North Woods of Maine. We still have snow on the ground but some has melted away leaving patches of withered dead grass showing.

Smidgen and Lovey Dovey, our two white doves, have been out foraging for nesting materials, grabbing long blades of withered grass to take back to their nest. Bill looked inside their little coop that's mounted on the side of the tractor barn and reports that their nest is not very organized. I guess that's their way. Robins build beautiful tightly woven nests in the spruce trees around the yard and the phoebe that built the little nest on the top of the grapevine wreath on the back porch builds a sturdy tidy nest too. But the doves, Bill says, work on a helter skelter method but I guess it makes them happy because there are two little eggs right in the middle of all the grassy chaos.

The snow has been heavy and deep this winter! We've had quite a few big storms. Below are some pictures I took at the end of February to give you an idea of what it's like.

This is the view from our bathroom window. The snow comes right off the metal roof and piles up against the house. It gets scary when its this deep. I actually have to stick my broom out the window and move it to the side so we can see out. All the snow banks are as high as that one to left of the chicken coop.

This is our old plow truck that Bill left parked on the edge of the yard near one our little outbuildings. Good thing we have another newer plow truck, huh?

The snow drifts really deep here in this part of the yard- sometimes 5 or 6 feet deep! You can't walk in the unplowed areas unless you have on snowshoes. You really need them here at the Haven. We have several pairs.

As you can see from this picture we would be in real trouble without the plow truck! Our driveway out to the Gallison Road is 1400 feet long. In the spring, summer and fall it's lovely walk. In the winter it can be an unplowable HELL! The northwest wind plugs it full of drifted snow that often the 4wheel drive plow truck can't move. That's when we hire a guy with a bucket loader to dig us out. We get snowbound! People always remark how well I paint spruce trees. They are everywhere here! I always loved Christmas...wish it were year round and with all the fir trees here in Northern Maine it almost is! I love our little's a necessity living way in here like we do! It handles great in the snow! I actually love going out in the middle of a snowstorm to go to town in it. The short wheel base makes it handle like a dream in the snow. And we use it to pull the plow truck out of some of the messes Bill gets in when he "cowboys" it up a little too much plowing the driveway. He buries the truck so bad that often the snow is right up over the hood. He toots the horn (because he's stuck so bad, he can't open the truck doors) and I come to the rescue with the trusty little Jeep. I hook a chain on the bumper and pull him out. Winter is a lot of work up here.

This is the mouth of the driveway as I head out to town. As the winter progresses it often narrows down to the point that you can't open the doors of the Jeep if you stop so then we have to hire some heavy equipment to come in and widen it for us

That's our sign coming in the driveway from the Gallison Road. I can barely touch the top of the sign in the summer so it gives you an idea of how deep the snow is and how high the snowbanks are.

The snow builds up on the deck so I can't open my studio door in the winter. We cover it over with plastic and I only use it in the good months.

Well that's why I am so excited about spring! Of course, at the slow rate the snow is melting, the Easter Bunny will have to be a snowshoe hare!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

January Freeeeeezzzzzeeeee!

I'm not a very faithful blogger.......

I do have to apologize but I am not a very faithful blogger. Sometimes I feel like my life travels at warp speed but I am making a New Years Resolution to try to blog more to let you know what is happening here at the Haven. The holiday season was uneventful and calm, which made it so much more enjoyable.

Penny Lane, my publisher released my first 3 prints in November. They do a wonderful job. The prints are done a a very nice quality paper, much better than I expected to be honest. I have had prints done before at printers but this paper is different.... very sturdy and great colors. The originals of the 3 paintings are up on my website for sale ( and I have included pictures in this blog entry.

Now it is time to start some new paintings. This evening I will be prepping some 11 x 14 canvases. They work up quicker than a large piece and Penny Lane has been nipping at my heels for me to get moving on some new paintings for them.So it's off to to you soon.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Summer at Last

Aaah....summer, what a beautiful time of the year. Other than the fact that my allergies have been raging, life is good! Painting for my new publisher, Penny Lane, is going well. Keeping me busy! Seven of my original paintings were chosen to be displayed in their booth at their biggest trade show of the year, in Las Vegas in September. That's quite a coming out party for Grammy Mouse!!!!

The garden is just growing like crazy. I can't wait for those first ripe garden fresh tomatoes. With all the controversy over salmonella in store bought tomatoes, I am really going to appreciate them this year. The squash plants are almost ready to bloom, and the cukes are already blooming. Gardening here in northern Maine is about 3-4 weeks later than what I experienced in New Hampshire but once things get going they really grow like crazy. The days here are just a wee bit longer so that must have something to do with it.

Our doves have been having babies like crazy. It is really beautiful to see the flock of them fly around the homestead. They are so elegant and dear. We did lose a couple to the bald eagle that nests down near our beaver pond but that is part of nature.

Well I have to get back to painting....stop in again soon. I will try to be more faithful with my blogging.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Howling Winds Bring Back Memories

Icy Winds Howl Through the Night

What a wild night.... all night 35 mile an hour winds with gusts up to 50 mph roared and howled. It didn't start until bedtime (10:30 PM) and they are still blowing this morning. The house creaked and shuddered as I lay in bed. I couldn't sleep so my mind was racing. I lay thinking about my childhood in the old house on Kimball Hill Road. It was a big old colonial farmhouse (13 rooms)with a center bee hive chimney. It had been built in 1764 and added onto through the years. Now there was a house that could creak and shudder during a storm. The house was up on a hill with a long sloping driveway down to the main road. We would get snowbound there too, which was great to a little school!!!! Just get out the sleds, toboggans, wooden skis and a lot of unique freestyle sliding equipment like Granddad's canoe, an old Victorian bathtub that the legs had been taken off, an old metal washtub, and anything else in the barn that had a flat bottom. My cousins, Tim, Tom, and Dustin could sure come up with some creative sliding materials. The family would be snowed in until Uncle Henry came from his farm next door with his tractor with the big bucket loader and dig out our long driveway. That tractor made great snowbanks....more like snow mountains to a 7 year old. They could be quickly modified into snow forts and snow caves or we could pretend they were Mount Everest and go on our own "expeditions".
Winter was so much fun back then. Granddad would put us on a small toboggan, and he on his snowshoes, would pull us into the woods for an exciting adventure. Nana would pack hot dogs, and the fixins' and Granddad would build a fire. We would cook our hot dogs over the open fire with sticks he cut down with his hatchet. Of course, there would always be Marshmallows for a warm toasted dessert. Times were so much simpler then and the fun was so wholesome. Now my grandkids want a ride on a snowmobile if you can tear them away from the darn TV set and their video games. Technology is great, don't get me wrong. I couldn't blog on an abacus LOL but our kids today are missing out on the magic and wonder that existed in the very simple things we found so much fun when I was growing up. This morning on the early news I heard them reporting on a group of third graders who been discovered plotting to stab their teacher with a steak knife. By the sounds of it, they were making some pretty elaborate plans. Too bad that energy and creativity wasn't used to figure out how to slide a bathtub down a hill, I think the world would be a better place.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Still More Snow!!!!!!!!!

Will this winter ever end? Here it is, April Fools Day, and we are plowing snow again! We still have about 4-5 feet of snow on the ground depending where you measure. It snowed all day yesterday...not a lot of accumulation but enough to need plowing and certainly enough to make things messy. I finished two paintings this past week, a 6 x 6 and an 11 x 14. Both winter scenes ( I just can't get winter off my mind) and now they are up on Ebay for auction. That clears the decks for me to start to paint for the print company. I don't enjoy "repainting" a creation. I've had to do it a couple of times as clients have seen a painting that I have done and want another one like it. So in repainting them, I will change things up a little; paint them in a different size format; add some more details. This will help to make it more interesting for me. I'm starting off with Sunday at Saltwater Farm. Originally it was an 11 x 14, now I will repaint it as a 16 x 20.

Last night I painted the sky and let it dry over night. Painting skies in acrylics is difficult. Acrylics dry quickly, unlike oils that give you lots of open time to blend and create drama. So you have to work at breakneck speed to do blending, but I have a different approach. When painting on canvas, first I make a thin wash of the medium sky color and apply that to the canvas. This helps me later in the painting so that I don't have to worry about any white areas showing through when the brush skips over the weave of the canvas. When this layer is completely dry, 10 to 15 minutes, I make a true sky color mixture and paint this over the entire sky area. Wait for this to thoroughly dry. Then I make another sky color mix and this time I add some transparent faux glazing medium. This slows the drying of the paint so I will have time to blend much like you do when using oils. I start applying this sky color at the top of the canvas with a 1" wash brush and in long sweeping horizontal strokes from one side of the canvas to the other work my way down the canvas. When I am half way down the sky, I stop and quickly wipe the brush on paper towels to remove the excess paint. Then I load one side of the dirty brush with Titanium White and load the other side with the original sky mixture and starting at the horizon line I work my way up to where I stopped, with the same long sweeping strokes blending into the already painted sky. When I achieve the look I want, I let it dry for 24 hours and then go back later to put in clouds.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

Okay, yesterday was the first day of spring so I am doing a little "spring cleaning". UGH!!! My studio is a total disaster and I need to get organized so I can work efficiently. Time to get down to business and I can't do that with all the clutter that is in here. SIMPLIFY..... that's my motto as I attack this mess. Tomorrow Bill will have to go to the dump with all the clutter I am eliminating!
I am so excited. A print publishing and licensing company is interested in my paintings so I am going to be a published artist. I like that idea. Now I will get more mileage out of each painting. I put so much detail and work into each creation, and there is only so much you can charge for a painting in today's economy so this will give me a little more income for each work without breaking anyone's back. But all of my paintings are sold so they want me to repaint some of the old ones they saw on my website. UGH! That takes a little of the joy out of it. One of the paintings they like is the one above "Shine on Harvest Moon". Well I have to get back to my feather duster. Talk to you soon.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

ICY Day but Finished "The Posie Emporium"

Aah!!!! It's done...taken the full week to complete but "Petunia Philbrook's Posie Emporium" is completed and ready to go up on the auction block. Sometimes its depressing when I look at how prolific some of the folk art painters on Ebay are. They just churn out painting after painting and get an amazing number of bids and huge prices for them. To me they are cookie cutter paintings..all the same with a few different figures painted in. I guess its a great business model but to me it isn't really folk art. For me, a folk art painting should tell a story and have enough details in the painting that the story is credible. I look at the work of Grandma Moses, Charles Wysocki, Kathy Jakobesen, Rosebee, Barbara Appleyard, Will Moses, Sally Caldwell Fisher ... lots of detail so you can involve yourself in the picture. That's what folk art is to me! Although the "cookie cutter" approach is tempting from a monetary standpoint, I just can't "pimp" my paintings. I may be able to only produce one or two paintings a week (and that's a real good week) and they may only get one or two bids and end up selling for $35.00 but I am proud of what I paint and I feel that I am remaining true to my art. That is more important than all the money in the world. My Dad always told me, "Take the time to do it right, or don't do it at all." Those have been the words I have lived by all my life and every time I am tempted do something a little less than my very best, I hear a little voice inside my head repeating that refrain. Scarey but I guess we are our parents!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Busy week, tough week!!!!!

Here we are at the end of another week and I haven't been able to post all week I have been so busy. Monday and Tuesday were "shipping days" after 5 successful art auctions on Ebay. Then Bill had a visit to the VA Center in Togus on Wednesday. Thats a 350 mile round trip and definitely an all-day event. Yesterday I went to the hospital outpatient to have a PH Probe installed in my esophagus. Trying to figure out the source of that chronic cough I have. This probe thing is not a good time. It has had to stay in 24 hours to record the acidity in my esophagus. At 2:30 PM today they take it out. Yeah!!!!!! Ah, the golden spend all your time in the doctor's office.

But in spite of all that, I have managed to paint every day, even last night with that darn probe thing in the way. I am working on a very "Spring" painting called "Petunia Philbrook's Posy Emporium". I should be able to finish it up so that it can be listed on Ebay Sunday. I think that my collectors will love it!
Just got feedback from the purchaser of the painting shown above called "Footprints in the Snow". The purchaser was very happy when it arrived safely in Spokane, Washington. She loves it and says she'll be back to buy more. I'm just glad she's happy.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sunday at Saltwater Farm

We've had 3 days of sun, temperatures in the 30's and I even worked on a summer painting to celebrate the weather. Finished "Sunday at Saltwater Farm" on Saturday and now its listed on Ebay. It already has a bid. Selling my art on Ebay is so much fun but a little nerve wracking.
My garden seed order is done and now I feel the urge to paint some spring painting with flowers and gardens. Starting one now of a country flower shop. I'm thinking I'll call it "Petunia Philbrook's Pansies and Posies Emporium". Lots of flowers....should be fun!!! Off to paint. By the way, grey and cloudy again today and a big 2 day snow storm starting this afternoon and ending on Thursday morning. So much for sun and fun and the 30's!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Dreary Friday in the North Maine Woods

What a grey, dreary day today! As I look out the studio window, I notice that Mount Katahdin has disappeared again obliterated bythe low clouds. Usually I don't let winter get me down but this year we've had record snowfall with storms every week. The snow is piling up even with the windowsills as it drifts around the house. Snow "showers" tonight! the weather report says, less than an inch of accumulation! Thank God as I do not know where we would put anymore of the white stuff. Keeping the road into the homestead has been a lot of work this winter and pushed Bill's old plow truck to its limits. We've gotten snowbound a couple of times so far, requiring a contractor with a big loader to come in and rescue us.

This afternoon I'll sit down to start a new painting. I haven't decided on the subject matter. I've been toying with recreating an older style piece of folk art, trying to paint a historical piece with my own slant. I'll have to dig out a couple of my art history books to get some inspiration. I noticed when I came into the office that Chuckie and CJ (our two mischievious black cat-children) have been playing with my brushes so the first step will be to put them back in order. I can't figure out why they like them so much. Could be the furry bristles seem like real prey or maybe its the fact they spin so nicely on the floor so they can get a lot of action out of them.

Put two new paintings up on Ebay last night. I'm thinking that is the easiest venue for me. I'm tired of the shows, lugging, packing, unpacking. It takes a lot out me now I'm in my 60's. And dealing with the galleries is wearing plus they take such a big commission so for awhile I will try a little direct contact with the buying public. Take a peak ....

Tonite it's time to dig out the seed catalogs and plan this years garden. I've got to get the seeds ordered so I can start plants in March. It will be a late spring this year with all the snow that we have to get rid of. But tonite I can go to bed dreaming of those luscious ripe tomatoes that we'll have in July.....yummmm!!

Bye for now....keep warm!!!!!!!