2016 | the whirlwind recap and maybe a few bits from previous years too.
You will have to fill in the slo-mo replays in your head—and make sure you have a minimum 60 inch screen in there so you can get the full effect.
The last day of 2015 saw us at the airport waving goodbye to our son Zack and his lovely wife Kate (They got married in 2014 in case anyone missed that.). They were off on an adventure—moving all and sundry to Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. Their new home was to become a beautiful spot on the southwest coast of the island—high cliffs, luscious water, palm trees and a sensuous warm breeze. We were happy for them and sad to see them go.
They had fled just in time. After an oddly mild holiday season from Halloween through the New Year’s party, January was when our Maine cold finally showed up with its usual filed teeth.
Our tropical kids had a bit of worry when their large room-sized shipping container, with all their worldly goods—books, chairs, computers and yes, motorcycle—didn’t show up. They roughed it with their carry-on bags and the kindness of new neighbors for close to a month when the box joyously showed up in their yard.
Meanwhile our daughter Kate (yes, two Kates gets confusing at times—and any Kate-ly nicknames haven’t stuck as yet) was still working for Comcast out in Denver, CO ( Zack claims she crossed over to the dark side of the force), making happy amounts of money and contacts with bigwigs right and left, skiing, hiking and generally having a wonderful time. She adopted a several year-old boxer from the animal shelter and now Kate and Josie are devoted and inseparable. What an adorable dog with her big sappy curling tongue.
In March Kate fell while downhill skiing. Somehow her ski twisted around and smacked her head. In spite of wearing a helmet she nevertheless got a grade 2+ concussion. She was out of work for over two months, with headaches and severely muddled thinking. The only good thing was we flew her home and got a chance to see her for a bit. Well, that and the concussion oddly inspired her to tap into her artistic side. She bought a good DSLR camera and has since been taking stunning photos.
By summer she was much better and moved over to a new job—a job that turned out to stink—definitely not what was advertised—a soul sucking mess in my humble opinion. After 6 months working for them and giving it her Kate 24/7 best she has now quit and literally today is headed west to California for a short term job as a botanist on a (legal) medical marijuana farm. The farm is essentially right at the door of Yosemite…so I suspect the job is more an excuse for some excellent hiking. (Hey Jen, road trip?) Then it looks like later this winter she may be moving to Alaska to finally have a job using her marine biology degree— and to start saving the world. Kate claims to fear all these big changes but I notice the intrepid one heads out the door anyway. You go girl!
Jen and I have been a bit more homebodies this year, not for lack of desire to venture forth but really because the art has been going crazy, in a super good way. Jen started painting again in 2015 after a 10 year hiatus. Her new work is bigger, bolder, and with a fascinatingly intense vision. She hasn’t shown the work yet anywhere. I feel privileged to be one of the few who has seen her new creations. Once she has what she feels is ’enough’ new pieces I am sure she will make a big splash somewhere.
She has also been doing some lovely portraits, including the holiday commission on the right. She has been working in both acrylics and the traditional egg tempera.
My 2015 rounded to a close busy with several painting commissions and 2016 has not stopped. Portraits, murals, public commissions and that is above-and-beyond a busy year with the galleries. Love this job, rubbing perty colors on blank canvas and paper to make images that people love and want to hang on their walls.
The City of Bath hired me to paint a 22 foot mural to celebrate their history; ships, seamen, welders, musicians and beautiful women. The painting day doesn’t get much better. I painted this with 1Shot signage enamels, a new paint for me but great stuff to work with, except for the fumes. It was summer so I built an outside studio on the side of my barn.
Then a major Maine charitable foundation hired me to paint portraits of their 2 founding members.
Lithgow Library in Maine’s state capital asked me to create a painting to commemorate their new 10-million-dollar addition. They gave me free rein, so the painting blossomed into a 16 sq foot canvas with a crowd in the library; the library’s founder from 1890’s standing in the back chatting with the current library director and Henry Longfellow; a couple of library patrons looking for good reads and passing the poet Edna St Vincent Millay on the stairs; Stephen King leering over the stacks. Huck Finn, Pip from Moby Dick and Hester Prynne from Hawthorne’s classic also mill among the books in the library’s new mezzanine, the spot where the old and new libraries merge, old stone work and stained glass and gorgeous new wood work.
Then on to other paintings and portraits for various and sundry people around the country. Painting has been good. I hadn’t entered any art competitions for many years but tried my hand at a tiny 1.75 x 3.5 inch oil portrait and was accepted in an international miniature exhibit in Florida. Maybe that bodes well for the coming year as well.
Every project includes tons of pencil and color studies for figures and composition, so needless to say this was a full year with projects and prep.
In September Jen and I spent 2+ weeks at a cottage on Popham beach for some much needed R&R. Of course, the watercolor paints came with, but that wasn’t ‘real’ work. It’s rough when your job is so much blasted fun. The Maine coast is so beautiful. We spent seeming hours upon hours just quietly watching the sea from our beautiful spot on the dunes. Then hiking, biking and island exploring and watching the birds soar above us. The sky is so big above the sea.
Upon our return, the fall and early winter were a whirlwind of relatively smallish paintings, parties, small projects, plans for bigger ones. Jen took a last-minute bit part in the play, The Man Who Came to Dinner. I got (happily) swamped with commissions for holiday paintings.
We flew Kate came home for Christmas before she headed further west. Oh, yes, I nearly forgot. Zack and his wife Kate moved back from Puerto Rico in early fall. The tropical summer sun was too much for Kate’s intermittent fibromyalgia and some meds that make her overly sun sensitive. And they seem to have missed Maine. They lived with us for 2 months upon their return and while they figured out where they wanted to settle, for the short term at least, and that turned out to be only a mile from here. Happy us. Zack and his wife are adorable.
For fun, Jen and I hiked a bit, danced a lot—though never enough—played in the waves, yes, Maine ocean water, you get used to the sub zero temps, ha. I’m back to running—after a year and a half lost around 2014 to an achilles injury. Most days good, others not quite so much…but I think I could still kick my 20 year old self’s butt. Didn’t paddle much this year but had a beautiful, if chilly, solo paddle in November, a few days before the first snows. I think there may be a painting idea lurking in that trip.
Jen and I explored a few new bike trails around the state on some pleasant site seeing trips.
The holidays were quietly beautiful with our kids all home. And 2017 launches with adventures all around, new jobs, new trips and a couple of new murals in the offing, and looking for a couple new galleries around the country to represent us. I heard a rumor of possible tap dancing? And maybe a cha-cha lesson or two. Gotta Dance. And lastminutetravel.com is my new favorite website—hmmm, where can we go to explore this year? Tropical breezes beckon, but so does a road trip to Alaska with Kate…she needs a co pilot, right? Or perhaps hop a cheap flight to old stomping grounds of the Pacific Northwest for a long needed visit with friends west.
Dream big, play well, dance lots and send me ideas for new music—I need some new playlists.
Cheers to you all. Y abrazos a todos. Happy New Year.
Chris & Jen