Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Waterman's Life

This is a 20 x 30 oil, on panel, and was done from a photograph taken in Stonington, Maine in 2003.   I was looking forward to it coming up on my list of paintings because I knew it would be a challenge to render the soft pastels and the quality of light that was happening as the sun just peeked above the eastern horizon. The translation from reality to digital file has inevitably skewed the colors, but I was in awe as I stood on the shore, camera in hand, looking at the blues and pinks in front of me.

The other aspect that drew me to make a painting of this scene is that it is a record of the beginning of the work day for two lobstermen.  They are going about getting ready to head out and pull traps, making a living on the water in the same way that Maine watermen have for over two centuries now.  This is a benign dawn, but they are also out there when the weather is blustery, cold, and the water has a mean, steel grey appearance that makes me shudder when I think about spending the day out on it.  Lest anybody should think being a lobsterman is either easy or idylic and enviable, it is worth knowing that Stonington has THREE AA meetings and making ends meet in this way is often a hard-bitten struggle.

Last year Maine lobstermen...and, yes, a very few women, pulled 75 MILLION pounds of lobster from the cold, green waters of our rocky coast.  Even with such a bountiful catch, many of them struggled to just get by.

Somehow, I cannot help contrast this with the pigs who sit behind desks on Wall Street and clever up barely or not even honest ways to shuffle stock, mortgages and other securities.  The contrast is just so stark that it makes me want to honor these watermen.

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