Saturday, August 6, 2011


"The Dance Floor", Baker Island, Maine
James Aponovich
Oil on canvas, 14" x 18", 2011

Sketch: Baker Island, Maine
James Aponovich
Pencil on paper, 7" x 9", 2011

"How to paint the landscape:
First you make your bow to the landscape,
then you wait, and if the landscape bows to you,
then, and only then,
can you paint the landscape"

John Marin


Granite, spruce, sky, ocean....and the sun relentlessly beating down, my head draped with a shirt like some Bedouin frantically drawing......and the sweat is summer off the coast of Maine.
Sometimes the most difficult thing is to make something significant out of the fewest possible ingredients. Boil the perfect egg.
Here I am on the "Dance Floor". The place is Baker Island, off the coast of Mount Desert.
(For more on how I got here go to :

My task is to sketch giant slabs of pink granite that have fractured and have been piled up by eons of repeated "nor'easters", storms of amazing force. The sun is blinding and everything is stripped down to bear essentials. I start drawing, my composition is nothing but diagonals and sharp edges, and all while the clouds build threateningly. Time is limited so I sweat and draw. Captain says it's time to go, storms are approaching. The sky turns black so we return to the boat. Time elapsed? Not nearly enough.

Marsden Hartley
City Point, Vinalhaven, Maine, 1937
Oil on board, 18" x 24"

Hartley painted here, so did Cole, Church, Lane, Haseltine, Richards, Bricher,
Hassam, the Zorachs, the Wyeths and many more. We still come to this place of jagged rock and hard sea, this "wonderful nightmare" that is the coast of Maine.

For further reading and looking:

The Artist's Mount Desert
John Wilmerding
Princeton University Press

Painters of Maine
Carl Little
Downeast Books, Camden, Maine

copyright 2011 James Aponovich

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