Archive for December, 2007

Self Portrait in Pink

Today is a big day. New Year’s Eve and I have chosen a very special outfit to wear at the shack. Nowhere else can such a glamorously hot pink number be found. You can witness the whole wood gathering pink robe performance on my flicker link to the right. With that said, I now need to address drawing for a change.

I have been working on a variety of sketches and trying to figure out what I am doing. This is typical at a residency; I am away from my studio working in less than ideal conditions, in a completely different landscape. This is the precise reason that I do them, to get a new prospective on my work and kind of force my drawing to evolve into a different form. And that is exactly what is happening. Normally I would never show “clunkers” or work that is so different from sketch to sketch, but for this post it illuminates just what happens in my process of working away from home. As I am drawing I can’t help but to think about a quote I heard on the radio when I first got here, ‘habit is a great deadener’ from Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot” It is easy for me to keep making the same kinds of marks, just switching the palette, scale, and thoughts about what I am making. But going to a residency is my way of throwing out all the habits and letting my surroundings inform my work, no matter how arduous that can be in the beginning. Certainly a change of routine helps. If I had been home, I would stop by the deli for a bagel and coffee and take the subway to the studio. Today, I made a fire, carried in wood, made coffee, and then repaired one of the steps with wood I found under the shack, before I started drawing. These kinds of chores I really enjoy and they get me thinking. For now I am putting away all my watercolor and stripping it down to pencil and paper for a while. I have four more weeks to work out my ideas before going home. Once I am at home in my studio I can retain this experience for the whole year, and freshen my objectives by reading my journals and referencing my photographs.

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Yesterday was a big travel day. Lisa and I left the shack early so that I could charge my computer at the airport and she could take a shower. We made the 40 minute walk on the seashore with the winds almost blowing us backwards it was so strong.  Lisa went on for another 4.5 miles to the gym to take a shower, she was on a mission, she had not had a shower in 4 days and she was scratching like a dog. Me on the other hand, oh, who needs a shower, I will take one when I get back in NYC in anther 4 weeks.  I thought it would be nice to pick her up so that she doesn’t have to walk another 5 miles back in her nice clean body but instead we went to have coffee in town and she stayed there to walk home, putting in over 10 miles. Perhaps the shack was getting too small with both of us. I stopped at the Thrift Store which is full of treasures, I bought a nice Italian made ceramic bowl to use as a wash basin and two hand made crystal glasses from Poland, coffee mugs, books, plates, knives and folks all for  $5. I walked back to the shack and saw two people which is amazing since I have not seen any people, but the day was beautiful and warm. They came out to visit the shack because one guy had stayed here in September. I put on my running clothes, went for a run to Herring Cove, 5 miles away. This after already walking 4 miles back and forth in the soft sand. I met Lisa on a bike path about 4 miles into my run, ran past her to complete my distance, then ran back to meet her. I found her resting on a log with water and potato chips, a welcome sight. Animals we saw yesterday; heron, sanderlings, and seagulls. I started a new drawing, they are more like sketches since there is only so much I can actually do here.

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Kerosene Lamps

Kerosene Lamps

Today I came back to the airport, a one hour walk along the sea shore. The waves were quite high, but with the low tide there was lots of shore to walk on. I got the satellite working but the battery went dead so I cannot email from the shack. It seems that once I get the sat. up the batteries die or the computer dies. Well either way you may not hear from me again for a couple days until I walk back out here.

Christmas morning I was thrilled that Lisa still liked it out here. In fact she is having a great time. Christmas morning we hiked about 5 miles, not very far, and sitting in the same place we sat two years ago in the dune we saw three seals. I have one very far away photo of them they were so cute bobbing in the water along the shore. Then at night it was so dark outside, just before the moon came up and we could see the whole Milky Way, it was fantastic. I forget how huge the sky looks and how bright the stars are living in NYC. Then the moon came up and it was so bright it lit up the whole area around the shack. It was been quite cold in the morning but the winds have died down to almost nothing so if feels pretty good, right now it is a very toasty 50 degrees in the kitchen, though that is right over the propane two burner stovetop so in reality it is about 40 which does not feel too bad.

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Sunset on Life Guard Station

Wednesday, December 26
I love the Provincetown Airport! It has everything you need. Okay this is why. I went to the airport to meet Lisa who was coming in on Monday night. I dragged my laptop and satellite down the sand fire road and arrived about 4:30, which was way too early because her flight did not come in until 6:30. The truth is, I did not want to walk in the dark with all the coyotes to meet her so I left the shack before sunset. When I got to the airport a sign in the door said “back at 5:15.” So I hung around, walked to the ocean and when I came back “Kevin” was unlocking the door. The Ptown airport is very small and only one person was working, Kevin, who had to fuel some of the other planes in between checking people in – though there were no people but me. I started working on my laptop, which has enough battery for about 5 minutes and casually ask if I can plug it in, though in reality every place I go I feel a bit desperate to take some electricity. Well within minutes I had my computer, satellite, and camera all plugged in while eating cookies, chocolates, and drinking coffee. Kevin and I chatting away, I told him that I was living in the shack, but he like many people here have never walked “way out there” to see the shacks. He showed me this awesome giant RV that he and his partner rented for vacation, the thing is bigger than my apartment, 42 feel long. We had a great time, he told me the names of the two other employees and said Lisa and I can come anytime to use the bathrooms, get electricity, use their wireless connection, what ever we wanted. Just before we left he gave Lisa a card for Jody Taxi just in case she changed her mind about the shack. But afterwards we had a moon lit walk through the howling coyote land back to the shack and I knew she was going to like her stay.

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Christmas Eve Beach News

Sea CreatureThe best sunset I have seen here in my first week was by far the winter solstice. I have included a few too many “beautiful” sunsets in my photos, they are cliché but I don’t really care and I am happy to have a record of this light flooded landscape. Today is Christmas Eve and I cannot wait until Christmas is over because I am so overly saturated by Christmas songs on the local radio station I could puke. Yes, I course I can shut it off or change stations, but with the limited reception this one comes in best and there are some awesome D.J.’s on 92.1 WOMAR, especiallyCafe Classicale with Howard Weiner and The CosMix with DJ Astranada Gamsey.

I started drawing on the velum that Michele gave me. It is a great surface to work on but the drawing is going slow. I work mostly at night under a kerosene lamp. It is impossible to tell the different between green, blue, or black when I am working under limited light, but that is the reality of what I am doing. It is pitch black in the shack by 4:30 and I cannot get around without my headlamp or flashlight, though there is till light outside, it is too windy to work out there. Last night the wind was so strong I thought the shack might come down. I read in a Final Report for the Research Project “Traditional Cultural Significance of the Dune Shack Historic District, Cape Cod National Seashore” by Robert J. Wolfe, 2005, the reference to “liquid earth.” That is the perfect description I have heard of the dune or dune shack living. It only took a couple of days before I felt like I am at sea in the rocking and rolling of the shack under the night winds. Oh and for my good friend Mark, Eugene O’Neill’s shack fell into the sea in 1932. Don’t worry I am far from the water’s tide.

The mice have found me, in fact one woke me up by jumping on my head the other night. That made me think it might be time to wash my hair. After coming back very warm from a 10 mile run, I thought that would be the best time to do it. It is very hard to change my clothes or dump water over my head when it is only 50 degrees. I of course heat up the water, but when I finish my little cleaning routine I am ready to go for a run just to warm up. Fifty degrees sounds warm, but with the wind it is not warm unless I keep moving. And that is what I am about to do, I will go for my afternoon run, then later to the airport to meet Lisa who will spend some time out here with me. Happy Holidays!

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Friday, Dec 21, Seals

Gathering woodThis morning I went out to see the high tide at 8:18am. My usual morning is spent getting the fire going and making coffee, but my room was a comfortable 40 degrees when I got up, so the fire could wait. I finally saw my first seal. At first I thought it was a sea bird as the shore is covered with them, but after watching for a few minutes I could see his whole body as he dove into the waves. It was great to be outside so early, the sun barely up and the dark blue of night still hanging on.

Yesterday I was indoors the whole day. I did not go running because it was raining and dark. Normally I would go running in the rain, but on the beach in the soft sand, it would take me way too long to even go a mile. What was especially good about the rain was that I drew all day, for 8am to 4pm. Then I read until 10pm. What a marvelous way to spend the days, drawing and reading. I feel so lucky to be here listening to the waves, the rain hitting the roof, the wind rushing through the cracks in the windows and just me all alone in the vast sandy beach. I have made three drawings, and of course the obligitory ugly landscape, but hey, how can one not make a landscape drawing when living out here.

I still do not have my satellite up, but hopefully by the end of the day I will.

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C-SCape Shack – here is home

My home

Here is my home.  I covered all the windows with plastic but as you can imagine the wind howls though the walls. I closed off the second floor sleeping area since it is below freezing there. But even in the warmest room as soon as the fire dies during the night, all  my water freezes. But in my down sleeping bag i am as toasty as can be.

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My First Run

This is me before my first run. With only 9 hours of daylight I have to make sure and get up with the sun and get out to the beach. The nights are very long and really the hardest part about being out here.

I managed to run 8 miles, 4.5 in the sand and 3.5 on the road. With lots of hills and lots of sand i may end up like Rocky in Siberia.

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Tuesdays first Run

View from my porchTuesday December 18, 2007

The one thing I have learned out here, besides the satellite connection is not working, (or rather i do not know how to use it), and a computer can freeze, is that one must take advantage of the 9 hours or daylight. I worry about getting the fire going, and being home before 4:00 when the sun goes down, but other than that it is pretty easy going. After all what can a person do when their kitchen is full of snow and the sleeping area is 20 degrees?

Finally today I went running. I ran a nice 8 miles, 4.5 in the sand and snow and 3.5 on the road. Clearly I am running for time on my feet rather than speed. A normally 8:30 mile is a tough 10:30 mile against 45 mph winds. That’s right, the wind gets to 45 miles per hour out here and when it is 5 degrees, well lets just say I am thankful for down.

After my run i changed to my going into town clothes and trudged the miles back across the dunes to my car. I just may end up light Rocky when he trained in Siberia.

Let’s see if i can get some photos for you.

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I am finally here – though no satellite connection

Building my fireDecember 16, 2007

Well I made it to the beach shack. I woke up in Ptown to more snow than I have seen in years, living in NYC. I met Tom who would be taking me out to the shack, way out in the dunes – way out. As luck would have it with all the snow, rain, and sand, we buried the truck. We spent about 2 hours digging it out, but stayed warm. I felt really bad, as he was so kind in taking me out there.

I got to the shack about 4pm and got the fire going. The door had been blown open and the kitchen was filled with snow-it still is this morning. I spent the night arranging my stuff and carrying in wood, which is unfortunately soaked with rain. The winds came up unlike anything I have ever heard. I went to bed on the second floor of the shack and it felt like I was in a hammock. The shack swayed and rolled with the dunes. I went back downstairs to sleep by the woodstove. It was a long night of the screaming wind, which is right now it is 45mph at 9am. I have yet to go see the ocean. I was busy rebuilding the fire, cleaning up and now drinking my coffee.

It is beautiful out here, everywhere I look I see sand dune, I feel like I am the only person on earth. This is truly desolate. The two things I am really grateful for is my radio and the zero degree down sleeping bag. It is cold.

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