Island Inspiration, Part 1

The rocky coast of Maine is a place shaped by granite and water. It is a landscape of quiet salt marshes, tidal bays, dark spruce forests, and hundreds of islands. It’s a place where the cries of seabirds overhead meet the ethereal songs of forest birds hidden in deep shade; and where people have made a living fishing for cod, haddock, lobsters, and shellfish for thousands of years. I have had the privilege of spending the last two weeks there at the Hog Island Audubon Camp, located on a 330-acre island nature preserve near Bremen. I spent the first week teaching and directing a five-day workshop called Arts & Birding; and stayed a second week for an art sabbatical.

“Use what talents you have, the woods would have little music if no birds sang their song except those who sang best.” – Oliver Wilson

It was a pleasure to have such enthusiastic and talented participants for Arts and Birding. Every day brought new adventures: island hikes, boat cruises to see puffins and other seabirds, intertidal exploration, studies of bird anatomy, osprey banding, and sessions focused on drawing, painting and photography skills. A daily salon gave everyone a chance to share their artwork and photographs in a relaxed and supportive setting.

What follows are my sketch-journal pages from Arts and Birding, with brief comments in the captions (click any image to view larger). Watch for subsequent posts from my arts retreat week.

If this tempts you to attend Arts & Birding or other workshops at Hog Island in 2020, mark your calendar now! Arts & Birding is tentatively scheduled for July 19-24 (registration opens October 21, 2019).

22 Comments on “Island Inspiration, Part 1

  1. Beautiful paintings and sketches. You really capture your subjects. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Oh Jean, what a fabulous week we had and thank you for your generosity in sharing so much information with the Arts group. The pages from your sketchbook below are such an inspiration. I’ve been trying to catch up on my sketchbook this week and trying to remember all we did in that fun and packed week on Hog Island. How lucky you were to spend an extra week there. We can certainly understand how people can go back year after year. We both learned so much and loved the peace and tranquility there.

    I’m reading a great book on lobsters which you may already know about: The Secret Life of Lobsters – Trevor Corson. I may never eat another lobster!

    All the best to you,

    Hope to see you in Santa Fe,

    Audrey & Don

    • Hi Audrey– SO nice to share the week with you and Don! My second week was fabulous, too. I hiked deep into the main part of the island nearly every day, and sketched like crazy. I had time to hike all the way around the island (about 5 miles), which I hadn’t done in years. It is amazingly lush and beautiful.

      I think I’ve read that book and I have a general aversion to eating creatures that look like specimens to be painted. But I suspect it is the lobster’s eating habits that concerned you. Add more butter and enjoy!

      Catch up on those unfinished sketches while the experience is still fresh! I’ve got a few to do myself.

      Best to you and Don,

  3. Your work is amazing and inspirational and I wish we were neighbors!

  4. Jean, thanks for your beautiful post on your Arts & Birding week on Hog Island this year. We were in the Arts & Birding week with you four years ago, and it was an amazing and transformative experience! I’ve been enjoying your Drawn In blog since then, and it was a huge part of the inspiration for me to start my own blog, Joy of the Wild ( two years ago. We hope to make it back to Hog Island Audubon camp some summer soon. Looking forward to your posts from your arts retreat week!

    • Hi Carol Ann- So nice to hear from you! Hope you and David are doing well. I’m just recalling you tentatively sharing your first bird sketches with me! How nice to hear that you were inspired to start your own blog– I look forward to looking at it! I stayed in the Helm during the second week and it was such a treat! I had a very productive week! All the best, Jean

    • Thanks Liz! Isn’t that a great quote? I have a number of quotes that I like to share when I’m teaching. I put a few of them into my journal from the week, so you see more to come. Hope winter is treating you well in NZ.

      • We’ve just got over a bad flu so right now, with us both feeling a lot better now, I can say that it feels like winter is treating us well! Thank you

  5. Your sketches are wonderful! We just returned from a visit to see our daughter in Otter Creek on Mt. Desert Is.. we spent the majority of our visit just exploring. I am obsessed with Maine and sketching wildly its beautiful wild coast. Your post are an addition to my fond memories . Thank you so much!

    • Isn’t it great! Love the light and nature of the Maine Coast! So wonderful to have two weeks there this year. Already looking forward to next year. Mt Desert is pretty special!

  6. Your first sentence describing the coast of Maine is just beautiful and so evocative! Thank you for sharing your inspiring sketches and great tips; I live on a little rocky island called Anglesey, off thee north coast of Wales and it has some of the wonderful wildness you described so well in your post.

    • Hi Jane– I find so much to sketch and paint along the rocky coast– and great light to boot. I have been to Wales years ago, and remember the wildness of the landscape (and weather). Glad to make a connection with you through these sketches! — Jean

  7. What a perfect quote for the workshop, and for us all to remember. I love the hour by hour three minute sketch sheet – it tells an atmospheric and colorful story.

  8. I really enjoy your work and this workshop must have been fabulous.
    Thank you for sharing!

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