Vinalhaven Sketchbook

“I suppose wisdom is to know one’s necessities and not live without them. And this huge silence, with the woods and the ocean together, and the air full of kelp and the sound of the fish hawk and the seagulls and nothing else seems to be something I parish and parch without.” 
Margaret Wise Brown, who summered on Vinalhaven from 1938-1952 and authored children’s classics including Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny

The Maine coast is, for many, about lighthouses and lobsters, quaint harbor towns and deep blue-green waters. I like those things, too, but I am drawn to Maine’s rocky coast—and to its islands in particular—for their silent and majestic spruce forests and intimate rocky tidal pools. Here, worlds beyond my own cares open, anchored in the solidity of granite and the rhythm of tides. The cry of the osprey circling overhead, the croak of a heron in the gathering dusk, the occasional rumble of lobster boats are welcome sounds in an otherwise quiet September.

We filled our days with exploration and several exhilarating quarry swims. I tried to paint boats and buildings in my sketchbook but found I could not muster enough interest to do either with satisfaction. So here is my week in sketches and in the particulars that will sustain me until I return.

44 Comments on “Vinalhaven Sketchbook

  1. Loved reliving Vinalhaven through your sketchbook! It was in the 60s when we were there too. Sun (or its absence) made all the difference.

    Did you take the Fox Rocks trail to Perry Creek? Roger and I did when we were there, it was such a lovely walk with so many different landscapes, we would have kept exploring beyond the loop, but had to get back. Perry Creek was a surprise. It looked deep, seeing the boat moorings. We never saw another person on any of the land trust walks we did.

    • We didn’t do Fox Rocks to Perry Creek this time. We did do Tip Toe Mountain Park, then Middle Mountain and the new land trust trail to the western end of the Fox Islands Thoroughfare. Amazing views and geology on that hike. That’s also where we explored the Perry Creek fault (and Rock Tripe lichen). Outstanding week…and mostly sun to make the quarry swims possible.

  2. Oh! my. How very beautiful. And I said I wasn’t jealous. I wrote a comment but I don’t know where it went. I am speechless. Not really, ask my husband. Anyway, I cannot remember how very eloquent I was. I did say ( and this not to diminish your weekly sketches) I can see the joy in this most delightful series of lovely paintings. You DID take us along since I feel as if I were sitting on your shoulder. There is magnetism in these paintings. Many thanks Jean

  3. Someday I want to take a vacation with journaling like this. You really take in the beauty of the area. Just beautiful. I’m sure very relaxing, too! Enjoy and thanks for sharing!

  4. Wow Jean, these are just beautiful. And so evocative of both the special place you were and the deep feelings you have for it. Thank you so much for sharing all this. It’s inspiring to see the joy that comes from us being in ‘our’ places.

    • Hi Lisa- I’m grateful to have had a great week…kicked off well with a blank map of possibilities. I enjoyed carrying the map theme through additional pages. Now back to work and my “inbox” of unread mail!

  5. These take me back. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us. I knew it wouldn’t disappoint. Maine is a beautiful place.

  6. Dear Jean, a group of 7 of us got together today for some plein air sketching at a great old farm near Bellingham, WA. As we were sitting around (appropriately distanced) after painting & lunch, Kathy Dennis (you may remember her) posed the question to the group: “If you could take another workshop with someone whom you’ve painted before, who would it be?” My response was YOU. I’m still in awe of your work, and fondly remembering our Anacortes workshop.

  7. I’ll do that. And I just got your book today from the publisher! What a wonderful accomplishment. I hope you’re proud of yourself. I’m telling all the grannies I know to get some for their grandchildren.

    • And a hello from me too! I also would love to be in your class again…and would be fun to visit Maine! Maybe with Melissa Van Ness sometime! Now I need to order 3 of those books. For myself and a few granddaughters! 🥰🎨

      • Wouldn’t that be fun Kathy! Maine is the best– the quality of light, clear air, and beautiful surroundings are perfect for sketching. I hope you and your granddaughters enjoy the book!

  8. As everyone has said, the work is beautiful – but what fun to see you, too! Some things I particularly liked are the way those big rocks fit together, the rock tripe lichen, the spread with late summer flowers, rose hips and sedges, and the conifer. I look at conifers all the time as they’re everywhere here, and the idea of trying to get all those branches down on paper is daunting. You’re clearly a very organized person but you always keep lots of space and looseness in your work. I’m glad you were able to get up there. 🙂 (It was fun to see the comments from B’ham and Anacortes!)

    • Glad you enjoyed the journal pages. It was a wonderful week and I’m truly grateful that we were able to go. As for the conifers– that was the first time I tried doing one directly with watercolor. It was a really good way to approach it– all shape and value. I look forward to seeing your next adventures and the PNW through your lens.

  9. Wonderful pages, beautifully composed and drawn and painted. I was particularly intrigued by the snail map.

    Dumb question, do you do online research to get the Latin names or other info about what you find in nature? Or do you carry a guidebook? Or you just know all this stuff? In any case, it doesn’t matter. Your work is a delight in every way!

    • Hi Alison– I do research when I find something I know little about (like the lichen). Adding that information to the page helps me to learn it and builds my knowledge. Glad you enjoyed these sketches.

  10. Pingback: Vinalhaven Sketchbook 2021 | Drawn In

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