Vinalhaven Sketchbook 2021
Islands all along the east coast are invaded each summer by lovers of sun, beaches, and beauty. DownEast Maine islands are no different, except that the beaches are rocky, the water is cold, and you’re likely to get a healthy dose of fog as well as sun. If you go far enough out to sea, you can add solitude to the list of attributes. We’ve found all of that on the island of Vinalhaven, which sits at the margin of Penobscot Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Here are a few pages from my recent retreat. You can find past Vinalhaven sketches here and here.
Tip Toe Mountain Park combines moss-carpeted spruce woods, rocky beaches with fascinating geology and seaweed draped rocks, and granite ledges with spectacular views. The occasional song of the hermit thrush or cry of the osprey overhead punctuate an otherwise silent forest.
Locals vs. Outsiders– There are tensions on any island between locals and summertime outsiders and the strain they place on finite resources and services. Demanding, entitled “summer jerks” as they are known on Vinalhaven are not appreciated. There are also insidious plant and animal invaders that can quickly damage ecosystems. I was dismayed to find this new outsider, the European black slug, which arrived only in 2018. I found it both fascinating and repulsive and I hate the thought of seeing more of them on the East coast in the future.
On the other hand, I was delighted to find the flowering ghost plant, Monotrope uniforma (you may also know it as Indian pipes) sprouting in the forest. This native species lacks chlorophyll and takes its sustenance from certain fungi which, in turn, are co-dependent on beech trees.
Along the Roadside are lots of hardy and familiar outsiders along with a few native eastern wildflowers that co-exist where poor soil or disturbance favor only the tenacious, as all islanders tend to be.
The Basin is a large and stunningly beautiful protected tidal basin, surrounded by rocky granite outcrops and spruce forest. We hiked and canoed there, and I’ll have some sketches of harbor seals to share when I finish them in the coming days.
Tips and Techniques– Mix it up on your next vacation. Try a variety of approaches, materials, and layouts to capture parts of your journey. I like having closeups mixed with maps and landscape views to convey my experiences and an overall sense of place.