I read my first Victorian novel at the tender age of 14. It was Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre and I was an immediate fan. I admired the titular character's independent cast of mind, even as she grew up under the thumb of cruel guardians, teachers, and punishing circumstances. The author's biography was another reason to love her. As an adolescent in the hinterlands myself, with mainly books and my imagination (and, ok, TV) to amuse me, I felt a kinship with Charlotte and her siblings. Tampa may not have been Haworth Parsonage exactly, but my 14 year old self wanted to believe we were kindred spirits. Back then, books had such a hold on my imagination, they were more real than my waking life; their characters and their creators walked the school halls with me, whispering commentary in my ear as I made my way to class or tried to concentrate on a lecture. I'm happy to say that even now, Jane Eyre still satisfies. I read it every couple of years, and I'm always impressed with Jane's insistence that she live her life according to her own ideas, and no one else's. So here's a portrait of one of my favorite writers, with the bleak and beautiful Yorkshire moors of her home. Couldn't you just see her sitting at the back of the classroom, whispering ironies in my ear?
This past weekend, I attended a life drawing class at the Dalvero Academy. Life drawing is always a jolt to the system, but this weekend, we had the chance to work with three fantastic, very different models with different ways of moving, different energy, and different graphics. And, as always, Ronnie and Margaret kept us off-balance, forcing us to abandon our comfort zones to push into new territory.
In fact, this Mayflower is only a replica, since the real one sank off the coast of England not too long after it brought the Pilgrims here. If the replica captures the spirit of the real Mayflower, you couldn't get me on it to go 200 feet, let alone cross the ocean. Really, the Pilgrims had to be desperate or crazy, or possibly both.
Plimoth Plantation features a 17th century English village (since the Pilgrims still very much saw themselves as English), and the Wampanoag Homesite. Both sites have interpreters to guide visitors through a rich and complicated history.
The Pilgrims had a lot to be thankful for. Without the friendship of the Wampanoags (and Massasoit, their leader), they wouldn't have survived those first years. Of course, the history is a lot more complicated than the myth, and if you're Native American, that myth can be painful. My next visit to Plimoth Plantation will focus on the Wampanoag Homesite, and I can't wait for that. For now, I'll be reading up on why Thanksgiving is a National Day of Mourning as well as a time to give thanks.
I'm very proud to announce that my work is going to be in a show with that of other artists of the Dalvero Academy opening this Saturday November 21st at Mystic Seaport Museum. We spent a good portion of 2014 chasing the Charles W. Morgan on her historic 38th Voyage, and reportaging as much as we could of her stops at different ports of call along the coast of New England. I'm sharing here a study I made in preparation for the piece that is in the show, "Sea Change." The show, Journey of Transformation, will be on view through the winter, and into the spring of 2016. I do hope some of you get a chance to get up there to see it! You can see more sneak peaks and some thumbnails at the website for the show, and more of my work, and that of my fellow Dalverans on the school's instagram feed.
I don't draw very often in Adventureland, since I'm always too busy in Fantasyland. Drawing the Swiss Family Robinson tree had me feeling like maybe I was missing out all that time!