I arrived in Rockport broke. Well. I had 60 dollars. I had a sweater a jacket and a pair of pants and a handful of cotton shirts. My car, a Ford Escort wagon given to me for free by a friend, had died on the street. I really had all I needed except for a decent easel. I had this little steel thing called a Tric-Trac. It might have been a display easel. It was pretty bad, but its two greatest problems were its height ( not enough) and it had nowhere to hold the palette.
I had a dreadful corduroy hat, a sort of fedora that I bought at a roadside flea market. It had enough brim to keep the sun out of my eyes, but it was dumb looking. I also had very long hair. I suppose I looked pretty rough to the locals when I showed up and no one knew who I was.
I set the easel up on the bend of Bearskin Neck and made a sunset picture looking up the harbor . I think this was the first of my Rockport paintings. It was 1983, sometime just before Christmas.The wind was raw and I didn't really have enough clothes to keep warm, but I was driven. The alternative would be to starve.
There was a woman who met at the shop, a redhead named Bonnie who discovered that the new kid in town was actually a STARVING artist. She brought me some plates of food, although I hardly knew her. Later we became good friends. But again womankind intervened to save me from starvation.
The average age was pretty high in Rockport and there weren't a lot of us in the 40 and under bracket. Out in the neighborhoods and suburbs there were lots of married couples in that age bracket, but on the neck and in the art community a more average age was probably mid-sixties. It had become too expensive to move to Rockport for a young artist and the place was thought of as geriatric. I didn't know that. I moved there from Minnesota and I had never seen it before.
AS I explored Rockport it all seemed so strangely familiar. I kept thinking "I know this place" It took me awhile to figure out that I knew it from children's books and some how to n
water color books I read in grade school. Lots of illustrators and writers had made Rockport their home over the wears. But the major culprit was Virginia Lee Burton who wrote Mike Mulligan and the Steamshovel. The town where Mike and Mary Ann his elderly steam shovel built the new town hall was Rockport. The other source was Ted Kautzsky. who wrote a series of how to watercolor books that I studidied intently in grade school. Many of the pictures in the book were of Rockport street scenes.
More tomorrow. I have traveled far and must sleep. Tomorrow I teach a workshop.