Memory of Water
What I refer to as my Memory of Water series began during a month long artist residency on The Great Cranberry Island, an island thirty miles off the coast of Maine.
John Heliker and Robert LaHotan were two painters that had established New York careers. When they died a foundation was formed and a residency was created in their summer home and studios on The Great Cranberry Island. It is named the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation Residency. In 2012 I was invited to spend the month of September making work there as a resident artist.
The space I worked in was once a small two-story boathouse situated next to a tidal basin. It had been renovated into a studio for Mr. LaHotan. A large picture window faced the ocean. Windows surrounded the space and the central part of the studio was open to a second story. A narrow spiral stairway connected the two levels. On the second floor there was an ornate desk and a small day bed.
My original plan for the residency was to wander the island and do more traditional landscape paintings. When I was assigned this studio my plans changed. Walking into the studio I instantly realized that I would be sitting in front of that picture window making paintings.
Every day I woke up around 5am, made some coffee and walked out to the studio. I watched the sun come up the fog break and the water move. I painted and made drawings. The tide slowly rose, the tide receded, I would have lunch and then climb the spiral stairway to the second story. I took naps on the daybed. Waking, the ocean would have risen to the very edge of my studio. It felt like I was on a small, tall, light filled boat. The reflection of water rhythmically played across the ceiling as I drifted in and out of sleep. The tide went out, leaving shelled creatures for the seagulls to fight over. Rocks, hidden by the high tide were fully exposed, sides slick with kelp. I was in a magical, dream-like place.
After three weeks of steady work I had one large sheet of paper left. My residency was nearly over. I contemplated what to do with this final work. Without being aware of why, I rotated my painting surface so I was not looking out of the large window that I had been staring out of for the previous three and a half weeks. That was when I made my first Memory of Water painting. By not looking at my subject I began to understand it. By focusing on my memory of water--previous experiences, conscious, sub-conscious, genetic, became part of the subject.
My Memory of Water series is a contemplation and consideration of the mysterious, defining, paradoxical relationship between memory and experience.