Russ Cox: Monhegan Island 2012

From: Illustration, animation and general thoughts from the merry land of Otis.
July 15, 2012 at 03:21PM

© 2012 Russ Cox | Smiling Otis Studio
I just returned from my annual trip to Monhegan Island with a group of area artist. This was my second year attending the event on the island. A group of us from last year decided to get our own house for the week so we were guaranteed a spot with the group. There were three houses rented out by the group. We, seven of us, were in The Field House with the other artist in Eider Duck and Chadwick House. I believe the total count was 27 artist from the Bangor and surrounding areas.

This year, I did not do very much painting but a ton of drawing. The island is very inspiring but I just felt the urge to draw. I brought along my sketchbook which I filled up several pages from the week. The above drawings were studies of a tree drawn on hot press illustration board and a rocky study drawn with pencil & white marker sketched on a Twinrocker cold press toned paper. The opening image of sea gull painted sketch was “Clyde” who hung around our house the whole week and kept the other gulls away. I guess he has claimed it as his turf. Maybe feeding him from time-to-time kept him around as well. The study was also done on a toned Twinrocker paper.

I also worked on some story ideas and developed a couple of new ones along the way. I am really excited about getting the ideas to a point of starting to write and storyboarding them.

One evening, the house decided to hire a model from the island and do some studies. Our model was a delight and very good with the various poses. The above sketches were from that session. There was some very lovely drawings from the group. It felt good to draw something besides rocks and trees.

These drawings were caricatures of me drawn by the Filed House group. I was showing them how to create images from doodles and how I work in my sketchbook. Afterwards, they wanted to do some drawings of me. I think that pretty much captured me, especially my nose.

This was our view from the third floor deck. The first floor was for storage, second floor were the bathrooms and the top was an open kitchen/dinning/ living room with a large deck. It was a great space from drawing and painting if one wanted to stay indoors. During the hottest part of the day, many of us did stay indoors and went back out later in the evening. For once, I did not get sunburned!!!!

If we are not creating artwork, we did a ton of hiking around the island. Monhegan has all of the best elements rolled into one little island. Trees and forest, rocky shorelines, sandy beaches, and a small community area. one evening JoAnn and I went down to the local church to hear some jazz. The church is also the community gathering spot for shows and concerts.

We also spent time traveling from the three houses, visiting each other and seeing what each of us were working on or just to have a glass of wine. These two photos are from Eider Duck. This place has so much character even though it is rough around the edges. The group that stays there every year are hoping to get it again next year. It is for sale so there is some uncertainty on whether it will be available.
This is Roscoe. John and I found him along a path. We brought him to the Field House as the guard dog and to keep Clyde company. He will return every year as our mascot.

Some shots with Gaye. She is a trip and such a fun soul. If you spend any time with her you cannot help but feel her energy rub off on you. The top photo is Jo-Ann, Gaye, and Cristine. the bottom one is of me and Gaye.

One of the past nights on the island, the three houses had a group party and showcase for our art. We started at Chadwick for cocktails and appetizers, Eider Duck for dinner and then our house for desert and music. I brought my banjo and played a few tunes with people joining in with pots & pans, spoons, and some flat footin’.

The last night on Monhegan, I spent some time with world renown impressionistic painter Don Stone. As you can see from the photo, he also has a love for the banjo and old-time music. We played together for a bit, listened to tunes, and chatted about the instrument. It was an amazing experience and a highlight of the trip. We plan on getting together next year one evening to continue our chat. Don is so funny and has great stories.

A photo with Diana Young and Renate Caraballo. They are very inspiring and encouraging. Like Gaye, they have such wonderful spirits and always are good for a laugh. I wished I had recorded Diana talking about the characters in my sketchbook. It was a riot!

Some quick photos of Olena, Jo-Ann, Cristine, and Terri trying to get one last painting in before time to clean the house and pack up. They were actually painting each other. 

We have reserved the house agin for next year and we all seem to be ready to go right now. Even though I did not do a lot of painting, it was very inspiring and provided me some time to work on other personal things. 

Time to get back to reality.

Babies don’t need a vacation, but I still see them at the beach… it pisses me off! I’ll go over to a little baby and say ‘What are you doing here? You haven’t worked a day in your life!” ~ Steven Wright


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