THE MARSH HOUSE
The phone rang with an impromptu invitation to visit a friend on the North Shore. It was a glistening sunny clear warm morning. As the conversation evolved I learned my friend had been painting at the Marsh House in Ipswich, MA over the 4th of July weekend...what fun. We decided to bring our paints and swimsuits and leave early to enjoy the day. Once in Essex, Nan and I stopped at a farm stand to purchase a pot of "marigolds" for our hostess (they later became the subject of a marvelous still life painting).
We passed the sign for Crane Beach and past the wonderful apple orchard until we came to a dirt road and found the markings to follow to the Marsh House, what spectacular views of the marsh, salt water inlets, islands and the ocean. It was majestic. We watched as she put together a magic breakfast fête of strawberries, eggs, breads & jams from the apple orchard and rich hot coffee with fresh cream. Ah the joy of getting an early start to the day.
As we collected at the table I imagined Gauguin and his painting companions at a Pont Avent gathering over a meal with stimulating conversation, a spectacular setting creating a welcomed respite from the fast paced urban world. There is an ease and simplicity that only exists at a summer cottage in the warmth of those few delicious months between May and September. Marigold, Nan and I cleared the remains of breakfast and set up our paints and easels. What a day...the light was perfect, the sun beat down on us as we painted the afternoon away...sipping iced tea, sunbathing and conversing. I finished one painting and got a great start on another...I knew I needed to return and was fortunate to have the time and invitation that week.
Marigold and I got an early start and decided to visit the catering commissary of an old friend Ariade Clifton in Essex to collect a picnic lunch on the way to paint at the Marsh House. We arrived at 10:30 a.m., and quickly found my spot, set-up and painted until lunch. We then leisurely dined on meats, cheeses, French baguettes and wonderful seasonal fruits. I finished my second painting and set up a diptych. The expanse was so glorious I wanted to capture it in a bigger way. I painted until 3:30 when without warning the sky blackened, opened with an outpouring of rain accompanied by thunder and lighting. I painted through as much as I could without damaging the painting.The experience of painting through a storm was exhilarating- I wanted to finish and that desire created an adrenaline rush- the threat of the road flooding and the possibility of my auto being stuck in the mud was quite real and was my motivation to stop.
The outcome of this experience was a fantastic movement of color, rapidly changing on the canvas, creating tremendous atmosphere. I loved the drama of that afternoon and capturing it on canvas was a thrill. There were a number of things that had to happen-quickly in order to secure the house during the storm and until we could revisit. We accomplished all that was necessary and gingerly drove the auto off the dirt road out onto a paved one and continuing back to Boston. What an incredible day...so invigorating and exciting to see so much change so quickly the color, light, sky, water, air and landscape in a flash had darkened and became dense. I completed that painting in August. That was it....I was entranced by the beauty of the Marsh House and began a series of seasonal paintings.
In September, I was accompanied by another art friend Mark, for a photo shoot. To prepare for the colder fall weather when I would be unable to paint for an extended period outdoors. When we arrived that Saturday morning I was amazed at just how colorful the lush green marsh grass now was golden in color and the texture had gone from moist and lush to dry and thick brush. The reds, golds, oranges and tawny browns replaced the blues, greens, purples and mauves of July...the change was inspiring. I will continue to return to the Marsh House and continue to paint the mesmerizing expanse.
All paintings are oil on canvas