Saturday, June 11, 2011
An Artist's Cottage
Original oil painting 16x20"
by Susan Roux
Don't you just love surprises?
A few weekends back, the lilacs were in full bloom. I don't know about other places, but Maine grows lilacs like they were nursed on Rapid Gro. My favorites are the one's planted near old farmhouses. Grand porched-expanses, of addition upon addition with dormers tucked in everywhere, these white old-fashion beauties can be seen on any country drive. The lilacs hugging corners of these charming homes have grown enormous over time, oozing sweet perfume that lingers in the air.
Did people have uses for lilacs back then? It seems every old house had them. Now-a-days when people build a house they plant rhododendrons or azaleas. Back then it was, build a house plant lilacs, rhubarb and raspberries. Two can be eaten, but it still leaves me wondering why everyone had lilacs? Was it just because it was easy to get free from your neighbors?
Whatever the reason, it was height of blossom season, and Mike and I set out to capture them on a photo shoot. There is a wonderful 30 mile loop around a nearby lake with many of these old houses along the way. The sun was shining and stop and walk (the car, that is) became the rhythm of the day.
Somewhere in the middle of our loop a garage door opened as I walked by. Mike had stayed back in the car, because seriously how many pictures of lilacs did he really need? I on the other hand was out in search of good painting material and every lilac bush along the way got its chance to audition.
I was caught by surprise when I glimpsed the gentleman who opened the door. He was an old Mainer from the word go. Almost Santa Clause looking but with faded jean overalls rather than the typical bright red ones. My first thought was I wonder if I can quickly get an inconspicuous shot of his bearded face? The thought was fleeting however, for when I saw what was in his garage, I began to talk to him. He truly was a Santa Clause.
His garage was anything but a garage. It was like landing at the north pole. A wonderful saw-dust filled workshop that smelled of freshly cut pine, with a makeshift store-front of wood creations. I didn't hesitate to flag Mike over. This was a "must see".
Do you mind if I take pictures? Can I blog about you?
My fascination with every inch of his meandering workshop was instantly evident. How wonderful to find this wood artist tucked in the middle of nowhere! Maine perhaps has more artists per capita then any other state. Some are boisterous and flashy, trying to make their name known. Others are tucked in quietly hanging only a little shingle outside their door announcing their art. (I don't suppose I have to tell you which category I fall into...)
We stayed and talked for a long time. He was happy to have visitors including the opportunity to show his many creations.
There were wooden toy trucks and trains. There were bird feeders and birdhouses.
There were ornamental scroll-cut filigreed pieces. Some of which were used to create large clocks. There were wooden baskets and whirligigs, wooden boxes and plaques.
Even trucks in a box!
Some items were hand-carved. Some he sold to artists who paint designs and resell then at craft shows. He wondered if I was interested in this too?
If I blog about you, I need to know your name. My name is Jim.
I need your last name too. Bean. My name is Jim Bean.
Like the drink? Yes, just like the drink, but with an N.
Well I shouldn't have trouble remembering that!
I need to bring my Dad here. I'd love to talk to your Dad. I like talking to old folks.
So there it is. Jim Bean is a modern day Santa Clause who lives in the woods of Maine. He's a gentle man, an artist, a jolly soul who thrives on visitors stopping in. He treasures his simple way of life and like many artists, sells his creations for less than they are worth. He was a true find on an artist's photo shoot and I loved exploring his studio...