In honor of the fact that I am gearing up to print t-shirts again and that I just bought a 4-color, 4-station screen-printing press, I thought I’d share a page from my sketchbook along with a few art-related tidbits that have been at the front of my mind. I am particularly fond of the page pictured above; not only are hummingbirds amazing creatures, but this little guy seemed to be begging to have his portrait made. After several days of wandering around Stocking Island (Bahamas) with my camera and my sketchbook, I captured him on camera sucking nectar from a red flower. Later, as I was making this sketch, a hummingbird flew onto a nearby porch, becoming trapped among the rafters. Obviously in need of a little help, Brian and I aided another friend of ours in offering the trapped bird a little assistance. With his tiny heart beating at hyper speed and his chest heaving, he evaded our first attempts at capture. Finally as he began to tire, we managed to trap him in a soft laundry hamper with which we were able to carry him outside. All told, it took three people, a straw hat, a tennis racket, and a laundry hamper to set him free. I’m quite sure we looked ridiculous in the process (as one can imagine), but hey, mission accomplished!
On another art-related note, I’ve been quite busy since we got back trying to get my ducks in a row as far as my art career is concerned. Over the past year, my life has been a little unbalanced in the artistic respect, the boat taking first priority in most cases. It was great to be sure, but now it’s time to shift gears. After much deliberation about how to find a better art-boat balance, I’ve come up with a goal for myself. It seems to me that something like six-eight months of intense art immersion in a year followed by a period of extended travel would be ideal, allowing me time to generate a large body of work in one go and maintain the aspects of the life on the boat that I’ve grown to love. The idea is that once the work is created, sales can trickle in over the course of the rest of the year through various avenues (i.e. internet, gallery, and boutique sales) — while I am searching for new inspiration for my next body of work. Of course, that is simply the ideal (something to work towards), and the split could always be a little different, etc.
In the meantime, I am furiously working to jump start this whole process starting with the further development of my small line of Forest and Fin t-shirts (which I plan to offer through this website soon!), and then expanding into a new series of watercolor drawings and paintings inspired by my trip. Hopefully, the former will support me for the duration of the later! I’ve rationalized it, talked myself into and out of this plan several times, but am determined to support myself with my art. If screen printing allows me to paint and painting allows me to screen print, then I will be a very happy girl.
In just two-and-a-half-days Illusion sailed from Great Sale Cay in the Abacos to Hilton Head Island, SC, the same distance that it took us a month to travel (mainly motor) via the ICW last December. This means that Brian and I are quite literally back where this whole thing started. But even though our departure from the Bahamas felt like the ending of our trip, with 3,000+ miles behind us and some 25+ islands visited, we sure have come a long way.
I have learned magnitudes: about sailing, about myself, but most importantly about the life I want to live. Although Brian and I keep putting off such decisions as where we want to be for the next six months or whether or not to sell the boat in order to get a bigger one, we have made a couple other big decisions lately. And the biggest one is this: we like the lifestyle and we want to incorporate it into our long-term plans – in other words, we want to do it again! But when and how are the more recent questions on our mind.
It was a tough decision to head back to the States (mainly a financial one), especially since we know how hard it is to actually leave in the first place. Consider that it took us a whole year after our planned departure just to make it to the Bahamas! But I have always loved the saying, the journey is the reward, and I think it is particularly fitting. We learned so much in our first year, traveling from Hilton Head Island to Annapolis, MD, and learned so much more in the process of bringing the boat back south last fall.
It was because of all of our coastal cruising, that the Bahamas truly felt like a playground. I still don’t consider myself a great sailor, but I know how to handle the boat in so many different situations. Certainly Brian and I found ourselves to be a functioning team. I’m not sure why I needed to prove it to myself, but I feel much better having come to the realization that, as far as cruising is concerned, we measure up. I think now I am finally ready enough to let the chips fall where they may.
On the last morning of our passage back to Hilton Head Island, a pod of spotted dolphins came to visit us four separate times over the course of the day. Beginning with a morning show for Brian, they played in our bow wave and launched out of the water around us for a good thirty minutes each time. I put Brian on dolphin duty, meaning he had to take the tiller so that I could run up to the ratlines and take a hundred or so photos. It was such a beautiful sight to behold, that it was hard to feel sad about leaving. Plus, the fact that the same pod of ten or so dolphins returned four times to escort Illusion home seems like a pretty good omen to me. So let the chips fall where they may! I am rolling with it and coming to terms with the fact that our plans are still yet-to-be-determined. After all, that is one of the most important lessons of cruising.
Or perhaps you can help us determine when and how the next adventure will take place! Stay tuned….
Zebra-striped snail shells cover the rock shoreline, while sea urchins cling to the inner pockets along the divide between land and surf. Waves pound against bluffs that twist into vertical rock formations or flatten onto deserted beaches. Someone has created a trash sculpture of a man. He sags under a burden of miscellaneous plastics that even the fierce elements cannot destroy. Fitting really, if you think about it. Man creates trash; man builds trash sculpture in his likeness — something to remember him by. His presence is felt all along the deserted stretch of shore. But just over the next bluff lies another lagoon-like beach without a trash man.
Sometimes it’s easy to get carried away here — or maybe even a little bit lost. You could imagine that you are the first to set your foot in this exact spot, that even though this island was discovered hundreds of years ago, that you are seeing it just as it looked the first time. Then you notice a length of neon-blue line tangled around a piece of driftwood or the rusty nails protruding from a weathered board. Don’t worry, I tell myself. It’s just the trash-man assembling his limbs. In fact, this shattered blue bucket could be the next trash-man torso. It may never have a heart, but already it has a presence.
When you live on a boat, there is still nothing better than stretching your legs on a new piece of earth, especially when it’s filled with beauty and life. With each step, your muscles rejoice, reaching out to meet the ground. I place my footprints in the sand next to the tracks of lizards and birds; I squat down to peer at snails and to look for fish trapped in pools of water; and I examine sun-bleached chunks of brain coral. Just as the trash-man, my presence is certainly felt, but the difference is that I do not linger.
Four sailors set out to hike the beach and bluffs of Great Guana Cay. Little did they know, they were in for some bushwhacking. But what adventure doesn’t involve a few scratches? Or forging a path through heavy underbrush and shrub palms while traversing caverns of porous rock formations? Or a race to get back to the dingy before dark only to find that the tide has really fallen, and it is now beached far from the water? Next adventure: getting back to the boat. Such is a day in the life of a traveling artist.
*I could not find a picture of the trash-man among my photos, but you can click on the link above to see a photograph that Brittany of Wind Traveler took.