Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Following the Tides at Simpson Point

We took our last family swim this past weekend. More than the season is changing. My sixteen-year-old drove the four miles from our home to Simpson Point. His recently teened sister was the first to test the water.

At high tide the islands float in a vast blue expanse, but at low tide there is a sea of sticky mud. During the summer, I check the tides daily with the weather, adjusting our rhythms to the pull of the moon and the sun. We are not unlike the herons, except they prefer low tide. Sometimes I follow the birds with my paintbrushes. Too soon they will migrate south.

September light draws a sharp line between ocean and sky. The children return to school, and my view is now a blank wall. To write a novel, I look inside. I see the Atlantic from the opposite shore. My imaginary England is vivid, drawn from memories of our year abroad.

Writing is not that different from painting. First I block out the major elements in washes of pigment. Then I sketch out the plot and place the characters in the landscape. The space between them is as important as their forms. Word by word, I fill in the details and lift the excess with a sponge. The one color I cannot lift is blood red; it stains the page. My characters take a life of their own, and I follow the narrative tide.

Great Blue Heron at Simpson Point by Sarah Laurence

Political Watch: soon the Brunswick Town Council will be considering a proposal to open Simpson Point to clamming. The airboats can be hazardous to swimmers and to kayakers. Also clamming muddies the water. Please urge your council members to restrict clamming at Simpson Point during the summer. Simpson Point is the only public access point to ocean swimming in Brunswick.

29 comments:

Dibakar Sarkar said...

Absolutely brilliant!

A Cuban In London said...

I enjoyed this little glimpse into your creative process. I always do. The kids, huh? They're growing. I'n surprised at mine two, how articulate they are. And vocal, too, sometimes. :-)

Your painting is so vivid, so real. I loved it. Many thanks. Wish you luck with that 'lifting'.

Greetings from London.

Bonnie said...

Hi Sarah, I enjoyed your comparison of creating a novel to creating a painting. The Great Blue Heron watercolor is lovely.

I hope that proposal is squashed by the town council. Capitalist claims to land and ocean must be challenged.

It's exciting to see our children grow and assume more and more adult responsibilities.

tina said...

Your paintings are so beautiful. I could see you making quite a good living at that!

cynthia newberry martin said...

Sarah, I recently wrote a post about how visual artists have a lot to offer writers in the ways they are able to see the world and how so many of my writer friends are painters as well. One of the people I was thinking of was you--so I loved the way you wrote about writing as if you were crating a painting. Lovely.

Alyson (New England Living) said...

What a lovely watercolor!

Tracy Golightly-Garcia said...

Sarah

Love the painting and I wish your town much luck with the proposal and that it will be struck down.

Best
Tracy :)

Edith Hope said...

Dear Sarah, Once again a wonderful looking seascape which is linked to the change of season which in turn leads on to the drafting out of a storyline for a novel. This I found particularly interesting and fascinating but a process which is not, I imagine, as many believe, easy.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I love the analogy between watercolor and writing. Lovely and real, as is the entire post.

Kelly H-Y said...

Gorgeous. In the photo, I love the blue of her shirt against the blue of the water and the blue of the sky! So pretty. And, your painting ... stunning as always! Wonderful comparison.

Bee said...

Wonderfully impressionistic, and bit mysterious, too -- like all creative processes.

58 degrees here today, with a nippy wind! no more swimming, for sure.

I was much struck by the idea of your teenage driver. The wheel has turned in a big way for him.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I love it when you showcase your beautiful paintings!

Sarah Laurence said...

Dibaker, welcome to my blog and thank you.

ACIL, I can’t believe my son is driving – it feels like I only just taught him how to ride a bike.

Bonnie, I’m happy to share the ocean with the clammers offseason. It’s the airboats in the summer that are problematic.

Tina, I wish I could make a “good” living painting watercolors, but it’s not the most lucrative profession, especially in this economy. Still, the spiritual payoffs are huge.

Cynthia, what’s the link to your post on art and writing?

Alyson thanks!

Tracy, my hope is a modification of the proposal for multiple use: swimming and kayaking in the summer and clamming during the rest of the year.

Edith, thanks for following all my threads. Both painting and writing are challenging but rewarding.

Tricia, that’s good to hear from another writer.

Kelly, that’s exactly what I said to my daughter. She seemed part of the landscape, almost like a figurehead on a ship.

Bee, it’s not swimming weather here either. We are waiting another year before he gets a driver’s license, plenty of time to practice. I freak out looking at the accident stats, but he’s a cautious driver.

Pamela, thanks!

cynthia newberry martin said...

Here you go, Sarah! Thanks for asking.
http://catchingdays.cynthianewberrymartin.com/2010/08/23/look-again/

...and that was supposed to say creating a painting--not crating one : )

cynthia newberry martin said...

Thanks, Sarah!

Sarah Laurence said...

Cynthia thanks for the link to your related post. Here’s the hyperlink. I’ll send you an email with the code to make hotlinks in comments.

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

Oh my goodness. Your sixteen year old at the wheel. You are blessed he is a levelheaded guy with good map skills, Sarah!

Beautiful painting, fitting for the end of Summer.

Amanda said...

this is such a lovely, lyrical post, i had to read it twice. thank you for this advice, cleverly shrouded in gentle prose. i will remember these wise words of yours:

My characters take a life of their own, and I follow the narrative tide.

love the foto of your daughter and yet another beautiful watercolor......

and good luck with the new driver!

Carol said...

A beautiful and inspiring post... your writing and painting are equal in brilliance. Lovely and touching. "September light draws a sharp line between ocean and sky." You paint with your words too. I love the photograph and painting! I would imagine your bare white wall will fill with vivid hues of memories ... when you go inside. Good luck with the council! It will be very sad if it passes. ;>)

Elenka said...

I don't know. I think writing must be much harder than painting. I wish I could write and I wish I could sing.
I stand a better chance of writing than singing, but not by much!

Sarah Laurence said...

JAPRA, yes, the map skills will be handy, but I’m not ready to let him drive off on his own yet.

Amanda, it’s good to hear that this post was helpful.

Carol, thank you! A town councilor assured me that they will seriously consider the Simpson Point issue. The town manager is under the impression that only seasonal access for clamming was being considered, but he wasn’t sure of the specifics. Fingers crossed.

Elenka, I find writing and art challenging for different reasons. I too lack musical skills.

Booksnyc said...

The comparison between painting and writing is very insightful - thank you!

troutbirder said...

These moments of our childrens lives in growing up are the most precious. Savor them always...

Rose said...

Lovely painting and your painting with words. You have been blessed with a wonderful talent for both.

Elizabeth said...

Yes, there are distinct correlations between painting and writing. I'm in the mood to think that one can dump both rather quickly......I have been experimenting with water colors after a long absence and so appreciate YOURS
more than ever.
Loved your mention of blood red.
So vivid and amazing.

Sarah Laurence said...

Booksnyc, this morning I edited a chapter and then spent the afternoon painting. I’m using 2 different cerebral hemispheres, but it’s the same brain.

Troutbirder, I’m not savoring so much as gnawing on this one!

Rose, sometimes I think life would be simpler if I had only one passion, but I’m happier doing both.

Elizabeth, that’s fabulous to hear that you’re back to art! Give it time to work off the rust. One watercolor trick on red is to use it first and then cover it with masking fluid so it doesn’t bleed into the other colors. I did that today with a sailboat hull. It pops.

Jacoba said...

Such a pretty water colour of such a wonderful place. It is a pity that a place like that cannot be left alone, forever man interfering with its beauty sooner or later.
I enjoyed the post on the island also - there is nothing so nice than arriving on an island by boat and no other transport available. We have many islands at Loosdrecht, but they are new land and tiny.

Mama Shujaa said...

Ah, the similarities in painting and writing; thank you for sharing. I am getting better at visualizing and then writing. Inspiration helps, and I always get it here. I've missed visiting; such beauty!

Sarah Laurence said...

Mama Shujaa, welcome back! I have missed you too. I thought you'd appreciate the link between art and writing.