Wednesday, September 28, 2011

10X10 Art Show in Brunswick, Maine

Reid State Park, watercolor by Sarah Laurence

Autumn’s crisp light makes this season my favorite time to paint. For this watercolor, I drove 40 minutes to Reid State Park in Georgetown, Maine. I had the picnic area to myself as the tide was turning. After sketching the main elements, I stepped back to examine my compositing before adding paint. The landscape on paper appeared too still for a windy day. A dynamic element was needed. By luck, just then a sailboat passed by. I sketched it in seconds. By the time I’d blocked out the colors, the sailboat was a memory on the horizon.

My watercolor will be part of the 10X10 Art Show in Brunswick, Maine. The proceeds from the sale will bring artists into our elementary schools to work with children. Local businesses have donated food and drinks. Come join us Friday night!

10X10 Benefit Art Exhibit and Sale
Curtis Memorial Library and
St. Paul’s Church Community Hall (my venue)
Preview: Sept 29 5-8pm / Sept 30 12-3pm
Reception and Sale: Sept 30 5-8pm
All 10 inch by 10 inch works are framed and $200

Online Preview

L'Shana Tova! Rosh Hashanah starts at sundown.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sunset at Lookout Point

The islands at Lookout Point remind me of floating bonsais.

Autumn’s crisp, cool air makes the colors more intense.

Painting dockside, I watch lobstermen unloading their catch.

Seabirds queue for sunset as I drive the nine miles home.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

We got a new puppy!

Introducing Scout, born July 16, 2011

I figured out why puppies have to be so cute.

They sleep like howling newborns, 
but have the appetite of a teenager (or maybe a goat.) 
Then they run around your house like a toddler without a diaper.

A good puppy is a tired puppy.

Still, who can resist this fluff-ball?

Scout is a Golden Retriever from Colonial Goldens of Maine.
She joined our family last weekend at age 8 weeks.
The first two nights were rough (she was missing her dog family),
but she made it through last night without a peep.

My daughter named her after Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
 So far the only indication of good literary taste is chewed up paper. 
 Books and everything else are now carefully shelved.
Our Scout might prefer vampire novels.

Photos of Scout and me are by my daughter. 
 The solo shots are mine.

(Our last dog, Stella, died of cancer a year ago.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tigerlily's Orchids by Ruth Rendell

Tigerlily’s Orchids is a psychological mystery that avoids genre clichés. In Ruth Rendell’s 2010 novel there is no “detective” protagonist; there isn’t even one central character to call a protagonist. Instead, this innovative story of murder and crime unfolds from multiple perspectives. The inhabitants of a block of flats in North London all have secret vices. It’s up to the reader to shift through the clues and red herrings.

Rendell’s characters are well developed but some were more believable than others. I had the most difficulty with Stuart, a 23-year-old loafer, who spent his free hours having coffee with a retired neighbor and taking long walks in the park. The only parts of his character that rang true to age were his womanizing, narcissism and cell phone use. The financially strapped college girls were far more believable as were the older characters of both genders. I especially liked the aging hippies, Marius and Rose, as well as Duncan, the kind-hearted retired man.

My other issue was racial stereotyping, starting with the title. “Tigerlily” (really?) is the made-up name Duncan gives to a mysterious Asian woman. The men have fantasies about her exotic “almond eyes” and submissive nature, and others dismiss her for her flat chest and “slant eyes.” Only the omniscient narrator refers to her by her Chinese name, Xue, but we never get to know her. Xue speaks little English and lives in an overheated house with three other immigrants. The rumor has it that they are growing orchids for the Queen, but their true business was obvious to me.

Rendell’s writing is understated and quietly finessed. The story unfolds at a good pace with smooth transitions despite the shifting points-of-view. The author resists the urge to editorialize or to judge her characters but instead allows the narration to stay true to the point-of-view. Hence the pedophile justifies his vice while other characters condemn it, and the alcoholic is only happy when she’s drinking. Action takes a backseat to motivation with great success.

Wikipedia credits Baroness Rendell and her friend P.D. James for upgrading the crime fiction genre from “whodunit” to “whydunit.” Rendell also writes under the pseudonym of Barbara Vine. This is the first of her books that I’ve read, but it won’t be the last. Thank you, Ann, for the recommendation. I bought the ebook without compensation, but that gorgeous cover makes me wish I had it in hardback. A similar book to this one would be Hearts and Minds by Amanda Craig, also set in North London with linked plot lines, multiple perspective, crime and immigrants.

I’m currently working on a multiple point-of-view mystery without a “detective” protagonist. Can you recommend any others?

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@Barrie Summy