Mar 5, 2010

Sunday morning, Down East

“Praying for fishermen”
18 x 24" oil on canvas

The struggle that has befallen commercial fishermen on the East coast continues. I am very empathetic with the hard working people in the coastal area of North Carolina known as Down East. For generations they have made their living off the sea. All of a sudden they are forced to compete with fishermen in countries like Mexico and Thailand, people who have a whole different standard of living. On top of that, is their struggle with environmentalists. Regulation upon regulation has been cast upon our commercial fishermen. Most of the fish houses have closed. I’ve had the good fortune to visit and paint two of the last remaining.

With no intention of painting a churchyard or crosses last weekend, I ran across this scene en route to one of my favorite stops on Harkers Island. The plight of commercial fishermen is very much about what’s going on today in Down East. And it’s so much about North Carolinians, the prayingest group of people I have ever come across.

I announced my intention to paint the church’s marquis to one of the parishioners who was hurried to catch the next service. Shortly after, Gary Willis, a deacon of the church, greeted me, inviting me to join the congregation. I thanked him for the invitation, but explained that if I took time away from my painting that I would lose my light; that the crosses are like giant sundials, their shadows changing by the minute. Racing the light is clearly one of the challenges of painting en plein air on a sunny day.

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