Next morning, I heard the other guests having coffee in the breakfast room. Looking at the time, I was happy to discover I had actually slept in - a rare treat for a mother of two. After a nice breakfast, I got ready for my day and made Dionis Beach my destination for the morning. It would be about 3 miles and very hilly. I wanted to get this in first before rains were due to come. Cloudy and cool, the day greeted me as I set out. This time I resolved to leave my art supplies in the room just in case of rain and put my iPhone in a Ziploc bag. (So glad I did!)
The air was very moist and the sky grew increasingly darker as I biked the path. I confess I thought about turning back (I had no rain gear), but decided to press on “like an adventurer.” I knew my family would be proud of me! As I turned down the beach road after about one hour of pedaling up and down several hills, I was greeted by the most gorgeous dunes I had seen yet! These 'mountains' rose and fell so high and low, I whispered a praise as I stood before them. The colors of the grasses were also very rewarding; lights and darks, greens, browns, and even wine-reds and purples of beach heather. If this was the unlikely palette of spring, I would love to see autumn. This was my reward for pressing on despite the threatening skies!
I was the only person there. I felt very small and very grateful. After a photo-taking frenzy, I sat quietly and listened to the water very gently ebbing and flowing along the long shoreline. The skies were still dark, but I wanted to savor the moment. It was so peaceful.
This would later become a dramatic piece, Dionis Beach Dunes, Nantucket, shown below, based on the experience of the magnitude of the dunes, their colors, shapes, movement, and steep cliff fall into the calm ocean. The skies belied the serene stillness of the water; I understand now firsthand how quickly the skies can change on Nantucket. You almost don't know if it is night or day, where the light is coming from, or how the earth's colors can glow under such a dark sky.
I thought about the contrast between the south side, Surfside Beach, and the north side of the island, Dionis Beach. What a difference in the topography. The north side was much more rolling and hilly while the south side was flatter and more desolate. So interesting, and only a few miles apart.
Getting up to leave, I felt some large rain drops, but thankfully, they didn’t last. I pedaled back to town which was easier than the trip there. I just really enjoyed biking along the roads of Nantucket, with all the homes neatly painted and lots of flowers newly planted, clearly getting dolled up for the summer season. It is so special and picturesque and you kind of feel the pride that residents take in their homes as you pass by.
Once I arrived in town, I locked up my bike and headed into some galleries. Then the downpour came! Whoa! The few people on the street were darting into buildings to avoid getting too soaked. I had left Dionis Beach just in time!
I enjoyed some great coffee and a sandwich at Petticoat Row Bakery. I learned that Petticoat Row is the nickname of Centre Street where many galleries and shops now sit. It is called by this nickname because this is where seafaring men’s wives set up shop and made their livelihoods. The bakery had a wall of antique photos from the 1800’s showing these women in front of their shops. Great bakery, and great coffee. I highly recommend stopping in if you are there!
It was good to check out the galleries that were open and see what artists are up to on Nantucket. There was a variety of art ranging from contemporary to traditional and representational. I felt refreshed and encouraged by seeing others’ works.
Finally it was time to check out of my B&B and pick up my belongings, return my bike, and buy my ferry ticket back. The rain had subsided enough that I could do this without getting drenched. It was time for the journey home. On the ferry ride, I looked at my iPhone and realized I had taken over 200 pictures. I would have to pore over these images to select a the best ones that I would translate onto canvas.
Check back for Part 4: This Saturday's event! See you soon! - Deidre
Time had gotten away from me and I realized it was 2:00, so I biked towards town and found a nice place to eat a late lunch: LoLa. After lunch, I called Val’s Taxi and asked for a driver to come and take me to further-to-reach places that my waitress advised against me biking to, as some were inaccessible by bike, or would take most of the day to get to and back. I had a lot of ground to cover in a short time, so I opted for a ride. The driver picked me up promptly and after locking my bike up at the restaurant, we were off. It turned out that he also gave private tours as a guide, so I got not only a lift, but someone who knew the island well and could take me to places that he knew were beautiful. He would stop the car and I would get out and take photos anywhere I wanted.
I wanted to see the inland cranberry bogs on the reserved land as well as the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge. I learned that Nantucket Island is 47% reserve land. This ensures that the island does not get overpopulated with development, and its unique landscape will not be lost to commercialism. Biking through the paths and driving along the roads, I could truly see for myself how unspoiled it is.
The driver explained that he would not be able to drive the minivan to the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, past Wauwinet. Apparently, one needs either a boat to get there or an all-terrain vehicle!! I had to remind myself that though that was disappointing news, this is all part of being on an adventure. I wouldn't be able to access everything on my first visit. Next time. But he did drive me all around the east part of Nantucket to see ponds, bogs, and a great view of more beautiful grasses along Nantucket Harbor, on Wauwinet Road. I saw Topper’s, a world-renowned restaurant there. We drove along Polpis Road and Milestone Road. I enjoyed the “Serengeti” views of the unique trees and landscape that remind everyone of African savannah. This landscape is definitely a world apart… so unique and distinct.
Fog was quickly rolling in and the driver told me that Nantucket’s nickname is “The Grey Lady” for this reason. This gave me an idea for a painting. The fog did not hinder the colors of the landscape. Instead, the grey fog helped offset the greens and even somehow made the grasses stand out and glow. I could see the potential for even more color to be brought out in the diffused light with a grey sky. I hoped to achieve this effect in a painting I would later produce, “Wauwinet Road," pictured below. I was reminded of Paul Gaugin’s paintings on the island of Tahiti. While his island refuge was tropical and Nantucket is certainly not, I found similar colors showing up in my palette as I later painted: blues set against golden ochres and even pinks -- this made me think of this painter’s work that I have long admired.
Having taken countless photos on that hour long excursion, the driver returned me to my bike. I headed back to The Nantucket Periwinkle for a break. About a half hour on the bike brought me back to the 'Town Of Nantucket,' a quaint grouping of shops, B&B’s, cafes and galleries. After a rejuvenating rest, I made my way out on my bike once more to see if I could discover more beauty close by at Jetties Beach before dinnertime. There, I did find softly rolling dunes with a variety of colored grasses that were really nice. I took more pictures and made a sketch there. After perhaps an hour of enjoying the peace, I got back on the bike and mistakenly wound up at the Brant Point Lighthouse! Though I wasn’t seeking any typical man-made icons to paint or take pictures of, I took a selfie there and sent it to my family; I thought the kids would like to see Mommy posing with a tiny lighthouse! Then I decided to satisfy a craving for a good bowl of clam chowder for supper.
The B&B was so close to many restaurants, I could walk around and look at many menus. I settled on a restaurant called “Queequeg” and I picked it for its name (a character out of Moby Dick) and for the fact that they had a chowder that sounded fantastic. It had a small dining room that was almost full of guests, and I loved the energy of the chatter and laughter around me. I took a corner table for one, ordered a glass of chardonnay, and sipped that while I read Art Nantucket magazine. I read about artists on the island who had short bios and examples of their work. The weather forecast for the next day said rain would come, so I thought gallery-hopping would be perfect if that should happen. My clam chowder and homemade bread came to my table and I savored it. What a delightful evening!
Later, I walked through the cobblestone streets three blocks back to The Nantucket Periwinkle and the streets were eerily still. As a city girl, I am not used to such quiet streets at all! I knew it was off-season, but could everyone really be in bed already at 8:30?? Safe and sound in my room, I called home to say goodnight to the family. Then, I got out my art supplies and began to sketch, paint, and look at my photos from the day. I made three sketches and liked one of them. Tired and happy, I went to sleep.
Check back for Part 3:
Day 2 on the island and my discovery of the Dionis Beach dunes, leading to one more painting...
Then later, Part 4:
The culminating event on August 1 !! I'll show pictures of the event that will happen at BRIX. Please hope and pray with me for a sunny and warm day so that these paintings can be shown out on their pretty front lawn!