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Summer is when we spend a lot of time on our boat, sailing on the Chesapeake Bay.
Summer is when the crabs have grown big enough and numerous enough that crabbers lay down a line baited every couple of feet. They have a buoy at each end and traverse the line, pulling it over a large hook on the side of the boat and scooping up the crabs in a long-handled net as the crabs rise with the bait, refusing to let go until the last minute. Sometimes the bait is chicken necks, giving this type of crabber the nickname of “chicken-necker,” regardless of whether chicken or shellfish is used for bait. Back and forth along this same line they go, all morning long. If the chicken-neckers are weekend crabbers, they are often excited when scooping up the larger crabs and exclaim loudly to their partner who is driving the boat, “Wow! That’s a big ‘un!” and “Oooh! Look at this one!” I suppose when one has gotten up early and been on the water for an hour, 5:30 a.m. must not seem too early to be loud, despite all the cruising boats nearby with occupants still trying to sleep. (Can you discern our location from these comments?)
This watercolor, painted on canvas, captures the repetitive moves of a professional crabber as he drives his boat back and forth along his baited line. This is a classic crabbing boat, and they usually bear a woman’s name, e.g. Emily, Nora, or Sara Mae. The name, Crabbin’ Cruiser, is a boat name we saw on a smaller open boat with weekend crabbers aboard, but I liked the pun and couldn’t resist using it as the title for this picture.
It was difficult to think of a watercolor example for this challenge. One of the things that my teachers have emphasized is to be careful when painting something unusual. If one paints a picture that doesn’t look right, the viewer is more likely to put the blame on the painter than on the subject matter. With that in mind, the following painting is unusual for me, a departure from the usual subject matter and approach. It is also the first work that I painted with watercolor on canvas.
The Music of the Spheres, Watercolor on Canvas, 24″ x 20″
This was painted for a show whose theme was “Music through an Artist’s Eyes.” The title comes from a hymn that was one of my favorites when I was a child. I remember asking what the phrase, “the music of the spheres,” meant and being told that at one time people believed that the earth was the center of the universe and everything else revolved around it. As other bodies orbited in concentric spheres, they produced tones, which when combined made music in the heavens.