This painting, which took three months to complete, is probably the best painting I’ve done in many years. Certainly, it is the most complicated and detailed. The “process” alone, which I will describe below took nearly a month.
The painting was commissioned to become the 2023 poster for the prestigious art show, the Waterfowl Festival, in Easton, Maryland. I have been privileged and honored to be part of the Festival since 1978, except for a dozen year “sabbatical” when I was playing in a baseball tournament in Florida during the same week as the show in November. In 1980 and again in 1990 I was commissioned to do the paintings for the Festival Directory cover and limited edition print for the 20th and 30th anniversaries respectively: “Festival ‘80” and “Festival ’90.” Both large originals are in the Waterfowl Festival permanent collection. In 1992, I was one of only two artists inducted into the Festival Hall of Fame, Inaugural class.
When I was asked to do the painting for the poster, I had already planned to use the gorgeous blue Eastern Shore cupboard that I found in an “Antiques” Magazine in a painting, so it was perfect for the poster. I couldn’t afford to buy the actual cupboard, so I built a replica in my studio, and began filling it with apropos “stuff” (props) relating to the Eastern Shore. Color is always important to me, and matching the 100-year-old blue paint was quite a challenge, and resulted in many “mixings.”
What to put in the painting? Oyster cans were a must, as were decoys and books relating to Chesapeake Bay and the Eastern Shore in general. For several weeks I kept adding and subtracting items from the replica cupboard in my studio until I felt like I had a perfect composition. The photo of the old waterman, Captain John Berridge, of Tilghman Island was a perfect addition, but it did take three days to paint. The Brown Dog mug was another good addition, since the official Maryland “State Dog” is the Chessie Retriever. I kept adding and removing books from my extensive Eastern Shore library in my studio. Color was an important consideration, but most of the books are favorites anyway. I sneaked my Festival “Hall of Fame” plaque into the painting behind the Mallard decoy (which I carved years ago for my hunting rig, and will give to whomever buys the painting).
For several weeks I would walk into my studio early in the morning or late at night and simply sit down and look at the set-up in the cupboard. Finally, when it felt “right.” I started to draw. The drawing alone took over a month. While book titles are especially tedious, I could probably paint a decoy in my sleep. I often worked on this painting until the wee hours, so sleep was rare. But “Eastern Shore” was truly a labor of love, and in all honesty, I’m quite proud of it.
“Eastern Shore” posters, if not sold out by now, are available from the Waterfowl Festival website. In 2024 I will be releasing a large limited Giclee print on canvas. Stay tuned.
Original painting: 40 x 30” $15,000.