I just got back from 5 days/4 nights on Monhegan Island. I turned 60 last week and took myself on a short retreat as a gift to myself on this momentous occasion. This was my first trip to what is, apparently, mecca for Maine painters. It was like stepping back in time… children can roam free without fear, I stayed at Monhegan House and there are no locks on the doors; there is a hook so you can lock yourself in for sleeping which is great. I asked about it and they said they have NEVER had any issues with theft etc… it’s like the land time forgot.
I planned on painting non-stop everyday lol.. yeah sure…. I napped a lot, I finished 2 novels and started a 3rd, and yes I started 7 paintings. Now, I haven’t painted with oils in awhile and found it frustrating that I could only go so far with each and then had to wait for them to dry before continuing. I’ve been using acrylics mostly because I want them to DRY so I can finish. It’s ok, I now have 7 paintings in process. I’m really only happy with 2 of them but hey, that’s par for the course with artists.
This island seems to have this weird thing where the restaurants don’t serve wine but the tiny shops have amazing wine selections. I did my part in forcing them to restock. Sitting by an upstairs window, drinking wine, reading a book and watching the sunset… listening to the distant tolling of a bouy bell and the gulls plaintiff cries… .. really heavenly.
I highly recommend this island for those who enjoy quiet. If you are like my husband and can’t rest then NO, don’t do it…. but if you can sit quietly for hours then this is the place for you. There is a lot of hiking to be done and I did my fair share to get to painting sites. The easy trails are not for the weak ……. I did manage to tumble down 15 or 20′ on a trail… and didn’t break anything.. wow someone loves me up there. After hiking, painting & falling I felt like I was on survivor….. the path seemed to never end… but I’m here to type about it so it’s all good. I am a bit sore….. I think the entire island is uphill. Bring a walking stick.
Most everyone was friendly and I had some nice conversations with total strangers. I will say that, like most of Maine, this island is mighty white. I did see a few people of color but not many. There were probably more folks over 50 than under as well. although there were a lot of younger folks hiking and probably working there for the summer. I’m not making any judgement about the ages or color of the folks; just observations which I felt might be useful for those planning to visit. There were families with young children and I overheard one little girl tell her dad she wants to live on the island.
I also got to stop by and visit an old customer Black Duck Emporium and hope to have my work offered there soon again! It was great to see them after many years and actually get to shop in their store. It’s lovely and offers a wide selection of goods from soap to dishes to t shirts.
Like much of Maine, the island is suffering from a drought. I asked a local woman who runs a farm stand about how they water their gardens as she had many. I gathered she has a well which helps, she also has a water catchment system and prioritizes what gets water and what doesn’t. They had beautiful white and orange pumpkins growing in the fields… it was impressive.
Winter can’t be easy there and I think they have about 45 year round residents. One has to prepare for winter and stock up because there is no where to get food or supplies when the weather is bad and no ferry runs.
All in all it was a wonderful experience and I hope to return next year with our own boat, which we can sleep on. Greg can fish during the day and I can paint. Then we can enjoy the local food & wine as the sun sets. Oh, I had some fantastic fish tacos at the Fish House. A painting of the Fish House will be forthcoming. Life is short, get the tacos & a t shirt.
Pictures of the trip will be added here soon…… I highly recommend a visit!