I was moon crazy in January 2018, feeling the pull of two super moons and a lunar eclipse within one calendar month.
It’s an effort to be on the 7:15 AM ferry from Peaks to Portland but fortunately in winter it’s often rewarded with a sunrise shooting color westward onto the city skyline with a simultaneous light show over the stern to the East. In the frigid cold of January 2nd, an additional prize was the setting super moon, growing larger, flatter and more peach-colored as she hovered and sank in a pink haze over sea smoke at the surface of the water. Wow, it was spectacular!
Twenty-seven days later, I set the alarm for 6:45 AM but stayed in relative warmth as I shot the blue moon in partial eclipse from an open bedroom window as she sank into the treetops. A second “blue” super moon on a clear dark morning spilled onto the bay as bright as a street light above the beach. I thought of going back to sleep but, eyes as wide as the moon, watched daylight replaced the dark.
Earlier in the season, as I completed a black and white woodcut commissioned for the annual Menorah Show at the Maine Jewish Museum, I had been moonstruck. What is it about that full moon, how it pulls on me like the tide and frequently appears in my work? I don’t set out to do so, but there it is again: a repeating thread going back at least to the turn of the millennium as in the etching, “Wide Angle Night,” which started as the extended Portland skyline from the bow of our boats but demanded a celestial body before the idea was complete.
The menorah piece, with a full complement of candles for all eight days of Hanukkah and the keeper from which they’re lit, is called “10 Miraculous Lights” though only nine represent the holiday. The tenth is of course the full moon behind bare winter branches that rose in my imagination to fill out the composition without intention or premeditation and yet became a player in the seasonal narrative of welcome light at a time of darkness.
So what of the many moon-themed pieces that have threaded through my work? In the early years of the new millennium, the multi-plate etching “Full Water Dreams,” brought together a reclining woman with the Maine-built early 20th century schooner “Bagheera” in her first season touring Casco Bay. Again, a full moon filled out the composition, extending a female metaphor and the keeper of dreams.
I can't help but notice on a nighttime walk, especially in the snow, the intensity and color of a full moon throwing hard shadows, so different from daytime. They glow blue-white, just like the first color proofs of the solar plate etching that became “Moonlight Serenade” and “Moon Shadow Moon shadow” in 2015: unintended but indisputable.
Island people vacation on other islands so when we annually travel to Monhegan Island for the final fortnight in September, we rent a large 1907 cottage on the water that was built by Rockwell Kent whom I channel nightly in my dreams. In 2010 I began a series of small, 4”X6” woodcuts of iconic scenes from “The Artists’ Island.” This time the pull of the full moon was intentional in “Two Lights” from a powerful memory of roiling clouds in the illuminated night sky, punctuated by the sweep of the lighthouse beam, its visual drama seconded by the mariner’s reference to tides, navigation and tall lighthouse tales.
So again, I return home to a super moon morning, standing at the bow of our Casco Bay Ferry, sweeping my eyes from Port to Starboard after a "Wide Angle Night".