SOLC 2018–Day 4: A Slice from the Post Office

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March 2018 SOLC–Day 4
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
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One of the bonuses of small town post offices is that the line is rarely long. On this particular Saturday morning, other than the woman being waited on, there was only one man in line in front of me. He was somewhat disheveled, gray haired and bearded, wearing well-worn jeans. As the first customer gathered up her stamps and moved away, he stepped forward to the counter.

“Do you have the Wyeth stamps?” he asked. My ears perked up. Wyeth stamps?

“Let me see.” The clerk riffled through her drawer and then pulled out a sheet of stamps. “Here you go,” she said, handing them to him.

“What’s your favorite?” he asked her, reaching out to take the sheet. “The cow?”

“No,” she said. “I’m not sure. I have a print of the dog on a white bed at home. But that one’s not here.”

download-1.jpg“Oh, I love that one,” I chimed in.

The man shifted to the side to include me in the conversation. “Have you ever seen the one with a skiff pulled up on shore?” he asked us. “And there’s a house up over the knoll…”

We both shook our heads, unfamiliar with that particular painting.

“It’s called Teel’s Island,” he said. “It’s a watercolor.”

We spent the next several minutes discussing Andrew Wyeth, the Farnsworth museum, the Olsen house and our favorite Wyeth paintings. Three strangers in a rural Maine post office on a Saturday morning. Then the man paid for his stamps and left. I requested and paid for my own sheet of Wyeth stamps and went on my way.

Later that day, I went online and did a quick google search for Teel’s Island. The image, quintessential Wyeth, filled the screen. There was the skiff the man had mentioned…the knoll…the house–Each detail adding to a whole that was considerably greater than its parts. I now count it among my favorites.

Clearly, there’s more than one bonus to small town post offices.

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Teel’s Island by Andrew Wyeth, 1954

Note: A big shout out to Cindy at Mainer in Training. Thanks, Cindy! Her wonderful recent slice, Christina’s World, reminded me of this moment. If you have a chance, be sure to stop by and check it out!

25 thoughts on “SOLC 2018–Day 4: A Slice from the Post Office

  1. dogtrax says:

    I’m unfamiliar
    with this particular painting
    yet imagine
    the paint dried
    on canvas,
    the light brushstrokes
    weaving in the light.
    Perhaps you look
    straight-on, to see
    what the artist saw,
    but I am always looking
    at it slant, from the side,
    to consider what mistakes
    may have been left out
    or covered up.

    — I am line-lifting from posts this morning to create poems as comments. Forgive the intrusion.
    🙂
    Kevin

    http://dogtrax.edublogs.org/

    Liked by 3 people

    • mbhmaine says:

      Feel free to “intrude” anytime, Kevin! lol Your line-lifted poem is lovely and I always admire your creative comments. I feel privileged to have one on my blog. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

      Like

  2. Tricia Mac says:

    These pleasantries in life are always welcomed, aren’t they? We connect and even educate as we go about our daily routine. I was unfamiliar with Andrew Wyeth so I thank you for the beautiful knowledge. I too, will do some seeking to discover more of his work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Andrew Wyeth is so closely associated with Maine, that it’s hard not to know him here. I’m actually off to a museum today to attend the last day of an exhibit of his drawings. The only reason I even know about it is because of falling down a few rabbit holes while I was slicing. Another bonus to the challenge!

      Like

  3. Amy Warntz says:

    Your post has piqued my interest…what other types of specialty stamps are available? I rarely receive mail with a “real” stamp on it. It inspires me to send a card a day for gratitude. What a delightful moment!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Amy! How nice to see you here! 🙂 I always go to the post office and ask to see what stamps are available. It’s so much more fun to send letters (and even bills) with an interesting stamp attached. They have Ezra Jack Keats ones right now 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. terierrol says:

    Yes, small towns have their advantages! Now, do you use those stamps or save them?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Do your students know Andrew Wyeth? What sort of art instruction/appreciation do they get?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. cindaroo42 says:

    What is better than a random conversations about Andrew Wyeth with strangers? You have to get to the Olsen house! It’s probably an hour away- I think visiting on these gray days match his watercolors perfectly.
    I love how you bought those stamps too! Perfect ending

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      We went to the Farnsworth to see the exhibit of his drawings today. It’s about 1 1/4 hours for us but well worth the drive. I’m saving the Olsen house for a less windy day–and a time when it’s actually open! I think you’re right about these somber days matching his watercolors, though. I’ll try not to wait til it greens up too much!

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  7. Charmed, I’m sure. This was a pleasurable read and so welcoming. Thanks for inviting us all into the conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve not heard of this artist. Your post has inspired me to get myself a sheet of these stamps! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. […] I wrote a slice about a small moment in the local post office in which an impromptu discussion of all things Andrew […]

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  10. Umm, since you’re a teacher, I figured I’d let you know that Andrew Wyeth painted with egg tempera (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempera) — not watercolor. Two very different beasts.

    As difficult and challenging as watercolor can be, I give egg tempera the nod as the more challenging medium to deal with, as it’s permanent and cannot be reworked.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks so much for stopping and commenting. You’re right that Wyeth painted with egg tempera, but he also did use watercolors, specifically a technique called drybrush. The painting referenced in the post is an example of this. If you’re interested, you can read more about it here: https://reneelammers.com/blog/25985/december-13-2010-andrew-wyeths-drybrush-technique-in-watercolor

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      • Being a watercolorist myself, I’m very familiar with the drybrush technique, but not the way that it’s used in this specific image — so I dug a lot deeper than just the link you provided.

        It seems that art historians and curators can’t make their mind up about how to label the painting “Teel’s Island” — as I can find some that label it drybrush and some that label it egg tempera. I know from reading a lot of articles over the years that Andrew was very private, didn’t like sharing the details about his personal painting techniques, and that historians have been trying reverse engineer his painting processes for decades. For instance, I’ve read that some of his paintings actually start out with thin sweeping watercolor washes, but are then painstakingly built-up using his egg tempera painting technique.

        At this point, I find my interest flagging, as the rabbit hole is very long and twisting, and I have other tasks that demand my attention today. I will say that I have been a life long fan of the Wyeth family (N. C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, and Jamie Wyeth), and was fortunate enough to see Andrew’s remarkable 1987 Helga exhibit in DC, which also featured many of his other works.

        Thanks for sharing the story; I, too, learn all sorts of things in the local post office.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. mbhmaine says:

    I also had read that there was some difficulty with classifying Wyeth’s work. It’s fascinating, right? When I looked up the painting after the man referenced it, I didn’t think it could be a watercolor, so I had investigated a bit.

    I appreciate that you’ve taken the time to share what you found. I took a few moments to visit your site, and clearly you’re approaching this from an artistic background, with more innate knowledge than I have. Your tulip watercolor is beautiful and your photographs are amazing!

    Again, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Clearly we’re united in our admiration of Andrew Wyeth’s work. By the way, have you ever seen his drawings. They are most impressive!

    Like

  12. Fascinating indeed! Having gone through design school back in the late 1970’s, I can tell you that — as far as artists are concerned — where there’s a will, there’s a way. Brute force, as it were.

    I’ve seen some work that’s simply stunning to behold, yet the route to its creation was unbelievably convoluted and complex. And I found that many times it was the “tortured” artist that delivered the most round-about creation process, as they had a vision of what they wanted, but not the path to it. My own talents are less of the “vision” and more of “how to get it done”, so my career in the visual arts was one where people came to me with their ideas and I materialized them in one form or another.

    Thank you for your kind words about what I share on my site (I’ve been blogging since 2010 and this is my third attempt). After having switched career paths to do computer support almost 30-years ago, I found myself really challenged creatively and decided to do something about it. First it was getting back into photography several years ago, and now it’s all about getting back into fine art — which pushes me harder and offers a much greater risk of failure, but is also a lot more satisfying for me personally.

    Yes, I’ve seen a small number of Andrew’s drawings in traveling exhibitions, but never a large body of them in a permanent collection. He had a real talent, that man!

    My first exposure to any of the Wyeth family was a gift of “The Bounty Trilogy” by Nordhoff and Hall (illustrated by N.C. Wyeth), back when I was 11-years old (images can be seen here: https://goo.gl/2uuQGR). The next one was a painting of John Kennedy by Jamie Wyeth (image can be seen here: https://goo.gl/JEBHKN) in the home of a cousin. After that, I was hooked on all of them — N.C. for his amazing framing and compositions (probably the biggest influence on all of my art), Andrew for his stunning technique and sparse vision (I’m also heavily influenced by him and have at least one photograph that’s a dead ringer for some of his egg tempera works), and Jamie for his blend of his two relatives.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. mbhmaine says:

    Jamie Wyeth’s John Kennedy painting was on display when I visited the Farnsworth Museum last weekend. I think the highlight of my visit, though, was spending time with Andrew Wyeth’s drawings. As you said, “He had a real talent, that man!”

    Good luck with your renewed blogging efforts.

    Like

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