July 30 to August 6, 2003: my friend Diane took me to spend the week at her parents' cabin in Grand Marais, MN. Her parents, Art and Marian Hedstrom were there. We took Diane's Golden Retriever bitch Java.
During the week I filled 80 pages of a 90-page journal. The journal is about 8 inches square and covered on the front with paste paper I made which I thought looked like water ripples. I used Fabriano Artistico Traditional White, 90 lb., Hot Press watercolor paper for the pages. This was perfect for my pen sketches, gouache, and even colored pencil. The paper was also thick enough to accommodate collage.
Not having traveled with Diane and her parents before I took my camera. I did use it to take some quick shots, such as a look out over Grand Marais (still not the landscape painter), but overall, stuck to sketching. There was generally ample time to do quick sketches, or when I was with Diane, she would work in her own journal.
I developed a routine with the family. Since I'm an early riser I'd get up and look about outside and begin working on my "catch-up" (any notes I wanted to write but was too tired to write the night before). Art and Marian would come in and start breakfast. Diane would join us (she was recovering from rotator cuff surgery and trying to catch up on some sleep). I would work away on my journal. In the evenings, after dinner had been cleared away both Diane and I would work at the kitchen table, a foggy view of Lake Superior in front of us.
I noticed two things upon our arrival at the lake: the sound of the waves against the rocks, and the bird feeder which had been visited by a bear. Marian said that they had found the feeder on the ground where the bear had dropped it. I had to draw it of course, and feel it's the best thing I did all week!
It proved to be a busy week. That weekend in Grand Marais was their annual "Fisherman's Picnic" (or "Fisherman's Panic" as some locals call it). I was warned that there would be hordes of people but even I found it manageable. Of course having the "World's Best Donut" shop in town did much to make crowds palatable.
And being literally 10 feet from Lake Superior didn't hurt either. Art and Marian's cabin sits at the rocky edge of Lake Superior. You could spit into the lake from the deck, if you were so inclined (and had a runner's talent). There was no beach there, just dark basalt rock coming up to meet the spruce trees. In other areas there were rocky beaches, covered with surf-smoothed fist-sized rocks of gray, pink, beige, and green. I loved the beaches and I loved looking for rocks. Diane indulged me, even aided me. I carried a large plastic shopping bag to fill, and kept checking, "oops, it's too brown, now it's too pink." I hoped to take back a sample or color cross section of the beach. I think I succeeded. For people who haven't done this all I can say is, "Rocks talk."
What follows are a few pages from the journal. During the trip Art also taught me to make Lefse (for want of a better description it's Norwegian flat bread, sort of like a tortilla) and I made an instructional booklet about the experience I hope to post later. It was truly an eventful vacation.
GRAND MARAIS JOURNAL NEXT >
Illustration © 2003 Roz Stendahl; All Rights Reserved