“The Red House – Monhegan Island, Maine”

“Red House - Monhegan Island, Maine”, by Robert Leedy, 2005, watercolor on paper, Collection of the Artist
“Red House – Monhegan Island, Maine”,
by Robert Leedy, 2005,
watercolor on paper,
12.25 x 18 inches
Collection of the artist

In the summer of 2004, I wound up a two-week watercolor workshop with David Dewey in Owls Head, Maine by taking the ferry from Port Clyde to Monhegan for the weekend. I stayed at the Island Inn and used it as my base for painting treks throughout the island.

Not far away – a stone’s throw, really – from the Inn was this unique red house which caught my attention.  It is located adjacent to a small beach called Swim Beach. I figured it would be a great place to paint, so I woke up early and went over with my painting gear and set up to paint.

I later learned the house has been a popular subject for countless artists throughout its history. It was supposedly built in the 1780’s and has been rennovated numerous times since. Because the house has changed so much, some date it from the 1930’s.

I completed a good drawing and began painting. I was drawn to the stark contrast which was created by the silhouette of the west end of the porch. In fact, as you view the finished painting, this is exactly where your eye goes first. I used the kayaks and boats in the foreground to provide a visual entrance into the painting and also as a fun play with color.

As I worked, the sun got higher in the sky and temperatures rose. It was a very bright day and I was thankful I had not forgotten a hat.  I could hear people walking by. Some would stop and look at what I was doing. One group of people stopped and asked some questions. As I spoke with them, I noticed one of the men had a very familiar face. I told him that I knew him from somewhere:

“You probably don’t know me,” he said, “I’m from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.”

“Oh yeah,” I answered, “I’m from Jacksonville, Florida [20 miles away].  What’s your name?”

“I’m Dix Druce.”

Some thirty years ago – when I graduated from college – a buddy & I rented a carriage house that was on the property of a large riverfront home. Dix was our landlord who was recently divorced and lived in the house by himself. I told him my name and the connection but I’m not sure it registered. He did remember my dog, Oreo, who used to gather up all of the neighborhood dogs (including Dix’s Chocolate Lab) and take them on adventurous travels to my parents’ house several miles away. My mom would call to alert me and I always rescued them in my ’67 Volkswagen Bug for the return trip back home. It was a sight to see all of those dogs in that little car….

I completed the painting at my (then) home studio in Denver. It is one of my favorite paintings and brings back good memories of Monhegan.

I saw where the house recently sold at auction for $885,000. A Portland TV station’s web site quoted the winning bid at more than $935,000. Not bad for a 1,820 square foot, three bedroom, one-and-a-half bathrooms, septic tank, and running water from April through November. Someone definitely got their piece of The Bubble.  Of course, the ocean, harbor and island views can’t be beat.

I just hope the new owners don’t make a McMansion out of it.

Click here to purchase this painting 

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