Summer is in full swing. My show in Bangor has come and gone and now I am left with the itch. I have a show of watercolors coming up in Laconia in October, but it is the end of June. I am not done making paintings like those that I put in "The Dinosaurs of Industry," but in order to make more work, I need more materials. I need some found wood.
When I get in this mood, I generally begin by taking some early morning walks. The morning is the easiest time for me to think. I have a clear head. There is nothing to process from the day. I can respond to objects that I encounter for their sheer aesthetic value and nothing else. There are several good spots to walk in Portland, ME to find found materials. The Bayside community has two things going for it. There is a high volume of low income traffic that roams through the neighborhood and sometimes you will find interesting tidbits of the night before, post-its, receipts, paper bags, etc. There is also the architectural salvage store and a few warehouses and a drop off for a good will. Sometimes people will drop off items, like plywood or busted furniture, which are not going to be useful to anyone in the future as actual furniture. To me, these items are gold. Often you will find small pieces of wood around warehouses that were used as packing or for trucks to drive over icy patches, etc. I try to take nothing that looks like it is being used. Lastly, the architectural salvage has a bin outside which houses pieces that they do not want to resell. This usually results in a bunch of less than ideal looking surfaces, but sometimes there are some real gems.
I then tend to walk around the neighborhoods. The West End is usually devoid of good building materials. If you catch someone remodeling on the right day you could very well find something, but people in the West End clean up rather quickly. It is the nice end of town after all. If nothing else a walk through the West End is pleasant. I then head down the hill and Close to the water. Sometimes you will find some wood towards where the ships come in. I do not generally walk up and down the docks as I don't want to irritate the folks working on the ships coming in. It is generally early after all, and the folks on the docks usually have been up far longer than me.
I then swing down Grant and Sherman streets. Apartments are cheaper there, so there is a high turnover rate and you can quite often find interesting things that people have left behind when they are moving out. Tomorrow I intend to try walking around on Munjoy Hill. I haven't spent much time walking up there because until a year and a half ago it was way on the other side of town from me. Now I live at the base. There looks to be some good construction projects going on so I will probably be able to find something in the way of materials if I'm patient.
When I see something that I want to use, it isn't a casual thing. It hits me in the face with the wave of creation. I want to use it immediately. I want to hold it. I want to carry it, however heavy it may be. There is no question in my mind as to the materials I should pick up and the ones that I should leave behind. The right piece of wood can fuel entire studio days. My energies have settled a bit after some intense work. It's time to find some creative fodder.