This past weekend I went to Cape Cod for Labor Day weekend and had the opportunity to revisit the dune shack that I had stayed in back in 2008. The dune shacks are on the north-east coast of Cape Cod near Provincetown and are easy to access by simply parking your car and hiking into the dunes towards the sea. Here’s some information about them:
There are only 19 of them .
They built by the Life Saving Service in the 19th century to house seamen.
Jackson Pollock, Eugene O’Neil, Norman Mailer, Jack Kerouac (who wrote part of On the Road in a dune shack) and Tennessee Williams all spent time in dune shacks.
The properties came under the aegis of the National Park Service (NPS) in 1961.
The dune shack that I stayed in was called the Fowler Dune Shack and is run as an artist residency. It had no running water or electricity so I had to bring in my own bottles of water and I used kerosine lamps at night to see. I stayed there for 7 days and spent most of my time meditating, reading, going to the beach and drawing. I remember that it was hot and there were no trees to shade you from the sun so it was unbearable to be out in the middle of the day. I would often get up early and start my day with meditation. After I was finished meditating I would have breakfast and coffee and then pump water from the well to use for the outdoor shower which consisted of a large blue barrel full of water, a hose and a shower head. The barrel and the hose are on the roof and as the sun begins to beat down on it it heats the water trapped in the hose and the barrel. By 3 or 4 in the afternoon there’s enough hot water to take a nice warm shower. After filling up the water barrel I would sometimes go for a walk by the beach, which was just over the bluff, or go check out other dune shacks in the area. By noon it was impossible to be out in the sun so I would usually hang out on the shady porch reading or drawing. In the afternoon I would often go down to the beach again, take a shower and then make dinner. After dinner I would meditate again and then spend the rest of the night drawing by the light of a kerosine lamp.
The night sky out there is incredibly clear, making star gazing an awe inspiring experience. I had the idea of making a drawing of the night sky while I was there but this proved to be too difficult and instead made a drawing of the night sky that was made up. This was the second or third time that I used the night sky as subject matter and have since used it again, but unsuccessfully. I’ll get it right one of these days.
I decided to do some still life drawings while there in the style of Andrew Wyeth who was one of my favorite artists when I was younger. I still think that he is fantastic draftsman and painter and he has the ability to create a mood and psychology while maintaining a simplicity to his style. I enjoy drawing from real life but I don’t often do it because, although I think hand skills are important, I believe that the subject should be interesting in order to pursue it in a creative context. I never did anything with these drawings nor have I done any drawings like this since.
Here are some photos of the shack and some of the drawings that I did.