The palette of ideas—profile of an artist

The 12-foot tide recedes quickly from the inlets and estuaries of Deer Isle, one of the 2,000 islands along Maine's rugged Atlantic coast. For a few hours, the rocky point at Sand Beach will be exposed. As Duncan Martin approaches the point on an August afternoon, he studies the boulders and shimmering tide pools, taking in the pristine scene. He carries a fresh white canvas and his portable easel in one hand, and, in the other, a knapsack full of the tools of the painter's trade—oil paints, brushes, sketch pads, pencils.

"A musician might make music sound the way this water looks," he says, gesturing at the ocean. "A musician uses notes, and the relationships between the notes and rhythm, to put together a piece of music that has a certain quality about it. With a painting, you're using paint, the surface, color, line, form, shape, and the organization of all that, to glimpse something, some little glimpse of truth. It begins to float and sing and fly. You can't utter it in words."

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The sound of spirituality
October 1, 2001
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