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I could get used to living in Key West

March 25, 2015

15Mar15_KeyWest (6)
[10×14″ original watercolor, 140lb cotton rag paper]

From my perspective, looking out my window at five foot snowbanks, the town of Key West is a marvel.

An impossibly distant fantasy land of tropical luxury. Probably that’s how the people that live there feel as well. Walking around, I couldn’t get over how the houses were overwhelmed by lush greenery. Even the smallest home had an amazing garden.

15Mar15_KeyWest (7)
[10×14″ original watercolor, 140lb cotton rag paper]

15Mar15_KeyWest (5)
[10×14″ original watercolor, Audubon House, 140lb cotton rag paper]

One of my favorite spots was the Audubon House. Like many regional museums named after famous people from history, it’s not actually *his* house, and it wasn’t even built when he visited Key West. But – it is much like a house where he *might* have stayed, and he did make diary entries about the unusual trees in the same block.

As you sit in the overgrown gardens, enjoying orchids and bromeliads hanging from swaying palms, you can imagine him passing through on his quest for the wildest, strangest Birds of America. This was probably the best day of the trip for me. Such a great place to spend the afternoon. Painting this amazing garden, and taking breaks to go look at the gallery of birds. Makes you think you could get used to the Key West Life.

Though, reading a bit about it, it sounds like Audubon himself did not have it easy. His life included: fleeing conscription under a false passport, surviving yellow fever, dodging privateers, managing the family mine (his father figured everyone needed lead for bullets), getting through the civil war intact, ending up in debtor’s prison, sketching death-bed portraits for quick cash, fighting the scientific establishment to see his work published, travelling the world hand-selling subscriptions to his prints – actually selling animal pelts he shot himself to raise funds for printing. Whew. that’s just the first half of his life.

15Mar15_KeyWest (4)

The house features a small gallery with some excellent reproductions of Audubon’s prints, and of course the usual drink coasters and puzzles made from his art. I had to be impressed thinking about his body of work from 1838 still steadily selling. Never mind his great achievement in naturalist art, that right there is impressive to a working artist such as myself.

15Mar15_KeyWest (2)
[9×12″ original watercolor, The Jolly Rover, 140lb cotton rag paper]

15Mar15_KeyWest (10)
[10×14″ original watercolor, 140lb cotton rag paper]

I have to wonder what the year round experiences are in this town. It does seem precariously perched on a very low lying island, very far out in the ocean. Maybe living on a boat would be the answer? So you could be ready to bug out in hurricane season. I’d prefer to live on a pirate ship like the Jolly Rover. But, there also seems to be a fascinating niche culture of house boating. I am imagining scenes of fleets of these boxy floating homes desperately puttering ahead of an oncoming hurricane. Probably an overactive imagination there. But we’ll see what climate change brings. Maybe these people are right!

I hope to get back to Key West again. We had a great time, and I’d love to make it an alternative to Montreal’s winter.

15Mar15_KeyWest (1)
[10×14″ original watercolor, Key West Lighthouse, 140lb cotton rag paper]

10 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2015 6:44 PM

    This is so Beautifull!

  2. March 25, 2015 7:36 PM

    Whoa, the Audubon story would make a fantastic movie.. and your Jolly Rover is a very appealing alternative to most any Canadian winter, even on the West Coast. :) Beautiful work, and ps I’m loving your book!

  3. Pip permalink
    March 25, 2015 7:38 PM

    Your paintings are lovely Marc – I hope you do really well selling them :)

  4. hulahoopchickencoop permalink
    March 25, 2015 7:42 PM

    I knew it was Key West just from your work! Nice. I was just there and lived the Hemingway tour. Unusual.

  5. amats123 permalink
    March 25, 2015 7:55 PM

    What a joy it is to view you’re beautiful work! Like a mini vacation :)

  6. March 25, 2015 8:46 PM

    Beautiful paintings as always.

  7. Mary Warren permalink
    March 26, 2015 9:39 AM

    Your beautiful paintings and commentary remind me how I need to go back there again. Thank you

  8. March 27, 2015 1:31 PM

    There’s a striking poetry in each of your work! Thanks so much for this! “Merci” as we said in France

  9. September 17, 2015 8:42 PM

    As a long time resident of Florida your works are all familiar to me. You’ve done Key West justice! It is an amazingly beautiful ( and unusual ) place.

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