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I own and operate “The Colors of Chatham,” a photo studio in Chatham, MA that features my work and the work of some local artist friends, their bios will follow.
Chatham is a quaint seaside fishing and tourist village on Cape Cod, Massachusetts that is home to a bucolic downtown, restaurants, historic inns, and numerous bed and breakfasts. Chatham is bordered by Nantucket Sound to the south, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and Pleasant Bay to the north. Wildlife abounds and changes seasonally. It is not unusual for me to see humpback whales, right whales, minke whales, grey seals, harbor seals, harp seals, coyotes, snowy owls, and all types of migrating birds and waterfowl. Fishermen and boaters also see orca, tuna, and great white sharks.
Like the early settlers to Cape Cod I'm an explorer at heart. I enjoy beach combing, sunrises and sunsets, and finding hidden paths to the ocean. My photography is all handheld, I rarely use a tripod, I take my photos on my daily explorations. Out of college I was a police officer and was trained in firearms. I use the same techniques I was taught to shoot a gun to hold my camera steady. It is rare my daily walks are less than five miles, my longest in fact that you’ll read about soon was fifteen miles.
Chatham also has gorgeous sandy beaches and three magnificent lighthouses. The most popular lighthouse is Chatham Coast Guard Station where the US Coast Guard still operates Chatham Lighthouse and a lifesaving station. Chatham Light overlooks an expansive beach which of course is known as Lighthouse Beach. Seven miles to the south of Chatham Light is Monomoy Point Light on South Monomoy Island. Monomoy Point is an iron lighthouse that is painted red but is the most lesser known because the island is federally protected and a boat is needed to reach it. About four miles from Chatham's downtown is Stage Harbor Light which is located on Nantucket Sound at Harding's Beach. Stage Harbor Light is Cape Cod's newest lighthouse having been built in 1888 but was decommissioned in 1933. The walk to Stage Harbor Light is incredible regardless of the season. The natural light in Chatham is known as a photographer's dream. I often make educated guesses regarding where the best light will be on at a particular time of day. The fishing boats, lighthouses, beaches, and wildlife all combine to make my photography naturally beautiful.
My journey to Chatham and to photography is filled with coincidences. After leaving police work in 1989 I went into sales. Most of my vacations were trips I won from my company, places like Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Bermuda, England, Banff, Aruba, the Caribbean islands, and cruises. Although I lived in Central Massachusetts, I rarely went to Cape Cod except on bike rides. I led a bike group in my town that would participate in charity bike rides that started in Boston and went to Provincetown, the tip of Cape Cod. While training my biking partners would talk about Chatham, Chatham Bars Inn, and the Wequassett Inn. They would always laugh because I didn’t have any idea where any of those places were.
In 2014 my wife was incredibly stressed from her job and I had a minor melt down. I told her we were taking a vacation and she was putting down the computer. She asked where we were going, I told her Chatham, she asked where that was, I told her Cape Cod. She asked where we were going to stay, I told her I would find a place. I found a home on-line and in August we went to Chatham for a week. On the first night of our stay there was storm and the home’s yard was a mess. I cleaned up branches, sticks, and debris and put them in a pile in front of the house. The following day the owner came by and asked who cleaned the yard. I told her I was taking care of her house as if it were mine. She was thrilled and offered me a free weekend in the Fall. The rest of our stay was uneventful except we both thought Chatham was charming and the type of place we would like to retire to, the type of place our kids would want to visit us.
On the first night of our Fall stay we went to dinner at one of the local restaurants. While eating I saw a woman I thought was one of my wife’s work friends from a previous job and pointed her out. They looked at each other and started screaming, “What are you doing here, what are you doing here!” My wife’s friend said they had just bought a house here and we should too! My reaction was “NOOO! I don’t want a house on Cape Cod!” My wife’s friend’s husband happened to be our mortgage broker. Unbeknownst to me, after leaving the Cape my wife contacted our mortgage broker and got us preapproved for a vacation home. My wife booked us a room at Chatham Bars Inn for the week after Christmas and our mortgage broker set us up with a realtor. My wife broke the news we were going house hunting while at Chatham Bars Inn.
We looked at 13 houses. The second home we saw was under construction and my wife, against my protests, bought it. The house was under construction, the process was exciting but not without pitfalls. When the home was finished we began spending weekends. I fell for Chatham and the new home very quickly. It didn’t take long before I was depressed leaving. Off Cape I was working from home so I’d stay extra days and my wife’s job was taking her out of town for two weeks a month. I started staying those two weeks too. Ultimately, I stopped going back and my wife would come to Chatham for the weekends she was home.
I continued biking through this adventure. When I moved to Chatham I was cycling about 200 to 250 miles a week. One of my new routes was from Chatham to the Cape Cod Canal. The round trip was 80 miles. On July 3, 2015 while biking back to Chatham from the Canal I wasn’t paying attention while going down a hill on Route 6A in Cotuit. I hit a pothole, my chin hit my handlebars, and I was knocked unconscious. When I awoke a woman was taking my pulse. I was okay but my bike was unrideable, my body was battered, and my ego was bruised. The next day I took a walk in Chatham. I walked 15 miles. My walks continued on a daily basis but I was going slow and noticing the beauty. I started taking photos.
Not too long after starting my photo taking journeys I had a lot of images and didn’t want to delete them so I started an Instagram account. My kids were initially embarrassed by my jump to the internet but it wasn’t long before I was getting compliments and their friends were following me. As the years passed I progressed in my photography and many of my followers asked me to open a studio, I was uninterested. One of my followers owned a retail shop in Chatham. Chatham, pre-Covid, had a Summer event every Monday night called “Monday’s on Main” where bands were spread out in the center of town. On July 4, 2019 one of the shop owners asked if I’d do a pop-up shop outside her shop on July 28th. I didn’t have any pictures printed or framed nor did I have a way to display them. I told her I would do the pop-up shop and in three weeks I figured it out. I did “Monday’s on Main” three times and sold $3000.00 worth of photos. Shortly thereafter retail space opened next door to the shop I had been displaying outside of. I took it, quit my job, and on November 22, 2019, “The Colors of Chatham” opened its doors.
Welcome to my journey!
My earliest recollection of drawing began as far back as I can remember with a box of crayons, a coloring book, and my imagination. I continued exploring different mediums; from charcoal drawings to painting backyard landscapes.
I took a break after high school and studied classical piano at “The School of Contemporary Music,” in Boston. Shortly after attending, I transferred to privately study under Madame Charloff’s group of musicians and Mr. Serge Conus. It wasn’t until my family and I purchased a second home in Chatham that my love of drawing began to emerge. Once settled in, my husband would always ask if we could pack up and spend the day at the beach. I always said “What am I going to do at the beach?” One day he said, “Why don’t you draw?”
I took his advice and joined a pastel class offered at my local public library. Pastels were an easy medium to set up and travel with, this is how my pastel journey began. I joined art clubs, attended art classes, read pastel books, entered exhibitions, and began selling my artwork.
What I like most about pastels are the luscious vibrant colors, the spontaneous approach it offers, and the beautiful shimmering reflection of light it delivers upon one's surface.
I continuously explore and photograph the ins and outs of Chatham and the surrounding areas. This tranquil picturesque place is my inspiration, along with the sounds of classical or jazz music, which is a constant in my studio.
I am drawn to the calming effect of a boat's reflection in still water or the soothing rhythmic movements of the sea. Art allows me to express a semblance of peace which nature presents to us everyday in the powerful stillness of a moment.
My studio is located behind Carmine’s Pizza in downtown Chatham. In the warmer months I open my studio doors, paint outside, and welcome all who visit. My open doors are how I met Barry Desilets and became part of The Colors of Chatham.
John’s love affair with painting began 50 years ago when he began creating paintings of 19th century ships. These were vessels of all sizes and purposes; wonderful clipper ships, sleek yachts, and pilot schooners, as well as alongshore small boats of no great historical import and so small that few people in their time believed worth recording them. As the years passed John widened his artistic horizon and produced paintings that cover a range of subject matter that include dog portraits, paintings of his children, landscape views, wildlife scenes, liquor bottle labels. bas relief carvings, and wooden-bodied antique station wagons.
John’s preferred medium is watercolor, but he’s used pastels, oils, acrylics, crayons, colored pencils, and once smoked-down cigarette ends to do a bar room portrait. Surfaces dimension of these paintings has ranged from large murals to 2X3” miniature watercolors. Among the surfaces John has painted on, other than watercolor paper and canvas, have been ceramic tiles, hen eggs, wooden goose eggs, the shells of sea scallops, sea clams and oysters, tabletops, the tops of antique wood boxes and the wood carvings done he has done.
John’s paintings tell stories rather than offer views, and he continually strives to be the narrative painter that his hero Winslow Homer was. If you look closely, and use your imagination, you might see the work of 19th century American luminist school of painters such as Martin Johnson Heade, A.T.Bricher, John F. Kensett and other masters of that period.
From 1975 until 2010 John, his wife, two daughters and a series of black labs lived in a home on the shore of Juniper Cove in Salem, Massachusetts. John’s studio was next door, a restored fisherman’s shack on the water’s edge. What a spot to live and work! In 2010 John, his wife, and the current dogs moved to the family homestead in Chatham on Cape Cod where he has continued his artistic endeavors. In 2015 John sailed into uncharted waters when he began to write and illustrate the first of three books for children. The books are about an adventuresome young field mouse named Bertie and his friends. View them and a small sampling of my paintings at www.bertiesadventures.com.
Hi! I’m Steph! I have been taking photos for as long as I can remember, of family, friends and especially my dogs. My passion for photography really began at the Cape. There is something about the sunrises and sunsets, clouds and ocean that really drew me in. You never know what you are going to get! That is what you will see in my photos-all the beauty that the Cape has to offer! As my fiancé says, “Cape-centric”!
I enjoy exploring the beaches with my fiancé, Rich and our dogs, Harlow and Hudson to find inspiration. Some of our favorites are Red River and Bank St. in Harwich and Morris Island, Cockle Cove and Hardings in Chatham. Other spots we enjoy include Great Island and Uncle Tim’s Bridge in Wellfleet. Provincetown is a place we LOVE visiting too! You will quickly notice that all of these unique places have greatly influenced my photography. The fact that our engagement happened in Harwich doesn’t hurt either!!
Lucky enough to have a second home in my fiancé’s family on the Cape in South Harwich, Worcester is where I call home. Another interesting place, Worcester will make an appearance in my photos from time to time. I am very excited for this opportunity to be a part of the Colors of Chatham! Thanks for coming along on the ride!
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