by Linda Turoczi
My first memories of Cape Cod are of sitting on a stone wall along Old King’s Highway in Yarmouthport, eating peppermint stick ice cream cones from Hallet’s Soda Fountain.
We had arrived at my friend’s grandmother’s house for summer vacation, lemonade, beaches, the music fair, and sheer delight. It was then that I fell in love with this magical place called Cape Cod.
To return thirty years later to a different Cape town, Wellfleet, but with the same friend, was very special. We had young boys and responsibilities, but still found time to drive by the old house and the wall. It no longer belonged to her grandmother but memories were still there. We visited Hallet’s and took our children for ice cream.
It was that summer that I knew I would return to the Cape to paint, to give my son the same joy and freedom I had experienced as a child.
My husband immediately bonded with the Cape. It was a good thing, because for the next twenty years I refused to go anywhere else for my summer vacation.
We rented houses in every corner of Wellfleet. I painted wherever I happened to be: near ponds, in David’s garden, on the streets of Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown. I was sad to leave each time and always worried that I would not be able to return.
Winters in Pennsylvania were long. I would paint oceans, but not many Pennsylvania landscapes.
My fellow artists from Cape Cod would call and keep my dream alive all winter.
Over the years, I found many artists to paint with me en plein air. The vacations flew by.
I studied with my good friend and mentor, Joan Hopkins Coughlin, of the Golden Cod Gallery in Wellfleet. Joan and I became fast friends in the late 1980’s when I first walked into The Golden Cod.
As each subsequent summer ended, she would always say to me, “Don’t worry. You will be back soon and someday you will have a place.”
My love of painting in Wellfleet and the Outer Cape grew. I would paint ponds, old houses and gardens.
One particular house was the vacant Pallante House in Wellfleet, which sits near the Wellfleet Historical Society and over the years has become more and more run down.
I am drawn to houses. I remember having a show in Pennsylvania at a beautiful mansion of a retirement home. I filled the rooms with ocean paintings, Cape Cod gardens, landscapes and houses.
Pennsylvanians didn’t recognize the places I painted and kept asking, “Where is that?” Finally, a woman came up to me and said, “I know this place. I am from Orleans. I’ve photographed that place!”
I kept painting scenes from my summer vacations on the Cape. People were delighted with the blues, greens and lavenders of my paintings.
I realized then that my entire framework was from time spent in Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown. My pallet was formed there, on Cape Cod.
Before I left Wellfleet in the summer of 2009, a close artist and friend from Truro said, “You have been coming here so long, why don’t you just buy an RV and leave it here?”
It was such a foreign idea that I dismissed it immediately. But I went home and the realization hit me that I’d been visiting the Cape for 22 years, and would never afford my beach house.
I purchased my RV in the pines on a hill in North Truro. It is a slice of pure paradise.
I can hop on the bus with my paints and be in Provincetown or Wellfleet painting in one of my favorite places in no time at all. I feel at home as a person and artist.
I discovered that I didn’t need the comforts of my farmhouse in Pennsylvania to create, just my brushes, canvases and paints… and my RV of course.
How easy it is to call another artist, set a meeting spot and paint! Of course, there is always a new magnificent light that illuminates the landscapes.
It makes me feel the same as I did fifty years ago, sitting on the wall and eating a dripping peppermint stick ice cream cone from Hallet’s.
Three years later and three RV’s later, I am still an artist who lives in the Truro Woods with a large dog and husband.
Small spaces call for inventiveness and present a juggling act for a painter with lots of paraphernalia.
Luckily, RV’s have wonderful awnings, which provide cover from the elements, and RV’s have lots of compartments underneath for storage.
I have found the North Truro Woods to be one of the most special places to be as a painter.
The path that leads through the pines to Coast Guard Beach gives me an unexplainable feeling of serenity. It is so beautiful that I feel like a child again, exploring the woods.
I’ve seen three rainbows fall into the ocean there, all at once.
My RV neighbors are both permanent residents and those “just passing though”. My sense of community is large. My life is full.
I didn’t mean to have a gallery in the woods, but it happened. People taking their walks would see me finishing up a painting that I had perhaps done at a location in Provincetown, or some other amazing vista, and just stop by.
I realized that I didn’t need a gallery space as the woods provided me with one.
At dusk, I can go over to Cold Storage Beach and paint a wonderful view of Provincetown. I can bike over to the view from Coast Guard Beach and paint a big dune.
In Pennsylvania, I have to seek out other artists and it takes work. Here in the Truro Woods, in a small RV, it all happens naturally.
How wonderful to have my gallery in the woods with old and new friends in my RV home.