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Art by Ann Trainor Domingue

Although it is a cold evening,

down by one of the fishhouses

an old man sits netting,

his net, in the gloaming almost invisible,

a dark purple-brown,

and his shuttle worn and polished.

The air smells so strong of codfish

it makes one’s nose run and one’s eyes water.

17627 It Takes A Village Too 30x30 acryl canv

The five fishhouses have steeply peaked roofs

and narrow, cleated gangplanks slant up

to storerooms in the gables

for the wheelbarrows to be pushed up and down on.

All is silver: the heavy surface of the sea,

swelling slowly as if considering spilling over,

is opaque, but the silver of the benches,

the lobster pots, and masts, scattered

among the wild jagged rocks,

is of an apparent translucence

like the small old buildings with an emerald moss

growing on their shoreward walls.

16493 Meeting Up acryl canv 18x18

The big fish tubs are completely lined

with layers of beautiful herring scales

and the wheelbarrows are similarly plastered

with creamy iridescent coats of mail,

with small iridescent flies crawling on them.

Up on the little slope behind the houses,

set in the sparse bright sprinkle of grass,

is an ancient wooden capstan,

cracked, with two long bleached handles

and some melancholy stains, like dried blood,

where the ironwork has rusted.

17622 You Goin' Out acryl panel 18x18

The old man accepts a Lucky Strike.

He was a friend of my grandfather.

We talk of the decline in the population

and of codfish and herring

while he waits for a herring boat to come in.

There are sequins on his vest and on his thumb.

He has scraped the scales, the principal beauty,

from unnumbered fish with that black old knife,

the blade of which is almost worn away.

16507 Success 8x6 acryl panel

Down at the water’s edge, at the place

where they haul up the boats, up the long ramp

descending into the water, thin silver

tree trunks are laid horizontally

across the gray stones, down and down

at intervals of four or five feet.

Cold dark deep and absolutely clear,

element bearable to no mortal,

to fish and to seals … One seal particularly

I have seen here evening after evening.

17670 Working Together acryl canv 18x18

He was curious about me. He was interested in music;

like me a believer in total immersion,

so I used to sing him Baptist hymns.

I also sang “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”

He stood up in the water and regarded me

steadily, moving his head a little.

Then he would disappear, then suddenly emerge

almost in the same spot, with a sort of shrug

as if it were against his better judgment.

Cold dark deep and absolutely clear,

the clear gray icy water … Back, behind us,

the dignified tall firs begin.

17623 And So It Begins acryl panel 12x24

Bluish, associating with their shadows,

a million Christmas trees stand

waiting for Christmas. The water seems suspended

above the rounded gray and blue-gray stones.

I have seen it over and over, the same sea, the same,

slightly, indifferently swinging above the stones,

icily free above the stones,

above the stones and then the world.

If you should dip your hand in,

your wrist would ache immediately,

your bones would begin to ache and your hand would burn

as if the water were a transmutation of fire

that feeds on stones and burns with a dark gray flame.

16502 Ready to Go acryl on canv 24x24

If you tasted it, it would first taste bitter,

then briny, then surely burn your tongue.

It is like what we imagine knowledge to be:

dark, salt, clear, moving, utterly free,

drawn from the cold hard mouth

of the world, derived from the rocky breasts

forever, flowing and drawn, and since

our knowledge is historical, flowing, and flown.

About the Artist:

Ann Trainor Domingue has been a full-time painter since 2013, after a 30-year career in advertising. A lifelong New Englander who lives in Goffstown, New Hampshire, she aims to ground her work in the working waterfront.

Nearly all of Domingue’s acrylic and oil works include what she calls her “every man,” a fisherman figure whose story travels and evolves from painting to painting. She recently added a woman, which she says has allowed her to push into a more abstract realm. It’s the characters’ gestures that tell the story — the way they’re positioned, how they interact — as opposed to the minutiae of a face or a garment. “I don’t finish the story. I leave room for people to interpret it as they might, and as they connect it with their own life,” says Domingue, who is 61.

Her bold colors and abstract strokes are meant to convey a sense of optimism. “I’ve been accused of looking at the world through rose-colored glasses,” Domingue says, and she likes it that way. She says her paintings bring joy and happiness to her audience, and she’s most creative when channeling positive energy.

One of Domingue’s paintings made the rounds at galleries before landing back in her studio. She realized she wanted to add something to it and change its title, giving it a sort of facelift that speaks to the artist’s belief in an ever-evolving story. “I’m just kind of winging it,” she says with a humble but self-assured laugh. If she’s not pleased with the way a painting is turning out, she paints over it and uses the underlying texture to start again.

With a foot firmly planted in salt water and a curious mind that wanders the coast, her paintings give viewers space to do the same.

Krista Karlson

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of Anglers Journal magazine.

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