Given their number, you might think that artists were blown in here by our brisk Maine coast air. You are partly right because there is something about a cool breeze that seems to attract them.

No matter where you go in Maine, you will find a superabundance of trees and lakes and mountains.

Artists do occasionally paint them. But if you’ve ever watched one at work up by Katahdin or Wytopitlock Lake in the summer time, you’ll remember that you were both standing inside a screened porch.

A pleasant alternative is bundling up in winter wear and doing a lighthouse or sunrise-at-lobster-boat-cove thing in a brisk offshore wind.

Artists were coming to St. George before my time. It might have been around 1920 that N. C. Wyeth first paid property taxes in this town, probably because Rockwell Kent had already snapped up the last piece of desirable real estate on Monhegan.

Since then, artists have waxed wealthy and multiplied here and for that reason I’ve had a chance to study more than a few of them up close and personal.

A calendar for your typical St. George artist looks something like this: With cold and dirty fingers that you can’t use to wipe your nose, in a manner only a few can master you apply colored goo on a portable surface in a tedious and time-consuming manner.

If you’re lucky, you have a small device in your pocket with attached earphones so you can listen to self-improvement tapes as you work. Although there are no black flies alongshore, you make a mental note to wear heavy socks inside your boots on the morrow.

You ignore the seagulls that creep up and eat your sandwiches.

When you have assembled two dozen œuvres, you rent a hall. I once asked an artist friend why she called them œuvres, and she said that, unless you are a Wyeth, “œuvres” command twice the price of a “painting.”

You put up posters in the post offices and Linda Bean’s stores, and mail a photo and write-up to the Free Press and the PPH.

You hang your pictures on the wall of a hall or gallery and get your spouse or a couple of friends to put out wine and cheese in strategic places.

The great day arrives and the doors open. Fifty or 60 art lovers crowd in and stand around in the middle of the floor, craning their necks, hoping to see somebody famous. They don’t leave until the wine and cheese are gone.

As a patron of the arts who can’t eat cheese and doesn’t drink wine, I have no alternative but to walk around and admire the pictures on the walls. Which gives locals the impression that I’m some kind of nut.

Although my wife, Marsha, and I might attend one of these art exhibitions right here in town every week in July and August, some are unforgettable.

While at Sandra Mason Dickson’s Martinsville Grange show last summer, a friend sidled up to me, stabbed his finger at a painting and said, “That guy shooing the horse. He’s my cousin’s husband – comes here summers. He posed for the picture because the horseshoe man didn’t have time.”

“The farrier,” I said, trying to look modest.

“My cousin’s husband is a world-class artist in his line. I was helping out in the charity booth at Union Fair, flipping hamburgers, but nobody could flip them right except my cousin’s husband so I got shunted off to do something else. He asked me what I did and I told him I’d taught high school math for 30 years.”

“He said, ‘Is that so? I taught in New York state for 25 years and got an award for being the top teacher in New York.’ I said that was very nice. Quite remarkable.”

“A year later we’re back in the same booth at Union Fair and he is flipping hamburgers when we’re joined by another fellow who came in to help out. My cousin’s husband asked him what he did and he said he’d been a Marine for 25 years. And my cousin’s husband said, ‘Is that so? I was a drill sergeant for 25 years at Parris Island.’ And the fellow said that was very nice. Quite remarkable.”

“The year after that my wife came home after a day of working in that booth at Union Fair. She’s big in charity work for the church and could hardly wait to ask me if I knew anything about my cousin’s husband. She said, ‘He visits here every summer and he’s really a remarkable man. Did you know he worked with Mother Teresa curing lepers and was recognized by the pope?'”

“I said I didn’t know it but I wasn’t surprised.”

The humble Farmer can be seen on Community Television in and near Portland and visited at his website: