Kennebunk artist Danie Connolly is creating crescent moons – props for photos she plans to take of graduating seniors at the beach, when restrictions associated with coronavirus ease. Danie Connolly Photo

KENNEBUNK – Picture your graduate, dressed in a lovely prom gown or a dashing tuxedo, sitting on a big cutout crescent moon, being photographed at the beach.

Picture yourself, having your photograph taken standing by a life-size cutout of a whiskered sailor who is tattooed from head to, presumably, toe.

Both of these fun, whimsical events are being planned for later this year, when restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus ease up.

Both ideas spring from the mind – and the brush – of local artist, photographer and author Danie Connolly, who always, it seems, has something on the go. Even as these two ideas have flourished and are in process – and await the time when movement and gatherings are less restricted – there’s more. Connolly is working on a children’s book, and earlier this year, briefly, until the pandemic made its way to the United States, had a popup shop in Florida with a friend, offering items like leather chairs painted with colorful bugs, or creatures like alligators dressed in business suits.

“My work is always upbeat and happy,” she said in a recent telephone interview.

Connolly was thinking about the class of 2020 and 100 years ago. Then she began creating large waxing and waning crescent moons, popular photography props in the 1920s, that will be used to set the stage for area high school seniors, those who missed some of the traditional graduation-related events this year, for free photos at the beach.

Later this year, people may be able to pose beside a life size cutout of one of these tattooed sailors painted by Kennebunk artist Danie Connolly, who researched World War II era tattoos for the pieces. Danie Connolly photo

The tattooed sailors? Well, Connolly said, she was trying to come up with what might be considered the opposite of prim ladies when the idea popped into her head.

“I thought of tattooed sailors and I looked at World War II pictures, I did a lot of background on tattoos, what each symbol stands for,” she said. A man who had the name of a woman tattooed on his arm meant, of course, that they were sweethearts – a line through her name meant the two had parted company. There were rose tattoos, and anchors and sails – and more. In Connolly’s works, the sailors sport multiple tattoos – including an array of symbols, words and creatures.

“I wanted the tattoos to be fun,” she said

In the sailor paintings, there are nautical flags, including a yellow one with a blue circle – a distress flag – symbolizing the coronavirus, she said, though the pandemic is not otherwise noted in the works.

These days, Connolly is finishing up a children’s book with the intriguing name, “The Legends of the Royal Birds of the Palace Trees,” and is looking forward to being able to schedule a show that will feature the tattooed sailors – and benefit the Ever After Mustang Ranch and Kennebunk’s Little Pantries. The crescent moon photo shoots will be scheduled when permissable.

Kennebunk artist Danie Connolly has a couple of projects planned for this summer and is about to publish a new children’s book. Robert Akers photo

Connolly has been immersed in art since her fifth-grade class in Peabody, Massachusetts. She said her teacher, Mrs. Leighton, was the sort who sought out the talent in each of her students – one could sing, another had some other gift – and Connolly’s was art.

“She said I could draw,” said Connolly – and that pronouncement has led to a lifetime of creativity.

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