Artist Captures Flavor of Maine’s Working Harbors

As a child, Jeff Grenier, 41, discovered the ocean. That wasn’t hard to do in a place like Friendship. “My grandfather’s rowing skiff was tied up at Harlan Wallace’s wharf [now part of the Friendship Fishermen’s Co-op]. He [Bill Jameson] would take us out on his boat. I learned geography on that boat,” Grenier recalled.

Grenier received a degree in fine art from the University of Maine at Machias. He tried teaching art for a time then moved out of state to work as a land surveyor, like his father Drew. But the pull of his home state grew stronger and in 2017 he moved back with his wife and five children.

“The way life unfolds is never quite the way we imagine it as kids,” Grenier said. “I would have pursued lobstering, but I learned early on that without a close relative in the business it was virtually impossible to get into it.”

In 2016 a friend challenged Grenier to take part in something called Inktober. Participants have to create one ink drawing a day for the month of October. Grenier had never pursued ink drawing before but found that he enjoyed the medium. “It turned out to be a blast. The Maine coast was the theme of nearly every drawing I made,” he said. “After the end of Inktober, I was drawing boat portraits for lobstermen, sport fishermen, and recreational boaters.”
Grenier showcases his work, which also includes fine drawings of Maine game fish, on his web site www.littlecranberryart.com. His pen and ink drawings focus not only on the beauty of the Maine coast but also the details of its working waterfronts and the men and women who make their living on the sea. “An honest day’s hard work deserves respect, and it is with respect that I treat each of my subjects,” Grenier explained. “Some boats are a little more used than others.  A little grime, a little rust, missing paint or some worn-off lettering doesn’t bother me.  Each boat represents so much to each owner.  I hope to capture what they see and feel about their boats in each drawing I create.”

He’s received a lot of questions about his web site’s name and, like many things, it’s related to his childhood. “I thought of one of the places my grandfather brought me to so many times, Little Cranberry Island in Friendship.  It’s tiny, but perfect, in my eyes,” Grenier explained. “There’s a lot of good family memories there!” Grenier’s art can be found at his web site, at www.facebook.com/littlecranberryart, or at www.instagram.com/littlecranberryart.

Grenier's Melinda Kay