Vermont artist sets sail on 8-week expedition to paint Lake Champlain scenes

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A Vermont artist plans to spend as much as two months sailing Lake Champlain with the goal of creating a full painting for each day spent on the water

For 20 years, inspired by a mix of adventure and art, Rob Mullen has taken wilderness trips to Canada and Alaska by canoe. Last summer, with COVID closing the border, he gave the annual expedition a new spin by hiking all 273 miles of the Long Trail while producing artwork.

Now, he’s planning a 6-to-8 week voyage on Lake Champlain, inspired by the landscapes and wildlife he sees along the way.

“I love a mix of adventure and artwork,” Mullen said. “I might just drop anchor in a cove and paint what’s there, cause there’s almost always something to paint at least sometime during the day.”

That includes underwater wildlife, he has fins and a mask on deck. With no specific itinerary, the artist plans to go ‘where the wind takes him’ with plans to cover all of Lake Champlain. Mullen and his wife bought the boat, named ‘the Artistic Otter’ at the Maritime Museum, last summer. They spent months transforming it into a floating studio.

“The last 2 months full time, every day 7 days a week, reconditioned it,” he said.

As paintings are completed, they’ll be auctioned off online. The proceeds will go to the Vermont Wildlife Coalition, Lake Champlain Committee, and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.

“We are nature, we’re part of the system,” Mullen said. “Things we do have repercussions, I just want to get people thinking about that first off and also show them some of what’s at stake.”

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