Background photo by Don Sylor
Byron Dudley

I used to do watercolors of flowers. I was baby-sitting for a friend, who’s a pastelist. I picked up her pastels and a little scrap piece of paper. And I said, “I think I like this.” I hadn’t done anything with pastels since college. She helped me and told me about different papers and other things, and I started taking classes. It just took off.

With watercolors, if you make a mistake, you’ve pretty much ruined the painting. With pastels, even if you make a mistake, you can fix it and start over again. There’s a lot of wiggle room. It’s very forgiving, and the colors are so rich—great for landscapes and seascapes.

I’ve started to do a series honoring the people who shellfish. There are 25 pieces in all. Taylor Brown has the Fisherman’s Daughter store up in Post Office Square. I had begged for her to take me out shellfishing. She called me one day and it was pea soup fog outside. Well, I’ve done my best work from that day.

When I was younger, all I really wanted to do was get married and get out of here. But when I came back and bought the business from my mom, I fell in love with Chatham—the quiet, the beauty. It’s getting a little too political, but that happens in all small towns.

It’s funny: we’ve always had sharks, but I never knew that. When I was married, we had this beautiful sailboat and we used to go out day sailing. We would put a line on the back of the stern and we used to drag along behind the boat as it was being sailed. I don’t think I’ll ever do that again (laughs).

We were brought up with the expression, “Don’t ever tell a Cape Codder what color to paint his shutters.” You really didn’t have to tell a Cape Codder what color to paint them because he would never paint them bright orange.

Cape Codders, collectively, are simple. I’m not saying we aren’t smart, but our thinking is very simple. You do your thing, and I’ll do mine. It’s not in our thinking to do something disruptive. We’ve been here for generations making a living, working off the land and the water as best we can.

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Jeff is the Managing Editor for Cape Cod Life Publications.

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The board walk at Chatham Bars Inn