Category Archives: Plein Air Painting

Maine Inspiration – Last Year Monhegan Island

What Will This Summer Bring?

Monhegan Island, if you’ve ever heard of it, either you are from Maine or have some connection to the art world. It’s a small rustic island, 12 miles  off the coast of Maine with a population of 70. I’m not quite sure when I first learned of it’s existence but I knew it was a place where artists have been going for more than 100 years. It could have been through Robert Henri’s book “The Art Spirit”, which took up permanent residency on my night stand probably ten years ago. It’s a series of lectures Henri gave to his art students making it an easy book to just pick up from time to time to read excerpts. Henri first went to Monhegan in the summer 1902. He was so taken with the place he bought land there. Eventually he brought more artists there, his students Rockwell Kent, George Bellows, and Edward Hopper among others. The Wyeths also spent time on Monhegan. So wherever or whenever I first learned of Monhegan Island, one thing was certain, I desperately wanted to go there.

Last summer, it was my turn to be inspired. There’s a rugged beauty there, and a purity. I’m not the first to say it, and I’m surely not going to be the last but there’s something to paint everywhere you turn.  I did a few Plein air sketches while we were there and I’ve worked from those and my photographs ever since. Inspiration is a fine thing and it can push you to do your best work. The magic of Monhegan has taken me to a new place. It is humbling to know that some of America’s greatest artists have painted in the same place. 

Homer’s World, Oil on canvas, 24″ x 36″

Monhegan Island isn’t the only place in Maine where artists have been drawn. There are more places I want to go this summer as the time approaches to make the trek back north. Edward Hopper was a frequent visitor to several places along Maine’s coast. Some I’ve been to while others remain on “the list”. Two years ago I visited Winslow Homer’s summer home. The view from his front yard was incredible. Waves crashing against rocks just grabs a person and says in clear and unambiguous terms, mother nature is a powerful force. It’s constant, powerful and mesmerizing.

Perhaps a list of places to get to would be in order before we head back. Regardless of where this summer takes us, these are my Maine paintings for the past year. 

My Retro

2003

No matter what we do in life we should always strive to do better. Being better human beings would be the most important place to work on ourselves. Putting that aside, for the time being, I am trying to push through to another level in my painting.  It takes time, patience and work. I do get discouraged. Every artist will tell you about the voices in their heads (no I haven’t lost it – not yet) that aid in that discouragement. I am persistent or perhaps just stubborn, so I push those negative thoughts aside and I press on.

Sometimes the best way to overcome doubt is to trace where you’ve been and see how far you’ve come. That’s where I’m going with this posting. It started with reorganizing my websites. With everything wiped out from my old site and starting over, I’m faced with a question of what paintings to post. At this juncture I’m going to go with a less is more idea. Before I do that I’m thinking a little retrospection is in order. I’ve posted two portfolios, one of watercolor paintings and one of oil paintings. I’ve selected one painting from each year that I’ve been painting as a full-time effort. That would stretch across fifteen years, but who’s counting.

2018

Currently, I spend a great deal more time developing my paintings. Because of that, I don’t have nearly as many pieces in my current portfolio. It’s not a race though, is it? For quite some time I have felt as though I needed to catch up on lost time. My age is probably showing through when I say that I realize that I don’t need to rush or “play catch-up”. I just need to work on making better paintings. That’s what I intend to do. Looking back on where I came from, I think I’m doing just fine in the sense that I have improved. We are all perpetual students and as long as I see progress, I will continue to push on.

You can see my timeline of oil paintings by following this link.   My timeline of watercolor paintings is at this link.