My Maine Inspiration

Happy monday! Maybe? Probably not, Monday for most of us signifies the end of weekend fun and the start of the daily grind. Fortunately I find myself with the day off, so for me it is a happy day. On top of that it is a perfect day here in Portland, sunny with a high of 82 degrees! Summer in Maine is certainly slow to begin and is quick to end so it’s best to take advantage of it before it’s sweater season! These last few weeks have been particularly lovely here, making it nearly impossible for me to stay cooped up indoors for very long. This comes as no surprise though; Maine isn’t called Vacationland for nothing! I am only one in a million who have traveled far and wide to soak up Maine’s exquisite beauty. I am not a native Mainer myself, I hail from Southeastern Pennsylvania, Wyeth Country to be exact. Funny story though, the Wyeth’s actually spent a lot of time in Maine as well; I find it kind of a funny coincidence that I grew up in Chester county, PA (visiting the Brandywine River Museum as a child) and then moved, unknowingly, to the “other” Wyeth Country. I guess I have the same taste in, or affinity toward gorgeous landscapes? Other than the Wyeths, many, many artists have heard the call of the coast (and woodlands) and made Maine their muse – Milton Avery, Marsden Hartley, Edward Hopper, Alex Katz, Rockwell Kent, John Marin, Winslow Homer…to name a few. With Maine’s rich artistic history and heritage, in hindsight it makes perfect sense why I decided to attend art school here, and though I am not a landscape painter I truly find this to be an inspirational place, there’s something about Maine that’s unlike anywhere else. Though of course I have some wonderful paintings to share with you (eventually), I’d also like to share some of my personal Vactionland pictures. (Now you know where I’ve been hiding out these few weeks!) Let’s hear it for the great outdoors!

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Now I’m sure you can see why it’s impossible to stay inside when you live here! The photos above were taken from: (top), Seawall Beach in Phippsburg, (left to right) Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park, Hiking on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, View of seagrass at Wells Beach, View of the ocean at Wells Beach, Rain clouds over a salt marsh at Seawall Beach, View from the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park.

Other than the breathtaking landscape another reason artists then and now have come to Maine is that some of the best artist residencies,  schools, and museums are here as well.  Just last week I took a trip up to Deer Isle, which is about 3 hours north of Portland, and is also the home of the famed Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, which continually brings new artists, young and old, to the island.  Deer Isle itself, is a quintessential “Maine” destination, though it can be reached by bridge, it “retains the flavor of New England life in the 1950’s: rural, neighborly, safe.”

Our welcome sign could read “Welcome to Deer Isle, the way Life used to be”.

– Deer Isle – Stonington Chamber of Commerce

Though I only spent one day and night on Deer Isle my experience there left an everlasting impression me. The distinctive narrow green bridge that crosses onto the island does not just take you there, but transports you into another world. I didn’t know what to expect when I went to Deer Isle, but what I saw and experienced there was better than anything I could have imagined. In his book, Travels with Charley,  John Steinbeck wrote about Deer Isle, “we do not take a trip, a trip takes us,” and I certainly agree.

Below are a few pictures from the Deer Isle Hostel,  where I stayed on the island. I highly recommend staying here if you ever get the chance! Founded by a wonderful couple, Dennis, a true Mainer, and Anneli, who’s from northern Sweden, the hostel is a self-sufficient homestead, boasting a hand built 17th Century style main building and private hut, two luscious vegetable gardens, a small flock of chickens, and a couple of pigs all set in a picturesque and secluded location.

Like I said earlier, this area has for centuries been home to artists, painters in particular. The Stephen Pace House, in Stonington (which is connected to Deer Isle) is one artist’s home that can still be visited today. Painter Stephen Pace bought the turn-of-the century sea captain’s house in 1943 and summered there for sixty-four years. A painting of the gorgeous yellow house and connected barn by Stephen Pace can be seen below.  In 2007 the home was bequeathed to Maine College of Art to be used as a residency and gallery. Having been a student at Maine College of Art, I was fortunate enough to visit the home with the painting department for a short retreat; where we experienced this artistic haven firsthand.

Whether you are an artist or not, I urge you to come to Maine and discover inspiration, find inner peace, go on an adventure! Below is a roundup of a few of the many painters who have captured the drama, the beauty, and the mystique of the Maine landscape (hey, and there is only one lighthouse painting, pretty good, huh?) Enjoy, and I hope you come for a visit!

Other Artist Residencies and Fellowships:

Monhegan Artist’s Residency

Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture

Art Educators Summer Fellowships at Maine College of Art

Excellent Schools with Excellent Art Museums/Galleries:

Bates College Museum of Art

Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Colby College Museum of Art

ICA at Maine College of Art

Art Museums in Maine:

Portland Museum of Art

Farnsworth Art Museum

Ogunquit Museum of American Art

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