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.
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.