Sunday, 15 May 2011

Places to Paint - Maine

Slack Tide (oil on panel 16" x 12")- by Kevin Mizner
Recently I came across the work of Kevin Mizner and his blog Maine-ly Painting  
This Blog draws on my over thirty years of experience painting the beauty of Maine. I'll have some pointers, comments and even criticisms on art.
I was impressed with his work - his landscapes and seascapes of Maine - and the way he wrote about art and the places he painted.  I've been to Maine and sketched in Maine and I'd have loved to have had somebody provide me with a guide to the places to paint.  So I decided to ask him to write a guest post for this blog about his favourite places to paint in Maine - and this is it!

Maine has been a destination for artists for nearly one hundred-fifty years. Why? It's all about the light. 

Maine sits rather high in the Northern Hemisphere, at about the same latitude as Spain, and a little south of the UK, which gives it a raking, angular light. Any artist will tell you that an angled light gives a more vibrant glow to colors than a more direct, straight overhead light.

But in addition to the angle of the sun, Maine juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. Maine has salty, moist air, infusing the light with a radiant shimmering glow. Combine that quality of light with Maine's three thousand miles of rocky coastline, replete with quiet harbors, fishing villages and a few sandy beaches, and it's small wonder artists flock here to paint.

The artists who've painted here are a veritable Who's Who of the greatest ever: Frederick Church, Thomas Moran, Winslow Homer, Robert Henri, Andrew Wyeth, Rockwell Kent, and John Singer Sargent, to name but a few.


One of the more popular spots in Maine to paint is the small island of Monhegan.

Monhegan is a spit of rock about two miles long and half-mile wide, but it has breath-taking views at almost every turn. The only way to get there is by ferry. Once you're on the island, be prepared to walk, as no vehicles are allowed - other than the beat up trucks used by the year-round Lobstermen population.

Acadia National Park

Summer in Acadia (oil on panel 11" x 14") by Kevin Mizner
The next great spot is Acadia National Park.

Acadia may be one of America's smallest National Parks, but it is spectacular, none the less. Located on the ten-mile wide Mount Desert Island, it is the only spot on the east coast where the mountains meet the sea.

Kevin's favourite place to paint in Maine - Harpswell

What is my personal favorite Maine spot? Harpswell, Maine.

Located about thirty miles north-east of Portland, Harpswell is an accumulation of small villages and islands on Maine's mid-coast. Of all the spots along the coast, it is the most unspoiled.

Photograph of Mackerel Cove
Orr's and Bailey Island's offer gorgeous views of the coast that rival Monhegan's.  Mackeral Cove on Bailey Island is in my opinion, one of the most picturesque spots on the coast!

A part of Harpswell, and my home for four years, is Cundy's Harbor"Cundy's", as we locals call her, is one of Maine's authentic working water fronts-- no condos in sight. It's harbor is chocked full of lobster boats and trawlers, the shore has quaint wooden-piling wharfs jutting out to service the boats.

Cundy's Harbor In Light Fog (oil on panel 11x14) by Kevin Mizner
Huddled on either side of the one road into (and out of) town are old New England Cape Cod style homes that have weathered the harsh seasons for one hundred or more years. I have travelled the state from stem to stern, and Cundy's Harbor is the quintessential Maine coastal fishing village.

Other places of note:

In the footsteps of the Artists

I've mentioned Monhegan, but Baxter State Park in northern Maine has Mount Katahdin, a favorite spot of the great Frederick Church.

Any fan of Andrew Wyeth knows he summered and painted in Maine. Travel along Route 1 to Thomaston, and head out to Cushing, Bristol and Friendship and you'll be trodding the same ground "Andy" walked as he made his masterpieces.

John Singer Sargent painted in Acadia (eg Sand Beach, Schooner Head)

Edward Hopper painted one of the lighthouses at Two Lights Park in Cape Elizabeth (now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

And Kevin Mizner painted in all those places...

The best time to visit

Finally, when is the best time to visit?

If you want to watch and paint the lobstermen and eat some good lobster, come in summer. If you want to see the spectacular foliage of the maples and birches, come in the fall. If snow scenes and some skiing are your cup of tea, come in winter.

Winter Light Cundy's Harbor by Kevin Mizner
Spring for us is called "mud season" and for a good reason! All that melting snow, and bare grey branches are not worthy of painting in the slightest. Unless you're Willard Metcalf. Oh, he painted in the western mountains of Maine near Bethel.

So there you have it. My ideas on what's good to paint and see in Maine! I hope this works for you, and if you would like anything more in way of information, paintings or photos, please don't hesitate to let me know.

This is the latest in a series of posts about Places to Paint.  If you're interested in contributing a guest post click this link to find out what you need to do.



Susan Roux said...

Wonderful post! Kevin is right. I live in Maine too and his information is spot on. My favorite time is from late August, through September and most of October. The bugs are gone, many of the tourist are gone and the weather and water are both still warm.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

That's when I visited and I have to agree - it was very pleasant place to be after Labor Day

Virginia Floyd said...

Kevin, your post is great. I'd love to come to Maine some summer. I'll be sure to visit some of the places you recommend.


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