Sunday, December 23, 2007

More Maine Literature

Thanks for that information, Nancy Bea! I just saw this and realized that my post might be a little late for those in need of last-minute Christmas presents, but, still, it's always good to have Maine books on hand to read on cold winter days and nights.

The Maine Poets: A Verse Anthology, Edited by Wesley McNair

This is really my daughter's book so I haven't had chance to read it through, but every so often I pick it up and read parts of it. It includes poems by H. W. Longfellow, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Edwin Arlington Robinson; also many other poets, some of whom are contemporary. The verses are often not the most famous by those authors, which creates a sense of discovery while reading. It's a good break from fiction.

My favorite author of Maine fiction is Ruth Moore, who grew up on Gott's Island. Spoonhandle is my current favorite, set in a fishing town on a Maine island. Others I enjoyed are: Candelmas Bay, A Fair Wind Home, and Speak to the Winds. The Weir is perhaps her most famous novel, though when I first read it I had trouble getting into it. You might have better luck than I. I just bought an old hardback copy of The Fire Balloon but I haven't read it yet. For a short and interesting biography of Ruth Moore, go to:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Books set in Maine

Hey guys, I almost hate to post and move on from the breathtaking achievement that is Diana's last post! Probably we all feel the same.

But, I want to post these book recommendations before I forget about them! The first book takes its title from the slogan Maine: The Way Life Should Be which is apparently printed on a sign that you see just after crossing over the Maine border (I have to admit that I did not notice this icon but will look out for it next time!) I really enjoyed this book, which could be characterized as fast-paced chick-lit with recipes(yay, I love books with recipes!) It was well-written and amusing and I probably would have enjoyed it even if it had been set in Spokane, Washington. Of course, because the setting is Mount Desert Island I REALLY enjoyed it! For more of a book synopsis click here.

The Lobster Chronicles by Linda Greenlaw is a riveting piece of non-fiction. Greenlaw returns to her hometown on Isle-au-Haut to work as a lobsterman (according to the author there is no such word as lobsterwoman!) I was so entranced by this book that I immediately went on read her previous book The Hungry Ocean. It was interesting too, but not quite so much as this one. Maybe cause there is less about Maine in it! ;->

Anyway, if you read either of these, I hope you like them as much as I did!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Winter Bliss on Mt. Desert Island

How I missed all of you on my recent trip to Maine!!! It was incredible! We drove through a blinding snow and woke the next day to a clear, crisp, frozen world. Hope you recognize this panorama from Trenton as we approached the island.

Somesville had so many wonderful views. The mill pond had such incredible colors, I had to take a picture every time we passed it. We spent most of the morning there. I was hoping to paint the view from inside the old house, but it was colder inside than out! I think next time I will paint like Hopper in the car!!As you may have heard we had a mix-up on closing the house so all the pipes had been drained and the house was all closed up. I was fortunate that one of my friends let me stay in one of her rentals in Southwest Harbor.

More views of Somesville!!! We then went out to the camp. The road had been plowed, but was still all snow. We walked from the end of the driveway into the camp. I was so taken by the stillness and beauty of the woods. The lake was just freezing over down the sides of the lake. In front of the house the water was still flowing and looked much the same as September except for bits of snow on Beach and Bernard. Anyone for a swim?

The days just flew by as the island is in darkness at four o'clock in the afternoon. You really have to get up early to enjoy the day. Next year we need to do a December trip!!! I wanted to go to Monhegan, but the boat only runs Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It makes one trip and then turns around. I was trying to go Monday and return on Wednesday, but we woke up to snow on Monday. The ferry is weather permitting so if you get there it could be a while before you are able to get off!! We had to leave a few days early as a huge storm was due.

Nancy Bea thanks for sending me notes on posting!! I'll leave you with these two views of the head of Somes Sound and then another view of the Sound from Sargent drive.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Monhegan twilght

That is a gorgeous painting, Eliza! I love the backlit garden plants against the graceful forms of the very tall spruces in the background. And the house nestles in there so perfectly. Can't wait to see more (from everyone).
Our trip to N.Y. was lots of fun. Thinking over Nancy Bea's reaction to Peter Poskas' paintings of Monhegan, and even her reaction to Mount Desert compared to Monhegan, I realized that the Maine experience is extremely dependent on the weather. If you don't have much time there, and your whole week, or two weeks, is marred by constant rain and fog, it totally affects your experience of the place. You might know in your rational mind that it must be beautiful when the sun is out, yet your memory of Maine will be dreary and wet and depressing. I have had guests who are amazed when the fog lifts and the can see the mountains and the colors, even though they have enjoyed their first few rainy days of vacation. The only way to really experience a place is to be there for longer periods of time, or in different seasons. Then you can tolerate and even enjoy fog for a while.

Another way of saying this is that we were incredibly fortunate to have perfect weather when we were on Monhegan, and the colors were brilliant and almost surreal. There was one evening when the sky was perfectly clear and brilliantly colored from red to orange to yellow, violet, and blue. There was one hardy soul who was actually trying to paint in the dusk. I don't know how he could see. The best I could do was to take lots of digital photos and interpret the colors from my mental notes. Here are two of my paintings of that evening.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bright Lights, Big City

Three of the Guild took a road trip to New York yesterday. Alex had to pick up her painting (which by the way, won a big prize!) from the Allied Artists of America annual show at the National Arts Club, and Eliza had to deliver some work for an upcoming show at Sherry French Gallery.

The other main purpose of the trip was to look at the Peter Poskas show, New England Revisited, at Spanierman Gallery. This show was reputed to include a large percentage of paintings of Maine and in particular, Monhegan Island, where of course we just were a few months ago. There was an added point of interest in that Poskas used to show with Sherry French gallery, where Eliza and I both now exhibit. So, interest was high on many levels.

My review of the show: I liked the CT farm pieces, but I found the Monhegan pieces to be too bland for my taste, almost unrecognizable as Monhegan in fact. Blurred edges, pretty pastel shades, soft and flowery. Huh? Admittedly, I only visited Monhegan the once, but the way Posakas sees Monhegan is not the way I see it. When I first stepped foot on to that island I felt a kind of zinging in my blood...a heady sense of heavy rock and brilliant sky, an almost crushing feeling of desperate, hard, human toil amidst the intense beauty. I guess my vision of Monhegan aligns more closely with that of George Bellows...all knife-edged rock and crash of waves and strong colors and sharp contrast. Poskas's Monhegan vision was pretty gentle, soft-edged and pastel in color. If not for recognizing various places, I would have thought we had visited two different islands! Of course, there are seasonal differences: he must paint there in the summer, and I was there in the Fall. And I should add that both Eliza and Alex completely disagreed with my perspective on the Poskas show...both finding it much more to their taste than I did. And that is why there is more than one artist working in the world at any time: we all have our unique viewpoints. Vive les differences!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Part of the September 2007 trip included a few days on Monhegan Island. While my fellow Maine Landscape Guild members painted en plein air, I found lots of views to photograph which I am now turning into paintings. This is a new painting of a garden I passed while walking back from the lighthouse. The tangle of flowers was back lit in an interesting way which added to a feeling of intimacy and discovery. This painting will be on display at the Sherry French Gallery in the "Flowers in February" exhibition.

Monday, December 10, 2007

. . .and a little more...

If you do a 180 degree turn from the view Nancy Bea just posted, this is what you see. I did this little oil sketch this summer, trying to capture the usual daily activity at the Ansleys' camp. The dock was rocking, dogs were running back and forth past my feet, and there was a lot of commotion, but you don't see any of that because I was trying to concentrate on what stayed still. The painting is now at the Gross McCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia, having been part of their summer show. I'll be using it as a study for my next painting, a larger version of this view with a little more activity.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Little More Long Pond...

Well, Alex,that was a beautiful and moving post! You're a natural at this blogging stuff. Since we were on the subject of Long Pond I thought I'd post this little painting of it I did, sitting on Diana's lakeside porch on Mount Desert Island. Was it the first evening we got there? Or maybe when we got back to the cabin after our rainy day of painting at Seawall. Can't recall now.

Alex's post made me think of this piece, because it and another plein air (the rainy morning near Seawall one) are currently in the Small Works show at Artists' House Gallery in Olde City. I am going to the Sunday reception tomorrow, 1-4. If any of you are around please come too!

By the way, I uploaded a page of all the paintings I did on our September trip:
Maine plein air 9/07
Five of these are currently hanging on gallery walls: Sherry French Gallery has all three of the Monhegan ones up, and then two from Mount Desert Island at Artists' House. Five out of eight is pretty good odds, for me anyway.

Last Light on Long Pond, oil on canvas laid to board, 4 x 6 inches

Friday, December 7, 2007

More Long Pond

While we're on the subject of Long Pond, I wanted to add that Long Pond is my favorite place on Earth. It's the place where I feel most at peace with my senses fully tuned. I first went there as a young teenager with my family, and I met Diana, another member of this guild. Who knew that, almost forty years later, we would still hang out together and even paint together?

There are other places in Maine that come in as close seconds to Long Pond. One of them is Monhegan, a jewel of an island down the coast from Mount Desert. Undoubtedly we will be writing a lot about Monhegan and our experiences there. And there is the little island where my brother spends time in the summers. There will be others, I'm sure, if I keep on exploring Maine as I hope to do. But Long Pond is first in my heart.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Hi everyone and welcome to The Maine Landscape Guild blog! The Maine Landscape Guild started out as a group of four painter friends who went to Maine to paint in September of 2007. When we came back, I was so still entranced by my Maine experience that I did not want it to end. I decided to start up a blog for our little group to use to post about our trip, our future trip, our paintings from the last trip, and essentially all things Maine. We had jokingly agreed to call our group The Maine Landscape Guild, on one of those long car rides, with our motto of course being "Remember the Maine (landscape guild!)" We are planning our group's return trip for next September, and have already grown to include two more painters who have thrown in their lot with us painting-in-Maine nuts. So anyway, here we go with the blog, and lets see where it takes us. Right back to Maine I hope!

Rainbow over Long Pond, Mount Desert Island photo: N.B. Miller Click on the image to enlarge.