When Charlotte and I arrived at Corea in September of 2003, it had been 40 years since I had spent two summers there. I am not certain what the primary motivation to return was. I had not done paintings of the ocean since I worked on Monhegan Island in the 1960s and Matinicus in 1973-4, just before moving to Nova Scotia. I did a few coastal works in Nova Scotia including Cape Breton and also Newfoundland. Over the passage of time, I came to believe that painting coastal subject matter in a realistic manner had become clichéd. In other words, the public looking at one of Andrew Wyeth’s coastal pictures would identify with the subject matter more than the art. So, with this in mind I turned my attention to subject matter that was not so obviously pictorial, which I found in regions of inland Maine.
It is possible that 2003, being the 60th anniversary of Marsden Hartley’s career ending in Corea may have been a partial motivation. Charlotte and I and other acquaintances in October of 1999 had walked into Katahdin Lake on the afternoon of the 60th anniversary of Hartley’s having gone in there, lead by my old friend, Caleb Scribner. Once returned to Corea, we threw roses into the harbor on the date.
For whatever the motivation was, we teamed up with my friend David Little and returned to Corea each September for three weeks until 2008. Perhaps I wanted to challenge myself to take a fresh look at subject matter I had spent a lot of time with years earlier.
Over this same span I spent three weeks later October staying at Sullivan Harbor at Edgewater Cabins where I almost exclusively worked from the brilliant blueberry barrens of the Franklin area, dismayed in successive years to see that massive equipment had removed the beautiful granite boulders from the fields, which forced me to seek deeper and deeper fields that had not yet been dessimated.
I should mention that the first time I exhibited in Maine was in 1963 at the West Gouldsboro Post Office with my college friend, the painter Tony Vajs. I still have a couple of paintings with the old $3.00 prices on the back. I didn’t sell any but Tony sold one. Maybe that’s why he decided to move to Maine from Pennsylvania.
In earlier years I got great enjoyment from painting the surf in the grand tradition. George Bellows was my inspiration. Bellows was from Columbus, Ohio, which was my family seat, so I was aware of his work at the Columbus Art Museum when I first fell in love with art. I was fortunate years later to own a number of fine examples of his paintings and drawings.
Many successful marine artists were able to paint what looked like the ocean, but had difficulty capturing the sense of movement. Bellows, who used to push a wheelbarrow around Monhegan, often churned out three 16 x 20 masterpieces a day. One of the Monhegan Bellows paintings I owned is now in the Monhegan Museum.
I wanted to see if I could find the means within myself to deal with this coastal splendor in a fresh way. You can decide how well I reached my goal.
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