Deer Isle is on the far eastern side of midcoast Maine, in East Penobscot Bay. Further east is Bar Harbor, further west is Camden. It is an island, connected by a narrow bridge, with a stunning coastline featuring beautiful tidal coves at every turn and a plethora of hiking trails and preserves to explore.
I was intrigued to learn that the family cottage of my friend Liz where I stayed on Deer Isle was originally purchased by her great uncle in 1971 from the Olmsteads (the famed designer of central park) Prior to that, her Uncle Albert and Aunt Dorothea had been living for years on Eagle Island (across from Deer Isle, only accessible by boat) without running water or electricity. Though they were New Jersians, they preferred to go into near isolation to find their version of peace during a time of civil unrest. Their letters we found in the cottage described similar economic and social issues as we witness today.
To get a sense of where these places are, the maps below show Eagle Island and Deer Isle, in relation to the rest of the coast of Maine:
I am fascinated by the choice Albert and Dorothea made to decidedly move so far away from civilization. I often contemplate similar choices... I’ve always been a bit drawn to life in isolation. Not because I want to be alone, but because sometimes I think you just end up alone or in far away places in order to find internal peace. Or to make the art that comes from within without the influence or pressure of the outside world. It’s not easy to have your own mind these days, free from the loudspeakers of marketing, social media, and the stresses of the noisy world. This is a large reason art has become such a big escape for me.
That being said, it was easy to feel respite on this little strip of “Sunset” on Deer Isle, gazing at our star as it sets and watching the rest of the universe come alive above.
The sunset views from their cottage were wonderful, hence the name of this region of Deer Isle, “Sunset”. Liz said they called the sunsets by the number of cars that stopped to take pictures on the road in front of the house. “That was a 10 car sunset,” etc. I loved painting them, though the challenge to capture the colors is intense because they evolve so quickly. I would say, maybe 10-15 mins tops for the color application per painting. I did not begin with an underpainting for any of these sessions, which is obvious in how loose the compositions are. I'm really looking forward to working more versions into this series back in the studio based on the photos I took. More to come. Stay tuned!