On Saturday, May 28th, help us at Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture to celebrate the beginning of summer in the Kennebunks the best way we know how; with David Witbeck, New Work.
Witbeck is an artist with a special talent, a unique eye and an unconditional love for coastal life. His canvases are full of characters from working fishing villages and harbor towns. He captures the fabulous personality of the lobsterman and the sarcastic sass of the seagull while maintaining the charm and appeal of New England. He has an appreciation for their hard work, but also for their humor. “I’m most pleased when my paintings evoke smiles. Humor is an element too often missing in art,” says Witbeck. Living and working the Maine coast takes a sense of humor. This is evident in the subjects of his paintings.
Witbeck is no stranger to the working man. From truck driver to school teacher, journalist to photographer, he held many a job before finding success as an artist. His path was not straight or easy, but lucky for us he found his way. “I never had a studio as a photographer, always working on location, but in 2003 I rented a mill space to paint in in my spare time,” says Witbeck. It wasn’t long before his spare time became full-time. “By 2007, I was selling enough art to turn down the occasional photo job that came my way… and the rest is history,” he says with a humility we have grown to love at Maine Art.
That same humility comes though when Witbeck speaks of his mentors and his development as an artist. “When I first started painting again in 2001, after not having painted since 1968, I painted watercolors,” he says. It started out as a practical decision. “I found painting en plein air with acrylics next to impossible. The paint dried so fast on hot windy days, and oils made a mess of the leather upholstery on my then brand-new Outback,” he laughs. All that was left were watercolors.
It was then David discovered Edgar Whitney, a kind of guru for many watercolor painters. “The most important thing I took from him,” says Witbeck, “is his definition of an artist.” It was an epiphany of sorts to discover he didn’t have to change the course of Art History. He didn’t have to have something earthshaking to say. He didn’t have to alter the world. “According to Edgar Whitney,” David paraphrases, “an artist is simply a shape maker, a symbol finder and an entertainer.” This was Witbeck’s proverbial “ah-ha” moment. “Wow! What a relief. I can do that,” he laughs.
And that he can. His new show is full of interesting shapes and symbols that represent coastal life, and even a few rare pieces influenced by of his own life. Witbeck doesn’t often work from photographs. “Every once in a while,” he admits, “a photograph will trigger an idea.” Lobstah for Suppah and A Fine Catch are examples of these triggers; they were both inspired by a dory built by the Landing School in Arundel and a fond memory shared with his wife from the summer of ’88.
“This show is going to be a great deal of fun,” says gallery director Amy Lewia. “David is a character himself. Having him at the opening on the 28th will allow our customers an exciting chance to meet the man behind the work.” The Artist’s Reception will be held at Maine Art Paintings and Sculpture, 14 Western Ave. in Kennebunk, from 5-7 pm, and all are welcome to join.
These larger-than-life works and this incredibly talented artist need much more than just a night, so the celebration will last for three weeks. Through June 16th, David Witbeck’s show can be seen at Maine Art. We are open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. For more information please call 207-967-2803. The show can also be viewed online at www.maine-art.com starting today. Works will be available for purchase at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Come and celebrate summer on the coast of Maine. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world.
Read more about David Witbeck and his work on Maine Art’s Blog.
See our entire collection of Witbeck work on his Artist Page.
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