When artist Bethany Harper Williams was young, she was introduced to Maine via a little spot just up the coast from us called Ocean Park. Even as a child, she was drawn to the water and knew her first visit to our coast would not be her last. She, like the rest of us, knew that once Maine’s saltwater gets in a person’s blood, it never leaves. Now she is lucky enough to call Biddeford Pool home.
Williams has always been creative, sketching, drawing, and painting, even as a child. “My parents have very amateur paintings of mine framed in their cottage,” Williams shares. “My grandmother passed down her old oil paint set when I was ten, and my grandfather built me an easel.”
She attended Concordia University in Montreal for Fine Arts and graduated with an Honors BFA in Graphic Design. “After graduating, I moved to Toronto and worked for a design firm. I stayed there for 15 years. I loved my job and the creative atmosphere.” After son number three in 1999, however, she left the firm to start her own small design business from home. “I figured I could be more flexible but still keep my creative side happy.”
“One Saturday afternoon, everyone was occupied, a rarity in my house. I brought out my paints which I had purchased on a just-in-case whim. I had a photo of one of my kids running with a kite on the beach in Biddeford Pool. Big beach, big sky, little person. I was very nervous,” admits Williams. “I painted all afternoon. The time flew by. I was in a zone and on a high. I painted until midnight.” Even at this point, she knew this was the beginning of something bigger.
It was William’s husband who first brought her back to Maine. He had been coming to Biddeford Pool since the early ’70’s.
“It started off taking a week or two of holiday. Then once I quit working full time, we spent the month of July and Labor Day weekend,” shares Williams. “We rented for many years and finally bought over ten years ago. The community has become home.”
Williams only painted a few paintings a year for the next few years, but all were inspired by summers in Biddeford Pool.
“It wasn’t until 2011 I decided to have a show,” says Williams. “I knew I wanted to do something in Biddeford Pool, but I didn’t know what. We ended up throwing a cocktail party for all our friends. Many friends had no idea I painted. It was a big success.”
This inspired her to want to go further with her painting and changed her focus from graphic design to painting.
To see Bethany Harper Williams Show in person, visit the Gallery at the Grand at 1 Chase Hill Road in Kennebunk from June 10 to July 5. The doors to the gallery open every day at 10 am. FMI call 207-967-0049 or www.maine-art.com/shows.