A Little History – Insights from Artist Erika Manning

Artist Erika Manning grew up in Maine and promptly left as soon as she graduated high school, professing she would never return. At this writing, she has been here for twenty-five years.

“I kind of flirt with wanting to travel and live somewhere else. However, the pull of this amazing place has kept me here,” Manning laughs. “I guess home is where one finds oneself consistently for twenty-five years.”

Manning was fortunate to be raised by a family that is a wonderfully wacky clan of artists and craftspeople. When she was quite young, she thought it was completely normal to have an enameling kiln in the kitchen and spend the day making batik and tie-die t-shirts.

“We made potato and linoleum prints and all sorts of great collages out of sea glass, milkweed pods, and rusty metal. I knew all sorts of ways to work with perspective before I was ten. We used to tape huge pieces of paper to the hallway walls and paint murals,” Manning explains. “All those experiences allowed me to start to think outside the box as far as what constitutes art and one’s creative practice. “

Manning considers herself a mixed media type of artist and fairly comfortable with many different mediums and techniques. Right now, she is focusing on painting using oils, and in doing so, stepping out of her comfort zone and learning new ways to manipulate the paint.

“The process of creating the work is the most wonderful yet the most frustrating thing,” Manning explains. “Every time I’m in the studio, I meet myself right where I am that day, which is sometimes fabulous and sometimes…well, not so fabulous.”

So now what happens for this lovely lady?

Manning explains in one simple sentence…

“I am taking a deeper dive into my process and exploring new work that is slowly birthing itself.”


Click to see the 2021 COLOR SHOW in its entirety.

Color in Nature – Artist Insights from Charles Bluett

As The Hummingbird Hovers or Through the Eyes of a Hummingbird Bird, for me, represents the sweet smell of sticky nectar in front of the bird. Itself a flash of truly amazing color,  it hums above the flowers.

Tutti Frutti is based on an Italian holiday I had as a child. It was my first real Italian sorbet.  I saw piled fresh, cool, and inviting on a sugared cone.

Just Joy has colors that resonate with the first thought of just how good life can be.

Gifts from The SeaFound, The Smooth Return and Pieces of Blue, sea glass hunting is my favorite of all themes.  For a second time, I witness how nature recreates the color within the glass, discarded by humans and reworked by nature.  Of course, they are also laced with happy memories of “the find” on some random beach as I stroll at peace with time and the environment around me.

Life Amongst the Blooms represents another passion of mine, gardening.  In this piece, I see the garden throwing up its brilliant blooms and blossoms.  

Color is my world, and I’m very grateful for the time I get to spend within it every day.

Click to see the 2021 COLOR SHOW in its entirety.

Click to read more about Charles Bluett.

Click to see all available works by Charles Bluett.

Scaling Up – Artist Insights from R. Scott Baltz

“In this show, COLOR,  there are a few examples of where there is a smaller piece, maybe 8×10 or 10 x 10 or maybe even 12×12,” tells Artist R. Scott Baltz. “I like these paintings, and while they are each a complete painting, I often decide to upscale it to a larger piece. This isn’t an uncommon thing for many artists.”

People find that while the colors and subject matter are similar, it is approached in a different way once he scales up to a larger size. 


“It’s purely about the real estate size of the canvas or panel. The larger I go, the more freedom it allows me to experiment,” says Baltz. “I also become more expressive with a brushstroke or using a palette knife or a scrapper when I am working large.”

Basically, the smaller version is a study, but for Baltz, it is about taking the idea to another level and scaling up.


Click to see the 2021 COLOR SHOW in its entirety.

Click to read more about R. Scott Baltz.

Click to see all available works by R. Scott Baltz.

10th Annual Choice Art Show 2021

On May 29, Shows on Maine Art Hill at 5 Chase Hill Road opens for the summer with the 10th Annual Choice Art Show, the only show curated by the public. This is our tenth year starting the summer off with this kind of show. Fourteen Artists, including five gallery alumni with forty-two new works on display.


For the last few years, Maine Art Hill has opened its summer season with the Choice Art Show. This year is no different. However, this year it officially opens a week earlier, Saturday, May 29. That is not all we are changing up. Celebrate and see for yourself as we honor a bit of our past with a bit of our present.

Owner John Spain says, “Time truly flies when you are having fun. Ten years! Due to this, the staff and I wanted to have a few new and exciting changes to the norm. When the idea of adding in alumni artists came up, we knew we had to do it.”

For those new to the Choice Show and a recap for the veterans, Maine Art begins the curation with eighty-four original works from fourteen artists, six pieces each. It is then narrowed down to three pieces from each artist. These three are carefully “chosen.”

This is where it gets exciting. One piece from each artist is named Artist’s Choice, the artist chooses. Then each artist has a Designer’s Choice, which is determined by local designer and community celeb Louis Hurlbutt of Hurlbutt Designs. And then there is the third and final choice, People’s Choice.

People’s Choice is always left up to the Maine Art Hill community to decide, both near and far. The last fourteen paintings to be featured in this kickoff show are decided upon by casting votes for a favorite piece from each artist. These are difficult decisions to make, especially with such stellar artists.

“We enjoy the entire process more and more each year,” says Gallery Director Natalie Lane. “To have the public be a part of the curation is truly unique, and the response is always overwhelming. This year’s artists have submitted pieces which made it extra challenging for online voters. It was tough to pick a favorite. Happily, it’s a fun challenge.”

The show opens Saturday, May 29, and runs through June 10 at Shows on Maine Art Hill at 10 Chase Hill Rd in Kennebunk. The gallery opens every day at 10 am and closes at 5 pm, with all Covid protocols being followed. For more information, please call the gallery at 207-967-0049



Featured artists include Gallery Artists Heather Blanton, Alex Dunwoodie, Jeffrey T. Fitzgerald, Rick Hamilton, Julie Houck, Ingunn Milla Joergensen, John LeCours, Jill Matthews, and Trip Park. Alumni Artists Christine Brenner, Christopher Castelli, Sandra L. Dunn, Holly Ready, Monique Sakellarios


Alex Dunwoodie – The Choice Show 2021

“When I turn my attention to painting, it is in search of peace, finding equilibrium. Trials bring life into focus.”
I find peace in the timelessness of light effects on the water. I want to paint subjects that make my heart happy. Something is thrilling about being at the edge of water, feeling the breeze where the water meets the shore, the smell, the sound –  it’s a powerful experience. It’s peaceful but also exhilarating.
The day two catamarans were cruising along, friends out on a nice day, with the sun dramatically dividing the water – I knew I wanted to paint it.  (August, seen above). I want to remember the sensation; I want that memory to last. Everyone has those afternoons they never want to end.
About the sailboat in the painting Freebird (see above), I simply love to see that sailboat. It cheers me whenever I see it. I’ll stop what I’m doing to admire it.
I find peace in nature, going for walks, and seeing the dark green cedars against the new green of early summer. Gray days are gorgeous! Gray days need to be celebrated more.
And walking the beach, looking for stones to bring home. I spend great amounts of time contemplating the colors and surfaces of the stones. The stones along the New England shore are so interesting! I’m painting the small joys in life; I want to celebrate them.
In Three Foxes Under a Tree, Under a Cloud is from a day out of Camden. I love days when the occasional cloud blocks the sun and the sky is still bright blue, but areas of the shore and water are in shadow.
Seeking peace and celebrating the small joys in life, these subjects center on nature and my surroundings. I enjoyed painting on a small, intimate scale this year. I don’t paint with an easel but hold my work in my lap and hold the brush like I’m holding a pen. They’re turned this way and that. I look at them very much as objects, with small illusions on their surfaces.

Below are several links to learn more about Dunwoodie and see all of her available works.

Alex Dunwoodie – Artist Page

Alex Dunwoodie – Insights and Stories from the Blog




Trip Park – The Choice Show 2021


“Oh, buoys. I first saw these colorful icons in Kennebunkport,” shares artist Trip Park. “Simply enough, they are striking to see every time I notice them. Their toy-like colors sometimes intertwined in their wire-framed & wood traps do something fun for me every time I put them to canvas.”


“This is the first-ever attempt I have made at doing singles,” shares Park. “I even threw in a shout-out to the famous, if not iconic, Maine (mainstay) LL Bean blanket stripes on one this time.”

Below are several links to learn more about Park and see all of his available works.

Trip Park – Artist Page

Trip Park- THE BLOG – Artist Insights and Stories

Trip Park Videos




Christopher Castelli – The Choice Show 2021

Christopher Castelli

These paintings are a departure from the landscapes I often paint. Spending more time in the studio this past year, I welcomed the opportunity to explore the subtle color shifts, shadows, and refractions that a vase of flowers can provide. 

Below are several links to learn more about  Castelliand see all of her available works.

Christopher Castelli – Artist Page




Sandra Dunn – The Choice Show 2021

 Asking an artist to talk about their art is like asking a plant to discuss horticulture. ~ Jean Cocteau
“This is how I feel when people ask me to talk about my art,” says artist Sandra Dunn. “I feel that on some level, artists paint because they cannot express their thoughts and feelings well in words – at least this is how it is with me.  But, I will try to put into words a bit about my art and process.”
“I paint what I find beautiful.  Painting for me is like meditation,” explains  Dunn. “When I am mixing colors and focusing on values and shapes, I am operating in my right brain, and all the chatter of the mind is shut down.”
“Painting for me is perhaps my one ‘real’ God-given gift.  I have tried to ignore it. I have even tried to minimize it at times in my life. It always comes back to me,” shares Dunn.  “I know now that even though I don’t completely understand the why, this is what I am here to do.”
“I hope that maybe my paintings bring a bit of joy to others  I want to capture and preserve a moment in time of something hopeful, beautiful, and uplifting,” she says. “I love painting flowers. I love painting Maine.  I love painting a spot of light touching the edge of a bird’s feathers or a cow’s ear.”
“My studio is at my home in Chelsea. I also teach art to pre-K through 8 students at the local school.  I have been doing this for 30 years! My students are my teachers in their openness to express and to create fearlessly,” says Dunn about her inspiration. “My husband of 20 years passed away in 2019.  He was a photographer, and his work brought me lots of inspiration as well.  I know he would be happy for me to keep on creating.”

Below are several links to learn more about Dunn and see all of her available works.

Sandra Dunn – Artist Page




Jill Matthews – The Choice Show 2021

I’m excited to share this new body of work I created in 2020 and into 2021. It was a very different year than I have ever seen. I faced challenges I had never experienced before.

With that said, I found myself enjoying coming to the studio this season. For me, it’s a very safe and familiar space, but also a space where I have the freedom to express myself in many ways. My studio gave me a bit of that back.


As far as the work goes…

Looking at this collection as a body of work in front of me today, I feel subconsciously much of that desire for calm and solitude and familiar surroundings came through. I chose to go back to many of the themes and styles I have worked with in the past. Not recreating but reexamining. There was a comfort in that.

I also found myself going to places locally that gives me peace and comfort and found myself painting them in a calming way. This comes through in my work and is certainly how I was feeling in those moments.

I’m thrilled about this show and looking forward to times that are more of what we remember life to be.


Below are several links to learn more about Matthews and see all of her available works.

Jill Matthews – Artist Page

Jill Matthews- Insights and Stories from the Blog


John LeCours – The Choice Show 2021


In my paintings, I am always trying to convey a feeling, an atmosphere, a mood.  I am in search of the ethereal moments in life; that transcend the normal day-to-day events. To me; that is what inspires me to paint. I try to capture a “soulful essence“ of a harbor or a scene.  It is really my ‘Maine’ focus.
I truly feel rewarded when a collector brings their own life experiences to one of my paintings and
feels an ultra-strong emotional connection to one of my pieces: to the point where they want to have it in their own home. That completes the circle of creativity and is such a wonderful thing.
For me, the heart-to-heart connection really is it.

Below are several links to learn more about Hamilton and see all of his available works.

John LeCours – Artist Page

John LeCours- THE BLOG – Artist Insights and Stories