An Artist’s Retreat – Notes from Claire Bigbee

Every artist needs time away. Time away from their studio. Time away from their usual places. Time away from life. For artist Claire Bigbee, that time elsewhere was spent early this summer near a small state park on the coast of Maine.

Airy Blue Skies at Casco Bay

“I decided to rent a cabin at Wolfe’s Neck Center near Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in June to work on my September show. I booked their senior cabin and off I went,” shares Bigbee. “I invited my friend and artist Ingunn Joergensen, and we escaped to a slice of heaven for a while.”

Pastoral views have been a theme in Bigbee’s landscape painting since she lived in Taos, New Mexico thirty-two years ago. The cow farm she lived next to was an inspiration. She observed them daily and often into the evenings. It was then her cow passion started.

Buttercup Pastures at Wolf's Neck Farm #1

 

“When I first drove into the state park camping grounds, the back-way by mistake, of course, I stopped the truck and was struck with the view. It was the same view I had been imagining,” says Bigbee. “I spent an hour watching the cows pasture up through the buttercups fields.  From a long way off to the fence, they came to greet me, just as Ingunn came rolling. Our favorite of the herd was Alice.” 

Around the turn of the century Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, where Bigbee grew up, was settled with fishing boats and farmlands along the sandy, rocky coast. Cows grazing along a backdrop of sky and ocean was a familiar sight. Now at Wolf’s Neck Woods State Park the organic farming and gorgeous views with rolling pastures of sheep and cows still have Casco Bay in the background. This scene is just what Bigbee loves to paint.

Buttercup Fields, A Quiet Escape by Casco Bay

“The one cow in the foreground of Buttercup Fields, A Quiet Escape by Casco Bay is the cow Ingunn patted. Her name is Alice,” shares Bigbee. “These creatures are so well connected to us.”

Artist Claire Bigbee

Presently, Bigbee’s show is at Shows on Maine Art Hill in Kennebunk with Ingunn Joergensen and John LeCours.The gallery at 10 Chase Hill is open seasonally but will feature Bigbee’s works until September 20. After which, her work can be seen at 14 Western Avenue in Kennebunk at the main gallery.  All galleries open at 10 am. Please check the website for seasonal closing times.

Click here to see the virtual show

Click here to read more about Bigbee

Lucie Boucher and Bernie Huebner – Artists at The Works

Bernie Huebner and Lucie Boucher are not only partners in business but partners in life.  We want to welcome them to The Works on Maine Art Hill and share a bit of their story with you.
From Bernie…
“I don’t recall just which year it was, though it must have been around 2006. We decided to turn professional and try to make a living as glass artists.  I do know it was winter because Lucie and I had to bundle up to drive to Solon. We were out to visit our friends Roy Slamm and Lihua Lei, a good cabinetmaker and a performance artist, who are friends of ours.  Lucie had been experimenting with glass, trying to see what she could do with light passing through edge-on.
I had used a skill saw to cut several grooves in an old two-by-four to help the pieces of glass stand up. I remember coming into Roy and Lihua’s kitchen clumsily carrying six feet of two-by-four and these fragments of glass. I stomped the snow off my boots and set the wood down on their washing machine.  By luck, Roy had clamped a large utility light onto the refrigerator next to the washing machine so that its light faced backward, reflecting off the wall behind.
All four of us, each a visual artist of one kind or another, saw “it” at the same moment. The potential of glass to be lit from behind by reflection while sitting upright in a wood base. Abstracts, representationals, portraits, manipulables, different colors overlapping and creating secondary and tertiary colors, shapes and negative spaces combining to make new shapes and spaces.
As they say, you could have heard a pin drop.  The rest, and dozens of designs later, is–as they also say–history.”
These two amazing artists share their creations at The Works, a new Maine Art Hill gallery at Studios on Maine Art Hill in Kennebunk. We are thrilled to have them with us and look forward to representing them year-round at this unique and exciting new space.
Find us at 5 Chase Hill Road, Kennebunk Maine. The Works on Maine Art Hill is open every day at 10. Check our website for seasonal closing hours.

Artist Rick Hamilton

I was asked the other day about how I got started painting. I think it was 1999. I was living up on the Eastern Prom on Munjoy Hill in Portland Maine. There was a family in the apartment building below me that had a 10 yr old daughter. One day she had her paints out on the front lawn working. I started talking to her and she asked if I would like to try painting. I said sure and really liked it. I think within a week or so I bought my first watercolor paint kit. I just fell in love with painting. I started painting flowers. I have never taken any painting classes or sought out any training. I just think of what I want to paint and keep practicing till I get to a point I’m happy with. I started painting people at about 2012. It took a long time to get the hands and feet to a place I was happy with. Also, the eyes are hard for me. Oh and the hair. Damn, I guess every part is tricky for me. Necks were easy. I do love the way I represent people and that is part of the reason I do not want to take any classes or training. I don’t want to mess with my style. So this is some of how I got started.

My main motivation behind my work is making connections with people. I love to talk about my work and to hear how it may affect someone. I am a self-taught artist. I use wooden panels that I put together myself. When I am working on a piece I use multiple layers of paint. I use sanders, scrapers, and heat to create textures. I don’t paint from photographs or models. All of the images are from my head. I may be having a conversation with someone and hear a saying or sentence that inspires a painting. Or maybe I would hear a line in a song that puts an idea in my head.

The gallery is open every day at 10 am. To see all of Rick Hamilton’s available work, click here.

A Little Local Color – Bigbee, Joergensen and LeCours, A Three Artist Show

Capturing and celebrating the colors of Maine is one of the prime desires of a New England artist. It is both a skill and a talent artists Claire Bigbee, Ingunn Joergensen and John LeCours share.  

This talented trio is featured for three weeks at Shows on Maine Art Hill opening September 1. The artists will attend an opening reception at 10 Chase Hill on Saturday, September 1 from 5 – 7 PM.

When three artists together are grouped together, there needs to be a sense of cohesiveness, a thread that weaves through and connects. For this show, it is color.

Natalie Lane, the gallery’s director, says, “This upcoming show has three of Maine Art Hill’s newest artists. Even when painting different subjects these very talented artists have extraordinarily compatible color palettes. It seemed a very natural pairing of talent. This show is going to be stunning.”

For John LeCours, his soft, almost smokey palette is one of his trademarks. LeCours is an oil painter who paints in the tradition of JMW Turner and James Abbott MacNeil Whistler.

Nederzee Daydream #12

Artist John LeCours

“My central aim in painting is to create beautiful imagery. My creative process centers on a direct and intuitive response to nature and its elements.” LeCours explains. “I hope to evoke a response in the viewer to these experiences.”

Claire Bigbee feels much the same way. Even though she paints in both oil and acrylic, her colors and dreamy palette enhance what Mother Nature has created. There is a sense of energy. 

Serenity & Airy Skies at Casco Bay - Triptych by Claire Bigbee

Artist Claire Bigbee

“While the composition and light may attract me to a scene, it is the free use of color and expression that I love,” shares Bigbee.  “The sky is vast, and the pregnant clouds shadow the marsh and river. It is breathtaking and mysterious, and leaves me wordless.” 

For Bigbee, everything is interconnected and has a genuine feeling of oneness. Friend and artist Ingunn Joergensen often mentions that same connectedness with nature, her work, and her audience. 

Joergensen shares, “I still try to recreate my impressions in a simple, and hopefully to the viewer, peaceful and contemplative way. I do not strive to recreate the landscape in a photo correct way, but rather the emotions it brings out. The transparency or translucency of it.”

A Wider Horizon by Ingunn Joergensen

 

Artist Ingunn Joergensen

Joergensen is one of Kennebunkport’s own and another oil painter. She is well known for her barns and stark landscapes. They will undoubtedly have a part in this show, yet be prepared to embrace her color, as well. 

“I see many things just for their color. Not so much in shape or line but in patches of color. That may come as a surprise to many as I am known for a rather neutral palette in my work,” says Joergensen. “This spring and summer I spent many hours alongside the Kennebunk River just observing the constant change of colors, deep indigo turning into a rich turquoise or the brightest of blue fading into a mellow purple right before my eyes.”

No matter which style is favored, this show is sure to exhibit the dynamic color palette of Maine. 

The artists look forward to discussing their work and process at the opening, September 1. Shows on Maine Art Hill is at 10 Chase Hill Road. Open daily, 10 AM to 5 PM. FMI maine-art.com or 967-0049.

Click here to see the entire collection of work in this show as well as the virtual tour.

To see more work or read more about each artist, click the links below.

STORIES AND INSIGHTS

 Ingunn Joergensen 

 John LeCours 

Claire Bigbee

ARTIST PAGES

Ingunn Joergensen 

 John LeCours

Claire Bigbee

Pop Up Artist Donald Rainville

Featured Artist, Donald Rainville is the guest artist for Pop Up beginning Tuesday, August 28  through Monday, September 3. Read on to learn more about his inspiration, his process, and his work.

August 28 to September 3

While many children climb trees, as a young boy who grew up in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1960’s, I spent an inordinate amount of time in trees—little did I know the education I was giving myself at the time! Foregoing acceptance to art school at the Massachusetts College of Art, I parlayed my interest in the natural world by attending the Essex Institute of Agriculture in Hawthorne, Massachusetts, studying Forestry and Ornamental Horticulture. Upon graduation, I entered the world of high-end antique and art restoration. For twenty years, I was able to hone colorist skills and the ability to experiment with diverse materials; the consistent nature of such refined work is in direct contrast to how I approach my paintings.

Painting primarily on board with house oil paints, I employ action painting techniques. By utilizing house oils, there is less interruption between myself and the application of paint—I am able to achieve random and spontaneous effects and have more direct access to the fluidity of the medium; to “be literally ‘in’ the painting” to quote Jackson Pollock.  No brushes are used in my work, as brushes impede the ability to manipulate paint, and diminish the paint’s ability to dictate form—I work with torn shapes of lightweight cardboard, and at times, actual plant material to apply paint. The dynamic nature of the paint, in addition to utilizing organic materials, links me to the textural nature of real and imagined landscapes with a sense of place, volume, and depth. While my work most often starts with abstract intensity, eventually there is a concentrated focus on refinement. In truth, the last 10% of any painting—the final refinement—takes 90% of the time to complete.

Primarily, my work focuses on “treescapes” and the never-ending inspiration provided by Maine and New England forests—I liken my paintings as orchestrations of visual music, much like jazz which is different from more formalized concepts of music. My paintings are invented as they proceed, and as each portion of the composition comes forward on a moment by moment basis, the components are random and abstract, yet consciously orchestrated—the growth of a living forest works in much the same way.

I presently maintain my studio in Camden, Maine where I live year round with my wife Michele, our cat (“Kringle”) and a Welsh corgi (“Chauncey”).  We enjoy exploring the forests and coast of Maine, especially Acadia and Reid State Park in Georgetown. Time is also spent working on the restoration of our circa 1804 cape house, and conducting historical research of the house or on antiques we have purchased.

Rainville will be showing his work at Pop Up on Maine Art Hill at 5 Chase Hill Rd. in Kennebunk from August 28 to September 3. The gallery is open every day at 10 am. For more info about Rainville and his work, follow this link to his website. www.donaldrainville.com

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It’s all Perspective – Insights from Artist Liz Hoag

Having a show is a big responsibility for an artist.  There is so much to think about, and the pressure is quite intense. We love it when we hear from our artist about the process of the work they produced for a show and most of all that it was fun.

Artist Liz Hoag says, “I’m excited about the small paintings. I actually went a little wild with them.”

When she says her “small paintings” she is referring to two series she painted for her 2018 Summer Show here at Shows on Maine Art Hill, Limbs and Treeline.

The works in the Treeline series feature beautiful blue skies set in stunning contrast to a cluster of trees with which Hoag spent quite a bit of time.

 Treeline IV Treeline VI Treeline XIII

“This is the same group of trees. I painted them over and over each time from a different perspective,” shares Hoag. “As I moved and changed view I always kept my color palette and structure in mind.”

The story is different for the Limbs series. Upon first sight, these works seem more abstract, but when viewed from a distance, the viewer begins to see the subject in much the same way as Hoag does. 

Limbs IV Limbs II

Limbs I Limbs III

“This is one tree, the same tree from Seaside Survivor, a larger piece I have at Maine Art Hill,” says Hoag. “I painted this tree in ten sections, same perspective. I had a great deal of fun with this.”

Seaside Survivor

Hoag’s love of trees and inland Maine is evident in the collection of work. It is a lovely representation of the other side of Maine.

“Much of my show is a continuation of my trees, composition, and light. The views of inland waters and streams rather than the ocean, and of course, the woods.”

Hoag lives and works in Portland, but she celebrates the entire state. Her work is a beautiful representation of all of Maine’s beauty.

“Paths, trees, branches, color, light, air, open space, water,” says Hoag, “we have it all here in Maine.”

To see her 2018 Summer Show in its entirety click here.

Until August 30, Hoag’s work can be found at 10 Chase Hill Rd at the Show gallery. However, she is represented year round and can always be seen at The Gallery at 14 Western Ave.  Visit us in person and online to see our entire collection of her work click here Liz Hoag – Artist Page

To read more about Liz Hoag and her process and get a peek into the stories behind the artist, click here. Liz Hoag – Stories and Insights 

Mobile Artist Mark Davis – an interview with M. Sebastian Araujo

Mark Davis is a Boston-based artist who creates three-dimensional kinetic sculpture, including free-standing, wall-mounted and hanging mobiles. His work is known throughout the United States and beyond. Last spring Davis joined the Maine Art Hill family.  

We are lucky enough to have permission to share an interview Davis did with M. Sebastian Araujo, the director, and founder  of the Montgomery Center for the Arts in Montgomery, VT 

From Mark Davis’s interview with M. Sebastian Araujo …

Sometimes amid the flurry of life, one finds something that stirs the imagination the Mobile Art of Mark Davis did that for me…Recently while he was installing a show, we had a chance to have a chat about what stirs his imagination.

Waxing Moon

What, in the “big world around you,” affects your creativity?

 That is an easy answer for me….the world of nature.  For whatever reason, I am in awe of the world of nature in all its forms. Organic shape comes naturally to me as a language to discover and develop.  Also, this includes the idea of human nature.  Truthful human nature.  My work is always about joyful expression, but it is not a shallow surface discourse.  It incorporates the deeper tensions of being alive in your body

Silver Dove

What changes do you see on the art scene today…?

It seems to me there are two ideas going on.  There is a sense of art as a commodity, and a sense of art as a continuing conversation, an ideal of human expression that travels through time and space.  Art as a commodity is something invented by a business-minded community to show art as a concept to be purchased.  The concept is all important, and the execution is superfluous.  With the kind of art I make, the artist goes about expressing a concept through formal methods of honing his craft and finding more and more ways to discover what is in himself and how to get that out into the world in a beautiful, provocative way.  In terms of how I view this divide, I say let the idiots spend their millions of dollars on a pine board with a blue line painted on it, and let me continue on my path.

Archipelago

What do you think makes a person want to acquire art?

Honestly, art is such a subjective thing.  All art is not made for all people.  You should expose yourself to all kinds of art and decide what speaks to you the most fully.  The art historian Kenneth Clark said that when you first lay eyes on a wonderful work of art, it “sings.”   It should be for the love of what you are seeing.

Proud Beast

Was there a  “shining lightbulb” moment in your career when you realized you were an artist? If so what was it?

It took me many, many years to think of myself as an artist.  For 15 years, I was a high fashion jeweler, which was more of a commodity and less intimidating to me. I had a moment when I was 14 years old when I was in the library and found a book on Alexander Calder.  Opening that book was like a shock wave going through my system.  I went home, studied the book and its images, then went to the hardware store and bought sheet aluminum and steel wire.  I then made a copy of Calder’s “Snowflakes” mobile exactly the way it looked in the book.  I just had that total understanding of what he was doing.  I used Duco glue to cement the wire to the circles. It was hanging over my parents’ bed when it all started to fall apart, and they were slowly rained on by little white circles!

Remembrance of Youth

How hard is it for an artist to survive in the world we live in today?

Honestly, it is awfully difficult to make a career out of making art, but perhaps it always has been.  You use the word “survive” and to me you mean to make a living.  I have been extremely lucky in my life to have people who believed in me and gave me opportunity and wisdom. Just being able to make a living doing my work has allowed me to keep working at my craft, always trying new ways of expanding the basic concepts that I employ.

Artist Mark Davis

We here at Maine Art Hill are thrilled to be representing Davis. Please visit The Work at Studios on Maine Art Hill at 5 Chase Hill Road in Kennebunk to see our entire collection of Davis’s mobiles.  

Can’t make it to Kennebunk? Click this link to see our collection of his work online. Mark Davis- Artist Page.

Pop Up Artist Kristine Biegel

Featured Artist, Kristine Biegel is the guest artist for Pop Up beginning Tuesday, August 21  through Monday, August 27. Read on to learn more about her inspiration, her process, and her work.

August 21 – August 27

Kristine Biegel is a Maine artist that truly finds inspiration close to home.  As a painter, she is completely and totally in love with the landscapes, seascapes, and people of her home state.  Quiet in subject matter, her paintings allow the viewer a glimpse into the lives of the strong, independent and proud people of Maine.

From the magnificent rocky coastlines to the peaceful beauty of hanging laundry, Kristine’s paintings are a mix of realistic and whimsical, with a deep overlapping of colors, creating rich and vibrant works of art.  Well placed patterns are used to guide the visual journey through the artwork and although no people are ever seen in her paintings there are hints of them throughout giving a sense of their strong and independent nature.

“As someone who loves to travel, I am always looking for inspiration in colors, textures, and landscapes around the world, and I can honestly say that very few places on earth have touched my creative soul as deeply as Maine.  There is truly something unique about Maine that inspires and calls to Artists to create.”

Kristine Biegel is the owner of The Creative Child and Adult Arts Studio. She works in the community with artists of all ages and abilities from memory care to preschool and she believes that everyone can make great art and works to empower through the arts, encouraging exploration in the studio and in the community.

Kristine has a BFA in Printmaking and a Masters in Education for Creative Arts. She is a professor of Expressive Arts and recently published her first book called I LOVE YOU TO TEN.

Biegel will be showing her work at Pop Up on Maine Art Hill at 5 Chase Hill Rd. in Kennebunk from August 21 to August 27. The gallery is open every day at 10 am. For more info about Biegel and her work, follow this link to her website. www.kristinebiegelart.com

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The Big Blue Sky – notes from Artist Janis Sanders

Sometimes with intent, sometimes not, artists become known for a certain style, a certain subject, even a certain color. Artist Janis Sanders has been part of Maine Art Hill for many years, and as those years pass he has become recognized for his skies, most especially his big, blue skies.

Beach Sky

Yes, the skies represent the clear, clean, open air of New England, but for Sanders, they mean even more.

“We all are children of nature and nurture, I’m no exception.  My background is Latvian. My parents emigrated to the United States through Ellis Island after WWII from a Displaced Person Camp in Germany, under the Displaced Persons Act of 1948,” shares Sanders.

After a week-long ride on an American freighter across a stormy Atlantic in November, Sanders’s parents each arrived with two suitcases, one hand each hand, and a couple of dollars. All offered by the US government.  A sponsor awaited in New York City, guaranteeing a job and housing for the family.

“My father took a job working construction. He traveled by train and worked fifteen hour days. After six months it was enough. He and my mother found a new sponsor in Syracuse, NY, and Dad landed a job in a steel mill,” explains Sanders. “Dad was always driven to get ahead and improve his circumstances, however, and with post-war construction booming everywhere he saw an opportunity. Chapman Lumber was building houses by the dozen, and my father took a job as a house painter.”

Sanders’s father excelled in the quality of his work and work ethic, and it wasn’t long before word got out.

“At first he started with side jobs, mostly nights. He went on the have his own very successful high-end home painting business,” says Sanders with pride. “Mom also worked full time most of those years.”

The Latvian community was tight-knit and remains so to this day. Even newly-formed bonds were tight, the community stuck together.    

“Saturdays for the kids were devoted to Latvian School at the church, full-fledged with homework and everything,” Sanders says with a smile. “Loyalty to each other and the Latvian culture were paramount as people assimilated and settled in.”

Everyone’s English was poor at the start. Sanders’s grandmother never learned, mainly due to the fact that she stayed home and took care of the family.  Sanders himself had no English at all when he entered school. Yet with time and persistence, many in his community not only learned to speak the language but proudly earned their American citizenship.  

Blue Island Skies

So where do the big blue skies come in?

“One dominant theme growing up was a tremendous, mainly unspoken, sense of bonding and loyalty,” says Sanders.  “My blue skies are not just a pretty thing, but for me, come from the need for a place to escape and also soar. I take pleasure in common, small, everyday things: what I paint, what I say, what I think, what I feel, who I am.”  

Cliff House and Roses

“I am thankful each day for even the smallest of things. Especially the big blue sky,” says Sanders. “I am so lucky to engage in this incredible endeavor.”   

To see more of Sanders’s work visit Maine Art Hill in Kennebunk. Open every day at 10 am. Call 207-967-0049 or www.maine-art.com

 

Richard Remsen – Thoughts on Glass

“My opinion is that all good artwork is storytelling. So what is the story I am telling? Am I just making a vase for flowers? Or is there some interesting story that I want to express,” says Richard Resmen, an artist at Maine Art Hill in Kennebunk.

Artist Richard Remsen

“Icons, like the Lobster, are very simple. When people see them they recognize what they are,” shares Remsen. “It draws on the history of their memories, and it gives an added dimension to the work.”

Remsen studied at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and received his BFA in Sculpture at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island. As an artist, Remsen studied glass blowing with Dale Chihuly, Fritz Driesbach, Dan Dailey and apprenticed with Dominic Labino.

Remsen returned to Maine after his time at RISD and established a sculpture studio specializing in bronze sculpture as well as blown and cast glass, in West Rockport, Maine. He has a versatile mix of tools and old technologies. His glass shop, one of the first hot glass studios in Maine, continues to be the catalyst of new designs. One of which is his lobster claw.

“With all my training, I still need to have that fresh look, that child-like attack or purpose,” Remsen says. “When you see children draw they take off. All children are born artists. The task is to retain some of that natural ability as the techniques become more complex.  I have to strip away all of it and  get back to the childlike approach to being spontaneous.”

Glassblowing is only one of Remsen’s skills. He loves the diverseness of the material and how it forces him to think fast and get right to the heart of the work, the story of it.

“It is such a spontaneous process. The glass is hot. I have to be moving. There is color. It’s like painting, but I use light and optics. Trying to figure out how the different colors will blend,” says Remsen. “Unlike painting where color is applying color on top of color, with glass you are working with opaque color and translucent color and transparent. They all blend to give you different effects. That is intriguing.”

Remsen has a collection of pieces at The Works on Maine Art Hill, part of Studios at 5 Chase Hill Road in Kennebunk. They are open every day at 10 am. FMI visit www.maine-art.com or call 207-204-2042.