“In nature, light creates the color, in a picture, color creates the light. – Hans Hoffman
Words shared by artist Claire Bigbee as she traveled the state looking for inspiration for her 2021 show…
“Last fall, I took a ride up to Franklin to check the wild blueberry barrens in Hancock county. One of my girlfriends showed me pictures of the magnificent barrens in the fall. This rugged and vast stretch of Maine beyond Bar Harbor, where half of Maine’s 85 million pounds of commercially harvested wild blueberries grow, is hardscrabble, quiet, and thinly populated. Fields of the low-bush blueberry plants that weren’t raked and harvested, about half of them, transform into a brilliant red. The raked fields turn a browner red. Bordering forests of deciduous and evergreen trees provide color contrast and texture to undulating fields of the ankle- and knee-high bushes so expansive that the landscape sometimes feels like the Midwestern plains.
I was stunned at this magnificent sight of rolling hills and eye-popping colors. I hadn’t ever heard of the blueberry barrens, so this was a real treat for me to paint. The wind kept blowing my easel down, so I finally gave in and painted the canvas on the ground. I spent the day there alone, soaking in the electric range of colors and absolute solitude. The barrens were more than I imagined and well worth the trip and funny moments that usually occur on a painting trip.
Cows have always been a theme in my work since I lived in Taos, New Mexico, in 1986 for 9 months with my two-year-old daughter. We lived in an adobe under a sacred mountain, and there was a cow farm next to us. Cows are very social and have incredible memories. They recognize individual faces, and they will walk a mile to greet you. Cows are intelligent, they recognize their names, and they love giving kisses, cuddles, and even jump when they’re happy.
I have been attracted to pastoral fields and the beauty of herds of cows dancing around their morning routines. They care about each other. Who doesn’t love cows?
My painting Blooming Rose is about pre-dawn light when the sky explodes with pinks, reds, and violets.
It doesn’t last long at all. I can miss it in the four minutes it takes to ride my bike from my house to the marshes. Pink is a shocking color, a forbidden color. It does not exist in the light spectrum. But pink is the color of hope. It has a calming effect and reassures our emotional energies. And we can all use a little of that after this last year dealing with the shock of the pandemic and how it affected so many people worldwide. We can never underestimate the power of pink.”