Past Show

“The Artist’s Muse: Favorite Places to Paint” is a new exhibition at Camden Falls Gallery that features a collection of plein air and studio paintings by artists Scott Moore, George Van Hook, Peter Yesis, Jonathan McPhillips, and Brad Betts, From quaint villages and quiet harbors to verdant pastures and majestic mountains, the show reflects many of these artists’ favorite painting spots throughout Maine and beyond. The exhibition opened on September 17 and will remain on view through the end of the season.

We usually associate an artist’s muse with a particular person or spiritual mentor who in some way inspires creativity. In the case of plein air painters, it is often a particular landscape or a specific aspect of a small geographic patch that transports the artist to that sublime state where a new interpretation of a well-loved view emerges. Who can say why we are affected so deeply by the silhouette of two mountain ridges glimpsed through a sinewy grove of spruce? Perhaps it is in the same way that we can identify a loved one even from the nape of their neck or the line of their shoulders, transmitting their soul’s uniqueness.

As artists attempt to convey the essence of a place on canvas, they often develop intimate connections with favorite locations that spark their imaginations and fuel their passion for painting. Through focused observation and ongoing interactions with the natural world, plein air painting offers artists a chance to engage in “conversations” with a particular place that may last for hours, days, weeks, or even years. Frequently, a plein air painter must wrestle with a particular landscape throughout its seasonal phases to keep this visual and spiritual dialogue alive. For each of our featured artists, the timeless textures of rock, water, foliage, and sky, constantly transformed by light and atmosphere, inspire recurring visits to both familiar and less widely-known locations throughout the region.

Longtime Stockton Springs resident Scott Moore, although not known as a “plein air” artist, spends a great deal of time out-of-doors and has a deep appreciation for the natural beauty of Maine. He often finds inspiration in the colorful corners of his hometown, the untamed beauty of remote woods and ponds, and the charming character of Maine’s less-frequented coastal and island villages. His canvases frequently capture the splendor of iconic Maine sites such as Monhegan Island and Acadia National Park, as well.

George Van Hook, of Cambridge, NY, has spent years traveling and painting throughout the United States and Europe, as well as many summers painting along the Maine mid-coast and on North Haven Island. Van Hook describes his paintings as primarily a visual response to the selected environment, be it landscape, figure or still life. “I want the color to be beautiful and the drawing firm and secure”, he says. “The paintings are a marriage of external and internal forces – what emerges on the canvas should be a reflection of both the beauty of the world and the artist’s most inner response.”

For Searsport artist Peter Yesis, landscape painting is a product of his love and respect for nature, as well as an opportunity to participate in the beauty and natural energy of the Maine woods, waterways and terrain. His favorite natural element is water, and he never tires of capturing the unpredictability and splendor of Maine’s seascapes. Yesis can frequently be found, paints in hand, clambering over rocks at Acadia, Schoodic Point, or standing on a narrow beach in Boothbay or the harbor in Camden and other coastal areas in pursuit of the most engaging view.

In reflecting upon his work as a plein air painter, Rhode Island artist Jonathan McPhillips says, “It is the air surrounding the landscape that I hope to depict in my paintings. The air is an unseen filter that guides how we visualize the ‘things’ in front of us. In coastal New England, the atmosphere is always changing, therefore I am fortunate to live and paint in such a visually engaging area.” We are fortunate that Camden Harbor is one of the favorite places that McPhillips returns to again and again.

Camden Falls Gallery is pleased to welcome Brad Betts of East Boothbay back to the gallery with this show. His work reflects a life-long appreciation of the sea, developed through years of deep sea fishing and sailing around the Gulf coast waters during his youth. For Betts, living in an area with a rich maritime history and active working harbor offers the opportunity to connect daily with the classic scenes that most inspire him. “When you paint outside,” says Betts, “the light and conditions change constantly. This forces you to simplify your decisions and rely completely on practiced techniques and natural instincts. In these moments, you connect most with yourself as an artist and the energy that comes from within.”

The artists of Camden Falls Gallery invite you to come and experience their favorite places the way they see them. Located at 5 Public Landing in Camden, the gallery is open daily from 10am-5pm. For more information, please visit www.camdenfallsgallery.com or call 207-470-7027.