There is no view on Monhegan Island that hasn’t been painted, photographed or captured in writing. “Nothing can be said here…that has not been said before.” Mary McCarthy writes in ‘Venice Observed’.
And yet for me, the experiences of painting on Monhegan for the past decade has been one of finding new discoveries that echo the island’s rich artistic history. Here I find there is much more to say than has been said before. Perhaps, it is the call to become part of a landscape tradition that began on this island more than 150 years ago. For here, I can walk along the same paths as Rockwell Kent, Edward Hopper and George Bellows. And here, I walk in a world where nature inspires me to take a fresh look at the drama of light and atmosphere reflected in Monhegan’s infinite moods.
For the artist in me, Monhegan is a touchstone of basic landscape elements that create a desire to simplify and find abstract painterly equivalents in shapes and colors. The geometry of man-made structures nestled into the rocky shoreline and perched on the undulating hillsides speak to me of man’s fragile yet enduring place here. Dramatic contrasts of verticals meeting horizontals are found in the rocky headlands dropping to meet the sea. The horizon wrapping around comes in and out of focus with the movement of wind, fog and light. Nature entices my eye, mind and spirit with its endless variations.
Returning from the island renewed each summer, I have recently looked with fresh eyes at my home town of Portsmouth along New Hampshire’s seacoast. The simple forms of the historic houses set along a rugged coastline and clustered within a vibrant historic city have provided me with another opportunity to continue the visual narrative begun on Monhegan.