Four seasons of painting



 

BAR HARBOR — The Plein Air Painters of Acadia are a group of local artists that like to get out and paint in almost any weather.

“I’ve been out at 30 [degrees],” said painter Liz Cutler, “and it was really hard.”

Cutler kept her eyes on the harbor and brandished a paint brush, dotting her canvas with the soft colors of winter as she talked about the hardy group of painters she was part of.

The air was warm for February, hovering over 40 degrees, as Cutler and fellow painter Linda Rowell-Kelley gathered on the town pier with their easels to paint the Porcupine Islands.

Cutler’s dog looked on patiently as the two artists chatted and filled their canvases.

Rowell-Kelley, dressed in fleece and gloves, said she preferred days like this one because “you can really get something done.”

Though she uses oil paints which do not freeze like watercolors, she said cold weather makes it difficult to stand in one place long enough to capture a picture. “There’s no problem with the paint; the problem is with the people,” she explained.

The group, which is open to anybody, grows to about eight or ten regulars in the summer. That time of year they meet frequently at different locations.

“In the winter it’s hit or miss,” Rowell-Kelley said. Outings are planned spur-of-the-moment according to weather, often by text message.

The group, though informal, does keep a list of locations to visit around the island. The list grows as artists in and outside of the group share their favorite spots.

“I have learned things about the island that I never knew,” said Rowell-Kelley, who has lived on Mount Desert Island for over 40 years.

“We’re invited to people’s private estates,” she said. “We’ve been in people’s beautiful gardens.”

Well-known places like Bar Harbor town pier are too busy to access in the summer, Rowell-Kelley said, but are prime winter painting spots.

Some of her favorite spots have included Seal Harbor town landing and Whistle Pig Farm, a nonprofit farm on the coast of Mount Desert that rescues and rehabilitates horses.

“Whistle Pig Farm was divine intervention,” Rowell-Kelley said, thinking back to her time spent painting there.

 

Becky Pritchard
Former Islander reporter Becky Pritchard covered the town of Bar Harbor and was a park ranger in Acadia for six seasons.
Becky Pritchard

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