Amy Peters Wood
The IRS considers me a Maine artist even though Google does not. I live in Maine. I paint. I live off the money I make from painting. Therefore I am a Maine artist. Or am I? Tourists used to ask me that at art shows, before I finally gave up on them as annoying wastes of time, the shows that is, not necessarily the tourists- “Do you have any paintings of light houses?” I do not.
The process of painting, for me, is the whole deal. Not the resulting piece of art. Like a mandala from sand or a religious icon, I use the ritual of creating egg temperas to show my reverence for a state which I know to be truly special. After building a boat and sailing around the world and visiting countless iconic places in paradise, Maine is still it.
The low angled light and beauty doesn’t knock your socks off like some parts of the planet. It’s much more subtle, creating introspection, not outward exuberance.
After selling the boat and building a floatplane, I now spend my time criss-crossing Maine’s heart at three thousand feet; in every season. From the pockmarked green carpets of summer to the ethereal purple prickly-treed quills of winter, where shadows are fantastic shades of turquoise and blues, the entire bowl of Maine can be seen extending to each corner. At three thousand feet eagles soar and that amazing light bounces off the mountains and lakes of Maine and New Hampshire to the North and West, and the far distant ocean horizon to the south and east. With fractal expansion, islands look like continents; the Gulf of Maine, the entire globe.
So, while I may paint scenes from other areas of the country, the iconic rocks- trees-water of Maine help me to feel grounded. While death, instability and disaster surround me on a personal, as well as societal level, picking up a small brush and a dab of paint allows me to take control over a world I can create. Atmospheric distance? Pfft. I can reverse it. As well as all the laws of perspective and balance.
This is my world. And yes, it is in Maine.
The wrack line left by the approach and retreat of the tide is the focus of this series. To walk to the ocean’s edge year round creates a seasonal rhythm and a marking of time. On the coast of Maine we are privileged to observe the most fascinating collection of detritus and imagine stories created by the salty sea.
It would be impossible to live in Maine and not be affected by its ubiquitous forests, lakes, rivers and ocean. My most recent works are inspired by waters and those creatures that live in them. I am
interested in what lies beneath the surface whether it is a tide pool, mountain stream or river. My art asks what could we see if we took time to sit quietly and observe. What insight into nature would we find there? We live in a time where we spend less and less time with nature. Yet, our relationship with nature defines who we are.
I create my art in Mexico and the US, two distinct countries with contrasting cultures. They differ in the art forms that have graced their national histories.
It’s a privilege and a challenge, and a delight to hear artists and the public talk about “their Maine.” There is no uniform agreement, and an attempt to establish any consensus on the subject is fruitless. My artistic vision of Maine maybe only one more probing into its ‘essence.’ Yet, I feel I have enabled Maine to have a distinction of its own by addressing the essential elements of its character, rather than displaying its outer skin. For I paint Maine as unforgiving, uncompromising, demanding your daily awareness and testing your ability to live with nature as a constant in your life. You may want to ask: “What can I do to help guarantee that this fragile environment is maintained and not destroyed by our very human presence?”
The granitic coast of Maine provides a point of departure for
this work. It seems nearly impossible not to be moved by it.
The rocky subject gives rise to ideas about geologic time,
glaciation, rising sea levels, climate change, the fate of our
increasingly threatened planet. Working in series with
monotype and monoprint processes invites the expansion of
imagery through exploration of these ideas using a globally
recognizable visual language.
My sources are local and regional. I am here, now. The
shared impetus of those of us fortunate enough to live and
work here may be that the content of our art is without