Nature is art outside my window: My office window here at The Lincoln County News in Newcastle looks out onto the trailhead of the Great Salt Bay Preserve Heritage Trail. Every now and then, after an extended period of looking at a computer screen, I like to walk across Mills Road and down the trail a little way, through trees that are currently standing in fairly deep snow.
The crisp view and the snowy silence bring to mind the impulse that surely drives such artists as Walpole’s Susan Bartlett Rice and Newcastle painter Jane Dahmen to paint simply a stand of trees in all their beauty and quiet grandeur. Both Rice and Dahmen – and there are others, of course – are able to masterfully capture and reproduce for the viewer the feeling of contentment and wonder that one gets when gazing at the woods while being surrounded by them.
It is a unique privilege we have here in Maine that one can be so close to nature – the woods, the rocks, the clean air, and the water, ice, and snow – and also have such abundant access to fine art representing nature at the same time.
It truly is the best of both worlds, where one can bundle up on a chilly winter day and have the firsthand experience of being immersed in nature, and at a later time go indoors to take in an art exhibit depicting something very similar to what one has seen, though through the unique filter of the artist’s eyes and hands. One thus often gets to have the thrill of being out in nature twice, because the really good painter, like Dahmen and Rice, can capture that sense of awe and reproduce it in the painting for the viewer to actually feel. It’s almost like magic.
I encourage readers to take it all in. We are lucky to have such beautiful art and nature here in Lincoln County.
“Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity, so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.” – Henry David Thoreau, who was “exhilarated by the sight of the wild fir and spruce tops” when he journeyed through Maine’s woods back in the 1800s.
“Deviation from nature is deviation from happiness.” – Samuel Johnson
“To the artist, there is never anything ugly in nature.” – Auguste Rodin
“What is art? Nature concentrated.” – Honore de Balzac
“Were I called on to define, very briefly, the term art, I should call it the reproduction of what the senses perceive in nature through the veil of the mist.” – Edgar Allan Poe
(Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write me a letter in care of The Lincoln County News, P.O. Box 36, Damariscotta, ME 04543. I love to hear from readers.)