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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: November 20, 2017

Always evolving, Louise Bourne’s paintings capture the many moods of Maine

Written by: Bob Keyes
Louise Bourne's "Cups Over the Square." Photos courtesy of Louise Bourne

Louise Bourne’s “Cups Over the Square.” Photos courtesy of Louise Bourne

Louise Bourne likes to paint the familiar. Last winter, she spent several weeks in a studio overlooking Longfellow Square in Portland and filled her days watching over the scene below and capturing small moments in her paintings.

When she is home on the Blue Hill peninsula, she prefers walking a well-worn trail that leads to the bay, where she is enthralled by the light on the water and how colors change in seasonal light conditions.

Bourne, who lives in Sedgwick, is showing paintings from Portland, Blue Hill and elsewhere in a new exhibition of her work at the George Marshall Store Gallery in York. “Change of Season” will be on view through the winter with the gallery open regular hours until Dec. 17 and, after that, by appointment.

Bourne studies her subjects deeply, getting to know them in all seasons and colors. Her paintings evolve as the conditions and her perspective change. A good example is a triptych that she calls “Morning Changes.” It’s a three-panel painting of Pond Island, which she looks out on when she walks on her familiar favorite path.

She has made, as she says, “a gazillion” paintings of the island over the years – large paintings, small paintings, watercolors, oils. She works out a lot of her challenges and ideas with her Pond Island paintings.

"Morning Changes" by Louise Bourne.

“Morning Changes” by Louise Bourne.

The triptych is a good example. She prefers composing on vertical surfaces or square surfaces, and decided to turn this into a horizontal painting by making it a triptych – a series of three vertical panels that become a horizontal painting when hung together. She made decisions about composition and light – how much to include below the horizon line, how much above and the overall color tone.

For a long time, it was a pink painting, but something about it felt off to Bourne.

“Six months later, I decided I didn’t like the painting, so I made it a yellow painting with just a little pink showing through, and it became much more the feeling I wanted and became much more unified,” she said.

That wouldn’t have happened if Bourne didn’t spend time with her subject, returning to it again and again and considering it from various perspectives and points of view.

Another example of a painting that morphed is “Yellow Russets.” It began as a horizontal paintings of the red blueberry barrens of Down East Maine. Somewhere along the way, she got bored with it and set it aside. Last winter, while working on a series of interior paintings, she turned the canvas on its side, made it a vertical painting of a figure sitting at a table cutting yellow russet apples in half. The original markings of blueberry barrens are still intact in her finished painting, showing up as a pattern of a rug or floor covering to the side of the table.

Bourne has shown her paintings at George Marshall Store Gallery for many years, but this is her first solo show. She graduated from Maine College of Art and received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan. She teaches at the University of Maine in Orono, Colby College and the Maine Maritime Academy, as well as privately.

But mostly, she paints.

Louise Bourne, “Change of Season”

WHERE: George Marshall Store Gallery, Old York Historical Society, 140 Lindsay Road, York
WHEN: On view through Dec. 17; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday and by appointment
INFO: georgemarshallstoregallery.com, 351-1083

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