2012… another baker’s dozen paintings focused on my Maine roots

by Alden Cole on March 14, 2019 · 0 comments

Barn Memories aka Ghosts of the Past • oil on linen 10” x 18” • collection of Mark Braber

This is one of many paintings created in 2012 that were inspired by old photographs, this one taken by myself a number of years ago while vacationing in Maine at my family’s farm in Dayton, revisiting the Source of all my Strivings. The fields surrounding the barn portrayed in this painting (which hides the house where I grew up) were my playground as a child. With each passing year the perimeter of my explorations expanded until I could go all the way to the Saco River by myself without supervision. And eventually into the surrounding woods themselves. Freedom!

Haying Season at Cole Farm 1955 • oil on linen 10” x 31” • price on request

Another painting based on a small b&w snapshot by my brother Wallace that captures a break in the action of making hay, seen through the trees a few hundred feet away. This was the second time I had revisited that theme; the earlier painting – Summer of ’55 – started in 2011 and brought to completion in 21012 – was featured in the previous posting. 2012 signaled an ongoing fascination with producing painted representations of the land I grew up on. I was particularly drawn to portrayals of the big two-toned farmhouse on the hill where my grandparents lived, seen in this painting as well as others that follow. This was a place that provided security and a sense of timelessness to me as a child, a constant I could always turn to where I was loved unconditionally during that innocent time of growth.

Cole Farm #3 • oil on linen 10” x 26” • collection of Mary Gay Baldyga

Yet another look at that farmstead on the hill overlooking the valley where I lived with my parents and brothers; a place that was like a second home to me, a refuge, providing an alternative place of exploration for those times when the lure of the fields and woods lost their appeal temporarily due to weather, or changing interests as I aged.

Paul Bachmann in Repose • oil on linen, 24″x 17″ • price on request

Another painting based on a photograph dating back to the summer of 1974 when a NY friend – Paul Bachmann whom I had met through my second partner Robert Mayberry – visited me in Maine. That was at the summer I fled NYC thinking “the end is near” and taking all my possessions, storing them in my dad’s barn in Maine, living with my parents for the first time since the summer of ’66, eight years earlier. I found work briefly with Mark Douglas, a writer of books on astrology, but eventually settled into a job in an upholstery shop until October when I realized the truth of the axion that “you can’t go home again” and returned to NYC for another five years.

Looking West • oil on canvas-board, 12″ x 16″ • collection of Audrey Terry

Unlike the other paintings featured so far, this one was not developed from a photograph, but was started in situ as a pencil sketch of the view looking west from immediately inside the front of the barn where I grew up. It was also the first painting depicting this particular view; a few of them being devoted to my grandparents’ House on the Hill, and a number depicting the view looking east over open fields leading down to the intervale of the Saco River. This painting also includes one of my first rather cartoon-like depictions of an automobile – at least half of one.

Down By The Riverside • oil on linen 17″ x 24″ • price on request

Started in the spring of 2012, and brought to completion in 2016. This painting was a tribute to my very first oil painting; one that had been done in September of 1973, depicting a favorite spot beside the Saco River in Dayton that I had known since childhood. Instead of going to the same physical spot and reprising the view which had changed rather radically in the intervening years, I conjured memories of the place and let my imagination do the rest, creating a bend in the river that doesn’t really exist other than in my mind.

Down the Intervale #8 • pencil plus oil on primed pine board 12″ x 48″ • price on request

In the summer of 2011 I drew pencil sketches of the same limited view of the Saco River intervale on both sides of a pine board panel as an exercise in trying to correctly perceive proportions, drawing free-hand on a panoramic scale. It was surprising to see how different the two sides came out; you can see them in my August 23, 2013 posting. In the spring of 2012 I painted the first of the pencil-drawn sides with the colors of autumn.

Down the Intervale #11 • oil on a wooden half door, 44″ x 30.5″ • price on request

While vacationing in Maine that autumn, I rediscovered a damaged door stashed away in the barn I’d known since childhood; my imagination was immediately sparked. I cut off the damaged bottom section, carefully cleaned then gently sanded both sides, followed by priming the inner panels. Painting proceeded soon thereafter. This particular work is a a reminder that I’m no Audubon. One of the interesting features of the door is the very worn section of the wood immediately above the door handle on the left. I can only guess what could have created such a worn spot; and I suspect it was animal.

Cole Farm on the Hill #1 • oil on primed plywood panel, framed with antique window sash (sans glass) 30” x 24” • price on request

In the summer of 2011 I started the above artwork while vacationing in Maine, getting only as far as a rough pencil stage. I left the panel there, and resumed work on it the following summer, transforming it with a vibrantly colored sky and a garden that exists only in my imagination. Inspired a bit by Vincent van Gogh, as is the following.

Inside Looking Out #2 • oil on canvas-board 24” x 18” nailed to single-slab pine board 27.5” x 19” x 1” • price on request

An artwork started in 1982 while I was living boy myself in Dayton, Maine for a couple years, brought to completion the summer of 2012 after only thirty years. The time was one of the most solitary times of my life, living alone in an old house that belonged to my cousin Emily Cole, who was very generous with me during that time of discontent and questioning.

Inside Looking Out #16 aka “Under the Ash Tree” aka “O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain” • oil on plywood panel framed with antique window sash 20” x 25” • price on request

Another plein air piece painted in situ while on vacation in Maine that summer, sitting out on the front lawn in the shade of another older ash tree, with hay mowing in progress in another field. This was a timely painting; within days, the amber field of grain was cut to stubble once again.

Down the Intervale #14 • oil on luan plywood panel 9” x 19” • price on request

During my September stay in Dayton, the acres of fields surrounding the farm were ripe for what is known as ‘third crop’ – the final cutting of the tall grasses gone golden, to make hay while the sun shines. Ensconced at the back of the barn that I had known and loved intimately since childhood, I painted while they worked, industriously capturing a moment when two of the team of three Lambert brothers were visible doing their various parts. They worked together in the cutting, teetering, baling and taking the hay away, the gift of the earth to be eaten by cows and horses, and possibly others, later that winter once outside grazing was sparse.

Cloud Show • acrylics on luan panel 6″ x 21″ • price on request

Clouds have been a never-ending fascination for me, from a very early age. There are so many painters whose depictions of clouds provide ongoing inspiration to me, including Rockwell Kent, Thomas Hart Benton, John Constable, and particularly the great Jacob van Ruisdael. This particular painting was done at the very end of my vacation in Maine that year.

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