WELLS — Paul Noel is trying to become what he calls “a real artist.”

He worked as an interior designer for 40 years, and loved his work. But designing the interiors of other’s people homes didn’t provide lasting satisfaction.

“When you finish someone’s home, it may be a masterpiece. But in 10 or 15 years, they sell the house and someone comes in and tears it all out. As a designer, I never felt I was leaving a legacy,” said Noel, who lives in Wells and has taken up fine-art painting.

He will show his art work beginning Friday at Whitney Galleries in Wells.

As a painter, he takes comfort in knowing that his work has staying power. When people sell their home and move, they take their artwork with them.

“What I am trying to do now is reinvent myself as a person, so I can put more of me into the work than I ever have before,” he said. “I think the painting I am doing now is more of an extension of me personally. It’s a journey, a personal journey as a human being and as an artist and as someone who has created his entire life.”

He plans to show about two dozen paintings, all completed since 2012 when he began his painting. He calls this exhibition “Into the Light.” The paintings represent hope, spirit and passage.

They’re ethereal and willowy, and suggest angels hovering overhead. There’s a spiritual quality to this work, which dovetails with Noel’s personal journey.

He began painting soon after the death of a friend of 40 years. In honor of his art-loving friend, Noel went gallery hopping and ended up at Beth Ellis Cove Gallery at Perkins Cove in Ogunquit.

Ellis happened to be in the gallery that afternoon, and Noel told her about his friend and why he was there. Ellis was compassionate and sympathetic.

The conversation turned to painting, and Ellis suggested to Noel that he sign up for a painting workshop that she was offering in the months ahead.

Noel signed up on the spot.

He took the class in June, and signed up for another in the fall.

Ellis was ill with cancer, and died before the fall workshop.

Inspired by the passing of two people whose creativity he admired, Noel continued to paint.

That fall, he ended up at Drake’s Island to paint at one of Ellis’ favorite spots. He disliked the painting he made, and whitewashed over it. A few days later, he glanced at the whitewashed canvas, and did a double-take.

His original panting was a horizontal landscape, with two points of a sandbar jutting into the water. He turned the painting on its side for a vertical perspective, and detected through the light a hint of an angel. The sandbar that showed through suggested a human figure, angelic in its form and proportions.

Thus began his journey. He has spent most of his creative time since on this series. Noel, who turns 66 next week, has no doubt that his two friends guided him to this new direction in his life and that their presence somehow surfaced in that painting in an unconscious way.

He doesn’t question how or why. He just knows what is.

“I don’t think there’s any question that one person or one thing leads to another,” Noel said. “There’s an awful lot connected that I cannot ignore. This is not a body of work. It’s a body of emotion. It’s crazy how all the dots are connected.”

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:

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Twitter: pphbkeyes