August 25, 2013

Artist at work (and play)

Painter Jessica Stammen has discovered that her love of being and recreating in the outdoors dovetails perfectly with her vision for her art.

By Bob Keyes
Staff Writer

ROCKPORT — Jessica Stammen paints her passion.

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“Become the Ocean," oil on panel by Jessica Stammen.

Images courtesy of the artist

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“Something I’ve Always Known,” oil on panel by Jessica Stammen.

Additional Photos Below



WHERE: Pascal Hall Gallery, 86 Pascal Ave., Rockport

WHEN: Through Sept. 3; noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday


INFO:;; 319-2785

This month at Pascal Hall in Rockport, Stammen shows a collection of paintings that she has completed in recent years that involve her interest in and pursuit of outdoor adventures. These are loose oil paintings of people swimming, kayaking, diving, rowing, surfing. There are paintings of people climbing rocks, playing pond hockey, fly-fishing, ice-fishing.

There are images of docks, boats and buoys.

"For a few years, I did a lot of paintings looking out window panes, framing the landscape from the perspective of the view from the window," she said. "I was looking out windows so often to paint, I finally said, 'Why don't I just go out there?' These paintings really stemmed from looking from one space into another and wishing to be there."

Seeing leads to doing.

Stammen, 32, is a dedicated outdoors person. She is a long-distance swimmer, and spends most of her summer in or on the water. In the winter, she is on the ice. She has taken up pond hockey in recent years, and finds herself enthralled by the sport.

In many ways, Stammen has her work and play sorted out in a brilliant way. Painting is work -- hard work, earned from years of practice -- but it stems from her play time.

Her play is her research.

"A good balance of play in life is very, very important," she said.

Her attitude shows in the work. Many of these images, especially the water-level views of a swimmer dead ahead or a colleague in a rowing shell, were made after she took a series of photographs with a waterproof camera. She gives viewers the exact view that she has while she is moving through the water on one of her swims.

She lives in Camden, and grew up on Megunticook Lake. Her summers were spent on the lake, and many of the painting in this show are set on the lake and Megunticook River, which are between Lincolnville and Hope in the heart of midcoast Maine.

She calls her exhibition "A Matter of Nature," and she is showing with two other artists, David Warner and Susan Williams.

Stammen's art story begins in high school. She began painting as a freshman, and quickly developed an aptitude for it that was beyond her years or experience. Typically, she would spend her summers, as did her friends, washing dishes to make extra money.

She propositioned her parents: Allow me to spend the summer painting, and I will sell my work at the teen art show.

Her parents said yes, and Stammen upheld her end of the bargain. She spent a productive summer in the studio, and sold enough work to eclipse what she would have made as a dishwasher. Her career as an artist was under way.

Stammen has always had a nose for work -- and enterprise. Each week on The Maine, an online community that reflects life in Maine in words and images, Stammen offers a 4-inch-by-4-inch oil on panel painting for auction, starting at $207. She calls it Tuesday 207, and it has proven an effective way to reach people who are interested in buying original, local art at modest prices.

She received her bachelor's degree from The Cooper Union in New York City, and earned a master's from New York University in 2008.

Stammen was in New York on Sept. 11, 2001. She was taking classes at Cooper Union, and working at St. Paul's Chapel, the fieldstone church across from the World Trade Center. She was not there when the planes hit. In fact, she could not get back down there until a week later.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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“So Bright, the Morning Light on the Surface,” oil on panel by Jessica Stammen.

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“To Join the Others,” oil on panel by Jessica Stammen.

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“Sunday Pond Hockey I,” oil on panel by Jessica Stammen.

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“Dad and His Mittens,” oil on panel by Jessica Stammen.


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