FREEPORT – Maine authors will tell stories about the work of Sedgwick artist Leslie Anderson, who will be the feature attraction at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 2, at the Freeport Community Library.

“Summer Stories,” published by Shanti Arts in Brunswick, includes a series of paintings by Anderson, along with a dozen short stories inspired her paintings. Anderson’s work captures people and events characteristic of a summer in Maine. “Hauling Buoys,” “Fair Night, “Clammer, “Hay Day” and “Last Night at the Lake” are the inspirations for the stories.

“Summer Stories” was selected through a competition sponsored by the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. Authors included in the book are Mary Lou Bagley, Nancy L. Brown, Meredith Nash Fossel, Claire Guyton, Kathryn Hall, David Karraker, Catherine J.S. Lee, Laura Levenson, John B. Nichols, Jr, and Nancy Noyes. Several of them will be on hand for the library event.

Anderson, 64, grew up in New London, Conn., and graduated from Colby College with a degree in English in 1971. She and her husband, Dan Nygaard, live on a 10-acre flower farm in Sedgwick, on the Blue Hill peninsula, and spend their winters in Portland.

“Once my husband caught the farming bug 13 years ago, we bought this place in Sedgwick,” Anderson said. “I also have a studio/gallery here.”

Anderson answered questions regarding her art recently for Tri-Town Weekly.

Q: Are you familiar with the people whose short stories are associated with your paintings?

A: I had never met any of the writers before the book launch party in December 2013. I pitched the idea of a short story competition and book publication to Christine Cote of Shanti Arts, as well as Joshua Bodwell of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, and the “Summer Stories” project was born. MWPA received more than 50 entries. The writer Ron Currie, Jr. was tasked with culling them down to the dozen that appear in the book.

Q: How did you become involved in painting, and at what point in your life?

A: As a child growing up in Connecticut, I wrote and illustrated entire novels, scripted and designed puppet shows, and wrote, produced, and starred in innumerable plays. I discovered art in high school and squeezed in as many studio art courses as my college-prep course load would allow. At Colby College, I loved Harriett Matthews’ drawing classes, but felt clueless and inept in Abbott Meader’s painting class. I started painting full time in 1999, and shortly thereafter Dan and I sold our Boston house and moved full time to Maine where we could both focus full time on our hobbies run amok. In the winter of 2010, I was studying with the artist Tina Ingraham, exploring tonal relationships and principles of composition through the arrangement of simple objects. The paintings were more about applying paint than about trying to make great paintings. The work was hugely challenging. Yet some of the paintings I made during this time marked my first appearance in an online show with Still Point Art Gallery, owned and directed by Christine Cote. Soon afterward I started applying what I had learned in class to landscapes, painting with a heightened sense of color harmony and lots of palette-knife work.

Q: Summer in Maine is a treasured time. Can you talk about how it inspires your work?

A: I feel blessed to live in Maine, and I paint its landscape to feel a closer connection to my adopted home. As a landscape painter, I am always looking for new vistas, and for several years I have borrowed a page from the painter Connie Hayes, and offered to paint people’s views. Sometimes people want a painting of something specific, but more often they’re curious about what might catch my eye at their special place. Often while on site, I’ll see something out the corner of my eye – a lobersterman carrying a blue bucket, someone mowing a field, a man with one oar – and I’ll quickly sketch or snap a photo for later reference. What has attracted me is both the idea of someone engaged in a summertime activity, literally making hay when the sun shines, and the way that figure interacts with his or her surroundings. What I try to capture in these paintings is the essence of a summer moment.

Q: Tell us a little about the painting, “Last Night at the Lake.” What emotions does it conjure up?

A: The paintings in the book are all intended to ask a question: “What’s in that blue bucket? Why only one oar? Is the last night at the lake for the summer, or forever?” There’s a sense of loss in that painting — the empty chair, the setting sun, but also of kinship and belonging.

Leslie Anderson


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