Members of the Scarborough Public Library Sketching Group, from left, Debra LaPlante, Pat Scammon, Michael Brown and John Girard, show off some of their original artwork outside the library July 20. The artists will be exhibiting and selling their works at a first-ever event the library is hosting Saturday. Sean Murphy / The Forecaster

When Michael Brown, a retired designer and Madison Avenue adman now living in Scarborough, suggested starting up a group at the Scarborough Public Library for local artists, he said he thought of it as a monthly thing — “a lighthearted, doodling sketch group to have fun for a couple hours,” he said.

Three years and one pandemic later, the Library Sketching Group is still going strong, and four of the group’s members, including Brown, Debra LaPlante, Pat Scammon and John Girard, will be exhibiting and selling their work at the library this Saturday, July 24.

“Art on the Lawn” will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in four outdoor tents, each dedicated to one of the four artists’ works. Lucy Jackson Norvell, coordinator of programming and communications, said the event is a first of its kind for the library. A similar exhibit had been held inside the library from October 2020 to last month, when samples of the artists’ work were on display and for sale, with proceeds going to the library.

Norvell said she wasn’t sure exactly how much money was raised, she was more focused on the art being the product of a group connected to the library.

“We saw how the public responded to the art,” she said.

Saturday’s event, she said, is not a fundraiser for the library, but will serve to promote the Library Sketching Group, along with drawing the public’s attention to this and other social groups based at the library.

“The community presence of what they’re doing is really, really important to the library, she said.

Brown said he first ventured down a formal path related to art by sketching aircraft during his time with the Air Force from 1958-62. Despite a lengthy career in advertising at his own firm in New York City, and serving as an adjunct professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art, he is a humble man, quick to deflect a reporter’s attention to the talent of his fellow artists.

The other artists have professional backgrounds, too. LaPlante is a former nursery school teacher, Scammon is a retired social worker and Girard is a retired pediatrician.

The group’s name is a bit of a misnomer, as the artwork is hardly limited to simple sketches. LaPlante, of Saco, said she works in collages, builds papier-mâché sculptures and also constructs mobiles. Scammon works in a variety of mediums from watercolor to acrylics.

“It feeds my soul, makes me happy,” Scammon said. “It’s my happy place.”

Girard said he picked up drawing single-panel cartoons as a hobby, and liked doing the actual drawings digitally before producing prints.

“I think humor is good medicine,” he said. “It’s kind of like writing a short story in one image.”

The group is about to resume its monthly meetings Sept. 10 after being forced to cancel in-person meetings in March 2020 due to COVID-19. They are scheduled to meet from 10 a.m. to noon on the second Friday of each month in the library’s meeting room.

The digital world became a lifeline for the group to stay together when the pandemic hit. At its peak, the group numbered 10-15 members, and while some could not stay in touch, Brown said many artists have remained in contact via email, as they had before the lockdown.

“We’d do it whether there’s a pandemic or not,” he said.

When asked if there will be more than four members returning to the in-person meetings starting in September, Brown said, “I’m pretty sure there will be.”

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