What would an exhibition be without an expert photographer to document it? It was delightful to work with Dave Clough during my recent exhibition at Steel House. Dave beautifully captured the architecture of the gallery and of the book itself as displayed in the round on a pedestal. He also caught the original digital version that ran onscreen, the wonderful display case inside which Richard Reitz Smith documented his materials and timeline for the book’s production, and some of my earlier paintings that provided context for the book. Thanks also to Alexis Iammarino and Maeve O’Regan, co-curators, for their invitation to present the story behind my book, Is There Something We Can Do..
For a long time now (28 years to be exact), I've felt that coming back to Maine is coming home. But for that to happen, I must first go away. Paraphrasing the poet Bob Hicok, I remember Kentucky fondly as the place I go to be in Kentucky. While there, I stay with my longtime friends Deb and Ed Galloway in Shelbyville. Earlier this month, they welcomed me back to Farm Dover where I am given the run of their 35 acres and allowed to spend nearly the whole time painting in a self-directed independent residency. It was a mostly rainy time, but that didn't stop me from exploring the woodland paths and setting up on the back porch to paint. In that short week, I generated enough sketches and photographic documentation to see me through the winter painting months here in Lincolnville, at least until mud season.
Should I also mention that while in Shelbyville I am well-fed, and that I spend a good amount of time reading Wendell Berry's stories about the fictitious town of Port William? This trip, I discovered his early novel, A Place on Earth. My personal train of thought echoes Port William member Mat Feltner's words: "I'm a great one for places. This farm's just full of places I've picked out that would be good to spend a day sitting in, if I ever had time to do it. Cool places or quiet ones, with water running or a long view. I've thought of some of them nearly all my life."
I've picked out some places too. The bottomland on my grandfather's farm is repeated in Port William and at Farm Dover; the long views toward the rise of a hill, repeated in the view toward Mr. McCoun's fields that neighbor Farm Dover; and though I grew up in Lexington, not on a farm, a dirt road up to a farm house has repeated itself throughout my life, and reminds again with every return to Lincolnville.
This blog post first appeared in my newsletter for November 2018.
Here in Lincolnville, the back field’s been mowed and the front meadows await their turn, awash in goldenrod and asters. It’s a visual confusion of color and texture that provides habitat and opportunity for new paintings.
I'm not much of a gardener in the traditional sense, so this time of year, the meadows and stream banks between my house and the road are overrun with fading goldenrod and still-blooming asters. It's a visual confusion of color and texture that provides food and shelter for many small mammals, birds, and butterflies, both local and migratory. I'll leave the center meadows unmowed for a while longer. But the back field's been bush-hogged, and it's possible to walk to the far property line to check out the low bush blueberry patch and bayberry shrubs that grow there.
As I walk, I daydream. I envision a path around the perimeter, with stopping points. Just behind the house, two boulders sit one on top of the other. They came out of the rain garden when it was dug. The blueberry patch near the back west corner of my property is a secluded place that exudes a particular energy. Along the northwest line, a single tamarack rises against the sky. Returning in the opposite direction to the front meadows, the habitat changes. Pine, spruce and cedar are followed by red oak, already massive, and red maples resprout from trees long gone. Across the orchard, and on up toward the lower southwest side below a seasonal waterfall, a grey dogwood has tripled in size over the years I've been here.
A few years ago, when I was developing materials for a class in drawing the landscape, Kristen Lindquist was kind enough to offer her impressions of this place. She wrote that it is "a natural oasis humming with life and beauty—beyond dragonflies poised on pondside cattails, the perfection of floating water lilies, goldfinch’s chatter, vireo’s endless warbling, waving constellations of Queen Anne’s Lace, scent of sun-soaked sweet fern, and that distant glimpse of the sea— [we] fully understand the underlying structure, geology, and essential personality of a place. By opening our creative selves to connect, through images and words, with the larger, unified world around us, we can inhabit our dual roles as both creators and caretakers."
So here's my plan. As I maintain this habitat for wildlife, I want to make it easier for visitors to enjoy walking. I want to provide a Maine version of Japanese forest-bathing.
For as much as this landscape gives me, in subject matter and inspiration for paintings, I will give back to it, preserving it as habitat and ensuring that the annual succession from swelling buds and March mud, to fall bay and winterberry, to Christmas balsam and spruce, continue on.
This blog was originally published in my newsletter. More text and images here.
By now in most states, schools have started up and that has me thinking about books. Specifically, I'd like to share what's happening as I continue to cross-pollinate books and drawings.Read More
The Litchfield County Times has posted a review of Susan Finnegan's and my collaborative work at the Washington Art Association. Read more . . . .
In an article on Vasari 21, Ann Landi proves that "Blooms, posies, blossom, and gardens will never go out of style." Two of my botanical paintings are included in the mix. Read more . . . .
"Artist Dudley Zopp finds inspiration from trees in own backyard" - read Kay Stephens' interview in the PenBay Pilot
As I get ready for upcoming presentations about my work, I've been thinking about 19th century landscape painters who've inspired me, and what my response has been to artists like Théodore Rousseau, whose painting, Le Printemps, is pictured here.Read More
My statement about the collaborative drawings that Susan Bogle Finnegan and I did in Louisville in 1993, and more about Side by Side, the exhibition of our work that she's curated for the Washington Art Association in Connecticut. We used charcoal, acrylic, brushes, and our hands to paint with, but the most fun was had with a broom. Photo credit: Richard Bram.Read More
My March newsletter was all about woodlots, and generated some lovely conversations. And here we are, it's Arbor Week in Maine, and I'm eager to share some of what I'm learning about the uncanny lives of trees.Read More
Last summer, I acquired the two acre field behind my house, Since then, I've been thinking about how best to care for that additional piece of land. It's time to get started.Read More
News about my artist’s books and exhibitions they’re featured in.Read More