Here at the gallery we are very much looking forward to the opening reception for Lea Peterson's "Working the Coast" exhibit. In anticipation of tonight's opening we the artist with a few questions and we are so happy to be able to share her answers with you today.
In the your exhibit opening May 10th, "Working Coast", your paintings depict Maine's working waterfront. What is the draw for you to capture the working coast- the fisherman and their gear?
I live on the Maine coast in Georgetown where I wake up every morning to clammers working the flats, lobstermen hauling their traps and fishing boats heading out of Five Islands. Their’s is a rugged way of life with lots of risks, and I try to capture the fisherman’s strength, hardiness and focus in my paintings. I look for the iconic gesture that tells a story about how they work. The shape, color and variety of their gear—coiled lines, waders, oilskins, lobster crates, pot and morning buoys, and of course boats—help to tell the story about their way of life.
You moved to Maine as an adult. How has living in Maine shaped your life as an artist?
The environment, with its strong artist community and beautiful coastal and inland scenery, inspires and motivates me to paint. I’ve met so many talented artists here; having that network of friends with whom I can collaborate and share ideas makes a big difference to me. I suppose I would be painting regardless of where I lived, but in Maine I see ideas for new paintings wherever I look.
As I understand it, you paint both in your studio and plein air. Do you have a preference of how and where you work?
I like to paint outdoors as an exercise. Besides doing so locally, I travel to paint somewhere new every year, whether it’s Cape Cod, Acadia, Iceland, Italy or Provence. Painting outside in new environments gets me out of my comfort zone, looking at things differently and trying new techniques. I have to think quickly and capture the light, but I rarely produce a worthwhile painting outdoors. My serious and most successful work happens when I get back to my studio, where I have more time to think about composition and to critique my own work.
Collectors of your work span the globe. How does it feel to know you work is being admired around the world?
I’m always delighted when one of my paintings resonates with a collector and finds a home. It means that collector is bringing home a little bit of Maine.
Are there artists who have inspired your work over the years?
Many artist have inspired me, but my favorites are Cezanne and Homer. I visit museums and galleries often to enjoy the art and to absorb ideas and techniques.
Do you have a favorite painting from the upcoming show? If so, why?
I think my favorite in the current show is a painting called “Set Up”. I captured the gesture of a lobsterman (Jim McMahan from Five Islands) hauling a large bundle of buoys to his boat, with traps stacked on his dock waiting to be set for the season. It’s an icon of what happens in spring on every dock on the Maine coast.
Many thanks to Lea Peterson for taking the time to so thoughtfully answer our questions. Please be sure to come to the opening reception for "Working the Coast' tonight at the gallery from 5-7. If you can't make it tonight, Ms. Peterson's work will be on display at the gallery until June 10th. Additionally you can visit our website for more paintings by the artist as well as purchase information HERE.