Maine Coast Sojourn
A Year Painting a Legacy of Land Conservation
“Lives and works on the Maine coast”—that’s a phrase often found in a Mainer’s bio. But in the case of painter Timothy P. Wilson, it’s quite literally true.
Up and down the coast, all year long, in all kinds of weather, he sets up his easel and makes art on Maine’s rocky coast, often finishing a day’s work windburned and saltwater soaked.
Meet Timothy P. Wilson
Timothy was raised in rural Maine. Attending the Rhode Island School of Design for illustration, he worked briefly in the design field before returning to coastal Maine to pursue a career in painting.
“On the Maine coast, I can lose myself in the landscape. I feel a bond with nature that’s seldom possible in contemporary culture,” says Timothy. “Here, I find a sense of calm and inspiration. And that’s largely because there are places on the coast that are open and undeveloped.”
An artistic collaboration to support conservation
Over the past several years, Timothy has amassed quite a following on Instagram, where he shares images of his work and his adventures on the Maine coast. “I have a platform, and I want to make sure I’m using it to support causes I care about, including land conservation,” says Timothy.
In the summer of 2019, Timothy reached out to MCHT with the idea to make paintings inspired by conserved lands. In celebration of MCHT’s 50th anniversary, in 2020, the artist and organization embarked on a collaboration wherein Timothy would visit as many as 15 preserves, painting what he sees and documenting his travels on Instagram.
The original plan was to exhibit Timothy’s works at Cove Street Arts in Portland in the fall of 2020. Then the pandemic hit… The full exhibition and celebration has been rescheduled for next fall (2021). The artist and gallery are generously donating a percentage of sales from “Maine Coast Sojourn” to MCHT and the ongoing effort to conserve the Maine coast and keep it open to all.
Tim Glidden, MCHT President, says of the collaboration, “We’re excited about this unique opportunity and grateful for Timothy’s support and the support of Cove Street Arts. The beauty of the Maine coast has been an inspiration for artists for centuries. MCHT protects land and keeps it open to all so that it will remain so.”
Below are photos and anecdotes from Timothy’s adventure, which continues through the summer of 2021. This record of his travels and works will be regularly updated, so please check back in. You may also follow Timothy on Instagram and MCHT on Instagram and Facebook to stay in the loop.
Woodward Point Preserve, Brunswick
An early December 2020 morning found Timothy on the furthest southern point of Woodward Point Preserve in Brunswick. The ebbing tide left him a rocky vantage point to work on a study of the wintry New Meadows River in the luminous morning light. (Not in the picture but directly across the gut from him is a tall pine tree where the local bald eagles often perch while looking for prey.) Photojournalist Greta Grybus was along for this leg of the sojourn and caught the artist at work.
Whaleboat Island Preserve, Harpswell
Timothy snapped this photo a September evening in 2019, when he paddled out to Whaleboat Island Preserve to begin to familiarize himself with the island. (He’s been back several times since.) “This was taken a three or four minute hike from the beach where I landed,” he says. “I loved that pocket of still water reflecting the grass and trees. The ocean was coursing around, but there was a moment of pause here. It was really captivating.”
Bog Brook Cove, Cutler and Trescott
In mid-October 2019, a powerful storm raged across New England, cutting power to thousands in Maine. During the storm, Timothy was staying off-the-grid in MCHT’s McCabe Cabin on Bog Brook Cove Preserve, in the middle of one of the largest contiguous blocks of conserved land on the eastern seaboard. Timothy relished it, making photographs as well as paintings.
The photograph above was taken at the height of the storm, when Timothy couldn’t paint. Later, when the storm died down a bit, he was able to sketch in some rough elements and the storm subsiding (see the painting below). Later, referring to photographs, he may embellish aspects from the storm.
Boot Head Preserve, Lubec
On his October 2019 trip downeast, Timothy visited Boot Head Preserve as well as Bog Brook Cove Preserve. “I was entranced by the swaying of the trees and the surf,” says Timothy or this iconic view. “It was beautiful to see all these layers of land kind of undulating in the fog. Everything was alive and moving.”
Aldermere Farm Preserve, Rockport
In November of 2019, Timothy took a trip to the midcoast and Aldermere Farm Preserve. In addition to open, pastoral land, Timothy painted the Belted Galloways and beautiful old buildings at this unique MCHT preserve. The photo above is of a color study in process which, along with pencil sketches he made, will help him flesh out the piece in the studio. Below are sketches of the cows.
Witherle Woods Preserve, Castine
In early March, 2020, Timothy visited Witherle Woods Preserve in Castine. “It was cold but the end of the hike led to a lookout point,” says Timothy. “I made a more refined sketch of the mountains in the distance. This quicker color study [above] was made when the colors started to change a bit. I wanted to do a quicker, more ethereal abstract sketch inspired by the colors and composition. This could be almost anywhere.”
Kelley Farm Preserve, Bernard, Mount Desert Island
In the winter of 2020, Timothy stayed in a cabin downeast and visited many preserves in the Mount Desert Island area, including Kelley Farm Preserve. “This was one of the coldest days last winter,” says Timothy. “I hiked through the snow to the top of the hill. It was a short hike and the view was incredible. I quickly set up and when the sun came out I was able to make this quick sketch before my fingers were freezing and I had to call it.”
Woodward Point Preserve, Brunswick
Timothy visited Woodward Point Preserve in the winter of 2020, walking out to the farthest piece of land on the peninsula to make the sketch above. “I love that you can see the surrounding islands, and I was drawn to the contrast of the snow against the darker sand—it was a kind of black mirror water moment. I could stay long as it was quite cold. I put everything away quickly and the canvas board with the sketch ended up falling on the palette.”
The painting below was also made on the same trip, near the middle of the preserve.
Monroe Island Preserve, Owls Head
In the late summer of 2020, Timothy paddled out to Monroe Island Preserve to spend the night and make paintings in the evening and morning. “I love the diversity of landscapes on the island,” says Timothy. “There’s a scragglier area, there are bold cliffs, expanses of field, beaches. And there are some incredible views of the Camden Hills and Owls Head Lighthouse.”
Excited to see what comes of this project? We are, too.
You can follow Timothy on Instagram, and bookmark this page and check back in over the course of the year—we’ll keep this story updated. We’ll also share content on MCHT’s Facebook and Instagram feeds. Like and follow us now if you don’t already!
In September of 2021, Timothy’s works from the Maine Coast Sojourn will be on display at Cove Street Arts in Portland. Keep an eye on our events calendar for more information about this special exhibition and out-of-the-box MCHT event.