Italy: Tuscany

After 3 days in Rome, we headed north for a week in Val d’Orcia, a UNESCO World Heritage site in southern Tuscany.

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San Quirico d’Orcia, as viewed from one of the many hiking paths leading out from the town to the neighboring villages.

San Quirico d’Orcia, as viewed from one of the many hiking paths leading out from the town to the neighboring villages.

We stayed in a circa 700 stone house just outside the walls of the village of San Quirico d’Orcia.

Our Holiday Home for the week.

Our Holiday Home for the week.

Flowers were blooming everywhere!

Flowers were blooming everywhere!

A walk through the narrow winding streets of San Quirico d’Orcia.

A walk through the narrow winding streets of San Quirico d’Orcia.

From San Quirico, you can easily drive to many well-known towns in the Val d’Orcia, including Montalcino, Montepulciano, and Pienza. One of favorite days was spent hiking from town to town, starting in San Quirico and taking paths through the rolling grain fields, past long-abandoned stone structures, to finally hike up to the hill town of Pienza.

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We were very fortunate to have a private tour and wine tasting at Altesino, a vineyard and winery in Montalcino that makes, among other incredibly delicious wines, the world-renowned Brunello di Montalcino.

One of several vineyards at Altesino.

One of several vineyards at Altesino.

Oak barrels at the vineyard.

Oak barrels at the vineyard.

We could not visit Tuscany without at least one day on the coast. We spent the afternoon walking the beach and then enjoyed dinner in the hill town of Porto Santo Stefano.

One day, we do hope to return to the vast and far-reaching vistas of the Val d’Orcia!

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Italy: Rome

We were so fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to Italy this month! We spent 3 days in Rome and fell in love with its exquisite, ancient beauty.

We stayed in Trastevere, a family neighborhood southwest of the Tiber River and the historical center of Rome. We loved this neighborhood, with its daily farmer’s market outside our door. When the market cleared in the afternoons, the local children would flock to the park and begin playing soccer and other outdoor games until evening.

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Our AirBnB apartment was in a square complex with a courtyard in the middle. We would see women hanging their laundry in the evening after work, and often heard Italian voices rising up to our room at night.

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Trastevere has narrow streets and colorful buildings, filled with greenery, ancient churches and landmarks, and numerous restaurants. It is not, however, all tourist-driven and there are many signs of Roman life.

At night, the town streets are filled with walkers and entertainers, and young people drinking and socializing in the streets.

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We walked 8-10 miles a day and saw nearly all of the historic Rome center. On our last day, we bought a bottle of wine and settled down in a park to soak in the birds, green grass and sunshine.

Puzzles!

At the suggestion of an Instagram follower, we are excited to offer puzzles featuring 8 of our most popular paintings. The puzzles will be available in June 2019 for $30 each. Please send us a note if you are interested in purchasing a puzzle… we would love your feedback on these initial designs!

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Back Barn - coming soon

We have been busy framing the new back barn, located behind (and attached to) our 1904 post and beam barn. We are rebuilding the barn to the same proportions while shifting the gable to align with the center of the post and beam bents and adding large windows to take in the big sky views. Once complete, we will remove the old barn boards between the two barns so we can finally use back barn as a stage for performances!

Framing in the pouring rain of April.

Framing in the pouring rain of April.

Framing in the big blue sky.

Framing in the big blue sky.

Dorland Mountain Arts Colony

We had the pleasure of attending an art residency in February 2019 at the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony in Temecula California. Dorland is located on a 340-acre nature preserve in the mountains of Riverside County, 60 miles north of San Diego and 100 miles south of LA.

With blue skies and weather in the 60s, we spent each day traveling to a state park or ecological reserve for hiking and painting en plein air before heading back to our residency cabin to watch the sunset. While much of California is, as expected, sprawling with development, we found an abundance of public lands that preserved the state’s raw and natural beauty.

Wild Horse Peak, 11x14 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts. Painted from Sunset Point at Dorland Mountain Arts Colony.

Wild Horse Peak, 11x14 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts. Painted from Sunset Point at Dorland Mountain Arts Colony.

Santa Rosa Ecological Reserve, 11x14 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts

Santa Rosa Ecological Reserve, 11x14 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts

We enjoyed hiking the 8,300 acres of Santa Rosa so much, we went back a second day to explore the trails leading to the top of Monument Hill, which had panoramic views of grasslands, rolling hills and distant snow-capped mountains as far as the eye could see .    Monument Hill, 11x14 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts

We enjoyed hiking the 8,300 acres of Santa Rosa so much, we went back a second day to explore the trails leading to the top of Monument Hill, which had panoramic views of grasslands, rolling hills and distant snow-capped mountains as far as the eye could see .

Monument Hill, 11x14 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts

View from Horton Cottage, 8x10 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts

View from Horton Cottage, 8x10 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts

Reading in the Grove, 11x14 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts.

Reading in the Grove, 11x14 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts.

Watercolor study of a mountain range by Brad Betts, painted from the front porch of Horton Cottage at Dorland Mountain Arts Colony.

Watercolor study of a mountain range by Brad Betts, painted from the front porch of Horton Cottage at Dorland Mountain Arts Colony.

Cactus, 6x8 oil painting by Brad Betts.  This was a fun study as four artists painted this cactus at the same time, resulting in four unique paintings of one subject in varying and diverse styles.

Cactus, 6x8 oil painting by Brad Betts. This was a fun study as four artists painted this cactus at the same time, resulting in four unique paintings of one subject in varying and diverse styles.

Poppies on Dripping Spring Trail, 11x14 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts

Poppies on Dripping Spring Trail, 11x14 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts

On our last day, we hiked the trail to Wild Horse Peak in the Agua Tibia Wilderness. At the end of the hike, we rock-hopped across a stream and as we started heading to the car we realized we were being passed by butterflies, dozens at a time. We sat down on the stream bank for over an hour as hundreds of Painted Lady butterflies flew by, on their journey from Mexico to the north. An amazing moment at the end of an incredibly inspiring trip, we hope to return to Dorland in the future for another nature-inspired artistic retreat.

Marsh Study

Marsh Study by Brad Betts. Music excerpt from the song “Groceries” by Ben Betts, @benbettsmusic from the album REVELING.

Painting by Brad Betts | Music by Ben Betts To hear the original song "Groceries" and the entire album REVELING by Ben Betts, visit: https://www.downeastgallery.com/music

Storm Surf on Ocean Point

Storm Surf on Ocean Point is a 30” x 40” commission. The clients requested a painting of surf that was powerful yet reflective of the beauty of Ocean Point. I did 6 plein air and studio studies of the surf and rocks at one requested location until I found the composition I was looking for.

In the final painting, I attempted to capture the power of the incoming surf: distant white caps, a translucent wave just beginning to break, another curled and crashing against the rocks. To achieve the beauty, I focused on the time just after a storm, when the sea is still churning rough and wild but the skies are parting and peaks of sun are breaking through the clouds and lighting up the rocks and water in a moment of promise. I also strived to capture the sense of calm that we witness in even the wildest of storms… between the crashing waves, when water pools in soft reflections and gently spills like waterfalls.

“Storm Surf on Ocean Point”, 30”x40” oil painting by Brad Betts, ASMA

“Storm Surf on Ocean Point”, 30”x40” oil painting by Brad Betts, ASMA


The studies completed for this commission are available for purchase:

Morse-Seawall Letterbox

One of our favorite hikes is the Morse Mountain trail to Seawall Beach in Phippsburg. The two-mile hike leads through diverse habitats - from salt marshes, up the small mountain to towering granite cliffs, on to the Pitch Pine Critical Habitat, down the hill past old farmsteads to another glimpse of the marsh before the trail opens to the sand dunes and the gorgeous expanse of Seawall Beach.

We often walk around the point near Popham Beach to a spot we call “Secret Beach”, a small private crescent of sand hidden behind a large granite outcropping on the water’s edge. This weekend, we explored the woods behind Secret Beach and the rock outcropping and found, at the base of a spruce tree, a box. A note on the cover said “Do not discard! This is a letterbox.” Inside there was a notepad with a welcome note and a print of an artist’s stamp dated July 3, 2009. Wrapped in green felt, there was a hand-carved rubber stamp of a mountain scene.

Upon googling it, we learned a letterbox is a form of geocaching, where artists design and make their own rubber stamp and then hide it in a waterproof box in a public area, often parks and conservation lands. Those who find the letterbox leave a print of their own artist stamp in the notepad before re-hiding the letterbox in its original spot.

We were the second group to find the letterbox, 9-1/2 years after it was hidden at Seawall Beach. Not having stamps but wanting to leave our mark, we created two sketches that, for the curious, are also two clues: a graphite sketch of the view looking south of the letterbox, and a watercolor sketch of the view looking northwest of the letterbox.

So if you are game for an incredible hike and a treasure hunt, pack your art kit (or rubber stamp and pad if you have one) and head to Morse Mountain. If you find the letterbox, please take a picture of the artwork you leave behind and send it to us so we can share it here. Happy hunting!

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The Stable

The old stable below the barn. Experimenting with watercolors this winter and tried to capture timelessness in this sketch - the abandoned bird’s nest in the rafters, old bit on the wall, stacks of lumber leaning below the gate - offset by the present, in the freshly made footsteps in the snow and the cast of the mid-day sun’s shadows.

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Maine Outdoor Film Festival

ART + MUSIC + FILM


Join us for the MAINE OUTDOOR FILM FESTIVAL at Down East Gallery!  Celebrating art, music, film, and outdoor adventure with an evening under the stars at Lincoln County's first film festival.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

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5 - 7 pm:  ART + MUSIC

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7 - 9:30 pm:  MAINE OUTDOOR FILM FESTIVAL

  • Bring your own beverage, picnic and blanket to enjoy an evening under the stars watching independent films by Maine, national and international documentary film makers.

  • A 9' x 12' outdoor movie screen will be set up in the mowed field on the slope of the hill behind the barn - a natural ampitheater!  As this will be the first official week of the Fall season, please plan to bring some extra sweaters or blankets to keep warm and solid shoes for walking in the field.

  • In case of rain, the show will go on!  Rain location will be in the 1904 post & beam barn.

  • Films begin 30 minutes after sunset (about 7:30 pm).

  • The film line-up will include the Audience Winner for the 2018 Summer Broke and Stoked short outdoor film contest “Fly Girls” by Phoebe Parker (featuring Edgecomb’s own Brynna Nelson)!

  • Special Appearance: the Director of "This Place called Nuka", Dave Weich, will be in attendance and available for Q&A after the film.

SUGGESTED DONATION: $3-$5 / person. MOFF has raised funds and awareness for Teens to Trails, which supports Maine high school outing clubs with cash grants, organizational support and programming.

LOCATION: Down East Gallery, 146 Boothbay Road, Edgecomb, ME.  The gallery is located on Route 27, only 1/2 mile south of US Route 1.  Parking is available across the street from the gallery at the Edgecomb Eddy School.

CONTACT:  Brad Betts, 207-318-3282, bbetts@maine.rr.com

FILMS TO BE SCREENED (in no particular order):
Film Name- Director- Running Time
Fly Girls - Phoebe Parker - 3:00
Bailey and the AlewivesMolly Haley Photography & David Meiklejohn - 5:19          Freediving the Deepest Blue Hole in the World360 Media Ventures - 6:21
Playing on the Pinn - Rob Johnson - 10:50
One Week At A TimeNo Umbrella Media - 11:17
After the Man - Kalle Bailey, Alec Salisbury, Ben Freeman - 15:36
This Place Called Nuka: Courting Adventure in Wild Alaska - Dave Weich Sheepscot Creative - 22:20

*Screening schedule is subject to change*

TOTAL RUNNING TIME: 71 minutes
There will also be a brief intermission with a free door prize raffle.

MEDIA:

MOFF for more information on film screenings all around the great state of Maine!

Down East Magazine: Going Bigger

Boothbay Register: Where It's At

 

Back in the Day, Somes Sound

“Back in the Day, Somes Sound” is a 30″ x 40″ painting commissioned by the Gallery at Somes Sound.  Basing my work on a circa 1900 black & white photograph, I wanted to bring life, color and light to this historic scene.  After visiting Somesville and studying old photographs, what amazed me the most was how much of this scene still exists today.  Painting and researching an historic moment in time is always a fulfilling journey… it creates a deep connection with the people and places of the past and it changes your view of the present.

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PERCEPTION Art Show - August 18

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In collaboration with Zelo Arts Collective, Down East Gallery is excited to announce an exhibition at our East Boothbay gallery!  PERCEPTION is a contemporary display of mixed media including sculpture, photography, paintings, plastel and music, featuring four emerging artists:

  • Lindsey Appleyard

  • Samuel Betts

  • Ben Betts

  • Brianna Del Mar

PERCEPTION encourages discussion of how we interact with the world around us, based on our perception of natural and social stimuli. Our artists invite you to expose your senses to our art, engage in our interactive displays, and allow these unique combinations of art to inspire you: consciousness and nature, experimentation and collaboration, personal and impersonal, visceral and technical.

Join on us for the opening party this SATURDAY, AUGUST 18 from 5-7 pm at Down East Gallery East Boothbay, located at 30 Van Horne Road in East Boothbay, ME.

Cottages & the Maine Coast

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From August 7 to September 8, Down East Gallery will be featuring paintings and sculptures that capture the spirit of the Maine Coast. Featuring maritime paintings by award-winning artist Brad Betts, ASMA, the exhibition “Cottages & The Maine Coast” will include over 60 paintings of Maine’s oceanside cottages, crashing surf, beach roses on the shore, cottage gardens and classic sailboats gliding through Maine’s harbors. The opening reception will be held on Friday, August 10 from 5 – 7 pm and will feature live music by steel drummer Ben Betts.

Down East Gallery is located at 146 Boothbay Rd./Route 27, only one-half mile south of U.S. Route 1. The gallery features fine contemporary art by Brad Betts as well as sculptures, woodwork, glassware, tapestries and ceramics by a curated selection of Maine’s finest artists. With over 3,000 square feet of exhibition space, the gallery is located in a 1906 farmhouse and a 1904 post and beam barn, surrounded by a 35-acre farm with sculptures set amongst the gardens.

The gallery is open Tuesday – Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday and Monday by appointment or by chance (closed September 1 for a private event). For more information, contact artist/owner Brad Betts: 207-318-3282; bbetts@maine.rr.com or visit DownEastGallery.com.

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Festival of Lights Pop-Up Gallery!

Down East Gallery is excited to host our first Pop-Up Gallery!  Running from November 7 to December 23, 2017, the Pop-Up Gallery features a diverse, carefully curated exhibition of unique Maine-made artisan goods.

In addition to  featuring small works by  Brad Betts and our core gallery sculptors, the Pop-Up Gallery features the work of the following artisans:

Alie Brussel Faria: Pottery

Andre Benoit: 3-D Wood Sculptures

Danielle Rose Byrd: Handhewn Wooden Wares

El Bolso Portland

Elephant Ceramics

Erica A. Moody: Fine Metal Work

Jess Wrobel: Textiles and Decor

Kathleen Jones: Jewelry

Lindsey Appleyard: Mixed Media Art

Patrick Moore: Cutting Boards

AWARD OF EXCELLENCE: Drying Sails in Camden Harbor

We're very pleased to announce that "Drying Sails in Camden Harbor" by Brad Betts was selected for the AWARD OF EXCELLENCE at the 38th Annual International Marine Art Exhibition at The Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport.  The award recognizes paintings that are "outstanding examples of creativity, insight and integrity in marine art."

"Drying Sails in Camden Harbor", 24x18, oil on canvas

"Drying Sails in Camden Harbor", 24x18, oil on canvas


PAINTING INSPIRATION:

From our campsite in Camden Hills State Park, we climbed partway up Mount Megunticook, down a ravine, up and over Mount Battie before descending the boulder-strewn south face into town.  After miles of hiking through the dark confines of the woods, we now walked in neighborhood streets past old homes and the local library to a lawn overlooking the bustling harbor. A green schooner glided to a wharf, its red sails glowing against the blue sky. Sailboats coasted in the narrow aisles of water between the floats, painted buildings lined the wooden docks and people hurried by in all directions.  We were taken by the beauty of the scene and a sense that time had stood still: we had entered a world unchanged since the 1800s. We were neighbors from a nearby village, traveling into town to sell our wares, stock up on dry goods or simply hear the latest news.