Artist Louise Bourne strives to capture ever-changing light
Where artist Louise Bourne goes, her supplies go, too.
It could be her wallet-sized watercolor kit, which tucks neatly into her purse. Maybe it’s her canvas bag full of half-empty oil paint tubes or one of her many black journals, the empty pages waiting to overflow with sweeping watercolor landscapes or sketches of figures.
The sketches, watercolors, oil pastels and sometimes photographs she makes while she’s out and about influence the oil and oil pastel works she creates in her basement studio at home.
Bourne’s finished paintings are in galleries throughout Maine and New York. Her work is on display at Gallery B in Castine and the Cynthia Winings Gallery in Blue Hill. Her show at Artemis Gallery in Northeast Harbor opens Aug. 28.
“I feel incredibly blessed with my life and really thankful to this community that I could live here and support myself as an artist,” she said.
The Sedgwick artist’s supplies have trekked with her to Italy, California and all over Maine. She painted Pond Island from her kayak once, positioned on a ledge at low tide.
Books full of watercolors lean in a precarious stack on a table in the back of Bourne’s studio.
“They’re kind of just my journal,” she said. “I know that if I do something in here, it’s just a personal thing.”
As a supplement to her artwork, Bourne teaches a drawing class at Maine Maritime Academy and is an adjunct professor at the University of Maine.
Whether she’s working on the three-canvas landscape of a California vineyard hanging on the wall in her studio or painting her son and his friend playing badminton, the artist and professor is always interested in color and light.
“That’s what interests me —how the color progresses, how the color changes and the light’s effect on it,” Bourne said. “What’s interesting about outdoor painting is that it’s changing constantly.”
When her 19-year-old son was younger, the mother brought her paints and brushes to his baseball games and sat in the bleachers, working to capture the low light and the players before the batter hit the ball and the second baseman darted off to chase it.
The idea of the horizon also fascinates her, the art professor said.
“The sky is pressing down and the water’s pressing up and there’s just this squeezed place with all these intervals,” she said. “I just think the horizon is the most amazing thing.”
A five-canvas-long landscape of the horizon stretches across nearly an entire wall in her studio. It’s new for the artist to work on something this big, and pages of watercolors and penciled measurements are tacked to the wall above the many colorful canvases.
Vibrant purples, blues and greens sweep across the panels, which are completely saturated with color but not yet finished. Bourne can’t decide if the last section is resolved or not. She stops making changes to a painting when she looks at it and doesn’t get an “itchy feeling” anymore.
“All of a sudden I have no desire to do anything else to it,” she said.
With this last panel, though, she can’t decide. The sun comes up and she likes it; the clock strikes noon and she’s not satisfied. She makes a lot of changes, she said, and working as an artist is “pretty obsessive.”
“I’m obsessed with it, but I’m also really lucky that I make my living at it,” Bourne said.
Her infatuation started when she was a kid — she was always drawing.
“Mostly, you know, dragons,” she said.
After earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Portland School of Art (Now Maine College of Art) and a master’s from the University of Michigan, she moved back to Maine to work as an artist full time.
Now, her playful labradoodle, Henry, welcomes visitors to her studio in Sedgwick, where she works when she’s not painting outside.
The studio is open to the public Thursday and Saturday mornings in August, but it’s best to call ahead before heading over. Bourne also holds painting workshops Fridays from 2 to 5 p.m.
For more information, contact Bourne at www.louisebourne.com or 326-4277.