Stephan Haley’s innovative monoprint drawings and monotype woodblock prints and Heidi Palmer’s new work in monotypes and oil-on-canvas come together in an exhibit at the Jessie Edwards Studio in the second floor of the Post Office building from August 14 to August 26.
To Haley and Palmer, monotypes are most like the “painterly process.” The monotype begins with a painting on a smooth surface, such as glass, onto which paper is pressed, creating one unique image. Both artists enjoy the surprise that comes from a process that has many variables in ink, paper, and pressure. Also, while both artists depict real scenes and places, they also work from memory and imagination to recreate a sense of place and time. For example, Haley’s monotype drawings “Road to Town,” Up the Road Towards Blue Hill,” and “Church at Kingdom Road” bring us to rural villages in Maine, where the artist lives, and evoke an earlier, quieter time with few signs of modernity. Haley’s techniques are not simple, though he uses simple materials. For his monoprints, he begins with a pencil drawing over which he places acetate onto which he then brushes on the ink one color at a time. Finally, he uses pressure to transfer the ink from the acetate to the paper, creating one unique image. Two works, “Before the Thaw” and “Wintertide” are monochromatic winter scenes tinged with fainter winter light, while others are full of color, movement, and texture, as in “Penobscot Porcupine,” a bristly porcupine climbing the rough bark of a birch tree. In “Goldfinch Reunion,” hundreds of the small yellow birds flutter together in a green field flanked by pine trees.
Citing Picasso’s view that the artist needs to be “both creative and innovative in contemporary art,” Haley has developed a way to create editions of monotype prints. Instead of drawing onto paper, he draws onto birch plywood, as one would carve into the wood for a wood block print. “The Village,” #3/25, is a dramatic example. It is a birds-eye view of a seaside village on Deer Isle. Two agile crows dominate the foreground as they swoop high above the village with the bright light bringing out the details in their claws and feathers.
Palmer’s six monotypes begin in much the same way as her oils-on-canvas. “I start with the way light falls on a place or object, “ she said recently. I feel my way in the dark toward the light.” The monotypes “Night Sky,” “Orion’s Belt,” and “Walking the Dog” are all night scenes in which the light from the moon and stars reveals the subtle blues, grey, and purples of the sea and land. In contrast, the monotype “Clouds and Sea” has bands of grey sand and an indigo sea merging into a swath of clouds, grey at the bottom, brilliant white at the top against the blue sky. “Summer Cottage” is a sun-drenched view of a white cottage on Corn Neck dunes looking over both a pond and the ocean. Similarly, the sun in “Tidal Flats” lights up the wet, grainy hands, blades of beach grass and aqua waters of a calm sea lapping the shore.
Four oils-on-canvas are similar scenes of calmness and tranquility. In “By the Light of the Moon,” moonlight streams though a window into a bedroom on to a pristine white, slightly wrinkled pillow, a blanket the same shade of blue outside the window, and a night table. The warm light in “Open” invites the viewer to open the screen door and step onto the grassy path to the blue water far below. Two oils are scenes from the Lewis-Dickens Farm. In “Noon, July,” the stones of the wall in the right foreground are perfectly balanced and v-shaped openings giving glimpses of the green fields and blue sea beyond. Two harriers with their v-shaped wings hover over a more distant wall on the left with fields stretching to the sea, the white clouds, and the blue sky.
“Last Day” evokes the wistful sense of day and stay on the island coming to an end as a late sun casts shadows across the fields and onto a clothesline empty save for a a clothesline bag left hanging on the line. A section of the Lewis -Dickens cottage is in shadow in the left foreground.
There will be “Meet the Artist” videos on Wednesday, August 12, and a “Gallery Walk Through” on Friday, August 14 ,where visitors can enjoy the show at their own pace. The exhibit will be open to visitors during regular gallery hours, and private viewings can be arranged by contacting the gallery.