Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Harvest Happenings

           It is late summer here in Western Maine, and that means that this season’s harvest is almost over! This year’s crop has brought us an abundance of garlic, peaches, and tomatoes (and, of course, zucchini!). And so, we thought it would be the perfect time to answer some of your more popular gardening questions.

Lynda and Bill, each holding a platter of this year's garlic crop!

             First off, did you know that Bill actually studied botany and cooking in college, not jewelry making?  It’s true! Bill attended SMBTI for Plant and Soils Technology: which means he studied horticulture (mostly plant identification). He has been an avid gardener ever since he was a little kid. Long ago, when living in Fryeburg, he grew nothing but perennial flowers. It was only when Bill and Lynda moved to Lovell that he began to grow his own vegetable garden.

            And what a garden it is! Folks, we often show you our front lawn and the gorgeous flowers that Bill can coax out of our rocky ground, but it is not that frequently that we unveil the back lawn. Spanning 1,300 square feet, the vegetable garden provides enough basics to last throughout the winter and next spring: namely veggies and herbs like green beans and garlic. Bill tends to two raised beds, one in-ground bed, various pots of herbs, and several fruit trees that are scattered throughout the back yard.

A few of our herbs!

            How do you go about starting up a garden though? Surely you can’t be expected to jump in the deep end and start up a garden of that size? You are correct: if you are just beginning a garden, keep it small! Whether the purpose of your garden is for home-grown food, or just for fun, taking on
 too much land to handle can quickly become a nightmare. The innocent and unassuming beginner gardener frequently underestimates how much work is involved in maintaining a garden other than watering and weeding.
            So start small. Begin with just a couple vegetables that you will use and enjoy (and will happily continue to use and enjoy multiple times over during the plentiful harvest). Plant these in raised beds to help defer critters, and think about adding an irrigation system. This could be as simple as a bit of tubing with holes poked in it!
            Begin your herb garden small as well: perhaps just basil and parsley to begin with. Herbs can be easily grown in pots, and so lend themselves to quick and simple maintenance. Fruit trees can be somewhat tricky to maintain at first, but they are well worth it. After the initial tedium of protecting your trees from disease and bugs, they require fairly little maintenance. The hardest part about tending fruit trees is the long wait between harvest seasons!

Our wonderful peach tree!
            What we really want to get across is that gardening should be pleasant and gratifying! And it is only when gardening is made enjoyable that it is truly rewarding. If you don’t want to spend long hours toiling in the dirt under the hot summer sun, don’t! Work in window planters or flower pots. Install an easy watering system to make lazy days a breeze. Don’t plant too much so that the processing (watering, weeding, picking, canning, freezing, etc) overwhelms you and sucks the joy out of an otherwise pleasant summer afternoon.
            As the years roll by and you grow accustomed to the trials and tribulations of growing your own food, then think about expanding your garden. Some additions will naturally fall into place: planting a few more pots of herbs, adding a new lettuce that will fill out that wonderful salad of yours, etc. Others, like the decision to buy a fruit tree or to begin a sandy pumpkin patch, will take more thought. Either way, keep it fun and stay healthy! Have a great rest of the summer!
Bill and his prized 8ft sunflower!!


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Summer Artist Spotlight: Gay Freeborn

Maine-based artist Gay Freeborn is showing new work at Harvest Gold Gallery! Harvest Gold Gallery has been showing Gay’s wonderful work for six seasons now, and customers never cease to be excited by her unique portrayals of man’s best friend. 
Originally from Palo Alto, California, Gay made her way to Maine almost forty years ago. Inspired by her artistically inclined family to pursue a creatively driven career, Gay attended Moore College of Art, in Philadelphia to study sculpture and design, and entered the work force as a landscape and interior designer.
"The Red Heart"
Gay’s experience as a technical designer shows itself in the carefully considered color schemes of each of her paintings. Her ability to create a subtle and cohesive marriage between soft and vibrant hues in a single painting amplifies the emotions of her subject to the viewer. Her love and respect for all animals and their sentient, emotional characteristics overwhelms her subject matter. “You have to have your heart in whatever you are doing,” Gay said, “be it painting or a desk job, you have to feel it. That’s what brings the subject to life and keeps it from being just a copy of a photograph."

 Animals of all sorts are sculpted in paint: pigs, ducks, chickens, horses, and especially dogs. Gay is deeply interested in capturing the relationship between the owner and the animal, in accurately representing the physical and emotional likeness of the creatures, and in bringing forth the unique personality of each creature. She begins her creative process by taking hundreds of photos of her subjects.  From these photos she might find a color that works better in one than another, or a body part that works with another photograph, like adding a tail when one wasn’t wagging when the shutter clicked. The paintings become a compilation of ideas which tell the story of the animal. She can pull from them the moment in time when the light was perfect and when she and the animal fell into a rhythm together.

             Loving to paint with large and visible brushstrokes coupled with vivid colors, Gay aims to capture movement and energy within her paintings. She stretches her own heavy canvas, and then preps it with gesso. When working on pieces in her movement-based series, she begins building motion and texture even in this first layer. Gay piles on the gesso, and uses tools that she finds around the house to scrape in patterns. Paint reacts different when applied directly to canvas and when used atop dried gesso, and Gay uses this difference to its fullest extent. “Negative space – the space outside of your main subject – is just as important to the feel of a piece as the main subject is. If I can’t fill that negative space up with color or large strokes of my brush, then I put my faith in the canvas itself to lend texture to the painting.”

"Just For Grins"
Gay starts building color right from the beginning as well. Her base sketch of her subject is done in whatever color paint is splodged on her palette at the time. Thinned out with a bit of liquin, Gay quickly draws out her outlines. This first step is very organic, and is frequently wiped away and redone over and over to see how the shapes she desires to paint will form over the textured gesso below.
“I then convey the motion, shape, and love for the animal with loosely applied sweeping brushstrokes or a pallet knife,” Gay told us. “Using glazing mediums, wax, chalk dust, and thick layers of oil paint I sculpt the subjects on the canvas: I bring them to life in an unconventional form.” It is difficult to do, but Gay tries to not think about her painting too much. If the mind gets too involved, too critical, then an artist – and in turn, the feel of her painting – can get lost in the details which the overactive brain thinks the painting needs. To counter this, Gay purposefully tries to work only with large flat brushes. She thickens and thins her paints in turn to build texture but also transparency of color.  

"Love Story - 8"
While Gay does switch between different styles of painting to attempt to avoid falling into a creative rut, Gay says that painting loosely with large brushstrokes and bright colors is her favorite style. “To paint is a constant process of learning. The paint often tells me what to put on the canvas and I try not to disturb an unexpected brushstroke once it is applied. I keep in mind the movement and shape of the animals more than the realistic image the photograph shows me. This helps to stay loose and less realistic: which is what I strive for.”
While Gay has been focusing mostly on painting recently, her deep love of animals goes far beyond just the canvas and paint. She grew up with many dogs around the house, and worked in a veterinarian’s office for some years. She also is a breeder of Labrador Retrievers, and a frequent participant in dog shows all around New England. Her work breeding dogs actually was what spurred her to return to painting. Being surrounded by such constant motion and energy gave Gay back the spark needed to pick up her paint brush again. With a fair knowledge of anatomy under her belt, Gay can focus on capturing those details which really bring her paintings to life: the sparkle in a pet’s eye or a dog’s body language that her audience can immediately recognize if they too are pet owners.

    Recently, Gay’s art has been featured in the book “The Contemporary Art of Nature: Mammals,” by accomplished author E. Ashley Rooney. The book highlights the human tendency to attempt to capture the essence of all animals in art and includes the work of nearly one hundred artists worldwide. We are so excited to have a local and Harvest Gold favorite be featured on such a scale! Gay was also chosen for a group show at the Guardino Gallery in Portland, Oregon. She will have a solo show up at the Damariscotta Grill in Damariscotta, ME, from October to December.

Great new paintings by Gay Freeborn have also made their way onto our walls here at Harvest Gold for the summer! We are located at 1082 Main Street, just past the Center Lovell Market. For more information on Gay, or the gallery in general, give us a call at (207) 925-6502 or check us out online at

"Love Seat"

Monday, July 25, 2016

Kristen Dill is Now Showing at Harvest Gold Gallery!

The vibrant oils of Kristen Dill are now being shown at Harvest Gold Gallery! With wide splashes of color that are certain to bring energy and joy into any room, Dill’s paintings are a pleasant treat for the eyes!

"Deerwood Gardens"
            After receiving a BA from the University of Southern Maine in 1978, Dill lived year-round in Maine for five years. Since then she has travelled around the US: living and working in any place that catches her eye. From Dallas to Memphis to Raleigh, Dill has set up her easel on sandy beaches and woody mountain tops alike to “capture the ephemeral quality of nature and make it a shared visual experience.” In the summer, Dill calls Moose Pond in Bridgton home, and an old screen porch serves as her creative studio.

From left to right: "Blueberry Summer," "Calla Lilies and Gerbera Daisies"
            Kristen’s accolades are many, and she has accomplished much with her colorful work. Her paintings have been used in the Disney feature film Teen Spirit, and a watercolor of hers has been used in an episode of the popular daytime drama, One Tree Hill. Her work has also been featured in the American Abstract Watercolor Magazine, and the lengthy article praised Dill for her ability to paint the fine impressionistic line between realistic and abstract.
            Dill’s style is bright, colorful, and painterly. She begins her work by focusing mainly on organic shapes, and then uses layer upon layer of transparent oil paint to build up the vibrancy and intensity of color that is so characteristic of her work. After struggling for years with chronic illness, Dill says that she finds the creative process of sketching and painting regenerative. “I paint in response either to a visual stimuli, such as a unique color or shape, or to an emotion. The process of painting develops and crystallizes my own insights.” Painting both beautifully – but not stuffily – arranged still lifes and light and airy landscapes, Dill uses her brush to its fullest extent.

From left to right: "Leaning Pine," and "Purple Iris"

            Come stop by Harvest Gold Gallery and see some of Kristen Dill’s work for yourself! We are located at 1082 Main Street, in Center Lovell: just past the Center Lovell Market. For more information on Dill or the gallery in general, give us a call at (207) 925-6502 or check out our website at

Harvest Gold is Now Showing the Artwork of Local Artist, Sandy Bell!

            Harvest Gold Gallery is excited to announce that we, along with our partner Arabica Coffee in Portland, are currently showing the oil work of Lovell resident, Sandra Bell! Colorful and fascinating, Bell’s painting style reflects the exuberance and sense of spontaneity with which she approaches life.

From left to right: "Fire on the Lake," "December Shadow," and "Hidden"
            Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Bell first unfolded her canvas-seated artist’s stool at the age of five while attending classes provided by the Cleveland Museum of Art. Throughout her years of college and formal art school, Bell became interested in 20th century Americana. She involved herself in architectural and antique preservation, home restoration, and so much more. Travelling all around America provided Bell the opportunity to form a unique world view, and lead to her desire to paint whatever off-the-beaten-track subject matter caught her fancy.
            As a resident of Center Lovell, Bell likes to keep her subject matter local but relatively unknown. Her painting process begins with a trek across New England, scoping out interesting scenes via hiking, kayaking, or driving. Next comes photography, with Bell covering many different angles and views, sometimes returning to the same spot at different times throughout the day to see how the lighting changes. Bell then returns to her studio in Lovell and to start the sketching and painting process!

From left to right: "Heads Will Roll," "The Rout," and "Heads Will Roll"
            Working mainly in oils, Bell is well known for her painterly style and masterful use of color. She captures the purples and blues in snow, the pinks and oranges that can reflect on a pond from the autumn trees, and so much more! Her subject matter covers a mix of interesting still-lifes (cars and toys and animals, oh my!) and local landscapes.
            Sandy Bell’s work can be seen at Harvest Gold in Center Lovell, or at Arabica Coffee at 2 Free Street, Portland, ME. Come stop by Harvest Gold Gallery and check out some of Bell’s work for yourself! 

"Pleasant Mountain in Autumn"


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