#29. Island Inspiration (or, when you’re lucky enough to make art in paradise)


1893 map of Mount Desert Island by Edward Rand (perhaps a distant relation?)

Islands. If you live on one, your life is defined by either “on the island” or “off the island”, and you most likely love your island. If you are lucky enough to have a special one you can escape to from time to time, and be inspired by, well, you’re lucky.

MDI, shorthand for Mount Desert Island, Maine, is technically an island, although it’s attached to the mainland by a causeway. Geographically it’s a land unto itself, and when you drive over that causeway, you are leaving the mainland behind, and you get that sense of “ahhhhh.” Historically, it’s a fascinating tapestry, ancient Abenaki Native American history mixing with 17th and 18th century French and English exploration and settling, and early 19th century establishment of island life. (Way too much to address here.. but if you’re curious, click on the links … Great stuff.)

photo of an old print I have, a schooner sailing in Somes Sound … (my reflection is in the glass)

So much has been written about MDI and so many paintings have been produced here that it’s almost redundant to try to capture it in a little blog post, but I have a few choice things to show and tell. (Over thirty years-worth, actually… but that’s a different story.) My recent penchant for focusing on landscape is directly related to my love for this place, especially Acadia National Park, which is located on Mount Desert.

“Fall Blueberry Bushes, Beech Mountain” 12×12″ mixed media on panel ©2014 Karen Rand Anderson

Naturalists, artists and writers were drawn here in the early/mid 1800’s, including Thomas Cole and Frederic Edwin Church,  inspired by the incredible beauty and rugged terrain, and wealthy seekers of summer idyll followed soon afterward, building lavish “cottages”.  Artists, writers, and nature-lovers (and tons of tourists) are still drawn to the natural beauty here. The magic is palpable on this island…

"Cairn Shadow" 36x36" mixed media on wood panel. © 2014 Karen Rand Anderson

“Cairn Shadow” 36×36″ mixed media on wood panel. © 2014 Karen Rand Anderson

There is an Artist-In-Residence program at Acadia that offers you (as an artist) “the opportunity to pursue {your} particular art form while surrounded by the inspiring landscape of the park.” For more information and to find out the details, click here. (Though I have not been an artist-in-residence at Acadia, I know several artists who have.)

Mount Desert Island (“île des Monts Déserts”, or Island of the Bare Mountains) is a place that instills creative inspiration in anyone who has the opportunity to explore it. Choose your path…

There is so much more that I could share, but I’ll just say– if you ever get the opportunity (apply for a residency!!) come visit. Hike, paint, write, photograph, whatever.  Lucky me

"Gray Day at the Beaver Pond" 12x12" mixed media on panel. ©2014 Karen Rand Anderson

“Grey Day at the Beaver Pond” 12×12″ mixed media on panel. ©2014 Karen Rand Anderson

 all photos of Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park by Karen Rand Anderson

11 thoughts on “#29. Island Inspiration (or, when you’re lucky enough to make art in paradise)

  1. The serendipity of your posting on a residency in Maine is amazing! My friend and I are looking for residencies in Maine, and this is PERFECT!! Will let you know if anything unravels to enable this adventure;-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope you will find the right place to go, Catherine… also check out Skowhegan http://www.skowheganart.org/ and Monhegan.. http://monheganartistsresidency.org/ Here is one I’ve never been aware of… just found it.. Norton Island Residency for writers and artists: http://www.easternfrontier.com/about.html And this one sounds pretty remarkable– Heliker-LaHotan Foundation: http://heliker-lahotan.org/residency.html It’s on Great Cranberry Island which is just off the coast of MDI; you take a ferry from Southwest Harbor to get out there. Good luck and keep me posted, and if you do end up on MDI let me know as I have a place there. 🙂


      • Thanks so much Karen!! I would love to do Skowhegen though my three littles require me to take only 2-week residencies. I’ll do my research on the rest – I’m so grateful, and thank you SO much for posting~~!!! By brother just bought a place near Bowdoin College in Georgetown, ME – it’s stunning and I’m trying to get him to turn it into a residency for artists when his family isn’t using it. He’s baffled at the suggestion. It’s a learning curve….;-)


  2. Love it!!!!! Makes me “homesick”…..

    Abbi on her last two days/finals at school. Then perhaps I can get family to focus on travel schedule for the summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Karen,

    Nice post.  

    Am considering a trip to Bar Harbor in late August with a friend from Boston.  Probably only 2 or 3 nights (though looking maybe longer is a necessity) and since I’ve never been just wanted to ask your opinion on where to stay.  Or what location you think is the best –nice to be able to walk to dinner or the ocean but not over the top upscale.  I’ll check with Elisa too.  Just an idea at this point.  And so much hiking.  I’ve always wanted to go to Acadia National Park.  Trying to work in my water fix.

    When is your favorite time in Bar Harbor?


    Brenda http://www.brendaroper.com  http://www.kjfagallery.com http://www.etsy.com/people/brendaroperart    former El Zaguan Artist in Residence turned Personal Assistant/Girl Friday runs all kinds of errands for all kinds of people and sitter of dogslarge & small          

    Liked by 1 person

Your creative response is appreciated...Let me know what you think...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s