Linden Frederick is a successful artist who works on his evocative realist oil paintings several at a time with a methodology he has worked out over the course of 20-plus years.

Balance is important in creating “pictures that work” and Frederick balances his long hours in the studio and frame-making shop with bicycling — that’s him on the back cover of the April issue of Maine The Magazine; a passion for string instruments — he makes and repairs them, is signed up for this summer’s Bow Repair Workshop at the University of New Hampshire’s Violin Craftsmanship Institute and takes cello lessons; and a few other diversions including designing the set for this summer’s outdoor production of “Picnic” by the Belfast Maskers.

On Saturday, May 15 at 12:30 p.m., Frederick will be the featured guest artist at the eighth annual Festival of Art, a non-juried exhibition of work by artists, amateur and professional, age 50 and older sponsored by the Senior College of the University of Maine’s Hutchinson Center. His PowerPoint talk about 20 years of painting in and around Belfast will be complemented by a number of his current paintings-in-progress, work for a fall show at New York City’s Forum Gallery.

That show is titled “Night Neighbors” and features Frederick’s distinctive images of buildings at twilight and later, when illumination becomes sparing and specific and closed-up-for-the-night structures offer hints of the life within via a variety of light sources, from TV and PC blues to incandescent bulb yellows. Meanwhile, outside, the moon and stars, street lights, and Christmas strings add to the guessed-at narrative.

In his talk, Frederick, a full-time artist who studied at Ontario College of Art, the Academia de Belle Arte in Florence, Italy, and Houghton College, will reveal how when he first moved to Belfast, he was so enamored of the city he created paintings that were all about place, such as the 6-foot-wide rooftop view that he describes as complicated but without “a story.” His upper-story studio on Main Street offered panoramic inspiration, but as he grew accustomed to his town, he began painting the kind of images he is best known for, paintings that are less about place and more about “individuals and the stories about individuals,” he said.

“Night Work,” which is included in the slide lecture, is a good illustration of the difference. Still painted from an above-rooftop perspective, it looks down on the pizza joint at the corner of Main and High streets. Figures can be seen in the newspaper bureau office above and also in a City Hall window.

“That’s what I have to accomplish, make a universal connection, a human connection,” Frederick said in his studio, now in a city neighborhood rather than downtown.

That he succeeds in making that connection is evident in the fact that people come from all over to buy his work. While two portraits, one off-season and one summer, of the Dairy Cup on Northport Avenue have a documentary interest for locals now that the ice cream stand is no more, Frederick’s paintings have spread images of Midcoast Maine all over the country and around the world. A recent painting of the train roundhouse in Rockland titled “Family Dollar” was purchased by someone from Italy.

“What does he see in this?” Fredrick said he wondered, and answered his own question a few minutes later.

“I like to tell a story,” he said.

During the Festival of Art talk, Frederick will tell the story of how he creates his paintings, currently 40-by-40-inch canvases. He begins with an idea, which sometimes can strike him on a bicycle ride. He recently worked it out that over the last six years, he has ridden an average of 12 miles a day. Of course, averages being what they are, he often rides longer on a given day. In the fall, he and a group of cycling friends engage in the questionable practice of “night rides.”

“You know, it’s something guys do, 30 miles of biking in the dark,” he said.

One such ride took the group to Bayside in Northport and Frederick saw a scene he knew he wanted to paint. That impulse has led to “Sea Street,” a painting he currently is working on for the Forum show and which he likely will bring to the Festival of Art. Given the low lighting of the scenes he paints, Frederick does not work on-site. He documents scenes he is interested in via snap shots, sketches, written notes and memory.

“First, I do a black and white study, a small painting where I work out the design,” he said. “Then I do a color study to work out the color palette.”

The Forum Gallery show in November will include these studies with the finished works, and Frederick said he will bring at least one set to his Festival of Art talk.

After the studies, which usually but not always work out a painting’s technical challenges, Frederick does what he calls the first color layer; a second adds depth. The painting on the easel on a recent day was deceptive in how this proceeded; there was a bare tree “in front of” a blue sky, but Frederick said he painted the tree first and then worked the sky in around its many branches. Because he works in oils, he usually works at three or four paintings at a time, switching them out as they need to dry.

“Three is ideal. It gives me plenty of time to hate a painting and then fall in love with it again,” he said.

Frederick spends two years preparing for a show and has several planned, so it is a good thing he has worked out such a methodical approach.

“I love getting the idea and I love the painting in the gallery,” he said. “In between, there’s a lot of work.”

That’s where the biking and strings work comes in, giving body and mind something totally different to focus on. His plan for next winter is to make two cellos, one of traditional design and the other a guitar-shaped cello. He is approaching the project as a scientific study, using the same materials and documenting the process so a true comparison in the final sound can be made. He’s having a little fun with it too.

“I’ve decided to make my prototype only out of wood I can get at Viking Lumber,” he said, showing a piece of cedar he will use for the front.

Frederick’s construction expertise has been put to the test in recent years as he has renovated the house he shares with wife and VoxPhotographs online gallery founder Heather Frederick. He built his current studio, which has a first-floor wood shop and a second-floor gallery not quite big enough for the size paintings he would like to explore. On a shelf sits a model for the gallery he will begin building soon at the end of the driveway; the model includes a miniature painting on an easel for proper dimension.

On a table in the middle of the current paint studio is the “Picnic” model, the first set to be built on an in-the-works re-usable outdoor Maskers set being designed by John Bielenberg “the elder.” Frederick demonstrated the part of the set he will build personally. It is a fulcrum-ed post with a crescent moon on one end and a sun circle on the other. The circle will have “a special” in it, lights within the structure for scenes at dawn and twilight, the times of day Frederick the painter knows so well.

Frederick’s talk is free, as is the entire Festival of Art. To see more of Frederick’s work, visit

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to