From plein air to Bay View

New Page Gallery opens May 9
By Christine Dunkle | Apr 25, 2019
Photo by: Christine Dunkle Colin Page opens the Page Gallery at 23 Bay View St. in Camden May 9.

CAMDEN — Colin Page is hoping to have more eyes on his artwork soon, but preferably ones different from the visitor he encountered while painting on the California coast.

“I felt something. I looked down and an octopus was crawling up my foot. It was coming up on a rock to investigate me,” he said. “I jumped and ran away. And waited for it to go back where it was supposed to be.”

Come early next month, Page will be exactly where he’s supposed to be — opening his own gallery at 23 Bay View St. “I will be the face of presenting my art,” he said.

“I’ve been thinking about doing this off and on for a while,” he said. “I got to the point where I wanted to promote my own career. I got a handle on the business side, so I thought I’d be comfortable jumping in.”

In Maryland, Page grew up always drawing, but it wasn’t until his mother enrolled him in an oil painting class as a teen that he was introduced to his true calling. “That really started more interest. Then I switched schools to one that was half academic and half art,” he said. “There’s a real benefit when they expose you to a lot of things.”

It was in college that Page really homed in on oil painting as his main medium. He studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.

By the early 2000s, Page found himself living in Brooklyn, N.Y., and wanting to get out of the city. “A friend was up here [in Maine] and suggested this area. I didn’t have any better ideas,” he said. “I loved it, it was a perfect fit.”

New York’s loss was the Midcoast’s gain, and Page has called Camden home since 2003.

“My favorite place is Rockport Harbor, it’s just beautiful. It’s gorgeous with the green hills on both sides,” he said.

Page does a majority of his work outside as a plein air painter, capturing the light and atmosphere of landscapes. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions and group shows nationally and abroad.

“I paint several different subjects, but the common thread is rich color and a sense of light,” he said. “Some people say my work is impressionistic. It’s more fun to play in between — sometimes detailed, sometimes color splotches.”

He often tries to have a sense of what he wants to paint before he heads out. “I have little kids, so sometimes I only have a three-hour window. I pick somewhere nearby, Rockport or Camden Harbor,” Page said. “I have a color idea, a visual idea, the translucency of water. I pick a place I haven’t been to in a while.”

And while locals may see him set up around town with his easel, it can be better to be hidden away. “I try to be respectful of other people’s property,” Page said. “I have people invite me to their private property. It can be easier to focus without people walking around.”

Plein air is not for the faint of heart, hence the octopus, but for the most part it is an enjoyable way to create. Page has spent up to eight hours outside on bigger paintings, but with the changing light, that much time isn’t ideal, he said.

“The whole easel comes down once in a while, but not often,” he said. “The most common frustration is boats spinning on their mooring balls.”

As every parent knows, working with children around can be an exercise in futility. Page once brought his daughters along on a painting excursion. “I tried taking them to Curtis Island. I thought they could play around,” he said. “They were bored within a half-hour and wanted to go.”

But Page persisted, finished his painting and went to gather up the girls to leave. “Then they were too busy making fairy houses,” he said.

“They do like to paint, but they are young,” Page said. “I’ve let them use my oils, but you have to keep a close eye on them.”

Page is also known for intricate tabletop still lifes, yet another way he “paints from life.” In the winter, he often works from photos, but finding ways to make the painting richer can be difficult. “When I get frustrated with having to add interest, I set up these still lifes,” he said. “I make them fun and playful, with rich colors. It makes me feel like my summer painting experiences.”

While Page tends to paint pretty much every day, his time lately has been spent setting up the new gallery. “I hope when we get settled in, I will be back at the easel,” he said. “My goal is to paint and then sell.”

Helping him set up and sell is gallery manager Kirsten Surbey, whom he met when she worked at Dowling Walsh Gallery in Rockland, where he used to show his paintings.

“When we were just in the planning stage, we thought about how there were so many great artists in Maine and how exciting it would be to open that up to people and promote other artists,” Surbey said. She said they will display a variety of media — glass, photography, paintings, drawings and sculpture.

Page Gallery will show the owner’s paintings, along with several other local artists on a continual basis, culminating in a September show; but will have a series of invitational group shows throughout the summer.

The gallery launches Thursday, May 9, with “Come Spring,” a celebration of spring as a season of new beginnings and a return to vibrant color. The reception is from 5 to 7 p.m. Participating artists include John Knight, Siri Beckman, David Jacobson, Simon van der Ven, Jessica Ives and Doug Felton.

The group shows continue with “Frolic” June 20 and “Tideline” July 25. Surbey said they also want to do art education, so the gallery will offer workshops, likely including evenings for locals.

Page’s workshops tend to focus on "plein air painting and helping those with some experience," he said, but Ives is also on board as an instructor.

Page is already enjoying the process of running his own gallery, including picking paintings and artists, and deciding where to place artwork.

“I really like being in town with everyone walking around. It’s a great place with lots happening,” he said. “It has been surprisingly smooth, very few hiccups. It’s a small miracle; we hope it keeps up.”

Page lives in Camden with his wife, two daughters and numerous pets. For more information, visit thepagegallery.com or call 230-8048.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Christine Dunkle can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 108; or arts@villagesoup.com.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.