“The Bowdoin College Museum of Art has an annual summer series focusing on Maine landscapes. This is the sixth exhibition in the series. I selected Lois Dodd’s work this year because of her style – her unconventional depictions of the Maine landscape,” said museum curator Alison Ferris.

“You don’t often see the formal rigor and poetic touch that Dodd has accomplished in her paintings,” Ferris continued. “She translates the reality of every day into something akin to poetry. Her sophisticated understanding of the elements of composition invites us to enter her paintings with ease.”

Showcased in the “Four Seasons in Maine: Lois Dodd’s Small Plein-Air Paintings” exhibit are works that demonstrate the artist’s skilled use of light and shade as it changes in nature throughout the day during each of the four seasons. She captures light as it changes on rocks, leaves, water, trees and flowers.

Dodd’s style ranges from stark representational work with hard-edged lines and geometric shapes as seen in her paintings “House at Orr’s Island” and “Burnt-Out House;” to a combination of Impressionism and Expressionism with thick, short brush strokes and suggestive elements as seen in “October Barn and “Trees Afternoon.”

While one can see Paul Cézanne’s influence in her work titled “Long Cove Quarry,” which magnifies nature into semi-abstract forms, Dodd’s work is fresh and original. It cannot be labeled or categorized.

In her best work, Dodd suggests images in nature rather than defining them rigidly.

“In real life, the Maine landscape looks unfinished. It is still fresh and unspoiled. It doesn’t look like it is totally controlled by man. My garden looks overrun for example, but that is part of its beauty. It has its own composition. That quality in Maine challenges me to create something,” she said in an interview.

In “Arbor and White Plants,” Dodd paints in short, brush strokes in myriad green hues. A suggestive arbor with white dashes of pigment allows the viewer to finish the work in his own mind. Dodd also uses short, strong strokes to create suggestive images in “Apple Tree.”

“Globe Thistle” is a magnificent view of a purple thistle in magnified form. Short purple and lavender brush strokes burst with energy from the top of thistle blossoms, creating a feeling of harmony and excitement simultaneously.

“Black Hollyhock” is a close-up of nature created with abstract forms that seem to slip and slide thoughout the dreamlike work.

“Black Iris 2nd Bud” is a powerful work that focuses on form and emphasizes the unusual depth of color in a black iris. The flower came from Dodd’s garden. “It didn’t bloom this year, but the plant part looks great,” she said.

A small work titled “Pemaquid” suggests the ocean in soothing tones of blue and green with white caps. Dodd painted it after a storm. “The light after the storm was very bright. A hurricane had actually passed. There was a lot of electricity in the air,” she recalled.

A favorite work of mine in the exhibit is titled ” Full Moon,” created at night in 1990. Deep dark green and black forms suggestive of trees can be seen against a dark blue sky with a bright moon burning through a mysterious and haunting mist. Moonlight motivated Dodd to do this painting.

“Things are simplified at night. A wonderful series of flat shapes can be seen in this work which was interesting to do. Things do not look three-dimensional at night. Images look flatter, wonderful and have a mystical quality,” Dodd said. This is the only work in the exhibit that was painted at night, something the artist likes to do, especially when there is a full moon.

Dodd lives in Cushing, Maine, from June to October and in New York the rest of the year. She came to Maine originally because many of her friends were attending the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1951. She now serves on the school’s board of governors, which reads like Who’s Who in America because its members are outstanding artists from across the nation.

“Four Seasons in Maine: Lois Dodd’s Small Plein-Air Paintings” is an uplifting exhbit well worth seeing. It will be up through Sept. 5 in the Walker Art Builiding on the Bowdoin campus. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The museum is closed Monday. Admission is free.

Pat Davidson Reef has a master’s degree in education and has taught art history at Catherine McAuley High School in Portland. She has written two children’s books, “Dahlov Ipcar, Artist,” and “Bernard Langlais, Sculptor.” She teaches children’s literature for teacher recertification for the American Institute for Creative Education.


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