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Monhegan Harbor

Oil on canvas by Paul Black

An artist can find inspiration anywhere — in the far corners of the world, the pages of history, the open field of the imagination. For Paul Black, it’s right around the corner, close to home.

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Black, 63, a Maine native, finds his inspiration working in the comfortable surroundings of the coast he knows so well, where among the familiar, he finds the unexpected. His subjects are the plain things we’ve all seen — small boats, fishing piers, clapboard houses — places we’ve passed by often. In Black’s work, they appear special, captured in a different light, seen from a fresh perspective, expressed with a new feeling.

For 20 years, the Bangor-born artist has been going out to Monhegan Island, the fishermen’s village and artist community 15 miles east of Boothbay Harbor, to find his subject matter. “Its appeal to artists comes in many forms,” Black says of Monhegan. “The cliffs are the highest in Maine. The shoreline abounds with interesting rock formations, with beautiful shapes and colors to inspire the artist’s imagination. It also has a beautiful village with weathered fish shacks and boats aplenty — mostly of the working kind, lobster boats and fishermen’s skiffs being the majority. Everything is aged and pure. Nothing about it is fancy, but all is beautiful.”

This summer, Black will leave his South Portland home behind once again and travel out to Monhegan, joining the other artists attracted to it. “And no two will see it or interpret it in the same way,” he says. “And that is the beauty of it.”

More of Black’s work can be seen at Redfield Artisans Gallery in Northeast Harbor, Maine, or at

August 2014 issue