"Eli," 2002, Lucian Freud

“Eli,” 2002, Lucian Freud

This morning I received an e-copy of Plein Air Today, featuring art that hangs on my walls. I’m tickled pink to share these with others.

Like most artists, I’ve collected a lot of artwork over time. It was tough to narrow the selection down to three pieces that are most meaningful to me. These are not inherently better than other work in my collection, but they speak to a deep place in my soul.

All three works are by artists who are affordable to middle-class buyers. What if the financial barriers were removed and I were haunting the auction houses I wrote about yesterday? Even though they are exquisitely expensive, the three paintings I featured were not the acquisitions of fools; they are all good, solid work of great depth.

"Julia on the Swing," 1999, Jamie Wyeth.

“Julia on the Swing,” 1999, Jamie Wyeth.

I admire both Lucian Freud and Jamie Wyeth not because their work is valuable but because they each have unique, uncompromised worldviews. In either case, they were somewhat insulated from normality by their history: Freud was the grandson of Sigmund Freud, and Wyeth is, of course, the scion of a great American painting family. It’s easier to pop your head above the ramparts if you have a role model who’s already done it.

Furthermore, neither artist had a conventional childhood or education. It’s probably true that some of the things we are so quick to label as dysfunctional in modern America are in fact incubators for genius.

"Queen Elizabeth II," 2000-2001, Lucian Freud

“Queen Elizabeth II,” 2000-2001, Lucian Freud

Meanwhile, back here in my studio, I am facing what every artist, great or rotten, must face every day. I have five pieces I want to finish before the weather improves: a painting of Eastport harbor, a tiny sketch of a rock, a sailboat (half-finished), and two portraits. I can’t worry about whether I’m brilliant or not; I just have to work.

In fact, artistic brilliance comes from singular self-absorption, what we sometimes refer to as “being true to thine own self.” Very few of us are really capable of that; most of us are a synthesis of our own thoughts and our experiences in the outside world.

"Maine Ice Storm," Jamie Wyeth.

“Maine Ice Storm,” Jamie Wyeth.

I’m more guilty of that than most people.  I’m a wife and mother. I work with my hands rather than my brain. I have a lot of friends and am constantly overbooked. I’m a painter, a teacher, and a writer.

Sometimes I think narrowing that down a little would help. But would William Blake have gained anything by turning off his multiple personalities? I doubt it; Jerusalem is as fine an addition to our culture as is The Ancient of Days.

Carol Douglas

About Carol Douglas

Carol L. Douglas is a painter who lives, works and teaches in Rockport, ME. Her annual workshop will again be held on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park, from August 6-11, 2017. Visit for more information.