Summer Stories features a delightful series of paintings by Maine artist Leslie Anderson along with a dozen short stories inspired by these paintings. Anderson’s works capture people and events characteristic of a summer in Maine—for example, Hauling Buoys, Fair Night, Clammer, Hay Day, and Last Night at the Lake. The accompanying stories, by ten acclaimed and award-winning Maine writers, animate the paintings, revealing and honoring the genuine uniqueness of a summer in Maine. There is tenderness and warmth, but also danger and torment, and throughout, an experience of the qualities that make Maine what it is—resourcefulness, determination, strength, and independence. If you know Maine, you may find yourself in one of these paintings or stories; if you’ve never been to Maine, this book will excite your imagination and make you want to visit Maine to craft your own summer story.
ART / Individual Artists / General
168 pages; 37 illustrations
As a child growing up in Connecticut, Leslie Anderson wrote and illustrated entire novels, scripted and designed puppet shows, and wrote, produced, and starred in innumerable plays. She discovered art in high school and squeezed in as many studio art courses as her college-prep course load would allow. At Colby College, she loved Harriett Matthews’ drawing classes, but felt clueless and inept in Abbott Meader’s painting class. Anderson graduated from Colby in 1971, having majored in English. Anderson's first jobs were as a copywriter and editor. Later she became skilled at fund-raising and became Maine College of Art’s first development director. Eventually, though, she found her niche in Boston’s computer software industry, juggling corporate identity, public relations, publications, advertising, investor relations, and trade shows. One year her husband gave her a watercolor class as a Christmas gift, thinking it would ease the stress of her sixty-hour work weeks. Getting back into art was exactly the right thing at the right time. Approaching her fiftieth birthday, Anderson was ready for a major change.
Anderson and her husband soon picked up and moved to Maine, and she started painting full-time in 1999. In the winter of 2010, Anderson was studying with Tina Ingraham, exploring tonal relationships and principles of composition through the arrangement of simple objects. The paintings were more about applying paint than about trying to make great paintings. The work was hugely challenging. Yet some of the paintings Anderson made during this time marked her first appearance in an online show with Still Point Art Gallery, owned and directed by Christine Cote of Shanti Arts. Soon afterward Anderson started applying what she had learned in her class to landscapes. She was painting with a heightened sense of color harmony and lots of palette-knife work.
One day Anderson decided to once again attempt a subject she had tried at least three times before—a lobsterman carrying a red-and-white cooler and a blue bucket. She kept the palette simple, painted the figure with a knife instead of a brush, and . . . it worked! This was Blue Bucket, the first painting completed for this series. She continued with the figure/landscape paintings that told the stories of summer, and, before she knew it, she had completed twenty-six pieces. She submitted several of them for another show at Still Point Art Gallery, and soon after Cote approached her about publishing several of the paintings in the gallery’s art and literary publication, Still Point Arts Quarterly. As it happened, Australian writer Greg Bogaerts was published in the same issue of Still Point Arts Quarterly, with a story inspired by a photograph of the famous French photographer, Eugène Atget. When Bogaerts looked through his copy of the issue, he was drawn to Anderson's work and soon began sending her short stories inspired by her paintings. Anderson wondered if any writers in Maine could be equally inspired. She pitched the idea of a short story competition and book publication to Cote as well as Joshua Bodwell of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, and the Summer Stories project was born.
Anderson and her husband now own a ten-acre farm in Sedgwick on the Blue Hill Peninsula of Maine. There they spend their summers—Anderson paints and sells art from her studio-gallery, and her husband grows cut flowers. During the winter they live in Portland, Maine.
For Anderson, painting is an analogy for life—a balance of risk and control, knowing when to go with the flow, knowing when to stop. Each of her paintings tells its own unique story. Summer Stories tells a great story—one of hard work, dedication, risk, and the delightful ease and relaxation of summer.
"Writers have long been inspired by the narrative quality of paintings. Edward Hopper’s evocative paintings have launched countless poems and short stories, while Vermeer's 'Girl with Pearl Earring' inspired a best-selling novel. With Summer Stories, the fertile relationship between the visual and literary arts is made explicitly and with stellar results. The landscapes of Leslie Anderson’s physical Maine brim with endless fictional opportunities that these talented ten Maine writers have teased out and imbued with emotional, inner life."
"A steerage through foamed seas, over crystalline crests and down into fathoms of dark troughs go these Maine characters, into a gathering of viscerally written short stories by ten Maine authors, each inspired by the poetic, windowed perception of Maine painter, Leslie Anderson."
"Art has been inspiring literature since the ancient Greeks (they called it ekphrasis). In that tradition Leslie Anderson’s paintings inspire a clutch of memorable stories, which fulfill, if you will, the hints of narrative found in her expressive images of Maine and Mainers."
"Leslie has captured the essence of summer in Maine in all its many forms, from the hauling of lobster traps early in the morning to relaxing on the dock and watching a golden sunset. Each painting has a story to tell. The excitement of the book is reading the many stories and literary interpretations inspired by the paintings!"
"Summer Stories is a collection of contemporary tales inspired by Leslie Anderson’s rich, sun-filled paintings of beaches and boulders, boats and dogs, visitors and natives. Together, the evocative paintings and fresh narratives create a bittersweet tapestry of summer moments on Maine’s Penobscot peninsula. The imagery, both painted and written, remains in one’s mind long afterwards and is easily recalled by turning to this beautifully designed book."
Bob Keyes, "As winter and darkness descend, a blast of summer stories," Portland Press Herald. (12-8-2013)
Bob Keyes, "Every picture will tell a story," Portland Press Herald. (2-22-2013)
Nicole Ouellette, "Maine artist, writers to showcase Summer Stories at Ellsworth Public Library," Bangor Daily News (12-3-2013)
New Book Features Paintings and Stories from Summers in Maine (Press Release; 11-15-2013)
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