Before my first interview with Anne Heywood a few years ago, I had no idea that serious artists worked in pastels, which I recalled as the crumbly sticks that I used to make messy “art” when I was a kid. Heywood’s paintings—created with the quite different professional-grade chalk pastels—capture an extraordinary spectrum of color, light, and detail, and depict a broad range of subjects, including landscapes, animals, and objects.
Anne’s current work for her show in September involves a single view and a significant memory. “I’ve taken the opportunity to work on a series I’ve been wanting to do for many, many years,” she says. She and her husband built a house on Damariscotta Lake 30 years ago, mostly by themselves. The view from the property is of a small island with three prominent trees. “Our wharf is directly across from it, and it’s part of the sunset,” Heywood says. “We were two busy people and when we went up there to “relax,” we wouldn’t. So, I finally said to my husband, ‘I really like sitting on that wharf and looking at the sunset.’ And he said, ‘Let’s make a pact and we’ll meet there every night at six, no matter what.’ We would sit there, me with my glass of wine and my sketchpad, him with his Diet Coke, and both us with our cameras—and it became a tradition and a really nice way to end a day.”
After her husband died in early 2020, Heywood thought again about the lake sunset series. She was further inspired by her memory of seeing Monet’s famous water lily paintings at The Orangerie Museum in Paris. “They’re in a round room and you’re surrounded by them; it’s striking,” she says. “Although I don’t paint as large as he did and I know there’s no circular room at Portland Art Gallery, I wanted to surround myself with this wonderful memory and beautiful colors.” While she has many photographs of the sunset view, she doesn’t paint from them directly, but starts with a black and white sketch. “That’s the most creative part,” she continues. “They’re not long commitment sketches. It’s me thinking on paper.”
Heywood has so far created four paintings and has plans for three more. “Every one of my paintings has a story—they’re my art memory box. It will be interesting to see other people’s reaction, because that’s ultimately what every artist is after.”