Even as an artist-in-residence in Acadia National Park’s newly minted program in April of 1994, it was of course impossible to feel that I was the first artist to paint Mount Desert Island. It was for at least 150 years already a destination for artists. Still, it was possible to feel that I was discovering hidden wonders almost by the minute. Yes, there is the astonishing Thunder Hole and the stupendous sand and pebble beaches, cliff walks, stone walls that meet the ocean, and carriage trail bridges, all of which I explored and painted during my residency at the Park. But there is a subtler side I also prized, and which is depicted in my plein air gouache painting Ship Harbor Trail, 1994. I found a dependably quiet solitude soon as I departed the busier sites, trails, parking lots or roads. It is the experience of the unshakably deep nature of Acadia, thriving despite its popularity as a destination. In this painting’s subject – a scene along the trail in the southwest portion of the island – I was intrigued by the network of branches overlaying the background water and foliage, and drawn by the patterns of light on the trunk, trees, and path. It stopped me in my tracks and I painted until the sun left me no more light. I can’t remember whether I ever returned to see the end of that trail, and its ostensible destination. For me the destination turned out to be the trail itself.
Thomas Paquette (1958– ) was born in Minneapolis and has painted full-time since earning his MFA degree in painting in 1988 from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, which he attended on full graduate fellowship. His BFA degree in Painting was earned summa cum laude from Bemidji State University in 1985.
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Last updated: March 23, 2020