Galleries : Island artists' favorite places
The rich, colorful paintings of artist Ken Vincent and the painted seascapes and landscapes of Ray Ellis capture almost reverent scenes on the Island, helping the viewer appreciate the essence of the Vineyard. The light and composition of photographer Craig Dripps's work and the vibrant, plein-air paintings of Elizabeth Taft offer the same energy and inspiration. While at every turn, the Island provides picturesque vistas, these gifted artists continually haunt particular places to find their inspiration.
For Mr. Ellis, one of the few artists who can boast of having painted on all seven continents, choosing a location on the Island is no easy task. He says it's like talking about his children: "How can I say which one is my favorite? My number one spot here on the Island is the many different scenes of Edgartown Harbor and Chappaquiddick," he says, adding that Menemsha harbor is another favorite place.
His love of Edgartown Harbor is obvious in his painting, "Evening by the Yacht Club." A spectacular cloudbank hovers over three sailboats gliding out of the harbor, their sails set against the verdant backdrop of Chappaquiddick. Mr. Ellis has devoted several canvasses to the harbor, each one offering a different view and perspective. His favorite times to head down to the harbor and sketch are early morning and dusk.
For Ms. Taft, who specializes in plein-air painting (painting on site), location is everything. After much deliberation, she decides the splendor and diversity of Squibnocket in Chilmark wins as her favorite Island locale.
"I've fallen in love with Squibnocket, and I never tire of finding new ways to look at it," Ms. Taft says. "There is something magical about it that I just can't explain. It's the ocean and the pond and the play between the two of them that's always there."
Ms. Taft is also partial to painting the myriad colors and perspectives of Crystal Lake in Oak Bluffs-in part because it is often overlooked by others - but the familiar shores of Squibnocket call to her. "I'm missing it," she says, "I have to go back next year and find it in a new way."
For Mr. Vincent, whose work is known for its vivid colors and long, sweeping horizons, inspiration lies close to home. Sepiessa Point on Tisbury Great Pond is one of his favorite spots, and is within walking distance from his house. Having grown up on the Island, Mr. Vincent enjoys chronicling the changes that have occurred there over time.
"I'll do a Sepiessa painting two or three times a year," he says. "It's basically going out there all different times of the year and seasons and experiencing it."
The Keith Farm overlook in Chilmark is another favorite spot for the painter. Mr. Vincent is drawn to the many shades of red, and the brilliant hue of the barns, coupled with the colors of the seasons.
"I keep painting it over and over. I really enjoy the flow of color over the horizon," he says. "Some spots you can keep going back to because they change enough in different times of the day and year. I like fall and early spring a lot, because there are two different color reds. In spring you have that new bud growth, that certain kind of red you see, and in fall you have that Indian or cadmium red."
When it comes to selecting favorite spots for his photography, Mr. Dripps finds beauty and inspiration everywhere on the Island, a fact that he feels many residents miss: "People never really appreciate the beauty that's all around them. That's the biggest lament I have for the people of this Island; they don't stop and look."
True to his belief that beauty is everywhere, one of his favorite pictures came from an unlikely source: his rearview mirror. Driving home one day, he glanced up and saw the trees behind him enrobed in fog and light. Pulling over, he captured the scene and the result, "The Double Line from Chilmark Winding," has become is one of his favorite pieces.
Pressed to select a favorite spot, Mr. Dripps says East Chop Lighthouse and Lucy Vincent Beach are probably his top picks, along with Chilmark Pond. The lighthouse was an easy choice, he explains, since its guiding light was a big part of his adolescent memories.
"The most pictures I probably have are of the East Chop Lighthouse because I grew up next to it," Mr. Dripps says. "That green light that flashes showed up on my bedroom wall, no matter which direction I was facing. I certainly grew up to the rhythm of that light and I have a fondness for that."
Being a natural early riser, Mr. Dripps loves to head to Lucy Vincent in Chilmark in the wee hours of the morning and capture the interplay of light and fog. "It's the light and the combination of contrast of the dunes, the green grass, the blue water, the white clouds, and they are always different every time you're there," he says, and repeating that people simply need always be on the lookout for unexpected beauty on the Island, adds, "There are certain places that are along the side of the road, like Craig Kingsbury's sheep, Bill Honey's farm behind the Granary. There are little nooks and crannies, and you can catch the light in these places and it's really, really special."
Brien Hefler divides his time between Tisbury and Baltimore, Md.