Ms. Hume's Gilsland Farm landscape.
Ms. Hume at work in her studio with
her cat, Bandit, on her lap.
(Photograph by Matthew W. Hume)
A Colorful Legacy
SHERI HUME'S interest in painting is as much a family legacy as it is personal. As a child, Ms. Hume remembers watching her mother and grandmother paint. And she remembers asking if she, too, could paint. Paint and study like they did under the watchful gaze of local artist Esther Barney. They agreed, and Hume who was just 12 years old, began what would become a life-long passion.
Lessons with Ms. Barney, who was well into her 70s at the time, covered the art of applying paint to canvas as well as the art of exhibiting finished work. "Just like a recital for kids who took ballet or music," Ms. Hume says, "she organized a show for us." Replete with invitations and a reception.
Ms. Hume's lessons continued for four years, followed by two years at Maine College of Art where she studied silversmithing/jewelry and painting before taking a break when her children were born. The mother of two, Ms. Hume home-schooled her boys, and though she continued to paint when her children were young, time was limited. Her sons are now in college and after experimenting with other pursuits, she has returned to what she says “was always my favorite, painting.”
Working primarily in oil on board, Ms. Hume concentrates on landscapes, painting in a small room tucked in the corner of her basement. During our time together, she invited me to see her studio. Wending through tidy stacks of storage bins we walked toward the back wall, turned left, skirted the laundry room, and took a sharp right.
It’s a working studio and canvas, books, brushes, paint, and crumpled rags fill the space. On her easel sits a work in progress, a close-up study of beach rocks. A painter’s palette smeared with varying shades of gray, a dollop of blue, and a swirl of yellow sits alongside a wooden box where plump new tubes of paint mingle with the old, paint spattered and flattened. Occasionally, if she can’t find the color she’s looking for, Ms. Hume says she goes “shopping” in a precious stash of paints left by her “Nana.”
In the last five years Ms. Hume says she's been “working toward a more realistic look.” Focusing days and weeks at a time on one painting, she “gets to a point,” she says, “when I know I’m there, and I just have to get back to it.”
Every Tuesday she paints alongside a friend and fellow artist. They offer one another support, encouragement, and the occasional critique. Weather permitting, they take the studio outdoors, en plein air, immersing themselves in the landscapes they paint.
Ms. Hume’s paintings fill her home, the dining room serving as the main gallery. Paintings sit perched on the chair rail, hang side by side, and line the floor—easeled back against the wall. They are paintings of the soft green grasses, beach rocks, and tall pines of local landscapes: Audubon’s Gilsland Farm, Bog Brook Cove, and Baxter Woods.
When I ask whether or she is showing her work, Ms. Hume takes a deep breath and says, “That’s next.”
Let’s hope so.
After all, it’s one of the lessons she learned studying with Esther Barney.
Lessons that continue to exhibit good returns.