This fall Bowdoin is offering a landscape painting course, in which students will have the opportunity to work in the open air at various locations. One of just a few courses at Bowdoin that takes students outdoors, it is taught by professional landscape painter James Mullen. The fall course is offered every two to three years.

“The weather in Maine is never more beautiful than in September and early October,” said Mullen.

Although there are other visual arts classes that spend time outside, Landscape Painting focuses specifically on the unique setting of autumn in Maine.

In fact, that was the main reason Mariah Reading ’16 took the course. 

“I’ve grown up in Maine my whole life and fall is my favorite season,” she said. “I thought, ‘how cool would it be to go outside and paint.’ It sounded like a dream.” 

Tess Hamilton ’16, an Earth and Oceanographic Science major, is also looking forward to the course. 

“Being able to communicate [the outdoors during this time] through a different form is really cool for me,” she said.

A visual arts background and the Painting I class were prerequisites for the course.

Mullen says that students will be going outside for the first few weeks. After that they have the option to continue to paint outside or move their work inside. If they move inside, they will have the opportunity to work from photographs they take, images from their imagination or smaller landscape pieces they will create in the first few weeks. 

“We’ll talk about a range of things and my hope is that everybody has got that thing that they respond to,” he said.

Mullen hopes to have each student complete six projects during the semester. The first project was to take a famous piece of landscape art and recreate it themselves. These pieces can be seen on the walls of the Robert H. and Blythe Bickel Edwards Center for Art and Dance. 

Next week they will be going to the Bowdoin College Museum of Art to view famous works of landscape art as inspiration. 

Another project will have students heading to Bowdoin’s Coastal Studies Center on Orr’s Island. Students will be hiking the trails and creating landscape paintings from what they view.
Hamilton expressed her excitement about the “nuances that you wouldn't think of” when working outdoors. 

All of the students’ landscapes will be on display during the open house in the Edwards Center at the end of the semester.