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Westport Island: An Inspiration In All Seasons

Dan Osterman’s Island Impressions

Painting of clouds on the horizon by Dan Osterman

Clouds on the Horizon

Though much of his artistic “ocean inspiration” has derived from Cape Cod and Monhegan Island, for six weeks in time, Dan Osterman was inspired by Westport Island. Osterman was an artist in residency at the Robert M. MacNamara Foundation on East Shore Road in the winter of 2006.

Although it was cold, Osterman drew and painted while exploring the Island. “Twilight on the Sheepscot” and the “House on the Curve” were done “plein air” along East Shore Road. “Under the Dock” began as a drawing from his East Shore rambles and became a painting later. The marsh paintings were two of several he did of the marsh behind the MacNamara barn. …And, “Maine Inlet at Low Tide”, the vertical pen and ink scene, evolved in his studio where he was primed with cranked up music and contemplating his raw sketches on a large plank of wood.

One of Osterman’s most contemplative spots was the inlet on Jerry Day Mason’s property with its rhythm of tides and winter ice lines. That spot inspired his “Inlet” painting. He believes he spoke with Jerry at the time and that she was the sweet lady he gave a small version of his “Inlet” painting to as an expression of his appreciation.

Osterman’s boldest Westport piece, the yellow painting of “Clouds on the Horizon”, represented an overall impression of his Westport experience. The painting is also representative of why he is drawn to the coast to paint: “I go to the sea where the land disappears, and the clouds stack up, and the elements fight for supremacy.”

Dan Osterman lives and works in Boston these days where he has a studio in the Fort Point Arts Community, but he has continuing ties to Maine. His wife’s parents are from Maine, and several artists who have influenced his style were regular pilgrims to Monhegan’s summer art colony. For both the artistic tradition of the area as well as its coastal horizons, he looks forward to a trip back to Westport and Wiscasset. His work, including Westport pieces, can be purchased at his shop on Etsy; and he can be contacted at

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Sketches of Westport Island

William Oberst’s Island Diary

Perched on East Shore Road with a view to Long Cove sits an 1860’s barn moved to Westport Island from Pennsylvania.  The distinctively-renovated barn houses the Robert M. MacNamara Foundation’s artists’ residency program.  Since 2002, as finances have allowed, small groups of artists – fine artists, crafts persons, writers, and photographers – have been awarded “sabbaticals” allowing them expense-paid time to develop their crafts here on Westport Island.

The “art-colony” program was the realization of a dream for Maureen MacNamara Barrett: a dream unknown to many on the Island.

One of the artists who has benefited from the MacNamara program, is William Oberst, a painter now living in North Adams, Massachusetts.  He spent six weeks here in 2007 and is sharing some of his thoughts.

Although always a painter at some level, Oberst didn’t pursue a formal education in the arts until his late 40’s, after which he taught college-level painting and drawing.  Until coming to the artists’ program on Westport Island, he was an oil painter who focused on portraits of people.  The Island, as a place, changed his focus.  When he arrived here: saw the rocks, the water, his spectacular cottage, the dark of night lit only by stars — and he heard only lobster boats and birds at the break of day — he didn’t want to be tied to a canvas.  He wanted to take advantage of where he found himself.

When Maureen Barrett brought him and fellow residents to an art supply store in Portland, he bought watercolors.  In the ensuing weeks, he ferried a portable chair and his watercolors along our shore where he painted 12 of his first watercolors.

Oberst spent much of his painting time at Kehail Point where he was transfixed by a shoreline of rocks, gravel, high and low tide bands, and the different zones of rock.  He also became fascinated with the portability, the spontaneity, and the “gesture” of watercolors.

Like the other artists who came here to discover something new about their craft, he discovered our Island.  In appreciation for his experience here, he is sharing his visual Westport Island diary…

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