Gleason artist Henry Isaacs loves a challenge. Although he is best known for his brilliantly colored, Impressionist-style images of the coast of Maine, he has also painted in Africa, Cuba, Guatemala, and all over Europe, many times working on a specifically commissioned piece. However, the commission he’s working on now required that he and his wife Donna travel to a place where few artists have gone before – to Nepal to paint the Himalayas.
“Henry has always been an adventurous artist,” said Gleason Fine Art owner Dennis Gleason. “He was in Cuba before it was really possible to go there. He’s painted in Rwanda and South Africa. He’s willing to go wherever the spirit takes him.”
The trip to Nepal and then on to the Himalayas is a long and difficult for anyone. For Isaacs, who is somewhat mobility impaired due to a still undiagnosed neurological disorder, it was even more so. However, Isaacs has always been buoyed by the seemingly impossible, and so when offered the commission, he knew he had to do it. So Henry and Donna Isaacs made travel plans, flew to Nepal, and spent the month of April traveling from village to village. Along the way, Isaacs created many of the small studies he calls “travel notes,” capturing the Himalayas from as many different angles and in as many different weather and light conditions as possible. At every stop, Isaacs involved the local villagers, none of whom spoke English, in his painting process, inviting them to pick up a brush and paint a small canvas.
The challenges were many since just getting around in a part of the world that lives on sides of mountains is exhausting. Henry endured, but more than that, he felt invigorated by the entire experience. Back in Maine now, Isaacs is well into the multistep process needed to complete the final painting, which is to be 8 feet x 8 feet, the largest painting Isaacs will have produced. Exactly where does one paint a canvas that big? Plans are still fluid, but right now Henry plans on using Gleason Fine Art’s lower studio, which happens to have 8-foot-tall doors and a cavernous interior.
What about all of those travel notes and preparatory paintings? Plans are to show a section of them at Gleason Fine Art in Boothbay Harbor, currently Henry Isaacs’s sole Maine gallery. Isaacs and the gallery will announce when, but the painting itself is scheduled to be completed by July 1.
For more information, call Gleason Fine Art at 633-6849, email the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org, or view Henry Isaacs’ paintings on the gallery website, gleasonfineart.com