"Changing Tack"

New Work by Jean Beal and Alice Kirkpatrick


"a change in the direction of movement of a sailboat made in order to maximize

the benefit from the wind" (Encarta Dictionary)



            We knew we worked and played well together after co-owning a sailboat and navigating around tankers and ferries in Portland Harbor. Boat and friendship intact, we decided eight years ago that we needed to bring that same fun and energy to our painting practices. So, we made a commitment to paint together on Wednesdays. We have followed through on that pact ever since (unless a spring day lured us off to a garden center). Side by side, we sometimes teamed up on a single piece; other times we worked independently but with shared input. Over the years, we produced several collaborative bodies of work, including small abstracts, and a series exploring intimate views of plants. While we keep separate studios and pursue our own art careers, our Wednesday painting sessions bring us inspiration and camaraderie, and renew the joy in the artistic process.

            The past year has brought change and adjustments--both personal and artistic. Jean moved from Portland to be part of a multi-generational family farm in Belfast. Alice took a pause from acrylics to take two workshops in oil painting with artist/instructor Kris Engman at River Arts. In an effort to maintain our artistic collaboration, and continue supporting each others' studio endeavors, we agreed to "meet" weekly via Skype. Our collaboration continues, but with new meaning: supporting and challenging each other -- and our art production -- through this time of transition.

            Our past shows together have focused literally on a common visual idea. This current work is linked by the mutual scouting of new territory. Jean's "Twenty Carrot/Stick Figures" emerged as an early crop from the farm: it is meant to be a gently offbeat, closely observed investigation of the possibilities of carrotness. Alice's paintings, "Inside and Out" result from exploring the possibilities of oils, and broadening her reach to discover new locales and subject matter. We have both included prior work in this exhibit, as well.

            While our respective artwork, and our collaboration, are on new tacks, we're going about as a team still, into the wind handsomely, with laughter and friendship.