I became a "student" of Rufus Porter in 2010, the year that I attended a class at the Rufus Porter Museum in Bridgton, Maine called "Painting in the Style of Rufus Porter". Up until then, I had never painted anything freehand in my life. Wow! Never in my wildest dreams did I suspect that my life would change forever from that one experience! I painted my first Rufus Porter inspired landscape in that class, and I was hooked. With lots of follow up study of Porter’s methodologies, formulas, and designs, and by studying his original murals in homes all over New England, I became a folk artist walking in the footsteps of Rufus Porter!
Porter had a very distinct style of painting scenic landscapes. In 1825, Porter published a little book called “Curious Arts”. In this book he shares in great detail his formulas and methodologies for creating such a landscape mural. Today, anyone who might be interested in learning how to paint in the tradition of Rufus Porter would find Porter’s instruction in “Curious Arts” an informative guide. Early American decoration researcher, Jean Lipman, called Porter an “Art Instructor to the People.”
Porter said, “Every object must be painted larger or smaller according to the distance at which it is represented. This gives the allusion of distance to a flat wall surface”. Stunning changes in perspective from huge trees rising out of the foreground to distant scenes of harbors, pastures and villages, is one of the important characteristics of a Porter mural. In addition to the scale of objects in various distances, we see other "trademark" characteristics and motifs in a Porter mural. Things like billowing, rounded clouds that rise in the distance, sharp shading on the darkened sides of houses, trees, and shrubbery and high-lights on the other side of these objects. The focal point of a Porter mural is usually either a harbor scene, resplendent with islands and sailboats, or a cultivated hillside village scene with stenciled houses, hedgerows, and sometimes farm animals.
Around 1812, when young Rufus was a fife and drummer in the Portland Light Infantry, he trained many days on Munjoy Hill. At that time, the hillside was planted with magnificent feather duster elm trees, which surrounded his view of the harbor. Some believe the expansive harbor scenes that he would later paint on the walls of homes, inns, and taverns were inspired by his memory of those days spent on Munjoy Hill, Portland, ME.
I hope you enjoy perusing the photo gallery below with so many of my Rufus Porter inspired paintings. Some on canvas...some on breadboards...some on old tables! Let me know if something catches your fancy. Even though all of these pieces are sold, I can paint something similar to any of these designs!
I have used this as a teaching aid in "Paint Like Porter" workshops...Oh the variety of trees to paint!
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