The Monhegan Artists’ Residency: An Invaluable Experience

Oil Painting of Monhegan Island by Sarah Knock

Above Oil Painting: Monhegan From the Inn, 46 X 62, 1995

In 1989, I was one of two artists selected by the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine for the first year of the Monhegan Artists’ Residency.  I was provided with housing, a studio, and a stipend for six weeks on Monhegan Island, located 12 miles off the coast of Maine.  Monhegan is known for both its unparalleled beauty and its attraction to artists such as Robert Henri, Rockwell Kent, George Bellows, and Jamie Wyeth to name only a few.

I am not exaggerating when I say that this experience was seminal to my career as an artist.  A year before the residency, I had earned a degree in painting from Boston University where my main interest was painting and sculpting the figure.  At the time, I was also very involved with black and white photography.  I arrived on Monhegan full of enthusiasm but rather unfocused.  I hiked around the island with my heavy supplies, gradually figured out how to paint plein air (outside, on location), and became hooked on landscape/seascape painting.

Oil Painting of Monhegan Island – Fall – by Sarah Knock

Above Oil Painting: Monhegan and Manana Island-Fall, 42 X 56, 1994

Besides clarity of focus, the residency initiated an intense passion for the coast of Maine.  When I returned home, which was inland, I found myself longing to be on or near the water on a daily basis.  I drove to locations up and down the coast, took ferries to islands, whatever it took to paint near the water.  Nine years later, I was able to move to the coast where my chosen subject matter became easily accessible.

For my landscapes, I initially painted from the land, looking out at the water.  When I began kayaking, over twenty years ago, my perspective completely changed.  Instead of viewing the water, I could feel its movement as I floated and glided inches above the surface.  I became fascinated by reflections. Currently, I sometimes juxtapose what is underneath the water with the patterns of reflections on the surface.  Being on the water as opposed to viewing it from the land gives me a more intimate and involved relationship with what I am experiencing and expressing in my paintings.

To view my current work, please visit my Available Paintings gallery or visit Greenhut Galleries.


I would like to acknowledge Raquel and Peter Boehmer who selflessly and passionately made this amazing Residency a reality.

The goal of the Residency is to provide time and space for Maine visual artists to reflect, experiment, and explore. There are no requirements for producing or exhibiting a body of work.  It is an opportunity without conditions.  Please take the time to learn more about this wonderful program at

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