It has been quite a while since my last post; things have been busy for me in Piscataquis County. I recently completed the Piscataquis Regional Guidebook, which is our #1 printed resource for information on the county’s events, businesses and recreational activities. In addition to putting that publication together, I planned the Main St. side of the 2015 Maine Whoopie Pie Festival. On June 27th, over 8,000 people flooded the streets of Dover Foxcroft to attend, it was amazing, exciting and crazy! Now that the festival has ended, I feel like I can breathe again!
All this activity hasn’t left much time for blogging, which really bothers me because it is something I love to do, especially when there is something (or someone) special I have come across that I want to share with you. So, even though it is Sunday evening at 9:45pm and I should be getting to bed, I just had to sit here with my laptop, a late cup of chamomile and my dogs at my feet to introduce you to a special young lady that I truly believe will one day be known throughout the world. There is something THAT special about her.
Dover Foxcroft knows her well. She has many friends and is involved in the community. When I mention her name, I always receive a positive, warm response. I thought maybe it was because of her insane talent, until I had the pleasure of spending some time with her, in her home. And yes, her talent is undeniable. But there is something deeper. There is a light inside this young lady, a dignity and an awareness of the preciousness of life which far exceeds her years, and an innate desire to do something meaningful with her gifts. World, meet Lydia Rose Spencer.
While still living in Massachusetts, Lydia’s family had a house guest, who was a painter. It was through him that Lydia developed a romanticized idea of painting and became fascinated with the art. She was only six at the time, and though she had not shown any evidence of natural talent in this area, it was something that gripped her little heart.
At the age of nine, Lydia’s family moved to Maine, onto a farm, and into the business of training horses. Lydia was homeschooled, which also gave her an opportunity to work on the farm. Before the age of ten, she had learned to be an excellent horse trainer and was competing as a rider at the professional level. By the age of twenty, she was working on the farm full time, and had mastered the art of training a horse.
While she was telling me her story, it was easy to see that she looks back on her childhood with fondness. Though her life revolved around horses, she never lost her love for drawing. During her childhood and teen age years Lydia would draw “for fun” and would even create comics of her horses, but the thought of pursuing art for a living wasn’t something she thought was possible. Even in her early 20s, she didn’t know that a person could go to college for art. Once she became aware of this, she enrolled at U-Maine at Orono where she studied until she got married and transferred to the New Hampshire Institute of Art to be with her husband, Joseph, whose job was based there.
While in college, Lydia recognized that she had to work harder than many of the other artists. During our interview, she spoke about her time in college: “Some people grow up around art, it is just in them. I didn’t have that. I grew up around horses. I wasn’t the best artist in college, but I had drive and a great deal of commitment. I believe every person who loves to draw has a ‘spark’, and you just need to find ways to fan the flame. I started so late, so I know this is true.”
She may have had a late start, but it did not take long before her work was being recognized and exhibited in several juried art shows and the fine arts market at the college. Several of her pieces were chosen to hang in the dean’s hall, which were proud moments for her.
After one full year at NHIA, Lydia and Joseph found out they were expecting their first child. Joseph was in construction, and the market had taken a downward turn, making it impossible for Lydia to finish school. They decided to come back to Maine; Lydia knew she would need some help and her parents needed support with the horses. She realizes now that moving back was the best thing that ever happened to her – for her art. “Because I wasn’t in school anymore, I couldn’t get enough of anything having to do with painting. I wasn’t being “taught” anymore, I had to dig for information, books, videos, anything I could get my hands on. I found other artists like myself- it opened me up in new ways. I just wanted to be good. Not gimmicky.” She continued: “Mastery, to me, is when you can do an art form effortlessly, , like breathing in and out, then you step away, and.. its like magic, no anxiety, no stress, its innate. That is mastery.”
Though painting is something Lydia is passionate about, it is not the only thing. The more time I spent with her, I realized she had other talents, and is full of surprises. She makes homemade beer, she plays the guitar, and she dances. In fact, she even teaches a belly dancing class in Dover Foxcroft.
“I just want to live out my fullest potential, with no stone unturned; to know I tried my best and did everything with passion. If I cannot do something with passion then I don’t do it at all.”
Before we ended our conversation, I asked Lydia about her family. She has a sweet daughter who is a mini-version of herself. I did not think it was possible to watch her light up with more excitement and energy as when she is talking about painting, but I was wrong. Her baby girl and her husband brought out something even brighter in her. “My husband supports me in so many ways. When I was tired and wanted to quit he would tell me ‘you cannot’, he would not accept my resignation. He was only 21 when our daughter was born, so young, and he has made our family his life, his purpose. He travels far and works hard for us. He has drive and can do anything – he is great with people and numbers, and I know one day he will run his own company.”
Lydia’s daughter is homeschooled, and at the age of five can already read and write and has already started to paint. “She is a bit of a perfectionist,” Lydia confesses with a smile.
When I asked her where she would like to go from here, she explained: “I have always wanted to get into an art gallery, but I do not feel like I have done my best work, and I also don’t want the restrictions and demands that go along with that. I needed to stop looking at being ‘successful’, its more about the work, the art – if that is authentic and good, it will drive the success.”
Lydia could probably be anywhere in the world, but she choses to be here, in Dover Foxcroft Maine. I asked her why, and this was her response: “I really believe we are on the verge of an explosion in this area, the DF Mill will bring in a new culture, and more and more I see people moving here from out of state, longing for the lifestyle we offer. There is a realness to living here – there are beautiful landscapes, people know where there food comes from, and because of the internet we can bring in an arts culture without having to live in it.”
Lydia’s inspiration comes from nature, animals, and human connection; “I love people- they are so inspiring. There is such a uniqueness in people’s faces.”
Moving forward, Lydia wants more than anything to capture life through her painting in a more meaningful way. “I want my work to tell stories. And I want to never stop learning.”
If you are interested in having a family portrait, pet portrait, or landscape portrait painted by Lydia Rose, or if you would like to purchase a painting or drawing featured in this blog or on lydiarosefineart.com, you may contact Lydia by clicking here, or by calling 207-564-0221.
Until next time, thank you for taking a “Peek Into Piscataquis”!