Studio Visit

Amy Pollien's soft pastels

Soft pastels are on hand for capturing landscapes en plein air. 

Flowers in the Attic

Studio Visit

Every day, Amy Pollien is hustling — at her desk job, in her garden, and in the second-floor studio where she creates her bold, botanical still lifes.

Photographs by Sarah Rice

My studio is in a small post-and-beam behind our house. I have the top floor, my husband, Robert Pollien, a landscape painter, has the bottom, and we talk to each other through the heating vents. From 7 to 3 on weekdays, I’m the grants manager at Maine Community Foundation in Ellsworth. In April through September, I transition right into pruning, transplanting, and tending the bees in our one-acre garden afterward. Robert and I cook dinner at 4:30 and work on our art after that. During the growing season, I set up still lifes in our unheated greenhouse and document them. I have a notebook for color swatches, another for drawings, and I take between 20 and 60 photos of each setup, sometimes on different days to experiment with lighting, the age of the flowers, or ripeness of the fruit. It feels like a continual feast with everything in the garden available in endless combinations. The background patterns are an emotional choice for me — I enjoy complexity for its own sake, but I also want to weave the background and plants together. When winter sets in, I take all this material and make it into paintings in my studio. The night shift ends at 10 for Robert and me — it’s a wonderful luxury to be able to talk shop with another painter at the end of the day.

Amy Pollien’s work can be seen in Color and Composition at Littlefield Gallery in Winter Harbor, May 24–June 23. 

Amy Pollien

TOP Pollien sits in a Morris chair with Paul J. Sachs’s Modern Prints and Drawings, a favorite reference. BOTTOM Her paintings are done in oil paint atop a charcoal drawing.