Flowers in the Attic
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.