The Paintings of Maine Artist Connie Hayes

Updated on February 16, 2018
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As an artist and an arts educator, Donna enjoys writing arts-inspired articles about places she's lived and worked.

"Pulled Back, Vinalhaven" by Connie Hayes
"Pulled Back, Vinalhaven" by Connie Hayes

In 2004, I first saw Connie Hayes’s paintings in a solo exhibition at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine. I was immediately taken with her bold use of color and composition to create unique views of the small towns and unseen places in Maine. Known for her colorful landscapes, Connie Hayes’s paintings beautifully depict the quiet moments of daily life.

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About Connie Hayes

Connie Hayes was born in the town of Gardiner near Augusta, Maine. She received her B.F.A. from the Maine College of Art in 1980 and her M.F.A. from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in 1982. She also received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Art from the Maine College of Art in 2003. After living in New York City from 1992 to 1998, she now lives and paints in and around Rockland, Maine.

"September Road" by Connie Hayes
"September Road" by Connie Hayes

Color Use and Painting Style

Connie’s paintings are often recognizable for her vibrant use of color and her loose painting style. Many of her landscapes feature yellow or purple skies. Although not commonly found in nature, these colors give the impression of a misty, cloudy day or that time just before the sun is setting.

"Island" by Connie Hayes
"Island" by Connie Hayes

Her paintings, while sometimes dark and moody, can at other times feature bright sunny days. In these paintings, Connie will usually paint one side of a building with brilliant white or lemon yellow to suggest the presence of bright sunshine. The sides of the building in shadow are then colored in deep violet or cool turquoise colors. These paintings remind me of the light in late summer afternoons when the sun is still bright but the shadows are getting longer. After drawing your eye to one bright spot, she then repeats these colors in areas around the painting (called “reflective color”) to move your attention across the canvas to take in the full picture.

"Clamshell Alley #2" by Connie Hayes
"Clamshell Alley #2" by Connie Hayes

Use of Composition and Perspective

The perspective in the composition of her paintings is also meant to move your eye around the image. Many of her paintings feature a road, driveway, or path in the foreground that serves as a walkway for your eye to follow and creates a type of tunnel. This is a common perspective technique that has been used throughout the history of painting.

"Side Yard, Vinalhaven" by Connie Hayes
"Side Yard, Vinalhaven" by Connie Hayes

In other paintings, cascades of rooftops move you from one place to another. Connie generally paints from life or uses photographs of real places. However, as an artist, she makes subtle adjustments, and the little changes make the view in her finished work more complex and intriguing.

"Liburnum, Vinalhaven" by Connie Hayes
"Liburnum, Vinalhaven" by Connie Hayes

Another interesting technique Connie uses is putting an object extremely close to the foreground with the rest of the landscape in the far background. This child-like view is a practice that Alfred Hitchcock has used in his films to unsettle his viewers.

"The Barber Shop" by Edward Hopper
"The Barber Shop" by Edward Hopper

Comparisons to Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper is another artist that Connie Hayes is often compared to, and there are certainly some strong similarities. Hopper also painted in Maine and used strong sunlight in many of his paintings. His works featured few lone (and lonely) figures, creating a well-known feeling of isolation. Connie Hayes seems to have turned up the volume on Hopper’s color palette (by a few decibels), and her landscapes rarely have any people present. Instead, you see empty cars, vacant chairs, or some other evidence of someone who might have just left. Connie’s brushstrokes are definitely looser and more painterly than Hopper’s. Somehow, for me, her more relaxed style brings to mind the quiet days of summer in Maine.

Although she is an artist painting predominantly in Maine, I think her work has universal appeal and resonance. Her worn buildings, colored sky, and quiet water could just as likely be in Petoskey in Michigan, San Diego, or Key West.

"Bed at Christmas Cove" by Connie Hayes
"Bed at Christmas Cove" by Connie Hayes

Borrowed Views

In 1990, Connie Hayes began her “Borrowed Views” project. She asked her friends and friends of friends if she could come, stay in their homes, and paint. She thereby created her own “artist-in-residence” program. The resulting paintings showed mostly interiors, featured bright colors, and were absent of people. In 2003, these “borrowed views”, along with some of Connie’s landscapes, were published in the book Painting Maine: The Borrowed Views of Connie Hayes. This book not only shows a wide array of Connie’s work, but it also discusses her paintings in the context of other artists and her artistic process.

"Monopoly" by Connie Hayes
"Monopoly" by Connie Hayes

Recent Work

Connie’s current work is a departure from her landscapes. These new paintings feature figures, mostly children, in interior settings. Although her color palette is more subtle, these images still employ the same loose brushstrokes, strong light, and perspective techniques that make Connie’s paintings so interesting.

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Donna Herron

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      • purl3agony profile imageAUTHOR

        Donna Herron 

        2 years ago from USA

        Hi Charito1962! Yes, Connie has a unique way of rendering landscapes that is both beautiful and intriguing. I'm so glad that you like her paintings. Thanks so much for your interest and comments!

      • Charito1962 profile image

        Charito Maranan-Montecillo 

        2 years ago from Manila, Philippines

        Connie Hayes is an interesting artist, Donna. I happen to appreciate landscapes and I like the way this artist created them.

        Thanks for this informative feature!

      • purl3agony profile imageAUTHOR

        Donna Herron 

        4 years ago from USA

        Hi Heather! I'm sure lots of people will let you bake in their kitchens - as long as you make some of your yummy recipes and clean up after yourself :)

        Glad to introduce you to Connie Hayes' work! I really love her paintings.

      • Heather Says profile image

        Heather Rode 

        4 years ago from Buckeye, Arizona

        Great hub. I haven't heard of this artist before but I really like her style. My favorite paintings are September Road, Bed at Christmas Cove and Monopoly. The borrowed views project is such a neat idea. Maybe I'll start asking friends if I can come and bake in their kitchens ;)

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