Jane Dahmen

  • Fall Diptych, 78” x 72”, acrylic on panel

Jane Dahmen creates large-scale paintings of trees, confronting viewers with serene yet majestic works in celebration of nature’s landscape.

“I paint every day; it is my solace. It’s just me alone with the paint and as soon as I enter that space I am engaged in a meditative state,” says Dahmen, who professes a “reverence for nature.” Having retired to Maine with her husband 12 years ago, Dahmen finds great inspiration in her walks around the shoreline, rivers, fields, and forests of the midcoast.

“Making sense of the complexity of the woods and natural elements in the landscape is my obsession,” she says. One way she achieves this is through shallow depth of field. Dahmen’s placement of tree trunks close to the foreground draws attention to the surface of the painting. Although not presented in a rigid, geometric fashion, the relationship “between the vertical trunks and the horizontal planes of earth, water, and sky” forms a grid, which brings a sense of order to the visual chaos of a forest.

She began making large paintings 14 years ago and has adopted the practice of painting on hollow-core doors, often hanging them together to make even bigger surfaces. Although Dahmen calls it “a practical solution to my obsession to paint large,” using doors instead of canvases also adds an intriguing layer of meaning to her works. A door by its nature invites entrance to another space. This, in addition to the enormity of the paintings, encourages “the viewer to feel connected in a physical way to the paintings,” Dahmen says.

Depending on the mood of a piece, her colors are subdued or bright; soft blues evoke gently rippling waters, while flame orange conjures the intensity of autumn foliage. “My colors are not the same as those found in nature because I just can’t match nature,” she says.

Her work can be seen at Portland Art Gallery, and in September she is showing a series of paintings at Powers Gallery in Acton, Massachusetts, inspired by a field of birches in Friendship. Dahmen is continually captivated by the New England landscape. “The weather and the change of seasons in New England make the landscape dramatically different all the time,” Dahmen says. “I don’t think I will ever run out of inspiring subject matter.”




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