Artist Designed T-Shirt to Raise Funds for the Harlow Gallery

"The Muse" by Susan Elliot
“The Muse” by Susan Elliot



$15 each — available at the Harlow by Friday, October 16

Staff at the Harlow Gallery had been thinking about holding a T-shirt design contest, to raise money to support arts programming at the busy non-profit art gallery in downtown Hallowell.  But when Susan Elliot submitted “The Muse” to an art show earlier this year, they all agreed it was the perfect image for the very first Harlow Gallery T-shirt fundraiser.  The shirt is currently being printed by On Top in Augusta and will soon available at the Harlow Gallery.  According to Executive Director Deb Fahy, “Our goal is to have it ready by the Hallowell Fall Festival on October 17th.”  The Harlow Gallery is owned and operated by the Kennebec Valley Art Association, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization supporting artists in central Maine for over half a century.

Trees are one of Susan Elliot’s favorite subjects for her artwork. When asked about how she came up with the idea for “The Muse”, a whimsical watercolor depicting the Harlow Gallery tucked into a gnarly old tree like a hobbit house, Elliot relates the story:  “Driving past a huge hollow tree one day, I turned around and risked life and limb to stand in the road and photograph his hollowness from several angles.  Afterward, as I drove on, I began to imagine all the things that could live or hide within a giant tree, and a whole new avenue of potential tree pieces raced through my mind like wildfire.  At the time I was trying to come up with an entry for a show at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell.   Suddenly the gallery appeared within the tree, and the image of hopeful artists scattered among its broken limbs and roots, striving to fulfill the age old need of putting faces on thoughts. The concept of a muse is that it serves as a guiding spirit, or source of inspiration.”

Of herself as an artist, Elliot says, “When people ask me how long I’ve been drawing I tell them “since I could hold a pen”, which is a long time…over 45 years.   Having been discouraged when I was younger from “trying to make a hobby into a career”, I got a degree in Natural Resources, but I never stopped wanting to make a living with my art.   As a self taught artist, my credentials are patience and perseverance, and my detailed technique is done by hand with ink, watercolor, and colored pencil, mostly because one medium doesn’t satisfy me.  Until 2008  I had always drawn what people asked me to draw, and then I read an article which stated that the true soul and spirit of an artist emerges when he/she draws what they love. That one sentence opened my door into the world of drawing trees. Sometimes environmentally based, often humorous, whimsical, or full of tiny people, my trees have personalities and character and, I hope, evoke nostalgic memories, raise environmental consciousness, and appeal to the tree hugger in all of us.”