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Fifteen minutes south of busy Portland, on Prouts Neck, in Scarborough, Maine, you can literally step into Winslow Homer’s landscapes, many nearby the famous painter’s studio, which you can tour through the Portland Museum of Art.
Or you can just relax and let the rugged scenery wash over you like a breaking wave.
Either way, you’ll get a stiff dose of sea air and inspirational vistas.
Winslow, famed for his tempestuous seascapes, moved to Prouts Neck in 1884, where the Homer family had begun spending time as early as 1875, eventually building a house there.
Although Winslow and his father had a difficult relationship, the artist situated his studio right next door to the family home, converting the carriage house for his own use. Separate but together. Certainly, his stormy paintings speak volumes of emotion.
“I prefer every time a picture composed and painted outdoors. The thinking is done without your knowing,” Winslow wrote the year he moved to Prouts Neck permanently.
To reinforce that elemental connection, he further declared: “The sun will not rise, or set, without my notice, and thanks.”
Fast forward to 2016. Where better to set forth exploring Prouts Neck than from the prow of the 1878 Black Point Inn, in Scarborough.
“Prow” translating to that elegant, rounded porch overlooking a blindingly white row of Adirondack chairs on the lawn below, all oriented toward the expansive waters of Saco Bay, like needles to a compass point.
The stately wood-shingled summer hotel has warm wood inside, brilliant sun outside, plus an outdoor eating terrace, and reallygood food.
All this, and just around the corner from Winslow’s place.
After 20 years of living in NYC, the artist hired John Calvin Stevens to adapt the family’s carriage house into a 1,500-square-foot studio, where he lived until his death in 1910. The setting is stunning. From the second story, you can look out over the sea. And the path leading along the rocky coast gives you a taste of what Winslow saw and fell in love with.
Skittish water. Tossing boats. Rocky coastlines. Bursts of flowers. The rustle of tumbling rocks. Light that shifts like a shuddering sail.
To tour Winslow’s studio, stop by the Portland Museum of Art, where you can also see the artist’s original paintings, or purchase your tickets online.
After, save time to explore the delicious expanse of Scarborough Beach.
Or dart over to Higgins Beach, also in Scarborough, for an elemental plunge in the Atlantic. Depending on the time of day or year, you’ll be sharing the silky sand with surfers, wind surfers, kids, and dogs, all relishing the ultimate antidote to stress.
Then wind your way back to the Black Point Inn and plunk down in your own Adirondack chair. The setting sun lays down a fiery path across the water. Time to soak up some Winslow Homer light.
Have you ever explored Prouts Neck?
This post was first published in 2016 and has been updated.