Set about 23 miles beyond Port Clyde on the coast of Maine, Wheaton Island is about as peaceful as it gets, with few structures and even fewer residents. In the winter, you’ll find hardly anyone around, but in summer, a series of charming white dwellings come alive with the inspiring creative activities of contemporary artists Bo Bartlett and Betsy Eby, who spend the rest of the year at their full-time residence in Columbus, Georgia. Bartlett bought the island in 1999 after spotting it in the distance while vacationing at the summer home of Andrew and Betsy Wyeth on Benner Island.
Bartlett immediately got to work restoring the island’s turn of the century house, barn and guesthouse with the help of Freeport builder John Libby, and after marrying Betsy in 2010, called Libby back in to build two custom “his and hers” artist studios.
From Decor Maine:
“The simple, uninsulated post-and-beam structures were adapted from the company’s 18-by-24-foot ‘Harraseeket’ model. North-facing skylights capture the light so crucial to the artists, while double barn doors open to ocean views. ‘We started with that footprint and went with a steeper roof to give it a bit more character,’ explains John. Made of Eastern white pine, the white shingle-sided studios look nearly identical from the outside, while the interiors have been adapted to suit the artists’ varied needs. Bo’s include a loft space and large north-facing windows, Betsy’s an upright piano, which she plays throughout her workday (‘Going back and forth,’ says Bo). The structures were painted white inside and out, down to the furnishings, making plain canvases, as it were, for the colorful work created within them.”
Libby constructed the timber frames at his warehouse in Freeport, then dismantled them and shipped them to the island by barge. It took a helicopter too set them into their permanent places. Each one is painted stark white inside, giving them a purity and simplicity that instantly evokes feelings of calmness and tranquility. It’s also a highly effective backdrop for art. The studios are powered by solar panels and propane.
“My connection with nature is just so piqued out there,” says Eby. “It reminds me of who I am.”