Robert “Bob” Thomas, an accomplished artist from Edgecomb known for his textured paintings of old walls in Beirut, Lebanon, and his use of color to capture Maine’s landscapes, died Monday after a long illness. He was 73.

His paintings have been shown in galleries across Maine, including the artist-owned Stable Gallery in Damariscotta. His work will be featured in a June exhibition and will remain on view this summer.

Mr. Thomas became an artist after years of living in Beirut, then working as a writer and media relations specialist for companies ranging from AT&T and Intel to New Jersey Bell and Ashland Oil.

His wife, Lea Wait, recalled the day they met. It was April 1, 1968, in New York City. They were speechwriters for AT&T and became good friends. A few years later, he was the photographer at her wedding. Four years and two divorces later, Wait and Mr. Thomas got together. He visited her in Maine for the first time at Christmas in 1976.

“There was 4 feet of snow on the ground,” his wife recalled. “He said it’s a beautiful place, but why would anyone want to live here?”

Mr. Thomas bounced in and out of Wait’s life for many years – she said they had different goals in life. But by 2003, he was ready and moved to Maine to be with Wait. They were married on Oct. 28, 2003, 12,994 days after they met.

“He fell in love with Maine,” his wife said. “He said it was like living inside a postcard. The longer he lived here, the more he loved it.”

Mr. Thomas began painting around 2007 and immersed himself in Maine’s art community. He was known for textured paintings, influenced by the old walls of Beirut and the colors of Maine.

Daniel Kany, an art historian and freelance writer for the Portland Press Herald, said he met Mr. Thomas in 2008 when the artist walked into Kany’s gallery and insisted on showing his paintings. Kany described his work as spare and spiritual.

“It is about texture, depth and grit,” Kany said in an email. “He wittily inverts the idea of a thousand-year-old wall with new posters pasted on it: He takes a fresh panel coated in bright white gesso and puts a built-up material form that could be an ancient wall or ground, organic, dessicated and mineral. Bob’s painting progressed with fresh-mowed quickness.”

His paintings have appeared in the River Arts in Damariscotta, the Saccarappa Art Collective in Westbrook, Studio 53 Fine Art in Boothbay Harbor, Southport Memorial Library and other galleries. He was a member of the Stable Gallery.

“He was a pretty incredible abstract painter,” said Priscilla McCandless, a founding member of the Stable Gallery. “He was pretty amazing. His work was unlike anyone else’s in the gallery with his choice of texture and subtle color. His work was very complementary to what we do.”

Mr. Thomas was inspired by his surroundings in Edgecomb. Wait said he loved sitting on the porch looking out over the Sheepscot River. He could see the sunset from their bedroom window.

His wife said he also loved socializing with neighbors, talking about art and politics, and drinking scotch. He was a good cook as well.

About 2½ years ago, Mr. Thomas was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, followed by COPD and a minor stroke. He continued to paint until six months ago.

Wait said he fell asleep at 5:30 a.m. Monday at home and didn’t wake up. She was with him when he died.

“We had a wonderful 15 years,” his wife said. “I’m coping. We knew it was coming, but that doesn’t help. He was the love of my life. He will be missed.”

A celebration of Mr. Thomas’ life will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday at the River Arts Gallery, 241 Route 1 in Damariscotta.

Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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