Rain or shine, Carlton Rollins can be found most evenings selling his paintings in downtown Farmington. Rollins, who taught himself how to paint at 10 years old, estimates he’s sold over 5,000 paintings that have reached 30 countries since the 1970s. Pictured, Rollins holds up his painting “Camaraderie of Three” on Main Street Tuesday evening, Aug. 16. In the background are just a handful of the paintings for sale that evening. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — Nearly every evening, Carlton Rollins can be found selling paintings, sitting next to his car in downtown Farmington.

Rollins, 73, is a big numbers guy: he estimates that since the 1970s he’s sold over 5,000, perhaps 6,000 paintings and over 2,000 rock paintings; he can clock in at up to 24 paintings and 50 rock paintings a day, he said.

Rollins hails from Harpswell, where he taught himself how to paint when he was around 10 years old. He quickly discovered art was a wonderful way to form connections and cope with the hardships of life.

In 1974, he moved to Franklin County to study art and English at the University of Maine at Farmington.

In the nearly five decades that have followed, Rollins has spent his time writing poetry and painting canvases, rocks and murals across the county – in particular at his home in New Sharon and out of his car in downtown Farmington.

Rollins said his artwork has reached all 50 states, 30 countries and five continents. He’s sold to locals, Mainers, travelers and exchange students. His artwork has also sat on the walls of galleries in New York City and Farmington.


“‘From my dooryard in New Sharon, I’ve reached the world,'” Rollins said he likes to say.

He’s especially proud of those figures because his favorite part of being an artist is “sharing things with other people.”

“I love that they get uplifted, find some happiness in the poetry and art that I make,” he said. “I love being out in public, meeting people.”

Carlton Rollins estimates he’s sold over 5,000 paintings to people from more than 30 countries since the 1970s. He views artwork as a way to connect with other, which is why he loves setting up shop in downtown Farmington. Pictured, Rollins signs a recently completing painting with the initials “CERJ” – standing for Carlton Edward Rollins Jr. – in downtown Farmington Tuesday evening, Aug. 17. Perched beside him is one of over 400 paintings he’s made of Clearwater Lake in Industry. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

That’s one of the reasons why Rollins moved his ‘gallery’ to downtown Farmington, where he can reach more people, he said.

From 5-7 p.m. most weekdays, Rollins sets up shop along the sidewalk downtown. He lays out many of his paintings atop the windshields and roof of his car, with more placed on the ground – certainly a refined system.

Rollins’ backseat is filled with boxes of paint, other art supplies and countless more paintings – many of which are works in progress.


“One woman said to me, ‘you got a whole art studio in your car!'” Rollins exclaimed.

His artwork focuses on a variety of subjects – “whatever comes in my head,” he said. He describes his artistic style as “surreal impressionism.”

Sometimes, he paints abstracts and landscapes, sometimes flowers, sometimes figures.

Carlton Rollins sets up his mobile art gallery on Main Street in downtown Farmington Tuesday evening, Aug. 16. Rollins can be found most nights selling his artwork. Rollins said he loves painting because he loves sharing and connecting with people – one of the reasons why he sells his artwork on the sidewalk of downtown, rather than in galleries. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

Back again to the numbers, Rollins said he’s painted over 400 paintings of Clearwater Lake in Industry, 30 of Smalls Falls near Rangeley and 24 of Mt. Blue – all in high demand from his clientele.

Lately, though, his favorite thing to paint is “puffins and lighthouses.”

However Rollins is happy to paint whatever people like – which is why Clearwater Lake can be found in the many paintings for sale around his car.


Painting is in some ways a means to an end for Rollins – particularly with recent rising costs of living. But Rollins said that the connection with others might sometimes come first.

He recalled a day when a group of elderly women were admiring his paintings but expressed they couldn’t afford them. Rollins said it was a simple decision to give some of his paintings away to the group.

“Generosity is important in all aspects of my life,” he said.

A downpour begins but Rollins not leaving anytime soon; his paintings are all waterproof.

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