Scott Elliot, a carpenter by trade who took up painting during the pandemic, paints at in his home studio in Dresden. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

DRESDEN — Scott Elliot needed a creative outlet.

A carpenter by day and musician by night, Elliot found himself without much work when the pandemic began in March 2020. No construction jobs. No gigs. No rehearsals even.

The 62-year-old also had heart surgery a few years earlier and was “scared to death” of COVID-19 early on, so he didn’t venture far. The first time he and his wife went anywhere in those first few months was to visit (outside) a friend and fellow musician, Doug Gimbel in Boothbay. Gimbel is also a painter and sculptor.

“We were talking about painting, and I said, ‘I think I’d like to try that,’ ” Elliot said.

Gimbel told him to come back anytime.

So, Elliot did.


Gimbel set up two easels in his studio and filled a glass palette with paint that he put between them. The two put on masks and spent a couple hours painting. It became a once-a-week thing.

“I found I couldn’t really wait to get back. I was having dreams about it,” Elliot said.

Eventually, Gimbel told him he could come as often as he wanted.

So, Elliot did.

“Crying Cloud” by Scott Elliot, who only recently started painting but has become prolific, selling much of his work. Shaw Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

In fact, he hasn’t stopped painting since he picked it up on a whim two and a half years ago without any training. The walls of his house in Dresden, south of Gardiner overlooking the Eastern River, are filled with his work, colorful acrylic-on-canvas paintings that are best characterized as abstract expressionist in style. They feel both familiar and wholly original.

“I think it was easy for him to find his voice as a painter because he’s just authentic,” Gimbel said of his friend. “He’s a true creative.”


Elliot’s work is starting to get noticed, too, in part because other artists can’t stop talking about it. He did a local show at Slates, a restaurant in Hallowell, and had pieces in the year-end “Made in Maine” show last month at Maine Art Gallery in Wiscasset.

Even before that, though many of his friends – artists themselves – were buying up his paintings. Elliot figured they were just being nice.

“People aren’t just buying because they are friends, they are buying because it’s really good,” said Tom Pirozzoli, a friend and fellow artist who gave Elliot an easel so that he could create his own workspace at home.

Elliot still doesn’t have a proper studio. He paints on that easel in a corner of his house’s main bedroom, which has a balcony that overlooks his tree-lined backyard.

“It was the only spot for me,” he said.

What he does have is a seemingly infinite well of creative energy, and he plans to take advantage before it dries up.



Elliot – whose given first name is Edward by goes by his middle name, Scott – has been a well-regarded musician in central and coastal Maine. He’s played in several bands and as a session player over the years but is most often associated with the Boneheads, which formed in 1991 and is still active.

He started playing music as a teenager and settled on the bass guitar.

“He’s a great musician,” Pirozzoli said. “He just has … I don’t know how to say it … he has the genetic predisposition to do that stuff. But he’s worked at it too.”

Elliot said he became obsessed with music much in the same way he has become obsessed with painting.

“When I was learning to play guitar, if I learned a new chord or something, it was all I thought about,” he said.


Elliot paints at his home studio in Dresden, really an easel set up in a bedroom. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Although Elliot didn’t take any art classes or spend time painting, he wasn’t without artistic sensibilities. He’s done drawings that have become cover art for his bands’ albums. He’s built beautiful custom cabinets, including at his own home.

Still, he didn’t expect to find such an outlet in painting.

“It feels great to have that creative energy, and it spills over to other things,” he said.

Elliot has always been a fan of visual art. He loves Van Gogh. Andrew Wyeth, too. Other than his own work, the only other print on wall is a Wyeth.

He doesn’t know how to characterize his paintings, or even where the ideas come from, but the bold use of color suggests abstract expressionist influences.

“I’m not trying to imitate or anything,” he said. “I just put some paint on and start pushing it around and then usually it just kind of turns into something. Then you step back and it’s a person or a face, or I see something else and then I make the rest of it into that.”


Gimbel said one of his first suggestions to Elliot was to treat painting like music. Experiment. Improvise.

“It’s more a process of allowing something to happen rather than trying to make it happen,” Gimbel said.

One of his paintings features three women in a semi-circle, their heads bowed, their hands joined. The background is moonlit sky. Another features a woman with blue hair holding a large rooster in front of orange background with a silo.

Most of his work is acrylic on canvas, painted alla prima (Italian for “all at once”). That means paint is applied on top of other layers before they can dry.

Before long, Elliot had so many paintings, he couldn’t hang them all up. He sold a few to friends after they kept asking but didn’t really know what to do with the rest.

“Ceremony” by Scott Elliot. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer



Sometime last year, Elliot and his wife, Jo, were visiting a friend who is a cook at Slates restaurant in Hallowell. Another friend was there, too, Wendy Larson, the restaurant’s owner.

“We were talking about what’s new, and Jo said, ‘He’s been painting like crazy, like a madman,’ ” Elliot recalled. “They were all like ‘You’ve got to have a show at Slates,’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know.’ I was just doing it because it was fun. I was just excited to have that thing in my life again where I’m just crazy and can’t think about anything else.”

Larson told him to let her know whenever he was ready. It took him a few more months until he felt comfortable showing his work to a wider audience, but the response was overwhelming.

Of the 40 pieces that he exhibited at Slates, half sold.

“Part of the reason I did a show was because Jo said, ‘You’ve got to get rid of some of it,’ ” he said.

But he just keeps painting.


Elliot said it’s still strange to think of strangers owning his work. When he sold pieces to friends, it was easier.

“I could go visit still, and I know they’ll enjoy it,” he explained.

He knew nothing about pricing either.

“He asked me about pricing, but then he didn’t take my advice,” Gimbel said with a chuckle. “His work is really undervalued.”

He had two paintings entered in the Maine Art Gallery’s year-end show – “Fish House Town Meeting” and “Electric Dooryard,” the second of which sold.

He’s looking for other opportunities to share his work with a wider audience, but he’d probably keep painting either way.

Gimbel said that’s one of the things that makes Elliot’s art so compelling. He’s not trying to create for an audience. He’s glad to sell his paintings, but that doesn’t drive him.

“So much of Maine art is representational … it’s lowest common denominator,” Gimbel said. “I’ve never been interested in that. I want it to be groundbreaking. I think Scott lives in that space too and as he gets more comfortable, it’s just going to get better for him.”

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