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 Carlton Plummer  (1929 - )

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts/Maine      Known for: marine, coastal view and genre painting, illustration, teaching

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Ad Code: 4
Carlton Plummer
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following, submitted by Peter Kostoulakos of Lowell, Massachusetts, is from the artist:

Carlton Plummer, AWS, was born in Brunswick, on the coast of Maine in 1929, and spent his formative years growing up on a farm with his paternal grandparents, aunt and uncle, and his father. His mother died when he was 16 months old. His artistic ability was obvious by age five and was nurtured by family encouragement and books on creating cartoons given to him by his father.

As a result of his farm environment, Carlton had a love for drawing farm animals, but this soon expanded to sketching figures and portraits of people around him. A rural life and exposure to nature allowed Carlton to develop an understanding of, and strong appreciation for, the natural environment that has stayed with him throughout his life.

High school days involved art-related activities balanced with sports and music. In high school art classes, he was introduced to painting portraits in watercolor, which he continues to this day. Encouragement from several mentors in the local art world during the early years inspired and helped him to stay focused on his artistic goals.

The next five years brought big changes in Carlton’s life, starting with enrollment at Vesper George School of Art in Boston, where he pursued a major in illustration. It was here that he had the good fortune to meet and fall in love with Joan, the girl he would marry four years later. He graduated with honors, receiving the “Outstanding Student Award in Illustration.”
Being drafted into the army during the Korean War put his illustration career on hold for two years, although his artistic talent landed him into “Special Services” as an army artist painting murals and designing posters for sports events on the post.

Carlton and Joan were married during his service at Fort Jackson but he was sent to Germany a few months later. While in Heidelberg, Germany, their first son, Barry, was born. While overseas, Special Services allowed Carlton time for traveling and painting in many European countries.

After service in the army, he continued as a freelance illustrator in Boston until enrollment at Massachusetts College of Art, where he earned a BFA in Art Education. Illustrating for the Yellow Pages allowed the Plummer family to survive during financially tight times. During this time period, their second and third sons, Kevin and Bruce, were born.

With a degree in his pocket, Carlton became a high school art teacher and Director of Art Education in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, school system, where he developed a new art program. During his tenure there, he matriculated in a master’s degree program at Boston University, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a Master of Fine Arts in Painting. During this period, their fourth son, Gerry, was born.

Hired as an assistant professor of painting at Lowell State College (which later became the University of Massachusetts at Lowell), he continued his painting career and began conducting painting workshops around the East. Carlton was an established illustrator and painter when he came to Lowell State College in 1964. Known for his dynamic personality and passionate commitment to art, his classes and painting lectures, both at Lowell and around the country were well received. His energy and sense of humor brought dedication and expertise to his popular classes.

It was during his tenure at the university that Carlton was commissioned by the Department of Military Art to participate in the Army Combat Art program as a civilian painter. Taking a leave of absence from teaching, Carlton was sent to Thailand in 1969. Twelve of his paintings from that trip hang in the permanent collection of the Museum of Military Art in Washington, DC.

Promoted to full professor in 1981, he was an important member of the expanding art department at Lowell during its program formation and helped set the standard for professional excellence.

The building of Joan and Carlton’s dream house — including their noteworthy gardens — on the coast of Maine was a deciding factor in Carlton’s decision to leave the university in order to spend more time in Maine and conducting painting workshops around the US and overseas. He has since conducted hundreds of workshops around the world, and still continues the popular Maine Coast Watercolor Workshops in Boothbay, Maine. Painting and teaching have since taken Carlton and Joan throughout Europe, north to the Arctic, the West Indies, the Greek Isles, Australia, Tahiti, New Zealand, Africa and throughout the USA and Canada.
In 1963, Carlton and Joan also opened the Plummer Gallery in Boothbay, which continues to remain open each summer to clients and tourists from around the world.

Carlton’s paintings appear in more than 20 painting books and in numerous art magazine articles. His work can be seen in galleries along the Eastern seaboard of the US, and he is represented in several museums, corporate and private collections in the States and abroad. His work has been exhibited throughout the US and overseas, including the Royal Academy of Miniaturism in London; Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia; Winter Olympics in Nagano City, Japan; and other invitational group shows.

Carlton has been the recipient of more than 250 national and international painting awards, many of which were gold medals and “best of shows.” In addition to his AWS signature membership, Carlton was honored with election to the Miniature Artists of America. Among other distinctions, he was named Professor Emeritus from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, and has been recognized for his participation in the Civilian Combat Art Program for the army during the Vietnam conflict.

His mode of painting keeps changing, approaching abstraction and touches of fantasy at times. Although Carlton considers watercolor to be his favorite medium, he paints in oils and acrylics on large canvases. However, he hasn’t abandoned the impressionistic style that got him to this point in his career.

Carlton’s philosophy is to continue doing those things that are challenging and rewarding to him, and to spend as much time with his family as possible. At this point in time, retirement is definitely not on his list.

His book, Create Dramatic Coastal Scenes in Watercolor, was published by International Artists, out of Sydney, Australia, in April 2004 and sold in five countries. His miniatures appeared in an international book on Miniaturism published in 2010.

Carlton’s work is in the collections of the Whistler House Museum of Art, Lowell, MA; Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, MA; Museum of Military History, Washington, DC; Bank of America; University of Massachusetts; Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Maine; Mid-Atlantic Commercial Company, NJ; MITRE Corporation, MA; Hartford Life, Hartford, CT; AETNA Insurance, CT; Miniature Artists of America (Gold Medal of Honor).

Professional affiliations include the American Watercolor Society, New York, NY; Miniature Artists of America, Clearwater, FL; Allied Artists of America, New York, NY; Guild of Boston Artists, Boston, MA; Rocky Mountain National Watermedia, Golden, CO; New England Watercolor Society, Boston, MA (Past President); Northeast Watercolor Society, Kent, CT; National Society of Painters in Casein and Acrylics, NY; and the Salmagundi Club, New York, NY.

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