Souhegan grad from Mont Vernon honored by Maine magazine

MONT VERNON – Renee Bouchard was only 16 and a student at Souhegan High School when she took a portraiture course from the watercolor artist Phoebe Flory, in the summer of 1993.

The youngest student in the class, she was thrilled and somewhat intimidated.

“Oh boy!” said Bouchard in a recent phone interview from her home in Bennington, Vt. when asked to remember that intensive six-week watercolor course.

It was not for hobby artists. Classes started at 8 each weekday morning and ended at 9 p.m., with a half day of work on Saturdays. Flory taught her at least 20 watercolor techniques and helped her produced 200 paintings in the barn on Main Street in Mont Vernon that Flory had converted into a studio.

Flory “had tremendous knowledge and experience. Her class prepared me for art school” because it involved a tremendous amount of practice.”

Bouchard said she became close to the artist before she died in 2004 and Flory’s daughter gave her many of her mother’s brushes and some paintings.

After Bouchard graduated from Souhegan she attended the Cleveland Institute of Art and graduated from the Maine College of Art. This summer she learned that an oil paintings she did on Maine’s Monhegan Island has been chosen as the winner of Down East Magazine’s Maine College of Art Emerging Artist Contest.

Bouchard’s winning art will be featured as one of the interior commemorative covers for the magazine’s 60th Anniversary issue in August.

In addition, Bouchard named Maine College of Art’s Scholarship Fund the beneficiary of a minimum of $10,000 to be raised by Down East Magazine at the Art of Giving Gala on Thursday, Aug. 14, in Portland, Maine.

Her winning painting was done on Monhegan, because her husband, Jamie Franklin, who curates the Bennington Museum, was there researching the artist Rockwell Kent.

Mohegan is well-known for its scenic beauty, so of course she brought her brushes and paints.

“I love Maine and I love the magazine, and I’m pleased to be in such good company,” she said.

By good company she means the artists Angela Adams, Eric Hopkins, Alex Katz, Barbara Ernst Prey and William Wegman. They are all expected to participate in the gala.

A lot of Bouchard’s inspiration, she says, now comes from her 19-month-old son, Ensor, and his friends, and she hosts painting/
playdates in her home.

“I’m inspired by children’s art in general,” she said, “and their intuitive mark-making process.”

Bouchard grew up in Mont Vernon and is the daughter of Roger Bouchard and Donna Welch. She has received numerous awards and honors, from the Vermont Arts Council, Vermont Studio Center, Cooper Union, Kate Millet Art Colony for Women, Montana Artist Refuge, and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. McDaris Fine Art in Hudson, New York, and Moberg Gallery in Des Moines and Chicago currently represent her work.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at or 673-3100, ext. 304.