COLIN & ELIZABETH
ARTIST & LAWYER
Los Angeles & New York City to Camden, Maine
Colin Page & Elizabeth Noble both found their own way to the country, several years apart. Elizabeth left a high-power attorney job in Los Angeles to pursue a master’s degree in photography from Maine Media Workshops, while Colin left NYC to find a more inspiring place to paint and continue to build his fine-art career. Both standing at well above 6’ (Colin is 6’6) they are a force, both creatively and visually. It is worth noting that they are one of the few couples featured that actually met after they had both individually decided to move to a smaller community. The change of scenery and Colin’s incredible talent, professionalism and work ethic has fully established him as a full-time working artist. Colin takes his work seriously and paints from about 9am-5pm in his studio or outside. His studio is attached to their home and has become a place where the whole family gathers. With their little girls scribbling in Frozen coloring books at his feet, he creates his masterpieces. He has won numerous awards for his work, shows at galleries all across the United States and teaches painting workshops internationally. His last solo show in Maine completely sold out before opening night. Elizabeth took a brief break from practicing law and shooting photography to raise their two small (but tall for their age) daughters, Audrey and Hazel. She is in the process of starting a law firm, filling a much-needed hole in their community. Colin and Elizabeth’s story demonstrates that you don’t need to live in a city to find your special someone or build a successful business. They are living proof that sometimes you have to find your ideal place in the world before finding the right person to share it with. (Click here to jump to their interview)
What inspired you to move to the country?
Elizabeth: I originally moved here without the intention of staying. I was burned out after leaving a demanding law firm job and I followed the advice of a wise friend to take a break in Maine. I didn’t foresee the break potentially lasting a lifetime.
Colin: It wasn’t so much a desire to move to the country, as a desire to flee the city. The city was too expensive and it was hard to survive as an artist.
Initially what was the hardest part about making the move? What challenges came later?
Elizabeth: Because my intention wasn’t to stay, the transition allowed me to slowly acclimate to country living. By the time I decided to make Maine my permanent home, I had already found love and friendship. As an attorney, the hardest thing has been finding satisfying employment; it is a work in progress, but I’m very happy to put family, place and friendship before my career. Before I moved to Maine, I had little time to do much beyond work. I know what giving up life for a career feels like and life is more important to me.
Colin: Initially, finding friends and a sense of community was difficult. Later, once I had made friends and found community, I realized the downside – that there is no anonymity. If you’re having a bad day, you can’t flip someone off while driving or lose your temper because it gets back to you. You’ll probably see the person you flipped off in the grocery store line later in the day, which would be awkward.
What were the hardest things to get used to? What do you miss the most about the city?
ELIZABETH: Whole Foods, Trader Joes and shoe stores – I miss the convenience of acquiring things. But because things are harder to come by, I spend less and I have less. Material possessions have become much less important and that’s refreshing.
Colin: I miss the convenience of public transportation, but more importantly I miss art museums, galleries, and cultural inspiration. The Metropolitan Museum of Art was a kind of church for me. It was a place to escape the city and feel comforted by centuries of exquisite art.
Would you ever go back to an urban existence?
Elizabeth: No, not permanently. I could imagine a hiatus, take the kids and live in Barcelona or Paris for a year.
Colin: If we ever get rich, then we’ll have a pied–à–terre somewhere. Long visits would be great, but I don’t think I could live full time in the city again.
What do you appreciate the most about life in the country?
Elizabeth: Community, space, nature. I feel like an individual with a place here, not an anonymous cog in the wheel. I think it was Kant that wrote we should never use people as a means, but always as an end in themselves. In the city, people so often treat each other as just a means, a way to get something, their humanity is obscured. I often felt invisible. But here, it’s impossible to do that because you’re interacting with the same people everyday, at the grocery store, at the library or the lunch spot. I honestly appreciate the lack of anonymity; it nurtures humanity.
Colin: I appreciate urinating outside – don’t underestimate the satisfaction of peeing in your own front yard.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of moving out of the city?
Elizabeth: Just do it. Follow a friend (that’s how both Colin and I each separately found this area). Or just explore and find a place that resonates with you.
Colin: Don’t think that moving to the country will change who you are – I am still basically the same person - but the atmosphere and the people around you are different and that influence is immeasurable.
When you go back to visit the city, what are the first three things on your to-do list?
1. I usually only go to the city to see friends, so first and foremost is to visit people.
2. Do something cultural, a museum, a show, ballet, or live music.
3. Shopping, if there is time, but generally the first two take up most of my time.
1. Go to the Met
2. Eat a hot dog from a street vendor on my way to the Met
3. Go for a walk, people watch and explore. When I was in school in the East Village I would just take off in some direction and walk for a few hours exploring Little Italy, Soho, Chinatown, the Lower East Side, or walk north to Midtown. It was always fun to see what I stumbled upon.
Where do you draw your inspiration and passion from for your work?
Elizabeth: I’m inspired by the people around me. My daughters, my friends and especially Colin.
Colin: The Maine landscape is a frequent subject of mine and I'm constantly inspired by my family. Recently I have started painting more of my family experiences; seeing my young girls explore the world around them. I love taking part in their discovery.
Have you noticed a change in yourself and/or your work since moving away from the city?
Elizabeth: I moved away from the city at a pivotal time in my life, so whether or not the move can be credited with the change (or getting married, or having kids) it is impossible to decipher.
Colin: I think you are who you are and environment doesn’t change you. I’ve been here 12 years and I would be different regardless of where I lived. It’s hard to quantify.
Walk us through a typical day in your country existence? How does it compare to the day to day in the city?Elizabeth: I work considerably less than I would have to in the city. You have to work so much more to be able to afford any semblance of a nice lifestyle in the city. Coffee breaks used to be at 4:30 and now it’s quitting time.
Colin: My day here is more peaceful, but I also work and accomplish more here. Simple things in the city can often take much more time and be more difficult to accomplish.
Are there things that you are able to do here that you wouldn’t have dared to try before moving from the city?
Elizabeth: There are experiences, like ice fishing, that I can’t imagine I would have had before. And then there are also life choices that wouldn’t have been possible in the city, like being a stay at home mom.
Colin: When I moved to Maine I learned to grow my own food, bought a home, learned to do a lot of building, and home upkeep. I reroofed my house, replaced windows and siding. It also became much easier, and more appealing, to paint outside, which became the focus of my artwork for a long time.
Do you have a specific space or place that helps you feel inspired?
Elizabeth: On a daily basis, while going about regular life stuff, I stop and just look around me and admire the ridiculously picturesque place I get to call home. We have a pond just down the hill from where we live (in Maine a “pond” can be several miles across or more – this one is about ¾ of a mile - so a good sized pond). I drive past it everyday. There is a view when you’re heading to our house that has the pond in the foreground, the mountain we live on in the background, with cabins dotting the shoreline. That view reminds me each day that I’m in the right place.
Colin: Outside – I mostly paint outside. An interesting or dramatic light almost always excites me when I go outside to paint. The specific place is less important than finding an interesting sense of light. Also, wherever the kids are not, that way I can get something done.
What are some common misperceptions about life in the country? What do you want people to know/understand about life in small communities?
We think one misperception is that the city has a monopoly on interesting, smart and creative people. We have met more people here who are pursuing fascinating lives than I did in the city. We feel inspired and humbled by my friends here.
What are your future plans/goals for the coming year?
Elizabeth: I’m starting my own legal practice this year. That’s going to be a big change. Beyond that I’m really looking forward to saying good-bye to diapers and potty training Hazel.
Colin: Keep making paintings and raising these cool kids.