Doug Palmer's Clouds

Doug Palmer’s Clouds

Doug Palmer was an early guest at The Gathering Place. A gentle man, he taught art here, as well as at Sweetser’s Learning and Recovery Center on Mere Point Road in Brunswick. 

Whether oil, watercolors, pastels or pencil drawings, Palmer “had such talent,” said Nancy Herk, Executive Director of Brunswick Area Respite Care.“He could just create beautiful artwork.”  When you were around him, said Chick Carroll,  President of The Gathering Place and also a volunteer,  “you knew you were around something special.”

During his adulthood he endured mental illness and the side effects of medications meant to control it. In spite of this, Doug was well known in the community, often through his painting, drawing, photography, love of gardening and expertise in botany which he had studied in college.

Over time these side effects caused tremors in his hands and legs that kept him from doing many of the things he loved.  He never told anyone how bad it had become.  He grew increasingly despondent and one Sunday morning in March 2013, Doug took his life in a fall from the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge between Topsham and Brunswick.  

His memory will live in our hearts and the paintings he left to us.   The focus of the following stories is about the people who are still here, still writing, and still sharing but we begin with the following tributes to Doug in gratitude for his life and contributions to The Gathering Place.

Doug Palmer’s picture

The picture of the ocean and clouds give me a feeling of calmness and peace just like it does when I visit it in person. When I look at the ocean and listen to the waves, it always seems to have a way of taking my troublesome thoughts and worries and slowly making them disappear way beyond, much farther than I can see or even imagine.

Sometimes the ocean can seem to be very rough and disturbed and unsettled in its outward appearance similar to the feelings that i hold within myself. The clouds could possibly represent the confusion that sometimes forms within my head.

This picture of the ocean and the clouds could represent many different things to many different people. Today it represents what I have described. On another day it could represent something completely different. Whether it be today or tomorrow, it will always remind me that its beauty was all made with God’s hands for everyone to enjoy and be thankful for.

~ Charlene Swain Matts


(for Doug Palmer)

Love those pastel popcorn clouds in your paintings
at the Gathering Place and Little Dog cafe’.
Small, uniform, dancing across the sky.
Some seem to smile the same wry smile
I’d see on your face as you walked by.

There were other clouds in your life, I gather,
larger  lower, random, glowering.
I hope they’re gone now, and you’ve found the joy
you gave me whenever I gazed on those perfect popcorn clouds.


~Rick Wile

To Doug

The man with the brush
Has left us for now
Farewell, Doug, to you.
Across the green bridge
Where you met your demise,
You leave us all
With tears in our eyes.
We’ll remember your talent
And your patience, too,
While you worked with those
To whom painting was new.
Keep painting, Doug,
With the saints up above,
But we’ll remember you, Doug,
With sadness and love.

~June Garman


The sun rises high

to take its place

in the azure sky.

Leaves fall

And soon all

Will be brown

And frozen to the ground.

Winds blow

And soon the town

Will be full of snow

The Sun set soon

to make way for

the beaming Moon.

~Doug Palmer