On Oct. 19, Archipelago Fine Arts unveiled a new show that highlights the work of North Haven artist Eric Hopkins. “Water / Color: An Exploration of Atmospheric Light” features watercolor paintings and glasswork that deconstruct and then reconfigure our notions of “watercolor.” Works in the show examine the common qualities and close relationship between color and water, but also the two subjects’ unique identities and characteristics.

Jokingly referring to himself as “the guy who paints blue-green islands,” Hopkins first achieved commercial success while studying glassmaking at Rhode Island School of Design. Since leaving RISD in 1976, he has expanded his talents to photography and painting and has become well known for his aerial-view landscapes of Penobscot Bay. An avid flier, Hopkins uses the aerial perspective to portray a holistic landscape of geologic and natural patterns, rhythms, shapes and boundaries.

Hopkins uses “shorthand” to reduce the landscape’s features to their most essential geometric forms. Upright triangles convey coniferous trees, inverted triangles represent deciduous trees. Rocks and landforms are solid masses with clearly delineated and highlighted perimeters.

This reduction imbues a boldness and intensity onto the landscape that is continued with Hopkins’ use of color. Flares of deep burgundy and electric greens, not normally noticed in Maine, enliven the landscape. Water, patterned by wind, underwater geology and meandering currents, ranges from electric blue and turquoise to inky purple.

The water also reveals the landscape’s inherent tension. Its fluidity contrasts with the solidity of the rocks, while the bright colors, and the patterns they delineate, disintegrate as they approach the horizon.

With this show Hopkins expands his focus on capturing the essence of the landscape through its structural geography, and examines how the landscape is affected by light. The impetus for this new direction came from examining his previous work and recognizing the interconnectedness of two of his main themes, water and color.

Seeing light through the prism of water allows Hopkins to experiment with a greater color palette throughout his canvases.

I’ve gone through a lot of quinachridone, or `rotten seaweed gold,'” Hopkins jokes.

Golds, oranges, violets and reds mix in his waters, in the air and on misty islands. Clouds are more prominent, and the islands cast deep shadows to add additional layers of pattern to the water. The geometric solidity of the landforms remains, but shadows and fading, warm sunlight spill across its boundaries and soften the canvas.

Hopkins’ glass training adds a particularly unique and effective perspective to this meditation on atmospheric light. Watercolor studies project color onto glass forms to emphasize the three-dimensionality of atmosphere These forms also package the atmosphere into what Hopkins describes as “columns of air.” Hand-blown glass spheres give a global view.

Hopkins has just completed a renovating a studio and gallery in Rockland, but still considers North Haven “home base.” He attributes many common themes in his work to reflections on his island background: geography, particularly geographic boundaries and edges; the omnipotence and prevalence of water; and islands as microcosms for the larger world.

“Islands are metaphors for the planet: how little gets to know big. Islands are surrounded by water, and made by this water. They have defined edges, but any place has edges: the planet, the atmosphere. And islands are also connected to every other landform, just underwater. I want to convey that holistic view; show our limits and connectedness at the same time and expand our viewpoint.”

Water / Color: An Exploration of Atmospheric Light will be showing at Archipelago Fine Arts, located at the Island Institute, 386 Main Street, Rockland, from Oct. 19 to Jan. 2.