Hunter Law, a self-taught artist, features both the wildlife and their habitat in a unique way in his paintings. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Hunter Law was feeling anxious. He was fresh out of high school and living with his grandmother in Georgia, where he could be closer to his older brother, Forrest, who was in the Army, stationed in Savannah.

He was trying to figure out what was next in his life.

“I was going through a rough stage. I would stay up all night and not do anything,” Law said.

He had started drawing while attending Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft, but one night he decided to try painting. He chose an elephant for his subject.

“I loved it,” Law said. “I really enjoyed just the process of it and it passed time in the middle of night while I was up.”

Like that, he had discovered his passion. He wanted to be a painter.

Paint brushes and a palette sit on Hunter Law’s kitchen table. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

That experience opened up a whole new world of creative potential for Law, who has spent the last several years perfecting his craft. He specializes in painting iconic Maine animals such as moose, bears and deer at Hunter Law Fine Art.

Law, an avid outdoorsman, focuses on painting detailed depictions of animals, many featuring landscapes or other wildlife incorporated within the same image. Sometimes the interaction is subtle, a line of trees forming the fur on the back of a bear, while in other works a full-scale outdoor scene fills much of the larger subject.

It’s a tactic he had seen in photography, but in his painting he has embraced the mixture of animal and outdoor scenes.

“It tells a story, I think, more so than just the landscape or just the wildlife and I fell in love with that,” said the soft-spoken Law, who works out of his townhouse in Bangor.

It has been a gradual process, but Law’s work has grown tremendously in popularity over the last few years. His sales increased fourfold from 2021 to 2022, when he sold more than 100 original paintings and numerous prints. Sales have taken another big jump this year.

“It almost seems like I’m living the dream already. I couldn’t be happier,” said Law.

It hasn’t been an easy road for Law, a Massachusetts native who grew up in Monson. He spent much of his childhood in the woods, fishing or hunting with his father and brothers, or just out hiking or exploring.

“My parents were definitely into nature and the adventure that comes with it,” Law said.

Rabbit and fox paintings by Hunter Law. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

Law, largely a self-taught artist, credits his maternal grandmother, Nina Robin Lee (aka Grandma Robin) for giving him his start. When she came to visit, Lee encouraged Hunter, Forrest and their younger brother Brooks to try sketching objects.

“She was sort of a fun grandmother who would draw with the kids,” Hunter Law said. “I thought that was really cool.”

Hunter Law said he was too busy playing sports — he competed in football, basketball and baseball at Foxcroft — and chasing girls to pursue art in high school. He took one art class, but had difficulty with the structured curriculum.

“I didn’t have fun with it, because I’ve always been the kind of person that wants to do exactly what I want to do when it comes to painting, drawing or whatever,” he said.

Law said he worked through some teen angst by drawing on his own.

After a year in Georgia, he returned and enrolled at the University of Maine to study art education. Unmotivated by the classes, Law changed his major to studio art.

That experiment ended similarly after his printmaking professor complimented his sketches, but suggested he should be getting better grades.

Black bear painting by Hunter Law, who features both the wildlife and their habitat in a unique way. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

“I was just a horrible student,” Law said. “She said, ‘you really need to think about what you’re doing here as a student.’”

That gave Law the spark he needed. He was determined to concentrate on painting — his way.

“I wanted to devote my time to what I really love and enjoy and really strive to be better at it,” he said.

Law dropped out and became a home healthcare aide. He painted on the side, then became a tattooing apprentice. He worked for a year as a licensed tattoo artist.

But something was still missing. The work centered on others’ visions, rather than what he wanted to create.

“I had to focus on that one particular thing and that was painting and developing my own style, which you really can’t do when other people are prompting you,” Law said.

In 2019, he was working as a tattoo artist and painting on the side. He had convinced himself there was no financial future in trying to be an artist in Bangor.

That’s when his wife, Lexi Campbell, suggested he try selling some of his work. He listed a painting on Facebook that sold the next day and that customer eventually commissioned Law to do four more paintings.

Law gave up his tattooing, turned to painting as his full-time job and has seen his business grow steadily ever since. The Laws also welcomed a daughter, Ada Wren, who will soon celebrate her first birthday.

Hunter Law works on a painting in the studio at his Bangor home. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

Law worked exclusively with acrylic until he did an oil painting of Wassataquoik Stream in Baxter State Park. Now, he works mostly in oil.

Customers have been particularly fond of his moose paintings as he sold 45 of them last year. He has recently started painting more foxes.

One of Law’s biggest challenges has been trying to paint productively and also keep up with questions, requests and orders for his work on his website, on Facebook and on Instagram (@hlawsart).

His adventures have a deeper purpose.

“That’s sort of the story I’m trying to tell, how close the animals are with their surroundings and maybe we need to get back to that a little bit,” he said.

Law is preparing to take his painting to the next level. The Laws plan next year to start building a home in Glenburn, where they will have not only a new home, but a separate studio in the woods on an adjoining property where he can focus on his work and meet with his clients in an intimate outdoor setting.

In the meantime, he is enjoying the ride.

“I don’t know exactly where it all came from,” he said of the success.

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...