It is the sense of flow, of motion that jumps out. West Tisbury painter Doug Kent has taken his work in a new direction. It is larger, more colorful, more abstract.

The new work springs from a discussion about the Buddhist idea of reincarnation, that the mind and soul do not die with the body, but continue in another form. He wondered what the mind sees in those moments. He imagined what it might look like, and picked up his brushes.

“The mind travel series, that’s what these are,” Mr. Kent said, as he showed a visitor around his Indian Hill Road studio. “They move along. I let things flow the way they want to go.”

The paint seems to move before your eyes. Sometimes dark toward light. Sometimes light toward dark. Sometimes circular, coming back on itself. He paints on birch panels, with an innovative process for putting paint on, and taking some of it off. The wood grain makes the sense of motion more intense.

Lately, Mr. Kent has been exploring his mind travel series, letting the brush flow. — Courtesy Doug Kent

Mr. Kent arrived on Martha’s Vineyard in 1964, a 19-year-old art student from the school at the Worcester Art Museum. He was promised a summer hotel job by a friend.

“He said ‘we can’t pay you any money but you can have a good time,’” Mr. Kent said. “He was right. It’s a magic place.”

In recent years, Mr. Kent has worked through some health issues, including a painful eye condition that limits his vision.

“There’s no cure for it,” he said. “I have two implants in my eyes right now that are the size of a pin head. They work for two years, and they help reduce inflammation. I’m feeling the improvement of those procedures right now.”

He said the new direction of his art is just a coincidence, but if it is, it is a happy coincidence. His new work relies more on color and motion, less on detail.

“Details are very difficult now, which changes things for me. I still work in detail but I’m not as happy with it as I used to be. It’s frustrating.”

The medical expenses have been building up, so Mr. Kent’s daughter Lizzy, along with family friends, have organized a benefit art show at the Chilmark Community Center, Jan. 29 and 30. Proceeds will go toward his medical bills.

"I did bears one winter. All of a sudden it was time to do a show, and it was all bears." — Courtesy Doug Kent

Some of the earlier work he pulled out for the benefit show has surprised him a bit.

“I don’t throw anything away, just because of that,” he said, gazing at some paintings he created in 20 years ago. He sees things now that he didn’t see then.

“I also see the mistakes I made, and I see the good parts that I didn’t see before. I go, gee, that’s not so bad as I thought it was.”

Much of Mr. Kent’s earlier work is based on Martha’s Vineyard landscapes, bathed in ocean light. Deep in the paintings of farm roads, kettle ponds and ocean scenes is a strong vein of Island history, especially up-Island history.

“I used to walk that trail,” he said gazing at one small painting based on a Chilmark scene. “I was living up there, it goes right up the spine of that ridge that runs from Quansoo road, starts right there and runs almost to Menemsha. There’s a road right along the top. It was feeder road for the farms. They’d come up there and go down to Quansoo and get shellfish, so it’s a great walk.”

Often, finely detailed animals populate the paintings in seemingly random order. There are fish, dogs, wolves, birds, monkeys, bears, horses, gorillas, peacock and deer. He said they hold no special significance, he just likes to paint them.

“The animals have always been somewhere around. I like the gesture they make. I’m surprised there aren’t more cats. I gotta get the cats out. Cats have a nice flow about them. I did bears one winter. All of a sudden it was time to do a show, and it was all bears.”

From the fountain series. — Courtesy Doug Kent

Over the years, Mr. Kent has shown his work extensively in Island galleries, and once sold his work out of his own studio in West Tisbury. He has also enjoyed shows in New York city, and sold much of his art privately. His work hangs in many private collections on Martha’s Vineyard, and some hangs half a world away in Australia and Japan.

He has always been able to make a living with his painting.

“It’s like being a gambler, though,” Mr. Kent said. “It’s like you’re in the money, you’re out. Here’s a check, here’s a check, here’s a check. You hope that happens all the time, but it doesn’t.”

Mr. Kent has been painting Vineyard magic now for parts of six decades. His health issues have slowed him, only a little, but he has not lost his passion.

“I don’t know how old I am,” he said, with a wry smile which tells you he knows exactly how old he is. “It doesn’t make any difference. I keep my mind in a good spot. Everything is a challenge, an exciting challenge. That’s what makes it go. You can come into this room and do whatever you want, but you’ve got to make it good and worthwhile. That’s what keeps you going.”

A reception for the benefit art show featuring Douglas Kent is planned from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 29, at the Chilmark Community Center, with live music, food and a benefit raffle. The exhibition and sale continues Saturday, Jan. 30, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Suggested donation is $20, with proceeds going to Mr. Kent’s medical expenses.