Berkshires Valley Morning - oil on canvas - 24"H X 36" W X 2.5" D
Never one to examine the world through windows, the outdoors has been an integral part of my life since I was a child. I preferred hiking, camping, gardening, riding horses, playing with dogs and generally getting dirty to playing indoors. Nothing has changed. As an adult, I hike with my dogs to remote places and parks throughout New England and New York, sketching and photographing images to bring back to my studio to develop into larger paintings. I am also starting to paint directly on canvas and wood panels outdoors.
When my kindergarten teacher had students draw a horse with white chalk on black paper, I remembered being flummoxed: How do I draw an animal, or anything, with white chalk? The teacher directed the students to draw just the shapes of highlights falling on the horses’s muscles and let the shadows take care of themselves. When I stood back at a distance from my drawing, it was like magic – a lifelike horse seemed to emerge from the paper. I fell in love with the visual arts that day and ever after, and I now have my own students practice drawing animals with white chalk on black paper.
The decorative arts and nature are integral to my paintings and ceramics. I view the language of decoration as a pathway to memories, cultural habits, family, friends, and community rituals. As a kid, animism has made sense to me - the belief that all earthy objects have an energy and soul - and this idea stays with me as an adult. I am inspired by 18th and 19th century illustrators and 20th century modernist painters who also found inspiration in animism and the patterns, colors and lines of nature. I employ bright bold colors and dynamic designs as I strive for a modern energy and edge.
In my Secret Landscape series, I paint the off-the-beaten-path landscapes of the Berkshires in Massachusetts, the Adirondack Mountains in New York State and the Green Mountains of Vermont. Having reactive dogs causes me to look for places to hike where I won't encounter people with other dogs. Annoying at first, I've found that I've found some beautiful places that have an accessible and everyday beauty not found in more popular parks and locations. I bring my camera and sketchbook to grab the images that intrigue and bring them back to the studio to paint on canvas and panels in oils. Always mindful of the gradual, destructive impact of climate change on the natural environment, I find myself documenting these changes in my paintings while my expressive style sometimes communicates the language of loss. In my whimsical Common Birds series, I use bird images to explore common themes of struggle, friends and enemies, binding relationships, leaving and returning home and forced flight.
After nearly 30 years of teaching art at the college level, I am slowly transitioning to a full-time art practice. I work mainly with acrylics, watercolor and gouache on canvas and watercolor panels and am always experimenting with new processes like collage, oil paint over acrylics and digital art.
I currently teach art at Bridgewater State University and have exhibited my work in many one-person and group shows in galleries, print publications and art centers nationally. I am honored this
year to have my painting of an egret eating in her favorite lunch spot included in show at the Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, WY with the Creature Conserve of Providence, RI in an
exhibit titled: Urban Wildlife Learning to Coexist.
"I've never understood the conflict between abstraction and naturalism. Since all paintings are inherently abstract to begin with there doesn't seem to be an argument there."
- Milton Glaser