The two New England states that I have NOT lived and taught in are Vermont and Maine. Yet the roots of my dad’s family were upstate in the former. And part of my heart lives on Monhegan, an island ten miles off the coast of the latter where artists have painted since the 1700’s. I’m a Yankee at heart. My parents lived through the Great Depression. A factory worker, dad was never too proud to do whatever job he could get in order to keep his little sweetie and his three girls fed and sheltered. We never had much money, but Mom stayed home, cooking, cleaning, gardening, canning, raising us girls, and managing the family finances. An incredible cook, she made homemade pies, bread, grape jelly, you name it; she could make dinner from just about anything. Nothing ever went to waste. Mom and dad liked to fish; whatever they caught, we ate. I remember also eating venison, bear, squirrel, raccoon, maybe even opossum; I don’t know where it all came from. They took no pleasure in killing. They had a reverence for all of life. Their spirits were most at peace in the woods, in the middle of a stream, or on a lake. My dad always said that his Dad’s grandmother had been a Native American, Abenaki, he believed. At the same time he treasured the thought of that heritage, he and mom instilled in me their deep Christian convictions and Congregational upbringing. Independent even in their religion; everyone has a vote in a Congregational church.
What has all of that to do with my art? My art represents my personal connection with the beauty of the world around me. My paintings are my attempts to celebrate that beauty. When I am painting outdoors, I become absorbed in my surroundings. My favorite book as a child was Gene Stratton-Porter’s Girl of the Limberlost; set at the turn of the last century, it is the story of a young woman who lived in the middle of a Midwest forest and swamp, collecting butterflies and moths. When I paint, I become that girl. I drink in the juicy green of mosses beneath my feet and revel in any flower that might be blooming nearby. I am in awe of the ocean when I’m painting on its shore and feel its pounding in my chest. Bluebird or hawk; spring or fall; mountain or valley; river or marsh; bluet or hydrangea; dandelion or rose; snow or rain, willow or maple; oak or pine; light and shadow: I see this magnificence around me and want to hold it up for the rest of the world to see. Always in my art I strive to share my reverence for nature.
When I’m not painting outdoors, you can find me in my studio or off taking a class to develop my skills. I am so indebted to all the teachers I’ve been fortunate enough to study with through the years. I never can learn “enough” to capture exactly what I see and feel, but that reaching is part of the joy of painting for me.
2 weeks ago