|About the Work:|
For me, painting is about capturing the energy of living things, whether it’s a flower opening as it arches towards the light, the movement in afternoon clouds rising up over the mountains, or the way a bird tips its wings to balance on a current of air. It is that underlying flow that I feel compelled to explore when I lay out a composition.
Over the past ten years I have assembled different sized canvases into single compositions. All of them have sold. The added challenge of designing the irregularly shaped images has pushed me to continue in this exploration. Our lives are fragmented, and I believe we see and take in information in disparate chunks. When we look at a painting where pieces are missing, bridging the gaps requires an act of imagination that involves us with the image. The different shapes seem to force the eye to travel around the canvasses, bringing a feeling of movement or travel over time.
"Five cents for anyone who can tell me what that bird is,” my grandfather often said when he took us into the woods when we were small. Needless to say, birds loomed large in my young life. I see and hear fewer songbirds now, and I worry about disappearing habitats and toxic pesticides. Birds are small, and I somehow feel the need to paint them larger so people notice how beautiful they are and appreciate their important roles in our ecosystems before it is too late.
Working on site is always a challenge. Winds come up out of nowhere, ants appear to explore my palette, clouds shift, weather and light change constantly, and the sun can be relentless. But painting on site, in the landscape, makes me part of the flow that is all around me. I have given up taking photographs, because they never record what I “see” with my eyes. I have painted in Maine and Massachusetts, and the New Mexican landscape paintings are the result of many years of residencies in the Taos area with Lois Tarlow, a well known Boston area artist and critic for Art New England. I continue to be fascinated by forms and colors in the landscape, by the energy and movement in trees and in the sky. Outdoor spaces can be truly overwhelming, and it is such a challenge to capture a small piece of it in only a few hours.
A few years ago I was working on a series of paintings with themes from the Renaissance, including some “Annunciations,” when I realized that the subjects I enjoyed painting the most were the lilies. I was captivated by the expressive forms of these traditional symbols for purity that always accompany the Virgin. It was a hot July day; I went outside and saw daylilies blooming. I started painting flowers and haven’t looked back.
As it happens, I am descended from a long line of gardeners, gardeners who also painted flowers. My grandmother trained my tiny hands to knock Japanese beetles off her roses into a can of kerosene. All my best lilies and irises come from my Mother’s garden. Flowers, for me, are metaphors for life in all its miraculous, fleeting and transient permutations. Buds seem pregnant with possibility. As flowers open, they are like windows into another world.
And yes, flowers are seductive. They are, after all, about procreation. I am particularly drawn to the radiant forms of lilies and irises. Peonies, orchids and roses have all sorts of interesting edges, rich colors, deep shadows and dramatic highlights. Watching an amaryllis open in the middle of winter is a recipe for hope that spring will show up at some point. For me, flowers offer a journey into a place of careful observation. They demand that I really pay attention to their intricate shapes and subtle color variations. The smell alone is enough to whisk me back to all the precious, fragile moments that make up a life.