I wasn’t always painting or taking nature photographs. I first enjoyed a long & successful 36 year career as an architect in Chicago and there was no time for “other outside pursuits”.
Freedom from my very intense and hectic working life was finally realized with retirement to Washington Island in 2002. My husband Jim & I had found W.I. in 1966 and had long viewed it as a magical retreat.
“My new career” started with a postcard from Lorna Cornell in the Spring of 2005. It announced & gave the details of her next NWTC painting class, an 8 week session with a fee of $4 for seniors and she added a handwritten note saying……”I signed you up. I have all the supplies you need.”
From then on it was learning to purchase appropriate and reasonably priced supplies and to learn to paint in acrylic and then watercolor (8 months later). The group of 6-8 people met at the Rec Center one morning each week, and we painted, absorbed new skills and laughed a lot. Lorna had a steady supply of video’s, art books, colorful cloths and fake vegetables and flowers for still life settings. And when the weather allowed, we painted the flowers outdoors or the far away fields with hay bales.
Lorna often gave us homework and encouraged us to paint at home. Also to join workshops with other professional artists. I signed up with Win Jones and Ed Fenendael, both exceptional watercolor artist and then Roger Bechtold, opened my eyes to painting in oil. Eric Brodersen has been another great source of information and encouragement to me for many years. And no, I had no previous formal training in painting, other than some pencil & charcoal sketching during my college studies.
I particularly enjoyed painting with heavily applied watercolor in an opaque manner and pursued painting on canvases that were especially made for watercolor application. I also began to experiment with different framing methods. Then I started oil painting on paper and stretched canvases. I continued to read every painting magazine at the library, numerous art books and info on the Internet.
I am not in the art business and I don’t paint to sell. I paint because I enjoy doing it and challenging myself to take it to the next level. And yes, my art sells; what an energizing and validating experience. My paintings are as far away as Germany, California, Virginia, Florida, the Carolinas, Minnesota, Illinois and of course Wisconsin. Many are in Washington Island homes and businesses; at least 2 are on loan currently, a handful were gifted and a few are hanging in our own home.
I will never forget the very first painting that I sold in Dec. 2005 and the joy I had with the entire experience. It was a small acrylic painting and I had named it “East Side Dune”. After a VERY short painting career of only 6 months, I was one of only 37 lucky artists whose work was accepted and hung that year in the 30th Juried Annual Competitive Exhibition of the Miller Gallery in Sturgeon Bay. A total of 86 artists had submitted 160 works.
Lorna had been the catalyst, encouraging her class to go through the experience of submitting 1 or 2 of what we thought were our best recent paintings along with a $15 entry fee. Back then, the submission process of photographing & getting slides made, along with paperwork and then requiring hand delivery to Sturgeon Bay was rather difficult and inconvenient for someone living up here. I was the only one in the group to give it a try. What a gratifying experience and such an eye opener to the very competitive world of art.
I paint mostly Island subjects and visual experiences and occasionally birds. I am a realist and seldom stray far away from reality in my paintings except in color. The colors I prefer are typically bright and happy,
I was hooked from my first day with Lorna. And voila, 15 years later I still love to challenge myself. I definitely strive for my art to be bold and powerful, in color and in image, and especially at 20, 30 or more feet away; perhaps an influence by the art of Nicola Simbari. I don’t want my art to be a quiet, timid piece. Today I strive to paint with even less detail, wishing all to be more abstract.
So why do I keep on painting and striving for new ways to do it? I enjoy it and it makes me feel good to know I can still learn to do new things. I can still contribute and make people smile, laugh and appreciate what I create. The experience of painting allows me to discover talents and much more, which I didn’t know about myself. And the people I meet in the process and the friendships I make along the way are all plenty of reasons to continue.