I grew up in Easthampton, Massachusetts, a small town in the western part of the state. Obsessed with drawing at an early age, I redrew my coloring books using #2 pencils and yellow-lined paper (crayons were for losers). I nagged my parents regularly (“What should I draw today?”) and was disappointed if they ran out of ideas. Art wasn’t their thing but it kept me out of their hair so they made sure I had supplies. I’d usually come up with something to draw — a lamp, a vase, Ginger the family dog or my goldfish Fluffy. I started painting eventually, acrylics and watercolor. A total introvert, I avoided the world by immersing myself in art. Lessons weren’t necessary. I knew how to entertain myself and was happy.
In school I was interested in art and sports but generally did well in all of my classes. I worked extremely hard, achieved good grades and eventually earned merit and financial aid scholarships for college.
My parents were busy, hardworking people. Both originally from Easthampton, they met while employed in a factory. My father worked most of his adult life in that factory; my mother in a local clothing store. They didn’t go to fancy colleges but managed to send me to one. They chose Smith College for me (in nearby Northampton) due to its stellar reputation and to keep an eye on me. Back then Smith was able to make a 4-year degree affordable even for families like mine. I helped pay my Smith tuition by working summers in factories, a typical situation for local kids. We had tuitions to pay, were happy to get full-time employment, worked alongside very nice people who didn’t get to go to college, and we didn’t dare complain.
While at Smith I majored in studio art and fell in love with oil painting. I also played sports but mostly hurt myself. (On the plus side I was able to keep up with my reading classes since I was rarely out on the field.)
I did well academically at Smith and looked forward to graduation and earning a living. With my liberal arts bachelor’s degree in hand, I began a career as a graphic designer. During the following decades as a publications designer for educational institutions (including many years as an in-house designer at Smith), I painted part time. Although immersed in full-time commercial work for decades, I never let go of fine art.
These days I paint full time in oils, focusing on semi-abstract landscapes, seascapes and birds. My compositions are inspired by the natural world and the general sense of hope that lives in my imagination.
I’m inspired by the land around me in western Mass., as well as Cape Cod and by a visit years ago to New Mexico. I haven’t traveled lately, but no matter where I am, I see color and composition with every turn of my head.
I use professional-grade oil paints bound in linseed oil. Without adding solvents, I paint in layers, working on three or four paintings at a time. Layering requires me to consider “fat over lean” which basically means later layers contain more oil, are slower drying, and more flexible. The oil (in my case linseed or walnut) is added either separately by me, or by my choice to use colors that inherently have more or less oil in them. I also clean brushes without solvents by using first linseed oil and then plain Ivory soap.
I’ve had solo and group shows over the years in Western Massachusetts, as well as a few in Connecticut and New York City. More recently my work is available through Cottage Street Studios in Easthampton, MA and Paradise City Arts Festival in nearby Northampton. My work can also be seen by appointment in my studio (#508) at 1 Cottage Street in Easthampton. (During the pandemic, individual studio visits can be scheduled by contacting me. Double masks and social distancing required.)
My primary painting studio is in Easthampton, Massachusetts, ironically in one of the factory buildings that I worked in so long ago. The building has been renovated and is full of artists these days. To get there (from my home 20 minutes away) I drive past my parents’ old neighborhood, their first apartment, the factories they worked in and their cemetery. I wonder what they’d think of my life now. From inside my building I can still see my old factory entrance, that old summer job when I was still a student. One hundred yards away. A lifetime ago.