Laurel Wilson has been a fulltime professional artist, painting in watercolor, for more than thirty-five years. She lives in Yarmouth Port on Cape Cod with her husband. “I love where I live. All around me are wonderful, quiet spaces filled with light reflected by the sea and sand, wonderful patterns, and interesting shapes and colors that constantly change with the season and the weather. I am surrounded by a vibrant art community and interested public. My total environment is an ever present source of inspiration.”
The subjects of her landscapes, seascapes, and nature close-ups come from images imprinted in her mind as she explores the area around her. For three decades she has hiked the beaches and woods or kayaked the water to record places in both panoramic and intimate up-close view to fully understand the details that comprise each setting. Photos and sketches are used to sharpen her memories, allowing her to achieve a high degree of realism in the paintings she later creates in the studio. There she takes her time to edit, refine, and develop the content of her paintings. She strengthens color, composition, value contrast, or focus to make the painting more meaningful and balanced than a snapshot or on-site rendition of a specific scene. While the locations are the literal subjects, the real subjects are the peace, solitude and serenity Laurel finds in the natural world she experiences.
Laurel can never remember a time when she did not create art. Raised in Hingham by a family that valued art, curiosity, education and self-discipline, her artistic endeavors were encouraged. She saw art being created or collected and was taken to museums to see great art. She took community art lessons starting in the fourth grade and art classes at the local high school. Her formal art training took place at Mount Holyoke College where she received her BA cum laude in art history backed by studio art classes in design, painting (oil, acrylic, egg tempera, watercolor), and printmaking. Believing it too hard to make a living as an artist, she continued her art history studies in a two-year MA graduate program at Oberlin College. To support herself at Oberlin, she had an assistantship as a curator at the Allen Memorial Art Museum where she had the opportunity to meet several contemporary American artists. She was drawn to landscape paintings and conducted thesis research on American landscapist, George Inness.
Her work experiences included internships at the Smithsonian’s National Collection and National Portrait Gallery (now the American Museum of Art) as a docent/curator and an assistant art conservator. She also worked in the art conservation lab of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. She studied the art of the masters (she calls them her “first teachers”) and learned about the materials and processes integral to the preservation of art. While her husband was in graduate school, she worked in social services and occupational therapy with psychiatric patients at St. James Mercy Hospital in Hornell, New York, a job that allowed her to do art therapy and to learn how to communicate effectively with people. It was an experience that has helped her connect to people who look at her art and helped her to see how she could use her talent to contribute to others. She also enjoyed teaching art history to students at Alfred University. When she moved to Cape Cod in 1974, she was involved in teaching environmental education classes at an outdoor center that catered to school children. She taught about the diverse environments encountered all over Cape Cod. She volunteers at the Cape Cod Natural History Museum as a field guide. The understanding of the Cape’s natural surroundings is brought to her painting and reflected in her realistic style. She cares about saving her surroundings in paint and in fact.
A few years later she shifted her focus from looking at art to creating it because she could stay home with her children. She credits her love of watercolor to lessons she took with Claude Croney (AWS) at the Falmouth Art Guild. When time allowed she has taken an occasional workshop or class to expand her skills, enjoying Everett Sahrbeck, Kely Knowles, Sandra O'Connor and Christie Velesig as teachers. Laurel continues to learn by reading art books, looking at other art and being part of the Cape’s artist community. She prefers self-teaching as a way of retaining her own voice and finding her own style. Her goal is to learn a few new things about watercolor or painting every day and finds no end to things she can experiment with or investigate.
She has shown at galleries, exhibitions and outdoor shows both on and off Cape. She has shown at the Hingham Gallery in Hingham and for nine years was a partner/owner of Gallery 31 Fine Art in Orleans and a partner at Eastwind Gallery for one. For over thirty years she has shown at the national juried Festival of the Arts of the Creative Arts Center in Chatham each August. Her work has been included in group shows at the Cape Cod Art Association, at the First Parish Church Annual art shows in Hingham, with the Village Artists as a founding member, at the Creative Arts Center, the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, and Plymouth Art Guild shows. She has had one person shows at the Cape Cod Natural History Museum, the Seamen’s Bank in Wellfleet, Cape Cod 5 in Orleans, at Gallery 31 Fine Art, and as a featured artist while a partner at Eastwind Gallery and Saltworks Fine Art. She currently shows at Saltworks Fine Art and Argonauta in Orleans, Massachusetts and enters shows at the Cape Cod Art Association, the Chatham Creative Arts Center and the Cape Cod Cultural Center.
Laurel’s work is found in corporate and private collections world-wide. Her art can be found all across the United States, in Canada, and many other countries including Great Britain, France, Germany, Romania, the Phillipines, Thailand and South Africa. She has won several awards at both local and national exhibitions. While art ajudication is important, she appreciates more the reward of a steady and growing following. Many of her clients have become good friends. Important to her is connecting with her surroundings and to the "kindred spirits" who also appreciate her work and the special beauty of New England. She likes to know that her artwork may inspire others to preserve the unique Cape Cod environment. She was the subject of an article in the nationally-distributed 2010 Annual Arts Edition of Cape Cod Life and has had work published in several art magazines and newspapers.
Click on secondary link "Affiliations" to see the art groups Laurel enjoys. The secondary links "Galleries" and "Outdoor Shows" will tell you where you can see her work displayed.