Nelson-Sayer Atelier Debuts on Gallery Walk
Shortly after meeting at a Life Drawing Class at the River Gallery School, Carolyn Nelson and Marjorie Sayer decided to share a studio space at 139 Main Street in Brattleboro. It worked well for about a year, until the number of canvases and works of art hardly left room for the two artists . . . and now they've moved into double the space at 4 Elliot Street. While their art styles are completely opposite (spare use of paint vs. impasto), "It is really important to have someone nearby to both motivate you to paint and to help out in a crisis," Sayer says. "We rely upon each other to give a true assessment of what is going on in a painting, and a few suggestions to help solve the problem."
l of Fine Art and the Art Institute in Boston. Since moving north five years ago, she reconnected with her passion for making art, eventually leaving her practice as a therapist in Keene to paint in a more committed way. She began taking studio classes at the River Gallery School of Art with Ric Campman and later joined the Windham Art Gallery cooperative, where she shows frequently and enjoys the community of other talented artists.
Although Carolyn has painted figuratively, she now most often chooses abstraction, moving fields of color and form to accommodate her quest for that mysterious "sweet spot," something that satisfies spiritually and visually. "I am exploring collage by moving shape, color, and materials, often constructing very personal vignettes and at the same time I am painting abstractly, fascinated by the interrelationships of form and color."
Inspired by the work of Richard Diebenkorn's Ocean Park series, she began using geometric shape and color with line as a chosen form of expression. "I live at Spofford Lake and I found his wonderful palette was a reflection of the colors I saw daily looking at the lake and surrounding landscape."
Sean Scully's work inspired her in the use of the grid, injecting a stated or unstated narrative. She found that looking back over her work, the grid had been a common theme. "When these things come together, that is the journey and, as in life, not just a destination," says Nelson. "It is the spiritual quality of this quest which is so satisfying."
She adds tantalizingly, "Painting is a kind of sexy thing -- one wants to satisfy the visual need and then there is the smell of the paint and that tactile/texture thing."
Since moving to Vermont in 2006, Guilford painter Marjorie Sayer hasned to painting after an absence of 35 years. Her goal is to explore ways to experiment with the figure and landscape in different spatial relationships. Her paintings negotiate the complicated intersections between abstract and the figure.
"I want the figure to exist and be recognizable but gradually become more abstract by bold strokes of color and gesture," Sayer says. "The finished paintings are a result of numerous layers creating a sense of tension between areas of lightness and heaviness, and between barely visible outlines of body parts and planes of color." Landscapes are another matter: they embrace the ground, sky, and barns, and are joyful and rich with color.
Sayer combines an analytic and intellectual investigation into the forms of the body which can either be in repose or in motion. "I love the expressive, tactile quality that I arrive at by using Impasto oil paint applied with a palette knife. The creation of the painting is rapid, and the result is texture and exhilaration," she says. Her response to both the figure and to landscape is immediate. It is visceral. Charcoal highlights the gesture in mark making.
Marjorie Sayer received her BFA from Cornell University, with a semester abroad at the University of Florence in Italy. She studied for her Masters in History of Art at NYU and the University of Munich in Germany. As a young student at the Art Student League in New York, she was introduced to the complex forms of the body; after college, with all the knowledge that a curriculum could define, the figure began to evolve with independence.
At the DeCordova Museum School in Lincoln, Massachusetts, after many years away from painting, she picked up that thread again when studying with Tim Harney, a task master of organization, clear color, and form. While Cornell helped her experiment with the figure thru woodcuts, monotints, and pastel as well as oil, she now has reached a broader insight into form and composition.
Marjorie is also an artist-member of Windham Art Gallery, just a few steps around the corner from the studio she shares with Carolyn Nelson.
Copyright 2008, Gallery Walk, Brattleboro, Vermont