Rosemary G. Conroy Fine Art

The Story Behind the Painting

December 30th, 2015

So my New Year’s resolution is to tell the story behind my paintings more often — since almost every one has one! The Winter Solstice seemed like an auspicious day to start, so here goes…

Embracing the Strange(r) by Rosemary G. Conroy, Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 36"

Embracing the Strange(r) by Rosemary G. Conroy Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 36″ © 2016

This painting is inspired by a real live polar bear I met way up north in Manitoba in 2013. On a windswept tundra, I spent an afternoon observing this majestic, awe-inspiring wild animal.

I still can’t believe I was lucky enough to see him and be able to drink in his beauty, power, and mystery. I’m not ashamed to tell you I cried. It was that awesome.

AND the next day I got up early and there he was again — just on the other side of the fence that protected our lodge. I sat alone with him for almost twenty minutes — it was such a moving, powerful episode in my life. Eye to eye, face to face, heart to heart with an 800-lb wild creature — holy moley. He could have left at any moment, but he stayed. For whatever reason, he stayed. I felt blessed.
I’ve always longed to be able to communicate with animals in a meaningful way. But until that happens, I paint them over and over, trying to immortalize them in my art as one way of knowing them better.

I’ve come to realize that my paintings are like prayers: sincere offerings of thanks for the inspiration and joy these wild creatures give me; my humble invocation of their beauty and power; and perhaps, most of all, an ardent plea that they continue to exist in this world.

(If you look closely, you can see my prayers for the polar bear literally inscribed on the painting.)

Spirit Animals

July 7th, 2015

spiritanimalspromo-smSo I have been working feverishly on my latest show which is now hanging in the Kimball Jenkins Estate in Concord for the summer. The opening is Thursday, July 16th from 5 to 7 pm — if you are nearby, please come. I think this show has some of the best work I have ever done in it! Here’s my artist statement for the show.

Rosemary G. Conroy / Artist Statement for “Spirit Animals” Exhibit

The title of this show, “Spirit Animals” is a play on the concept of inspiration and dedication. It dawned on me recently that my artwork is a form of a prayer for the creatures that I paint: a sincere offering of thanks for the inspiration and joy they give me; a humble invocation of their beauty and wildness; and perhaps, most of all, an ardent plea that they continue to exist in this world.

This sounds vaguely religious, yet I don’t really adhere to any particular faith. This probably disappointed my parents, especially after they sent me to twelve years of Catholic school! But I am a deeply spiritual person. It’s just that my most sacred moments happen in the fields and forests and the birds, insects and mammals I find there are the most divine thing in my life.

Coincidentally (or is it?), I also spent twelve years working in the environmental field before becoming a full-time artist. It was another kind of religious upbringing: There was a strong community — I loved being part of a group of devoted people. We had dogma: ours was dedicated to making the world a better place. It felt righteous — how could it not — we were working to save the planet! And it required a kind of faith to believe that we could. But there were also dark nights of the soul. Often it seemed we were losing more ground than we were gaining (still does, I must admit.) These realizations lead to despair. The antidote? To go out and be in the natural world and get lost in it’s beauty and immersed in its wonder. (Of course.)

Now I am a monk it seems, having retreated to my studio where I devote myself to nature — but in a new way. I’m twelve years into being a professional artist and this is what my work is: A fervent prayer to anyone who might listen to consider, in every sense of the word, the wild ones.

Many of the pieces in this show are literally embedded with my incantations, my prayers, my wishes (which may sometimes look like scrawls but really are words), for these blessed creatures to survive — and thrive — alongside us.

A good reminder at this time of year…

January 27th, 2015
10x10screechowlofjoy

The Kingdom of Joy sounds like the place for me…

 

If you are seeking, seek us with joy

For we live in the kingdom of joy.

Do not give your heart to anything else

But to the love of those who are clear joy,

Do not stray into the neighborhood of despair.

For there are hopes: they are real, they exist -

Do not go in the direction of darkness -

I tell you: suns exist.

— Rumi

How I Paint A Polar Bear (sometimes)

January 20th, 2015

 STEP ONE: UNDERPAINTING

I was really into yellow last year and so decided to start with a lovely yellow background and took some basic payne’s grey to get my basic sketch painted. Before this stage, I do a lot of computer manipulation of my images, playing with cropping, lighting, color, etc.

Work in progress - step one

And so a polar bear painting begins…

 STEP TWO: COMPLEMENTARY UNDER-PAINTING

Step two -- work in progress by Rosemary Conroy

First decision is what will the outcome be? Ha ha — I never stay with this idea ever… but it must be part of the process.

So I originally thought I would make the polar bear a warm yellow which explains the purple tones. (Purple is the opposite of yellow on the color wheel and by using complementary colors this way, you get a nice vibration going if you let a little of the purple under-painting show through the yellow to come.) I may have been thinking orange for the background? Not sure why I picked green other than I like they way it goes with purple. The bear looks a little surprised by this choice too.

Read the rest of this entry »

I Hope You Love Birds Too

March 21st, 2014

A recent painting by Rosemary G. Conroy

“I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven.” — Emily Dickinson

I found the above quote while I was looking for inspiration for titles for a set of new paintings I had just completed. It was perfect! Thank you, Emily Dickinson, because I do love birds too.

I started this new painting series with the idea of birds as my local deities, as my personal heroes — because, well, they are. These fragile little beings find their way, live their lives against the backdrop of this complicated world we humans have created — and it blows my mind. How come they are never discouraged by the destruction of habitat, by the endless pollution, by the crazy ways the global climate is changing? Yes, they don’t have the same brains or perceptions that we do perhaps — but still. They must notice, they must feel, and yet they persist. They sing anyway and make nests out of trash and keep trying to live their lives no matter what obstacles are placed in their path.

Yep. Birds give me hope. They give me joy with their songs and their beauty and just their being. I try to give back a little by painting their portraits. By honoring them with my artwork and exhibiting it in the world so others might understand how so very precious these creatures (all creatures really) are. I keep thinking of moving onto other subjects but I can’t. My work is not done yet apparently.

Birds have become like a religion for me. In fact, I don’t think I could live in a world without birds anymore. Anytime I go someplace new or strange, I scan for birds — even just a gull or a pigeon. If they can make it here, then I know I’ll be OK too. When I am someplace with lots of birds, I feel completely relaxed and comfortable. When my mother died, I asked her — in that time when a loved one’s energy is still close by even though they are physically gone — to send me red-tailed hawks so I know she is still with me somehow. I feel great comfort when I spy one as I’m traveling or one shows up unexpectedly in my backyard.

So you’re right Emily, it does save going to heaven. In so many ways…

 

A new word for a new year

December 14th, 2009

For the past few years, instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I simply pick one word.

I got this idea from Christine Kane, one of my favorite musicians and blogger extraordinaire. For 2009, I picked the word “ACCEPTANCE” because I wanted to work on accepting people as they are, instead of how I wish they could be. A lovely thought, right? But boy, did this year turn out different than I thought – I had to do a LOT of accepting: Of my mother dying suddenly; of having to clean out her house; and then subsequently selling it (50+ years in the family); of having that, my last connection to my hometown of Brooklyn, NY severed forever; and, last but not surprisingly,  of not being able to work on my 350 project. Oh yeah, and I got laid off from my Something Wild gig.

I did not accept any of this very well. In fact, I raged against it all. I let the grief swallow me up. I barely painted. It was all very natural but much of it was not welcome, not wanted, and definitely NOT what I was planning on happening for this year!

But eventually, with the help of my darling husband, my family, the support of many wonderful friends, the wild bears I met in MN, and an absolutely amazing weekend workshop at Kripalu; I am finally coming to terms with it all. Yes, acceptance was the perfect word for this year.

So what will be the word for 2010? I want it to be a word that is not as heavy, not as self-improvement-y, not as serious. Because I really really hope that 2010 won’t be any of those things. I plan to get back on track with my 350 project and I have all these cool ideas swirling around in my head for a new body of work too. I want to paint paint paint! I want to dance more and laugh a whole lot more than I did in 2009.

So it’s official: my word for 2010 will be CELEBRATE. Because despite all the sorrow and losses, I still have so much to be joyful about. And above all, I want my art to celebrate the things I love about this world. And I have great friends who are really great to have at parties. It’s a darn good word. And even if 2010 isn’t perfect, this word will remind to focus on what is beautiful and magical about my life.

My next post will probably be in January! So Happy New Year, Happy Solstice, and don’t forget to CELEBRATE all the good things in your life — past, present, and future…

Sneak Preview on Track

October 14th, 2009
This is the cover of the postcard promoting my open studio

This is the cover of the postcard promoting my open studio

So I have been working non-stop getting ready for my open studio. Got the postcards done (see above) and in the mail, got some reproduction prints and yeah I even got the t-shirts all ready! And oh yeah, the original art is coming along, slowly but surely.

I think it should be a fun weekend and I put my order in for some lovely weather. Now if I could just get some sleep — I get wicked bad insomnia when I have a big event coming up. And this one, at this moment, feels kind of big. Not earth-shattering big, but probably the biggest thing I’ve done this year.

If you’re around New Hampshire on October 24 & 25, come on by and see it for yourself. I’ll be open from noon to 4 pm each day. Visit my website for more information and directions. Hope to see you there!

A Bump in the Road…

April 24th, 2009
350 -- Flying Squirrel

350 -- Flying Squirrel

Life has thrown me a rather strong curve-ball recently and so this project will have to take a backseat for a while. I’m still determined to get it done, but it won’t be getting much attention for a while.

So here’s a creature that manages to sail through darkness with grace and apparent ease. Seems like a good metaphorical note to pause on.

350 Begins!

March 2nd, 2009

Whew — this makes it all real, I guess — in a virtual sort of way. Today I start painting the first of what will eventually become 350 portraits of North American wildlife.

The idea is to show how much is at stake in our efforts to combat global climate change. I figure a wall of 350 wild animals staring back at us, the humans in charge, has a chance to make a dent. I chose to focus on North American animals because (a) that’s where I live and (b) we are using the most stuff on this planet and having the biggest impact.

So what gave me this crazy idea? Well, I was inspired by Bill McKibben and his organization 350.org to do something symbolic but meaningful to raise awareness about this important effort. We need to get our CO2 emmissions back down to 350, from where we are at aroun 387 or so. Being a wildlife painter, it wasn’t a huge leap to think 350 paintings. Of wildlife. Of course!

(It did occur to me, at first, to get 350 artists to each do one painting, but the coordination that would have required would have taken me away from my own painting. And being selfish and maybe a tiny bit of a control freak, I decided it will be easier to do myself. We’ll see!)

So I plan to post my images as they come along, so please check back often. I have lots of ideas on how this is all going to roll out, but first I have to get some paint down on some canvases.

Thanks for your interest and support!