Rosemary G. Conroy Fine Art

Gratitude Series

May 5th, 2016

Original painting 32 x 20: acrylic on yupo paper

The Wild Within/ The Wild Without

Artist Statement for Rosemary G. Conroy’s current exhibit

Currently on view at the Gallery at Wren, Bethlehem NH through May 30, 2016

So I started working on this show with the idea that it would be about lions, tigers, and bears. That’s right: “Oh My!” It seemed like a fun angle and I’ve always been a big fan of The Wizard of Oz.

But as I began to research lions, tigers and bears, I was dismayed to find out how poorly many of these species are doing in the wild. I had no idea things had gotten so dire. There are more tigers in captivity now than in the wild, for one sad example. Lion numbers are plummeting – less than 20,000. It was closer to 400,000 just 50 years ago. And polar bears – well you’ve probably heard about what’s going on in the Arctic already.

 So the light-hearted “Oh My!” quickly turned into a much more dismayed “oh, my.”

A very wise woman then told me that some people believe that every species on this planet has a purpose. Once they have fulfilled that purpose, they will leave – as in go extinct. Wow. What a concept! And while I am still pondering the full implications of that radical idea, it got me thinking: if lions, and tigers and polar bears are completing their journeys on the planet, than we should find a way to thank them from the very bottom of our hearts for being here.

So, here is my small attempt to honor them through my art. For me, it’s now more “OH MY: Aren’t we so lucky to have had these amazing creatures bless our planet with their wildness?”

I’ve inscribed my words of gratitude for each species into many of the portraits I’ve painted for this show. My intent is about showing my reverence and awe and of course, love.

Because no matter what their fate may be, (and there are many, many people working to ensure these beautiful creatures do not disappear anytime soon) I want to express my sincere appreciation for all these wild creatures have done to make our outer world a much more interesting and beautiful place.

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.)

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.

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And the Dreams You Dare to Dream Really Do Come True…

January 13th, 2015

Birds have led me onto strange and wonderful new directions in my life...

Birds have led me onto strange and wonderful new directions in my life…

Twenty-five years ago, a bird cast a powerful spell upon me.

I grew up in Brooklyn, NY and until the day of my complete and utter enchantment, I didn’t think there was much in the world beyond house sparrows, pigeons, and sea gulls. Not a bad metaphor for my life at the time — which was also often drab, noisy and monotonous. But through some amazing serendipity, I stumbled upon a group of bird-watchers in Prospect Park. Before that fateful day, I had never been there before — and I’m still not sure why I went. But the trip leader saw me looking at their odd little group (I had never seen bird-watchers before either) and asked me if I wanted “to see something really special.”

Now, most New Yorkers (especially young female ones) quickly learn that when a stranger poses such a question, the results are rarely pleasant. But I took a chance. And this “really special thing” turned out to be a rose-breasted grosbeak — a magenta-splashed songbird that simply stunned me with its colorful, delicate presence in such a gritty place. It was like Dorothy arriving in Oz when everything turns from black and white to technicolor. A spell was cast. I would never see the world the same way again.

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Painting of the Week: The Sea Raven Rises (Cormorant)

January 6th, 2015

The Sea Raven Rises (Cormorant)

A yes — another resolution! I really really really want to post more often so I hit upon the idea of just telling the story of a painting and I’ll try to do it once a week! So here goes:

Every summer I try really hard to find a way to spend a week on the ocean — I grew up going to the beach almost every day and I just need that fix to feel sane and right. (A week isn’t really enough but so far no one has offered me free use of their beach home so that’s what we can swing.)

We almost always go to Maine which is one of the most beautiful places in the world as far as I can tell so far! And even though the landscapes are incredibly picturesque, I never paint while I’m there. I mostly veg out and drink gin and tonics and bird-watch. This is why I need a place with a deck over-looking the ocean of course!

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Happy New Year!

December 26th, 2014

Wishing you much warmth and light at this darkest time of year…

Wondrous Beings: Mourning Dove by Rosemary G. Conroy

Do you ne’er think what wondrous beings these? Do you ne’er think who made them, and who taught The dialect they speak, where melodies Alone are the interpreters of thought? Whose household words are songs in many keys, Sweeter than instrument of man e’er caught! HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW, Tales of a Wayside Inn

At this darkest time of the year, I want to thank you for all the light you’ve shone upon me

Thank you for all your enthusiasm for my work, your on-going interest and support,

and especially to everyone who purchased a painting — wow — you’ve made this my best year ever!

I hope the coming season brings you and your loved ones much lasting joy and tons of wild beauty.

Parliament of Owls Artist Statement

November 25th, 2014
thenightislikealovelytune

The Night is Like a Lovely Tune Acrylic on panel 32 x 20″ By Rosemary G. Conroy © 2014

Back in grad school, I took an internship solely because I would get to work with a great-horned owl every day. His name was Beckett, and he had been the star of the small nature center for many years. He was blind in one eye, and very imposing, but he captured my heart and mind. Beckett was the first wild animal I had ever locked eye(s) with, and it affected me profoundly. After the internship over, I decided environmental education wasn’t really my thing, but owls? Owls would always be my thing.

Since becoming an artist, I’ve painted many portraits of these nocturnal predators, most of them with Beckett and his successor, Powell the (Barred) Owl, in mind. There’s something so moving about knowing a wild creature — about being allowed to enter, even briefly, into their world. Anyone who has bonded with a cat or dog knows what I mean — animals just operate on a different, perhaps more authentic, plane than humans. And wild birds and mammals — well, that’s a further galaxy altogether. Yet I feel so comfortable and at home around these creatures in way that I don’t always with my own species.

Most of the owls I base my paintings on are from my local wildlife rehabilitation center. These barred, barn, snowy, screech, and great-horned owls end up in there because they have been injured — typically by encounters with cars and other human structures. And while some are rescued, rehabilitated, and released back into the wild, many are not. Their injuries mean they wouldn’t survive and so they become caged ambassadors for their kind. While its regrettable, they also get to educate hundreds, if not thousands, of visitors about the owls that live around them.

So this show is part of my on-going tribute to these owls. I set some of them in flight because they seem truer that way. And others are portraits so my viewers may get a tiny glimpse of what’s it’s like to lock eyes with these fierce, feathered, and fabulous beings.

As I was working on the show, I discovered that a gathering of owls is called a “parliament.” The titles for the smaller paintings come from my imagining what kind of governing body owls might set up for themselves!

Conversations with myself

May 30th, 2014

What was I thinking? Three back to back shows in 2014??? Am I crazy?

I know, right?! And you wanted to paint all new paintings on top of that! Plus for the biggest show, you decided to “challenge” yourself by painting all white animals… No wonder you’re starting to lose it!

You can do it! One show down, two to go. The first one was a big hit, the other two will be as well. Believe it can be done!

OK — nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Deadlines are motivating, right? No pain, no gain, right?!?!?!

 

Drawn to the Clouds

August 6th, 2012

(This is my artist statement for an exhibit I currently have up at Emporium Gallery in South Berwick Maine. It features portraits of hawks, eagles, falcons and owls like the one shown here.)

Copyright 2012 Rosemary G. Conroy

I can honestly say that birds have changed my life. If I hadn’t come upon a group of bird-watchers in Prospect Park back in the mid-1980s, I’d probably still be living in New York City, working for a large corporation, and wondering what could have been… Luckily, my initial fascination with those colorful creatures grew into an obsession with all wild creatures that led me down a long and winding path to my life now as an artist living very happily in rural New England. I often seek to express my amazement for and love of birds through my art.

This current series is based on the individual hawks and owls who live at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) in Quechee, VT. My nickname for the series has been “raptors in rehab,” since all of these birds ended up at this wildlife rehabilitation center due to some injury that makes them unable to survive in the wild. I wanted to honor their sacrifice and commemorate their new role as ambassadors for their species. Because they are on public exhibit, these individual birds have taught countless school children and other visitors to VINS about their species. I hope the biggest lesson drawn is one about their beauty and dignity in the face of their misfortune, and of course about the impacts — both bad and good — that humans have had on their lives.

I visit them a couple of times a year to sketch, photograph, and study them up-close. I’m always struck by how much they continually watch the sky which makes me a little sad. So I’ve tried to convey my gratitude through this series and also to portray their essential wildness which obviously can never be diminished. I hope you enjoy this show which I’ve entitled, “Drawn to the Clouds.”

Please note that I will donate a percentage of sales from this show to VINS.

Healthy Obsessions

March 26th, 2012

Creativity coach Eric Maisel has recently assured me that there are healthy obsessions and unhealthy obsessions.

I think my on-going love of painting owls falls into the former category!

I’m calling this series, “Further Insight,” because owls have symbolized wisdom and mystery for many cultures and I like the punnish quality since these paintings are all centered around a single eye.

Hope you enjoy them!