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!


Taking the Lead vs. Being Led

January 26th, 2012

So, I seem to have two painting styles going at the same time.

It used to bug me, but I’ve decided to let them be for now. I realized while talking to a client recently where each style originates and it was kind of interesting.

I heard myself say, “These kinds of paintings happen when I take the lead (pointing to my more realistic paintings) and these kinds of paintings (pointing to my flatter, more abstracter style) emerge when I let the paintings take the lead.”

It’s true. And funny and weird. But really cool once I figured it out.

You see, most of the time I start painting with a clear idea in my head of what I want to achieve.

On a really, really good day, they come out looking something like this:

Which is great and I LOVE when that happens. Those kind of painting days makes being an artist feel really magical!

But on other days, usually when I have no idea of what to do, or I am really tired or uninspired, I’ll set up a canvas and say,”OK painting: what do you want me to do?” And I won’t make a move until an idea pops into my head.

And then I’ll do just that — put on a particular color, or shape, or what have you, and then I’ll stop and wait for the next suggestion. It can take a while but something always pops into my head. It’s important not to analyze or think about it too much.

I’ve done several paintings this way in the last couple of months, and I have to admit, at first they kind of scared me.

Because they were kind of, well, whimsical. Here I was trying to be a serious artist, digging down deep into my psyche and what comes out is — this? (see below)

To be honest, I was actually a little freaked out by them. In fact, I didn’t show these paintings to anyone for a while but when I did — people LOVED them.

More astonishingly, I’ve sold most of them.

And it occurred to me, later on, that it’s OK. After all, it’s not a bad thing to tap into my inner self and come up with playfulness, joyfulness, and innocence and yes, whimsy.

What was I expecting anyway!?!?

Does “deep” art have to be dark and full of angst? Why? Why did I think that? Who makes up these rules anyway???







Capturer of Souls, Acrylic on panel, 18 x 18″

What’s Inspiring…

October 13th, 2011
Thank you to all the inspiring birds who have graced my life.

Birds inspire me over and over again

Inspiration starts at home: Last weekend I had a chance to go kayaking in a local marsh which drains into a big lake near my home. The lake is pretty but lined with houses and often filled with loud speedboats. Since we thrive on peace and quiet more than speed and noise, my husband and I chose the marsh. It was meandering, empty of people, and surrounded by forests of trees in just-about-peak foliage. In other words, deeply soul-soothing.

This place where I live is inspiring. Most of my work, in one way or another, is an effort to celebrate it and preserve it. Nature feeds my spirit.

People inspire me too. I also spent part of last weekend visiting other artists who were part of the Monadnock Artists Open House Tour. I love seeing what other artists are doing and their unique spaces. I made a point of visiting Luann Udell — a very talented woman who lives in Keene, NH. Luann not only makes amazingly beautiful, animal-inspired jewelry and wall-hangings, she writes a great blog too. I have learned so much from her and am so appreciative of her sunny nature and positive outlook. AND she gave me one of the best hugs I have had in a while — so thank you Luann! You rock.

And of course wildlife. Obsessions can be unhealthy but I think it can also be the fuel that keeps your engines firing too. I find animals — both the wild and the mild ones — so incredibly fascinating. I can’t imagine living on this planet without them. This year I have been painting birds and wow — the shapes, the colors, the variety! Simply mesmerizing. Thank you great creator for birds and the many ways they have blessed my life.


A Love Letter to My Life

February 14th, 2011

This is from a new series I am working on. It's ultimately about love, but then again, all of my work is!

Today is Valentine’s Day. I’ve been thinking about all the kinds of love I have in my life — and its quite humbling. I am incredibly blessed.

And I am so in love with being an artist. It feels like I won the lottery every day.

So here’s a poem that I often read before I start painting. It’s by an artist named Alex Grey whose work amazes me and kind of overwhelms me at the same time. But he has very inspiring thoughts, including these:

Artist’s Prayer

Creator of the Universe,
How infinite and astonishing
Are your worlds.
Thank you,
For your Sacred Art
And sustaining Presence.

Divine Imagination,
Forgive my blindness,
Open all my Eyes.
Reveal the Light of Truth.
Let original Beauty
Guide my every stroke.

Universal Creativity,
Flow through me,
From my heart
Through my mind to my hand,
Infuse my work with spirit
To feed hungry souls.

I hope you get to enjoy all the things you love today too!

And So It Begins…

September 9th, 2010

"Nothing But Blue Skies III" acrylic on canvas 24 x 24." A recent painting experiment somewhat influenced by John Nieto and a previous painting I did a few years back.

So, I’ve always liked fall. Even though it’s been a long time since I was a student, I still fall into that “back-to-school” mentality. And fall is often my busiest time, so it fits well with the mindset.

This year, in addition to my open studio (October 16 & 17th), I have two other exhibits, two writing deadlines, a commission to complete, an art group retreat, and I start teaching an 8-week painting class. At times it makes me hyper-ventilate a bit, but it’s all good. It feeds my obsession for making lists and poring over my calendar.

AND: Almost everything will be done by November 1 (except the class) and then I plan to tackle a MAJOR clean out of my studio in preparation for some remodeling work I’m having done to make it more useable this winter. Which all leads up to my next favorite time of year — New Year! By then I will have carved out a huge amount of space and time to really really paint paint paint. It tends to be my most productive time (January — May) for getting work done, and I am trying hard to honor my natural cycles. It is also a slow season for sales for me so it works out pretty well.

Now what did I do with that paper bag?

Getting All Experimental-ly Like

June 30th, 2010
It's been that kind of year...

Trying out some new ideas is always fun...

I suppose it’s understandable that after a year like this one, my art would see some changes. I have been doing a lot of experimentation and have been a bit shy of showing it to anyone. But what’s the worst that could happen? You hate it? Oh well. I like them all so the heck with you! (Only joking.) But I feel brave enough to put some of them out there.

But I am working on a new series that is really really different and very personal. Not sure when I will share that one.

But please visit my site and click on the experimental section to see what’s new and available…

And let me know what you think!

Branching out into Western animals

March 4th, 2010

I love being an east coast girl except I wish we had more charismatic mega-fauna like this...

Thanks to the fabulous photographer (and my former neighbor) Brent Doscher, I have finally got more of my latest painting shot and uploaded on my website. And did I mention that my website is all new and improved too? Check it out folks — I’d love to get your feedback.

So I’m pretty happy with the latest 350 paintings — and I’ve even pulled out a few that I am really, really happy with.But I’m not going to show them all at once — what fun would that be?

So it’s been a busy and productive few weeks — yay! And New Hampshire Magazine assigned me to write an article about grass-fed beef and I even did a painting to go along with it! Despite being without power for three days, I managed to pull it off.

So that’s the latest news here — it’s hard to make time to blog, I have to say. It feels so dear diary. Guess I am not as loquacious as I thought I would be… Could be worse, as they say in New Hampshire!

Um, Happy Year of the Metal Tiger?

February 13th, 2010

Tigers? We don't need no stinking tigers in North America...

So, apparently metal tigers aren’t that lucky. But ONLY if your lucky element isn’t metal. Happily, mine is, thank goodness. Whew — I feel like I could use a little luck this year!

So to update: After a bright and determined hit on the re-start button, my enthusiasm for my 350 project came to a crashing halt in the darkest days of January. But after some interior regrouping, I am back at it, albeit with some adjustments. For a variety of reasons, (my sanity being first and foremost amongst them) I am extending my deadline for the project. Originally I picked Earth Day 2010, but quite frankly, that will make me crazy. I didn’t want to admit, but there it is. I’ve done crazy and, despite it’s reputation,  it isn’t that much fun.

And I’m discovering that I want to paint more than just 6 x 6″ portraits of animals.

BUT I still want to complete the project! So I’m making Mondays “350 Day” and the rest of the week are “paint whatever I want” days. So far it’s working really well.

When will it all be done? Who knows?! The journey has to matter as much as the destination…

Back to work (again!)

January 5th, 2010

Yay! it’s finally a new year and 2009 is officially in the past…

So I’ve started my new schedule: four days of focused painting and one day of teaching/networking/adminstrative/blogging/etc. (Not all at once of course.) The way I figure it that will give me 24 hours/week of solid painting time. Is this enough? Not sure.

Especially since I just calculated that I have to average 12 paintings a week to make my slightly adjusted deadline of May 1. Gulp.

But believe it or not I think I can do it! These are mostly 6 x 6″ paintings. And many of them, if I stick to all of North America’s mammals, will be rodents. Portraits of rodents — little pointy faces with black beady eyes. Piece of cake!

Hmm. I may have to reconsider that one. Not sure I can handle that much rodentia, despite the temptation of ease of execution.

I think I will end up doing some birds too…

So I took out twelve canvases and put them on my work table yesterday. It’s not that bad. I can do this!

But I did take out some I already started to help me ease into the new year.

Yeah they’re my rules and I can bend them. As long as they get done right?!?! Right!

I can do it!

I’ll post a picture next week of the best of the twelve…

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