Artist in Residence uses her time to ‘paint big’

by Peter J. Teagle - Posted on May 15, 2019 - 02:51 PM

Photo: Gloucester is getting ready to celebrate the arts with the return of the Gloucester Arts Festival in June. Dutch-born artist Carole Boggemann Peirson recently completed a stint as Arts on Main’s Artist in Residency and will be featured in next month’s celebration. Here, Peirson joined Arts on Main and Cook Foundation members for a luncheon held to welcome her to the county. Pictured are, front row from left: Jenny Crittenden, Lynne Manning, Adrianne Joseph, Peirson, Theresa Stewart Hupp, Betsy Henderson; back row, Melanie Chambers Hartman, Suzanne Scott, Bill Andersen, Carolyn Dudley and Mollie Stewart. Photo by Peter J. Teagle

Gloucester is getting ready to celebrate the arts with the return of the Gloucester Arts Festival in June. Dutch-born artist Carole Boggemann Peirson recently completed a stint as Arts on Main’s Artist in Residency and will be featured in next month’s celebration. Here, Peirson joined Arts on Main and Cook Foundation members for a luncheon held to welcome her to the county. Pictured are, front row from left: Jenny Crittenden, Lynne Manning, Adrianne Joseph, Peirson, Theresa Stewart Hupp, Betsy Henderson; back row, Melanie Chambers Hartman, Suzanne Scott, Bill Andersen, Carolyn Dudley and Mollie Stewart. Photo by Peter J. Teagle

Dutch-born oil painter Carole Boggemann Peirson used her time in Gloucester as the Arts on Main Artist in Residency to “paint big,” painting county scenes on 40” by 60” canvases, which are twice the size of her largest pieces to date.

Peirson recently completed a three-week residency, with her work on display in an exhibit titled “Go Big And Go Home” at the Stewart Gallery on Gloucester’s Main Street through May 25. She will also give a workshop titled “Loving the Landscape” that is part of this year’s Gloucester Arts Festival. Composition, values, color scheme, focal point, and other beginner and intermediate topics will be discussed by Peirson from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 28.

 “I have decided to challenge myself in a major way,” Peirson said of her large-scale landscape paintings. “This residency program allows me to experiment and try new techniques and methods.”

Though she was born in the Netherlands, Peirson has called the Eastern Shore home since 2000. An internship brought her to the shores of America in 1995 and she would come to Gloucester for the first time in 2017 to compete in the Gloucester Art Festival’s plein air event, where she won third place for her piece “Sunny Storage.” She plans to return to the plein air event from June 1-8 during this year’s festival.

While she has done both studio and plein air work in her career, Peirson created her pieces during residency in a studio. Trained in the classical tradition, she layers thin glazes of color over thicker base layers to create her landscapes. Hartman stated this technique of Peirson’s gives the final product a “luminous” quality.

“Usually it’s the light,” said Peirson of her subjects, “I’m usually attracted by it when I’m driving by a landscape and all, of a sudden, I fall in love with something and usually, it’s the way the light hits something.” The artist said that pops of color, flowers in a field, or the way light and shadow interact with a subject draw her to scenes.

In terms of her intent with capturing landscapes, Peirson believes it is more about the moment a landscape occurs more so than the minutia of a literal depiction of a particular scene. “Evoke the emotion you feel when you’re looking at something,” she said, “It’s really about telling a story by creating a three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional canvas and the challenge of making a viewer want to live in that space.”

Peirson recalled early in her career being asked “what’s the story of this painting” and being forced to consider. “You know I was thinking about literal stories like the farmer who takes this cow to this place but I realized they were asking ‘what do you value? Why do I love something?’ and that’s a harder question to answer.” Peirson views art as an ongoing process of answering that question, “and I think it’s going to take me a lifetime to figure that out.”

Early in her career, Peirson agonized over minute details, at times getting lost in the weeds of a scene. “I thought everything was important and I wanted to paint every leaf on every tree because I thought it needed to be exactly like that,” she recalled, “I then realized people know what a tree looks like, they know what water looks like, you just have to break it down to the essence of something.”

She compared painting to the difference between writing a novel and a haiku. “My challenge as an artist,” she stated, “is writing a haiku on the canvas, keeping it so short and sweet and basic that my message is instantly clear.”

Gloucester Arts Festival

The Gloucester Arts Festival is a month-long celebration, which is being bookended by a pair of free open-air concerts. The celebration will kick off on Saturday, June 1 with the Symphony Under the Stars concert. The Cook Foundation presents this concert at 8 p.m., but concert goers are instructed to get there by 7 and watch as plein air painters capture the evening during a nocturne paint out.

Paintings will be for sale at the Stewart Gallery on Main Street the following day. The June 1 concert will be given by the Virginia Symphony orchestra and conducted by Gonzalo Farias, who has been recently appointed Assistant Conductor of the Virginia Symphony.

A second free community concert will be held on Sunday, June 30 at 4 p.m. as Gloucester welcomes the U.S. Fleet Forces Band. Known as the “finest of the fleet,” the band is the musical representative for Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk.

Both concerts will be held on Main Street on the lawn of Walter Reed Way.

Between those two free concerts, there is a plethora of art activities in Gloucester. The Cook Foundation is sponsoring muralist Amy Bartlett Wright of Rhode Island, who will be painting a new mural on the Daffodil building on Main Street. All month long, the Stewart Gallery will host an exhibit done “en plein air” by various artists in the region. Ten works by renowned sculptor Seward Johnson from the “Familiar Series” that graced Main Street last summer will be on exhibit again this year.

On June 8, 20 invited plein air artists will participate in “Paint Main 2.5,” as they have 2½ hours to create their masterpieces along Main Street. There will also be a “Kids Paint Main .5” that day for children 12 and under.

Many other workshops and performances are planned for June as part of the Gloucester Arts Festival. For a complete list of events, visit gloucesterartsfestival.com.