I was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and grew up in Windsor, near the Farmington and Connecticut Rivers. I had already decided to be an artist by age five, according to my mother. Drawing, reading, making things, building with blocks, and playing and exploring in the woods were all part of becoming an artist and naturalist.
At Williams College, Lee Hirsche’s very exciting Life Drawing Winter Study class convinced me that art was the most thrilling thing I could do. I left Williams for the Boston Museum School, where I took drawing, painting and sculpture for four years. After graduating, I continued to receive free art instruction by modeling at Boston University, for life-size sculptures, and at other art schools in the area.
In 1985 my mother (also an artist) and I moved to Friendship Long Island, Maine, where we lived for sixteen years in an old farmhouse that we gradually restored by hand. We used only candles for light, cooked and heated with wood, got out water with a bucket and rope from a 100-year-old well, and slept twelve hours a night in the winter.
That was an apprenticeship as important or more so than my four years at art school, for I learned about the changing light through the seasons, from the flood of light at midsummer, amplified by light reflected off the surrounding sea, to the low, slanting daylight and immense night of winter.
I began painting landscapes in gouache while also designing paper dolls (Leopold the Frog, Natasha the Ballerina and other fantastical characters) for B. Shackman Company of New York. I began painting in oils again in 1999, helped by a private grant and a month at the Vermont Studio Center. I began painting in the island woods, where encounters with birds and animals, from sightings to calls, began to blend my passions for wildlife – the life of my familiar woods – and for representation of the lights, darks, and complex visual pattern of the spruce forest.
All along, I’ve also been fascinated by the human face, and I’ve drawn and painted portraits whenever I could get someone to pose.