New England offers landscape artists many options. From the red and golden-hued forests of the Berkshires to New Hampshire’s vast, tranquil lakes to the rocky, sun-soaked Seacoast, artists who devote their work to the land in which they live and travel have a seemingly limitless palate from which to create.
Sandy Wadlington is one such artist, and she is showing her pastel and painted landscapes in an exhibit of new works at McGowan Fine Art through Friday, April 27.
Wadlington, who divides her time between Maine and New Hampshire, has worked with the gallery for 10 years. Her last show at McGowan, which opened its doors in 1980, was roughly two years ago. Now 20 of her paintings and pastel works of New Hampshire and Maine landscapes fill the gallery for guests to view and potentially take home with them.
“The process [of creating] is important,” Wadlington said. “The excitement that you feel for what you’re working on, you want to try to convey that to others.”
Wadlington knew she wanted to be an artist from a young age, but she said she “didn’t really have a clue what that meant other than [she] liked to draw.” She didn’t know how she would make a living out of it. Like many others, she took odd jobs to supplement her painting and drawing. Driving a school bus, gardening, working as a secretary and waitress: she did it all.
Then, 30 years ago, she made the plunge into making art full-time.
Wadlington had been working in the production department of a museum in Texas and realized it was time for her “to get back to doing art.” She moved back to New England, where she grew up, a region that continues to inspire her and that she always had plans to return to, she said.
“Although I have lived in other parts of the country, I find the New England landscape especially rich and compelling,” wrote Wadlington, who studied at the Museum School in Boston and the Massachusetts College of Art.
She often works from photographs that she takes while driving or walking around the two states she calls home. Wadlington focuses on elements such as light, color and composition. She says, as an artist who creates landscapes, she has to be a careful observer, continually noticing what is on view around her.
“My work is not exactly controversial or meant to shake you up in any way,” she said. “I hope people feel that glimpse that got me excited when I was walking or driving around and jumped out at me, that brief moment of excitement.”
Sarah Chalke, McGowan’s director since 1997, calls Wadlington’s work romantic and varied.
“I am quite taken by her technique,” Chalke said. “It’s a little bit different — she [makes] short, tiny strokes and weaves them together for an almost textile-like feel.”