Carol Duke’s Paintings
My paintings are colorful and representational. Of all the mediums of art that I work in, I love painting the most. The freedom of moving paint around a canvas. The spontaneity and surprise that unfolds during a session painting is very rewarding. Feelings and emotions come alive through the creative process of painting that is unlike any other medium I have worked in. I can get frustrated at times but it is always a growing experience.
“When I put a green, it is not grass. When I put a blue, it is not the sky.”
“I do not literally paint that table, but the emotion it produces upon me.”
Some of the paintings shown from a recent exhibit below are in the above gallery too. I further worked these paintings for the show but still feel they need another layer of dark to truly be finished. The colors are more vivid in the paintings below than they come across for some reason. It is as if there is a gray film covering each of them.
The paintings in my exhibit are in celebration of a connection to land, trees, and home – this place on an east-facing hillside in Williamsburg.
The house, or sometimes suggestions of house, feels like a self-portrait. The exaggerated trees mirror feelings of reverence for their might and fear for the fragile farmhouse. When admiring these large beings, they feel very much like I paint them, enormous trunks and limbs looming over the house.
The serpentine black cherry tree, that I often paint ghostly white, is in honor of a dear soul who lived and died here. The cherry tree stands and floats in my paintings as a portrait of him. I call her Michael’s Tree, for she was nurtured by his ashes. He was a gifted writer, champion for trees, earth, and justice. He was brilliant and sweet. He is forever a part of this place.
The land, with her soft undulating hummocks and fluid free fall into open fields and forest, is a joy to paint. I am blessed with a long view of hills, the Mount Holyoke Range, and an expansive sky that is ever changing, awakening and sustaining imagination.
These paintings have been with me for several years, some as under-paintings done very quickly, others simply hanging unfinished. I was mystified as to how to finish them. For this exhibit, I have been able to transform most of the unresolved work into new work.
Painting Exhibit April 2019
Dearest Old House, Trees, and Land,
We stand together rooted in this place. You, house and trees, have stood for over two hundred years upon this ancient land, while I but forty-one. I am one steward, out of hundreds, to be transplanted here. I cannot speak for my predecessors, or hear the first voices and dreams while a post-and-beam frame was built and thin seedlings planted. I believe, house, those who labored you into a shelter were the same who dreamt of shady canopies for your south facade.
When I stepped over your oak threshold, I was twenty-eight, and you were all around one hundred eighty-eight years of crusty wood cutting through the space of sky and foundations falling apart, of cracks and creaks and fallen limbs without and lives within your walls. I am just one chapter. My seasonal shadows fall for only so long.
Chance and love brought me to you – awe and a sense of belonging kept me still. You spoke to me – not in words but in some other worldly way, opening secrets about the wonders within your open land and forest. The land and you, great trees, spoke to me first. You became my life’s work. I was trained as an artist, but had no tangible goal or planned path forward. I was a disenchanted weaver, you made me long for a garden fork. I had help digging hundreds of rocks and boulders, freeing your dirt for growth. Paths emerged through plantings. I grew with the trees, the gardens, and my child, and now, grandchildren, captivated by your beauty and mystery.
It was you, dear stately sentinels, and the land and the air within this sweeping sky, that embraced and enthralled me to this place. My attachment to your sanctuary still thrives, even though at times I feel trapped and long to be free of the responsibility. Through the recent process of considering letting go of you, I have come to realize that this place is where I belong. You are home.
Your human partner, Carol