Are you from the community?
I am. I live in Williamsburg. I’m a second grade teacher in Yorktown. I’m a hobbyist plein air painter.
So you’re not an art teacher?
Nope. Second grade. So yeah I come out here from time to time. I got my graduate degree here from William and Mary. I do have a bit of a connection to campus. I know a bit about why the bridge is important.
Have you painted anywhere else around campus?
Not on campus, no. This is a nice spot.
What is your favorite thing about the campus?
That’s hard because I was in the School of Education. And we were in Jones and the one next door that’s even more dilapidated and so what I think I liked about campus was the old part. How walkable everything was and how the crate myrtles around Swem Library go through their seasonal changes. I think it’s a beautiful campus. And I lived in the graduate housing and I worked on Scotland Street. It’s a convenient campus and it’s in the community, but not in the community. It’s not a city campus, but it’s a nice, woodland campus in the middle of a town.
How long have you been painting for?
Well I’ve been “painting” all my life, but I’ve picked up plein air oil painting about four years ago.
You just started out of nowhere?
Actually I went to a workshop for teachers and it was really for science teachers and art teachers. But since I teach second grade, which basically teaches all of that, they let me come. It was on the Eastern Shore and through UVA, and they had a plein air painter and an ecologist there. You learn about the ecology of salt marshes and then you learn some painting techniques and paint the salt marshes. So that’s how I got started on it, through that professional development program. And then I bought my own easel and kept going.
Are you a big fan of art in general?
Yeah, generally. I’m pretty excited about the Botticelli exhibit coming to the Muscarelle soon.
Will you try and finish this today in one session?
Yes, so with plein air painting you have about a three hour window before the light changes too much. You don’t want to paint at high noon because you can get weird shadows. I started this around 30 or 45 minutes ago. And as you can see, the sun is starting to go down, so I’m going to have to work quickly.
Do you find painting therapeutic? Is that why you do it?
I do find it very enjoyable. With plein air painting, the thing I like most about it is that you only have a three-hour window. You have a finished piece in three hours, whatever it is going to be. It’s that nice feeling of accomplishment that you actually finished something. But it is really nice with plein air painting because you are outside. In some ways it forces you outside. Nature is just so relaxing. I’ve never done cityscape paintings, which I think are beautiful, but I imagine it’s a lot different.