The Laurel Hill Association presents this virtual gallery on artists who are informed by nature in an effort to bring more awareness to the importance of our natural habitat and greater connection to our community.
Featured Artist: Ann Getsinger
Click the image to enter gallery. Titles and captions follow images.
Beyond the basic requirements of survival, I’ve only ever needed two things: to make art, and to be near nature. That’s why I live where I do, in the Berkshires. These hills have nourished me as human and artist for decades.
I moved from Watertown, Connecticut to the Berkshires in the mid nineteen-seventies. I was in my late teens, and knew no one. Renting a tiny room on the top floor of a echoingly empty gilded-age mansion in Lenox, I began a long series of deeply engaging chapters of my life. With the exception of a few years studying at the San Francisco Art Institute and numerous trips to mid-coast Maine, I’ve been in Berkshire County ever since: working, playing, living in nature, and creating art. Some well-respected artists advised me to head to New York, to focus on building a career. It was wise advice, but I knew the city would jangle my creative spirit. I chose this place instead. Since 1988, my home and studio have been in New Marlborough. In June of 2020, I was proud to have my ten-panel series of oil paintings, “Panoptica,” reproduced in the beautiful environmental magazine Orion, reflecting both my creative focus and my commitment to caring about nature. As one of the founders of the group New Marlborough Advocates for Sound Growth, I helped stand up for the protection of wetlands and aquifers, wildlife corridors, and the sort of development which considers community and culture while valuing and protecting natural systems.
The twelve images I’ve chosen for this online exhibit are all oil paintings. Ten are Berkshire-oriented, and two are of coastal Maine. All but one, “Limelight”, combine still life subjects with landscapes, resulting in what I, for want of a better descriptive term, call a stillscape: a limiting word, as the paintings are – to me – full of feeling, life, and motion. This way of combining a subject in landscape isn’t new; it’s been done throughout history. My only claim is that I came to it honestly, through my own unique process, following a natural attraction. I choose subjects by raw appeal and place them according to my gut feelings, following a long-worked-out practice of listening within for the clear and resonant message to “go ahead.” The process feels like playing, or meditating, sometimes wandering through the dreamy halls of imagination, carrying both binoculars and magnifying glass, letting my inner scientist observe and wonder out loud – visually. Meaning and composition happen in the process. The subjects are determined by whatever lights me up. I see objects as carriers of stories and meaning, often expressions of the sensuality of nature – the bones or shells reflecting the life they once had, an old thing worn out in some beautiful way, a bit of glass with a bubble or imperfection describing a time now gone, even something new. I might use an object once, or paint it repeatedly. It might be alone, or presented in a group. The weather and place, time of day, all occur as I go along. I might arrive in the studio with an idea I want to pursue but it’s never the last word. I watch, expecting things to happen as I go along, things I couldn’t have planned for, listening with care to my gut and only acting on what feels deeply interesting: all told, a back-door path through which I can tap into something “smarter” than myself.