GALLERY | Painting in Place, oil paintings by Elizabeth MacFarland
February 29 - July 11
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this exhibit has been extended. The actual end date will be announced soon. Plan your visit now!
Enjoy this video which includes a conversation with Elizabeth MacFarland, followed by a slideshow of the exhibit beginning about 14 minutes into the video. The accompanying music is also composed and performed by the artist.
Most of Elizabeth MacFarland’s recent paintings have been done within a few miles radius of where she lives in the northern Catskills. She finds inspiration and interest all around her without going far. In this way, Elizabeth practices standing still and learns to see the treasures of the natural world right in front of her.
Elizabeth has been concerned about the impact humans are having on the earth for a long time. Ten years ago she completed a large painting dealing with this subject, The Sorrow of Sophia. Since then, the climate crisis has only worsened. Her recent painting Windigo World arose from her subconscious while looking at a thread of quartz in a large rock. The Windigo is a greedy and insatiably hungry cannibalistic creature in Native American mythology (Ojibwe, Cree, and Anishinaabe) that stalks humans in the deep cold of winter. It has become a symbol of greed and selfish disregard for the well-being of society and the earth. Many have been treating the earth as if her resources are limitless, created just for human consumption. Our culture has greedily consumed and consumed, like the hungry Windigo, and now we are reaping the consequences, as evidenced by the climate emergency we now face.
Elizabeth expounds, saying “We can and must live our lives in better relationship with the natural world: within nature instead of outside of it. The need for endless economic growth, what I refer to as our Windigo World, comes at a great cost: the depletion of the wealth and health of earth’s ecosystems.”
Elizabeth hopes that her paintings can serve as a window into the treasures we still have, and also perhaps as a call to protect those we are poised to lose.
A portion of all sales will benefit environmental causes.
I began painting in earnest in 2001 when I started studying oil painting with Marta Jaremko at the Artist Studio in Delmar, NY, and her excellent instruction and inspiration continues to influence my painting today. Though my professional training is as a pianist, I have always been drawn to the visual arts. When I began painting, I was struck by the similarities of the creative process in these two artistic realms. As a musician, one of the most difficult things to learn is the art of inner listening… beginning with silence and then creating or recreating what is heard within.
Whether composing or performing, I am recreating an ideal of the music that I hear within. I find that this process of inner listening is not very different from learning how to really see in making art, where there is a similar merging of ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ seeing that is intrinsic to the creative process. Instead of working with nuances of pitch, dynamics, and phrasing, I am working with the nuances of color, light, and shadow in order to convey meaning and mood. Whether or not a painting is grounded in realism, I work, ultimately, to convey on the canvas what I am seeing internally, and this is always a joining of the eye with the heart.
I love the quiet process of painting. It is also rewarding to have a finished product there for the viewing, unlike in music, which can feel less tangible and always requires the next performance.