I was surrounded by art. My parents were not wealthy, but still collected art locally and in their travels. When they toured a city, they frequently went to the school in the local museum. They asked for the names of three or four aspiring talented artists and made appointments to visit them in their studios. They often bought pieces which hung in my childhood home, and some of them are now on the walls of my home in Massachusetts.
Even though I was saturated with both art and psychology, I originally studied science, majoring in zoology at college. I have graduate degrees in both Biology and Social Work, and so people often ask me how I started painting. Many years ago, when my daughters were young, I decided to take some time off from my job as a Social Worker to devote myself full-time to parenting my two daughters. I loved parenting, but two little kids became tedious, so I signed up for an evening watercolor class at the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA, while my husband, Larry, cared for the kids. That was that; I never looked back!
As a zoologist, I was endlessly fascinated with all living things, but never thought about trying to capture the wondrous and beautiful structures I observed in a painting. As a Social Worker, I worked predominately in child welfare, but I never even thought of trying to capture on paper those many desperate young faces I saw day in and day out. Growing up, there had been the academics, the athletes, and the creative types - I was never considered one of the latter two groups. I was the perennial academic student!
So, when I wandered into a watercolor class 30 years ago, I was a complete novice. The teacher was world renowned artist George Dergalis. As I became increasingly engaged and enthusiastic about the wonderful creative process, I decided to move class from the DeCordova to George Dergalis' house and studio, from evening classes to day sessions, and adding "Color and Design" along the way. As an academic, most of my family and friends thought I would attend a formal Art School, but I felt that I was always learning, always experimenting as I was studying with George. It is clear to me that studying with George all these years has given me more information and support than any formal art school could have offered me.
Learning to paint is learning to see everything around you in new ways, and I think artists do see the world differently. I've specialized in watercolor, but no student of George works in one medium, and I've explored acrylics, egg emulsion and tempera, oils, collage and paper sculpture, egg shell mosaics, paper maché, and clay. Each day is filled with new discoveries.
Picking what to paint is great fun! As I have traveled more, I've begun to paint some landscapes from the French and Italian countryside. I continue to love nature, and often explore gardens and their wildlife. I love the fascinating whimsy of the animal world and love to try to capture their unique world. And I love the sea - I snorkel, and love the beautiful tropical fish of the Caribbean. In addition to several watercolors and cut-paper reliefs, I have completed a couple of egg shell mosaics on wood which, I think are unusual. Most of all, I think, I love new England - the gorgeous seasons around me, the diversity of terrain and the architecture, the countryside and the cities, and the breadth of humanity. I'm stimulated by all that is around me as well as by the pulse of intellectual thought and excitement that arises from living in the Boston area, with its many colleges and universities.
I started teaching about 20 years ago. In the beginning, I taught drawing classes for children, and then, gradually, added adults. I taught a summer art camp for almost 20 years with another artist, Phyllis Biegun, a potter. Each summer, we would pick a subject and design a scene on a wooden base. We used ceramic clay, sculpy (a kind of polymer clay), paint, beads, fabric, ribbons, and any other findings we could discover to make our "scene" perfect. Over the years, some of our creations included a rainforest, a circus, Fenway Park, an apartment building, a beach, and scenes from Peter Pan, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and the beloved Harry Potter. Phyllis has continued this program through the Wayland, Massachusetts Recreation department, the summer program at the Fenn School of Concord, MA, and other locations.
These days, I teach 2 well attended drawing and painting classes to adult students. Of course, I run a studio class- that's what I know and love. All my students work in their medium of choice, and I hope they feel they are always growing and always learning as I have over the many years in the George Dergalis Studio.
I have works for sale at my studio and I work by commission.
I married my husband, Larry (http://LJKrakauer.com) in 1970, after dating for a year. We actually met on Data-Mate, one of the original computer dating services. Larry trained as a computer scientist at MIT (receiving his PhD in 1970) and worked in industry until retiring in 2003. Larry volunteers at the MIT Venture Mentoring Service, and he studies French, Italian, and Spanish. He is not bored by his retirement! In addition to painting and teaching, I study French with "French in Acton", and I exercise with Debra Goldman at Pilates Works, Inc. I'm a long-time member of Arts/Wayland, a local arts organization. I'm also a past president of the Wayland Cultural Council, which helps distribute grant money allocated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for community cultural enrichment. Finally, since Larry and I both love to travel and Larry loves languages, we explore France and Italy in alternate years, and love the Caribbean and Mexico.
Larry and I have lived in Wayland, Massachusetts for over 35 years, and now consider New England our home. We have two daughters, and we are fortunate that they live nearby these days. Elissa is a Biological Anthropologist and Sara is a Humanities Middle School teacher. They are both rather creative, though they have not had a great deal of formal art training. Elissa loves decoupage and ceramics, and Sara is a balloon twister on the side (see http://globetwisting.com/).