During the Pandemic: A Conversation with Marieluise Hutchinson, CM

Pictured above: Making Pies Tonight, oil on panel, 24” x 30”

Written by: Francesca Sinnott

 

 

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Pictured: Marieluise Hutchinson, CM

The marvelous oil paintings of New England landscape artist, Marieluise Hutchinson evoke a quieter, more hopeful time in America: before the Internet, when families could sit closely together in their homes and barns by the fire, bake a pie, or do a puzzle. This Copley Master’s fascination with barns and working farms has taken her all over New England and inspired her to raise her own timber frame barn at her home in Maine.  You will find two of her paintings in the Co|So Holiday Small Works show where she has been a member artist for 30 years.

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Pictured: Simply Christmas, oil on panel, 8”x10”

I detect a trace of Yankee in her voice, as Marieluise recalls her childhood, playing in the family barn in the 1950’s. “ I think that was my connection to the country and my love of barns. “2006 I raised my own timber frame barn in Cushing, Maine, coincidentally near the Olson House where Andrew Wyeth painted his ‘Christina’s World’. I carved my own pegs, and hammered in the first one. I never expected to own this beautiful barn”. Ever productive, while she was painting her stunning scenes of barns and farms on board, she was also painting “Amazing Grace”,

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Pictured: Amazing Grace, 2020

The pandemic has not changed Marieluise’s work life much, as she is a studio artist and works from photographs and memories of Maine and Vermont. However, it has kept her from seeing her grown daughters and dear friends.  I spent the early part of the year preparing for my two-person show. Marieluise contributed 14 new paintings that were featured at a gallery in Orleans, Massachusetts .

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Pictured: Summon the Summer, oil on panel, 24”x 30”

The show went virtual from July 11th-July 23rd.  “A lot of galleries closed down (due to Covid), so we had no idea what was going to happen for the rest of the year. I love speaking to people as they engage in my work, so it was difficult not to be in the gallery space”.

Marieluise also painted her annual Christmas card that is printed in Maine. In 13 years, she has raised over $195,000 to support “A Baby Center” in Hyannis, Massachusetts providing baby basics to families with children aged 4 years and under.  This year’s card can be ordered on-line or in shops around the Cape.

A Los Angeles collector purchases the original Christmas card painting each year, and the card printing receives corporate or individual sponsorship. The 2020 card is aptly titled “Comfort and Joy”.

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Pictured: Comfort and Joy, Oil on Panel 24” x 30”

“ New England is my inspiration. I love the architecture, seeing the old buildings with their imperfections: a dip in the roof, seagull poop on the shingles. It’s getting harder to find these places because they are either falling down or torn down. I recently drove 400 miles across Vermont looking for scenes, and I only managed to capture two photographs. The Vermont farm landscape has been taken over by solar panels, and while clean energy is good it has also contributed to the disappearance of the classic farm. It is difficult to revisit these places and see an old farm torn down and replaced with a trophy house or solar panel”.

Entirely self-taught, Marieluise draws inspiration from American artists Andrew Wyeth, Norman Rockwell and Eric Sloane. Her paintings are small and quite detailed, so each one can take as long as a month to create.  Speaking humbly about her work, she says “I don’t have any fancy schmancy techniques to speak of, and it looks O.K. I just do what I do”. Over time I feel that my work has become more refined and realistic, and I take pride in my distinct style.

She will create an exact pencil drawing to start with but not fill in a lot of detail.  She then paints thinly, layering only on the buildings or the snow. Sometimes her idea will begin with the title of the painting.

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Pictured: Comforts of Home, oil on panel, 42" x 22”

Marieluise has raised her two daughters on her own since 1975. “Painting was initially a hobby for me. I had always been fond of drawing and was encouraged by my art teacher Percy VanDyke when I was growing up”. She took one adult education class in oil painting at West Yarmouth Middle School and that was the last art class she ever took. “I didn’t like the teacher much, but the students in the class were very helpful,” she tells me. In 1996, after losing her job in development at Hospice of Cape Cod she began to paint full time.

Her talent as a traditional, realistic, rural painter of New England was validated when in 1997 she was accepted in to The Frank J. Miele American Folk Art Gallery on Madison Avenue in New York and had a 10-year solo show run, allowing her to build a reputation and career for herself.  “It’s taken years of hard work, but I take pride in the brand I have created through my subject matter, my titles and my framing. I want my clients to claim a personal bond to my paintings, to be drawn in to a farmhouse, to feel a sense of patriotism, appreciate the solidity of a place, see a glow in the windows, smell the smoke coming from the chimney, and imagine what’s cooking on the kitchen stove; all these simple things offer peace, comfort and hope.”