Many think artists are solitary types, hard at work in creative bliss tucked away in studios or attics. But that’s only part of being an artist — for some.
For Lauryn Welch, she’s as equally dedicated to creating art as she is in being a part of the art world community.
“Clara Lieu, my drawing foundations teacher and colleague, taught me the importance of putting a lot of effort into being a good community member in the art world,” says Welch. “There is no such thing as an artist who made it on their own.”
So, not only does Welch paint and draw, but she also teaches both art and reading, does gallery and curatorial work, and writes about art.
Though currently living in one of the world’s most thriving artistic environments, New York City, Welch thinks the Monadnock Region’s art community is “second to none.” Welch lived in the Monadnock Region since she was eight years old, only recently becoming a resident of New York to attend Hunter College, New York, to earn a master’s degree in fine art.
However, rural life is still a source of inspiration for her.
“Every year, I make about 100 drawings of the different patterns and languages I find in the natural landscape of the Monadnock Region,” she explains.
She’s also inspired by a single moment.
“I see moments all the time that delight or shock me that I want to commit to memory,” says Welch.
Many artists inspire her, especially the French post-impressionist painter Pierre Bonnard.
“Bonnard shows in his work that you can make a painting about something as mundane as a stretching cat, and it can still be poignant or speak to something essential about life.”
The New York art world can impose on artists narrow ideas about what is “worthy” art. Welch responds in her own way.
“I’m learning not to censor myself and be honest about the things I like to paint,” she says. “There’s a lot of pressure to paint something really serious and highbrow, but sometimes I just want to paint geese and cats.”
Feeling this confident was not always the case for Welch.
“I used to have an excruciatingly hard time coming up with focused, workable color palettes,” she notes.
She says her professor, Matt Bollinger, told her to think about the outfits that she wears, which “were wildly matched patterns and colors that I put on without thinking and base my palettes off of that. That translation from one practice to another was mind-blowing and changed the way that I think about painting.”
Welch is the kind of artist not only adept with brush and acrylic paint but also insightful on the inner meditations that inform her works.
For example, her cover painting “The Lemon Tree,” reflects on thoughts about indoor life. Her partner’s chronic illness that keeps him housebound for long periods of time has allowed both of them to consider how to live well inside.
She explains, “We had a lemon tree that he was training into a bonsai, which was similarly confined to a small space, but thriving. I was thinking about this situation of us living indoors, seeking nutrients in the form of light and information from the window, trying to find a way to grow in the spaces we are given.”
How much constraints limit us depends upon one’s perspective. For Welch, limits disappear inside the studio.
“The studio is a place where I have, at least, the illusion of control over the worlds I want to see and the things I want to feel,” she says. “Painting and art-making are activities that help me make meaning out of difficult situations.”
Welch is represented by The Gallery at Flat Rock, Flat Rock, North Carolina. Her work can also be viewed on her website: www.laurynwelch.com and Instagram: @laurynredwelch.
Peg Lopata writes from Brattleboro, Vermont.