Published: November 7, 2023
Antiques and The Arts Weekly was introduced to the work of contemporary artist Marieluise Hutchinson by coincidence but was soon captivated by her traditional realist style that bears similarities to the clarity of line and rural landscapes of Andrew Wyeth. When our paths crossed with the artist — who splits her time between Yarmouthport, Mass., and Cushing, Maine — we leapt at the chance to meet her in person and find out a bit more about this artist who paints Christmas cards for charity, has had her work featured several times on the cover of Cape Cod Life and is also a Copley Master artist.
How did you first get started painting?
My ‘spark’ for creativity began in first grade because of an art teacher I loved all the way to my senior year in high school. Painting though happened much later — in the mid-70s. I took an adult education class at the local middle school in oil painting…. but the teacher wasn’t good, so I watched the others around me to see what paints and brushes they used — then painted on my own in the evenings. I went to the school of ‘trial and error.’
What were some of your initial inspirations?
My subjects for painting, I believe, are from my rural, traditional, wholesome upbringing. I’m always drawn to the Yankee simplicity of old houses and barns. My lifelong inspiration has been to capture the homesteads and farms around New England — as they sadly, continue to vanish.
One of my favorite quotes is something Henri Degas said, ‘Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.’ I find my paintings spark memories or are nostalgic for people.
When and how were you first discovered? Where have you exhibited?
Initially — in the 80s — I exhibited in outdoor art shows with my oil paintings hanging on racks; I sold pretty well but realized I needed a good gallery to be professional and that gallery was Cummaquid Fine Arts in Cummaquid, Mass. (they closed in 2004). I credit this gallery with putting me “on the map.” They had wonderful solo shows for me which always sold out. I pursued other galleries too — or they pursued me — as did the Contemporary American Folk Art Gallery at Country Corner, which was in New York City in the early 90s.
I currently show in six galleries: Tree’s Place (Orleans, Mass.), Chatham Fine Arts (Chatham, Mass.), Bayview Gallery (Brunswick, Maine), Woodstock Gallery (Woodstock, Vt.), The Robert Paul Galleries (Stowe, Vt.) and the Meghan Candler Gallery in Vero Beach, Fla. Exhibiting in these galleries — and entering art shows when I have the time — keeps me pretty busy!
Has your work evolved?
My style has definitely evolved. In the earlier days, when I was showing in New York City, it was more primitive. I’ve gone way beyond it now. But I’ve always been a bit of a ‘country mouse’ and am a traditional, realistic painter who paints scenes from rural New England. I am not interested in painting urban scenes.
Do you do commissions? Portraits?
I don’t do portraits but sometimes people want me to paint a painting of their home, though I don’t do many commissions.
I find your work to be similar — in line and subject — to that of Andrew Wyeth.
Thank you — a comparison to Wyeth is always a compliment! I’m also compared to Eric Sloane with his love of barns, skies and farms. Edward Hopper also seems to ring a bell with people that make comparisons.
Is your work in institutional and/or noteworthy private collections?
I’m in the permanent collection at the Cahoon Museum of American Art, in Cotuit, Mass., and the Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis, Mass.
I’m in the private collections of (the late) actor Gavin MacLeod and his wife Patti, Diane Sawyer, Jack Connors…among others. I’m also in the collection of AMICA in Providence, R.I. I was the invited artist to do their annual Thanksgiving card in 2013.
That reminds me of your annual holiday cards, which you sell to benefit a single charity each year. What can you tell our readers about those?
My annual charity Christmas card has been quite an attention-getter. My cards are used by many collectors and lovers of my work. It’s been a very gratifying project to me over the years, although more time consuming than it used to be. This has been my project from day 1, starting in 1994 and my card this year is my 42nd and which — for the third year in a row — will benefit the Cape & Islands Veterans Outreach Center (CIVOC). Last year we raised close to $20,000 just from the sale of the cards and hope to raise a similar amount this year. A box of 15 cards is $20, with all proceeds going to the charity.
What are some of the other charities you’ve raised money for from the sale of your holiday cards?
I’ve raised money for many Cape charities. Also, the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center at USC in Los Angeles, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. The charity I worked the longest with was A Baby Center (ABC) in Hyannis, which I helped for 13 years. ABC gives diapers and formula to support low-income parents raising babies on Cape Cod and the Islands. In 2019, I was recognized by the United Way for outstanding volunteer leadership.
What is this year’s holiday card?
‘The Homecoming’ is this year’s holiday card and depicts a farmhouse in Warren, Maine. It has the familiar look that my collectors love: a welcoming farmhouse with a barn attached to it, windows glow with candles, wreaths decorate the doors, a pick-up truck has just arrived with a freshly cut tree, an American flag proudly flies on a tall pole out front; a snowman with open (branch) arms is the friendly greeter and a dog and his companion are returning from a winter walk. It is a 24-by-18-inch oil on panel and is in my personal collection.
Is the original painting for sale or do you keep them for your private collection?
Up until last year I had sold my original Christmas card pieces to a collector in California, but in 2022, I decided it was time to keep these annual pieces for my family.
Some of your painting’s titles are obvious, others a little less so. Do you start with a title in mind or does the title come after you’ve finished a painting?
Titles are So important to me; I think long and hard about naming my paintings…and yes, once in a while, I have a title I like and do a painting to fit! It’s sad when I see paintings “untitled” in shows or museums…it’s like they’re orphans.
When do you paint the holiday card? What’s your process? How long does it take to paint a painting?
I usually paint the scene in February; it takes a few months and is usually ready by June. I paint in oil on 1/8-inch Masonite, which I cover with gesso myself. My small paintings, which are 5 by 7 inches, take a couple of days to paint while the larger ones — ones closer in size to 24 by 36 inches — take about a month.
Your annual holiday card is often the cover of the November/December issue of Cape Cod Life. Will it be the feature again this year?
Yes! ‘The Homecoming,’ my holiday card this year, will be on the cover of the November/December 2023 issue, with a feature article, “Life’s a Canvas.” It will also be the magazine’s philanthropic issue.
Have other publications featured your paintings?
Yes, my work has also been published in Country Living and in Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors magazines. Two magazines that are no longer published but which also featured my work are Cape Cod View and The Review.
You are also a member — and Master — of the Copley Society of Art, which is one of the oldest nonprofit art associations in the United States. Can you tell me more about that process and what it
means to you?
I am very proud of my status as a Copley Master! I am unschooled and am left-handed but am in good galleries and was a Copley Society artist. I was awarded a certificate as a Copley Master at the Copley Society in February 2017, after being in five juried Copley Society shows and winning three awards in those shows.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not painting?
When I’m not painting, I enjoy being at my timber frame barn in Cushing, Maine, where much of my inspiration comes from. This Is Wyeth Country and I’m often out looking for my ‘next’ subject. I also like antiquing and reading historical novels. I’m active in my church and busy with my charity work all year long.
Do you collect the work of other artists?
Art that I’ve collected of notable artists I admire: Eric Sloane, Robert Douglas Hunter, Donald Stone, Carol Westcott, Thomas B. Higham and the bronze sculptures of Sandy Scott.
—Madelia Hickman Ring
[Editor’s note: For more information about Marieluise Hutchinson, www.marieluisehutchinson.com.]
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