Gil Fahey knows the purpose of his art. He seeks “to freeze time by freeing creativity,” working to display “the endless toil of men and women.” As a child, Gil spent his summers on one of the farms near his home in a small town. He says that painting and drawing “evoke an early fascination with the textures of stone and woods, the moods of the meadows, old farms, cellar holes, and earthen roads disappearing into the woods.” Although he has not always been able to focus primarily on his art, it has never been far from his life.
When Gil was young, he thought his ideal career would be that of a wildlife illustrator, following in the footsteps of some of his heroes, like Tom Lovell and Edwin Dickinson. As wildlife illustration slowly became absorbed by the world of photography, Gil’s heroes left to paint western scenes and he realized that the “fertile ground of the golden age of illustration” would be an influence, but not necessarily a career. However, he never forgot the teachings of his instructors, including Bernie Lettich and Ken Davies, even when his life took him away from his original goals – and their influence is present in his work today.
As Gil says, society is often based on materialism, and the role of an artist can be “fleeting and ephemeral,” but Gil was able to stay true to his passions, while also carving out a life for himself professionally as a Senior Graphic Designer and Staff Illustrator for a Fortune 500 corporation in New England. In addition, he never gave up his joy of freelance illustration and cartoon and he also taught drawing and painting. His classes have included private instruction, art programs, and adult education.
Now retired, Gil has been able to return to his first love for wildlife. He finds himself turning more to it each year. “The flame burns brightly,” he says. Inspiration comes from a variety of places. Gil Fahey describes art as “a vision born of the artist’s imagination – constant stimulative input, sometimes even at 2 am.” He brings to his work a sensitive awareness of design impact and textural clarity. His landscapes, still life, and wildlife paintings all feature a control of light and shadow, intermingled with detail. Gil works mostly in oil on plywood with ten coats of gesso on a birch surface. Pencil work is done on Strathmore hot press illustration board.
Although he admits disappointment in some of his work, he says one thing he loves about the process is that he can “go back to it several years later and learn from it.” He also accepts that the artist’s life can be lonely, but that it can also be beneficial, because the artist can work at his or her own pace and spend time in contemplation. Even with the challenges, Gil has never considered not painting or drawing. “I know the risks of NOT doing what I do,” he says.
A graduate of The Paier School of Art and former student at the Pratt Institute, Gil spends his time, when he’s not painting or drawing, working in his garden or visiting bookstores with his wife. He enjoys a great story, especially a cop procedural, or returning to the poets, such as A.E. Housman and Robert Frost, who shaped his childhood and his art.
Currently, Gil is working on a painting of an old dilapidated barn, which is reflective of his passion for New England and the simplicity of pastoral life. He says that someday, he would love to complete his dream project, consisting of several large pastoral works. For more information on Gil Fahey, or to see some of his creations, visit his website at http://www.gilfahey.com.
Ed Hicks has been a familiar name in the art community for several decades now. Established and experienced, the Glastonbury painter enjoys the success every young artist yearns to attain. Indeed, many rising local artists cite Ed as an inspiration. With art in galleries and shows up and down the coast, his influence extends far beyond Glastonbury, and even Connecticut, to many spots across the country. Over the course of this summer alone, Ed’s acclaimed paintings will appear in seven shows throughout Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Maine. His pieces are also regularly exhibited at galleries in Wilton and Old Lyme, Connecticut; South Hadley, Massachusetts; and several different locations in Maine.
Despite his mass of followers, Ed remains down to earth and fairly casual about his painting career. This is not to say he lacks passion; he simply “paints what [he] like[s] to look at.” He even admits that commission paintings can be difficult for him – not for lack of talent – but because clients often want to pull him in a direction that is less true to his art. Ed would rather put his heart into a painting whose subject he has chosen, enabling him to be fully satisfied with the result.
Ed’s oil landscapes and seascapes express a sentiment of tranquility, balance, and wholeness, while blooming with color. Whether complimentary or contrasting, each piece has a color scheme working to bring to life the particular scene. In “Atlantic Power,” the shades exude just that, power. The stunning turquoise is sharp against the rich coffee color of the cliffs, as the waves break onto the rocky shore. On the other end of the spectrum, the beautifully blended pinks and purples of “End of a Summer Day” set the perfect mood for a drowsy August afternoon. Despite the soft brush strokes used in much of his work, Ed’s pieces feel realistic. One can almost taste the fresh salty breeze that nudges the sailboats along in one of his seascapes. While taking in “Poppy Power,” it would not be hard to imagine a buzzing bee flying among the cheerful flowers on a sunny spring morning. Ed’s paintings make the most simple and everyday sightings seem extraordinary. An autumn barn on a New England farm is suddenly breathtaking; a Maine coastline becomes otherworldly. He truly has a knack for highlighting the beauty of a scene without exaggerating details or oversimplifying.
What many of his fans may not know is that a young Ed had no interest in the oil landscapes he is now so well known for. Though he intended to be an artist in his teen years, his field of choice was commercial art. After graduating from the Vesper George School of Art in Boston, Ed worked in corporate and industrial advertising as the art director of agencies in Hartford and West Hartford. However, just under a decade into his graphic art career, he began to feel a tug in a different direction. He cites an art show in Niantic as sparking his interest in the fine arts. Since then, his career as an oil painter has taken off and soared. However, he believes that his training in basic art helped his commercial and fine art careers alike. He adamantly maintains that once one learns the artistic fundamentals of color, lines, and design, one can branch in any direction.
Though Ed most often paints landscapes and seascapes, he has diverged from this theme a few times over the years; he has released a few collections of portraits, including a series of Civil War generals as well as one of famous artists. However, his inspiration comes mostly from the outdoors, both the countryside and
A dedicated artist and art enthusiast, Ed joined Glastonbury Arts, “many moons ago” and was an active member of the board of directors for several years. He also held the position of president multiple times. Ed Hicks is a regular at the annual On The Green Fine Arts Show, and many visitors will no doubt seek out his booth again this year.
After achieving a lifelong goal of exhibiting in Glastonbury Art’s annual On the Green Show, Carrie Ann Hubbard has continued to make strides in her painting career. Her abstract, mixed-media pieces have been displayed at various galleries across the state, such as the Bird’s Nest Salon & Gallery in Guilford and the Maple and Main Gallery in Chester. Last year she was even commissioned to create an original piece for the lobby of United Illuminating.
Her passion for art began when she was a young girl and remained strong as she headed to Syracuse University, where she received her BFA in graphic design. Drawing and painting “as long as [she] can remember,” Carrie recalls her high school art teacher as being an inspiration as she pushed Carrie to branch out and try new techniques. Today, her unique paintings are all abstract, but each conveys its own message. Many of her pieces consist of striking geometric shapes, while others channel a more natural element, with images of leaves, trees, or flowers. Some lean almost toward surreal landscapes – an example being “Freedom Range,” which depicts an empty field with a single, barren tree; while others, such as “Flowing,” possess the sharp and exciting style typical of abstract works. Still another piece, “Curves,” pairs soft brush strokes with warm colors to evoke the feeling of a rising flame. Even pieces done with harsher brush strokes and straight lines have a pleasant air of serenity about them. In truth, the power of Carrie’s paintings is something one should experience for oneself.
Produced on canvas with acrylic paint, most of her pieces combine wood, metal, and textured paper in some form. Carrie’s process entails mixing the paint on her canvas – she likes to “put it all out there and see where it goes” – and then carefully laying out her materials. As a result, one can see the elegant paths formed by the brush strokes. Sometimes, to add extra texture and dimension, Carrie drags a palette knife through the canvas, or presses bubble wrap into it.
Certainly not intimidated by color, she uses every hue from deep blue to pale golden in her work. However, in any one piece her selection is usually limited to a few shades chosen very deliberately, either to contrast starkly or to blend together beautifully. Perhaps one of the most interesting elements of her work is its open-endedness. Titling her works with nonconcrete, conceptual names such as “Motion,” “Glory,” and “Leftover Summer,” Carrie Ann Hubbard makes a point of leaving the interpretation to the viewer. In fact, her 11-year-old daughter is the mastermind behind the titles. If it were up to Carrie, her pieces would all be named “untitled 1, untitled 2…” to avoid “putting an idea in someone’s head,” and to allow one to “see what they see.”
The freedom and creativity she allows her audience is mirrored in her own work. Carrie does not hesitate to venture beyond the standard elements that she incorporates into her artwork. A favorite piece of hers consists of an old paintbrush that she couldn’t part with, painted yellow at the tips, and stuck to a canvas.
In addition to painting, Carrie also works as a graphic designer. After 15 years of working with one company, she recently started her own print and web design business called “Possibilities Design.”
Over the past six years of her membership in Glastonbury Arts, Carrie’s work has been shown at the Art Walk as well as the On the Green Show, where it will be featured again this September. As she expertly balances painting and designing, both outlets for her endless creativity, Carrie will no doubt continue to be a noteworthy member of Glastonbury Arts in the years to come.
Barbara Jenkins is a versatile artist who is well-known for her plein air art work. However, more recently, Barbara’s abstract pieces have become a larger presence in her repertoire.
In her abstract work, she switches from her more realistic drawings and experiments with materials such as oil sticks, silver leaf, and powdered carbon to create multi-dimensional abstract pieces. Some of her inspiration comes from American abstract expressionist artists such as Morris Louis and Mark Rothko, as well the more contemporary American abstract artist, Emily Mason.
Over the years, Barbara has maintained a strong focus on the development of her own artwork. Her early pieces were done in oils, and then acrylics. But for the past twenty years, her primary medium has been pastels. “At first, pastels were used for sketching purposes, but I came to love the immediacy and freedom of the rich pigments so much,” she explains.
She always felt that art was the path for her, starting her art studies in high school and then going on to receive a BFA and a Master’s Degree in Art. Having completed her own education, she began teaching art at Central Connecticut State University, as well as many art courses through various art associations. She worked as Assistant Curator at the La Jolla Art Center and as a staff member at the New Britain Museum of American Art, devoting herself to sharing her appreciation of fine art with others.
A member of Glastonbury Arts for over forty years, Barbara speaks highly of the organization, calling it a “nurturing environment, with many opportunities for artists.”
Painting anything from enormous abstracts to seaside landscapes, Jim Grabowski never forgets to incorporate a feel of adventure and “unpredictability” into his work – “you wanna have surprises,” he says. To ensure an unexpected outcome, Jim insists he never draws preliminary outlines, “letting the first stroke dictate what the next one is going to be.” He describes one of his recent favorites – a vertical abstract primarily done in greens, purples, whites and yellows – as continuously “unfolding like the skins of an onion. Every time you look there’s something new going on.” A prolific painter and aficionado in both realism and the abstract, Jim has covered thousands of canvases of varying sizes, ranging from medium – a 24 in. x 30 in. – to colossal, his largest being a 9 ft. x 13 ft. diptych at the New Britain General Hospital.
Jim graduated from Central Connecticut State University in 1966. After a year of teaching art in Meriden, CT, he returned to Central to pursue his Master’s degree. Next he spent a few years teaching in West Hartford, and at the Institute of Living in Hartford. He focused on encouraging students to throw themselves into their art, to find ways to succeed and express themselves. However, during his time as a teacher, Jim found that he needed to do more; he needed to create. Painting in every spare moment at home, Jim often brought his pieces into school. As he developed a following and gained confidence, he stopped teaching and took to the road with his work. He cites his first “big break” as Glastonbury Art’s own “On the Green” Show Fine Art & Craft Show. He continues to honor his roots by devoting himself to the continued success of “On the Green”.
After 20 years of doing shows, he was able to cut back on the traveling and make a career producing work for his client base and by selling his work through art galleries across New England. Images Art Gallery in Briarcliff Manor, NY and Chabot Gallery (the number one gallery in Providence, RI) are just two of the many venues where his work can be viewed and purchased.
Now a successful and renowned commission artist, Jim’s job demands that he must sometimes paint for an audience. Nevertheless, he remains true to himself, attesting that his goal is to “create some new visual treat that he likes, and maybe someone else will too.” Despite his modesty, there is no doubt that his clients are more than content with the final product. After about 45 years as an artist, he has amassed an impressive collection of clients, including many well-known corporations. Aetna Life and Casualty, IBM, The Marriott, Harvard Business College, Apple, Yale-New Haven Hospital, Otis Elevators, and American Airlines, along with more than one hundred others, are all on his ever-growing list of collectors. Locally, The Hartford Insurance, Bristol Public Library, St. Francis Hospital, and Gideon Wells School are just a few lucky owners of Jim’s cherished artwork. His clientele expands well beyond the local level however; his pieces are proudly displayed across the state and nation, and even internationally, at various corporate offices, law firms, libraries, banks, hospitals, airports, hotels and retirement homes. A recent job with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line marked a momentous spot on his resume. Jim composed 521 heavily textured collages, color-coding them by deck, without ever seeing the ship. After years in the business, he has developed a knack for expressing what his clients want – though even they may not be able to envision it – using designs that subtly express the company’s values or line of work. When painting to decorate an airport, for example, he produced abstract works with bright colors that emulate flight. Jim believes that the key to success is to “capture the imagination of people.”
Though a veteran in the field, Jim never hesitates to try something new with his work. Though his primary medium is acrylic paint, he has worked most recently on a collection of dynamic collages that implement materials as diverse as paper, acrylics and foam core, putting them together in unfamiliar ways. In the past he has even added rusted sheet metal to his collages for increased dimension and excitement. His constant innovation exemplifies the enthusiastic artist he is. Painting for the sheer enjoyment of it, he believes that “the moment you stop loving it, it’s over.”
When asked how long she has been an artist, Sylvina Rollins answers that she has been one all her life in a sense. Growing up, she was inspired by famous artists such as Van Gogh and Monet, as well as Alex Poplaski and Glastonbury artist Ed Hicks. She was also fascinated by the horses in Rosa Bonheur’s paintings, which she could “sit in front of for hours.”
Through high school and while studying at the University of Connecticut as a Landscape Design Major, Sylvina cultivated her passion by taking various courses in Art and Art History. At school she experimented with watercolors and pen and ink, among other forms of art. After taking more classes in the early 90s, she finally settled on oil painting, her primary medium today.
Sylvina balances a career in Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) with her artwork. Whether by taking workshops and classes, or simply by blocking off some nights to work in her studio, she is always sure to set aside time for painting. Her art has also crossed into her profession at times, as she often used pen and ink in the drafting process. Though technology has changed the nature of her work in CAD, she still gets to apply her creative skills from time to time, for example, through the walking route maps she recently designed.
As long as she has loved art, Sylvina has also thrived on being outside. Growing up on a farm in Colchester, CT, she has been surrounded by nature, agriculture, and animals her whole life. So, it is no surprise that the artistic experience that “really got her hooked was plein air.” Now, about one third of her work is completed this way, out in the fresh air. Though there are “a lot of distractions when you’re on location” – changing light and weather conditions etc., – Sylvina loves the way the plein air process helps to “keep her work on the looser side,” as she is forced to make quick decisions about the piece, rather than having infinite time to draft.
The rest of her work is finished in the studio, usually with some background music. She often photographs her subjects and uses the images to supplement the vision she has in her mind. Another key part of her process is toning the canvas, or under painting. The result are colorful, fun, representational oil paintings.
Though Sylvina has created various collections, all are unified by their style of “expressive realism.” The majority also have a presiding focus on the family farm. Sylvina enjoys producing both landscapes and portraits of animals. It makes her smile when she “paints a content animal.” Cows, chickens, sheep, and horses are prominent in her work. Sylvina generally exhibits her art locally, but she has painted in places as far as Ireland. The many beautiful pieces she painted there, like her other works, evoke a feeling of comfort and longing for the countryside.
Along with the Glastonbury Art Guild, the New Britain Museum of American Art, and the Lyme Art Association, Sylvina is a member of the Connecticut Plein Air Painters Society, a group which works to promote farmland preservation. The organization also meets throughout the year to paint on location at farms across the state, and enjoy the fresh air.
Sylvina has had a successful year, calling the highlight a centennial paint-out that was held this fall on her father’s farm. Seventeen artists came to celebrate the hundredth year of her family’s farm and enjoy the day. Sylvina’s paintings will be showcased at art shows across Connecticut. Look for her this September at the annual On the Green Show put on by the Glastonbury Art Guild.