From an early age, Laura Radwell dreamed of being an artist. In her first career in marketing and communications, she always tried to incorporate visual components into her work.
After leaving the marketing field, Radwell returned to her dream of being a painter. In her Cottage Street studio in Easthampton, she creates large scale paintings that focus on atmosphere and her inner impressions of the landscape.
Producer Dave Fraser visited her studio to meet Radwell and get a first-hand look at her dreamy artwork.
This story originally aired on February 14, 2019.
Read the full transcription:
Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: From an early age, Laura Radwell dreamed of being an artist, and with a career in marketing and communications, she always tried to incorporate visual components into her work. So, when she began to wind down her business, she decided to go make her dream of being a painter a reality.
Today, she works out of her studio, at Cottage Street in Easthampton, creating large scale paintings that focus on atmosphere and her inner impressions of the landscape. Producer Dave Fraser visited her there and brings us her story.
Laura Radwell, Artist: I don’t necessarily have a plan in mind. Sometimes I have a color feeling in mind and I just let something…emerge.
At one point in my working life, I noticed that everything I did was gravitating toward the visual, and I think that was some kind of a subconscious attempt to…satisfy my dream. And in the back of my mind, I knew that I really wanted to paint, which I had done for three or four years in the 1980s, encouraged by a mentor who was a local artist.
And he gave me an old paint box and some tubes of paint and brushes and said, “You should be painting.”
And that really tripped a wire. And yet I couldn’t do it full time at that point. It was the 1980s, and that’s when I started my business to earn a living and take care of my kids.
And I ran that business for the better part of 30 years until about four years ago, at which point I said, “Okay, this is it, this is the time, this is my time, and I have to fulfill this dream.”
Sometimes I wake up in the morning with colors on my mind. They may have come to me in dreams. They may have come to me from something I saw the evening before, or the drive into the studio in the morning.
Between Northampton and Easthampton, where my studio is at Cottage Street is only 12 minutes, but there are some beautiful fields and wild things that I sometimes see, and the change of the seasons, I’m very attuned to the colors and the tones of the atmosphere, really. So, that can affect what happens when I open the door to the studio.
And I open the paints and I typically will mix a palette and it’s not always the same. I think that in traditional working styles, you’re supposed to lay out your palette in a particular order. You’re supposed to have your whole array so you can mix anything. I don’t do that.
I think that I’m just unschooled and I’m a bit rebellious, so I mix the colors that I like that I want to work with in that particular day, and I’ll put the canvas on the easel and I’ll just let it rip.
I’m not a plein air painter; I’m a studio painter. I think my painting is very emotional and very gestural and very spontaneous. And containing that kind of feeling on it’s — in a small space doesn’t work.
And I slowly came to realize that and the sizes of the paintings have grown. And now I like painting 24 by 24, 36 by 36, 40 by 40, 40 by 50. It’s getting larger and I don’t know where to go from here. I am thinking about a renovation to my studio that would allow me to pin very large canvases on a vertical wall, but I haven’t quite gotten there yet.
I was handed some — what we call chippy brushes, and you buy them at hardware stores and they cost under $2 for a variety of sizes. And I came to really appreciate them because they’re rough and they show the brush stroke. And to me, that equates with some kind of emotion and some kind of spontaneity. And I really like using them. Plus, I can throw them away. I can wash them once or twice, and then I can throw them away without feeling any guilt.
I think there’s a certain kind of a mystery in the paintings, given that they don’t represent actual places. And often I’m asked, “Where is that place?”
And I will say, “It is not a place. It’s a place that you can define. It’s a place that you can go to, if you so wish.”
I could say that I’m having the time of my life. I’m very grateful. I’m very excited. I feel hopeful that I’ll have a lot of time left, because I have so many ideas and so many things I’d like to explore.
This is a dream come true.