Laurel Wilson

Laurel Wilson’s watercolor paintings express her love of nature and history. She captures in realistic landscapes, seascapes and nature close-ups the many details, moods, and seasons that make her Cape Cod home unique. Having lived in Yarmouth Port since 1974 and as an avid explorer and learner, she has a deep understanding of local subjects, colors, forms, and changing light in all seasons Her work is known for its sensitive handling of details, color harmony, strong values, and balanced compositions. Most of her pieces project a feeling of quiet and peacefulness and encourage discovery. 


Art observation and creation has been life-long. As a child, her happiest moments were spent drawing and painting and she was encouraged by her family and exposed to art in classes and museums. Her academic training at Mount Holyoke College and graduate work at Oberlin College prepared her for a career as an art historian specializing in American landscape and art conservation. Studio training to augment her history study was in Design, Drawing, Painting (acrylic, oil, egg tempera), and Printmaking. She began her career at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC as a curator, docent and conservator and went on to work in the conservation lab of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Laurel also taught art history at Alfred University in New York. 


A move to Cape Cod for her husband’s job and the addition of two children led Laurel to return to painting. Her first formal watercolor lessons were with Claude Croney (AWS). She has also studied with Kely Knowles, Sandra O’Connor, Kristie Velesig, Vera Champlin, and Ann Hart. While acknowledging there is much to be learned from other artists, Laurel prefers to develop her own style by relying on her familiarity with great art, observation of other work and reading art books or Internet entries. Years of practice helps too. She loves watercolor because of its deceptive simplicity, transparency, and subtle color variations and the continual challenge the fluid medium. She enjoys increasing her skills in the use of special techniques. Her watercolors are unique for the choice of subject, strong color, and complex design. The art is not just of recognizable subjects but is imbued with the sensitivity of the artist and her desire to connect with other people who share or might wish a common experience. The paintings are presented in mats, frames, and glass, all of which are conservation-aware. In addition to paintings, she offers tiles, cards, and prints of some of her originals.


Her method of working starts by taking multiple photos of the subject to capture detail, form, and color. She makes loose sketches on site to work out the composition, relative size of forms, and relative values of all portions of the scene. She deletes some forms, adds others, and rearranges that she can tell a story or invite an observer to explore. Returning to the studio she makes a final drawing and paints. One work can take several days or even weeks depending on the amount of fine detail and the size of the piece. She employs a limited palette, mixing many of her colors from about five colors, always using transparent pigments that allow layering and don’t muddy so the subject can breathe and there is clarity.


Laurel has received many awards for her work and exhibits in galleries, group shows, juried outdoor shows, and invitational exhibits on and off Cape. She has been a member of five different galleries and presently calls Eastwind Gallery her home. She is a juried artist member of the Creative Arts Center in Chatham and designated as a Master Artist at the Cape Cod Art Center in Barnstable. She is an artist member of the Cape Cod Museum of Art, the Cape Cod Cultural Center, the Falmouth Art Center, the New England Watercolor Society, and the art guilds of Plymouth and Yarmouth. In addition to member shows, she exhibits and competes in regional and national shows, often being rewarded by either prizes or sales. For forty years, she has been a participant in the Festival of the Arts, a national outdoor show sponsored by the Creative Arts Center in Chatham. Her work will also be displayed for a few weeks this summer in The Cottages at Marketplace Square in Orleans and the Hy-Arts Shanties in Hyannis. Her work is in private and corporate collections in the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa and the Far East.


Laurel enjoys meeting and talking with people who like her work or have questions about watercolor. For more information please see .

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