For the Love of Vermont—An Appreciation of the Paintings of Carolyn Egeli

by Margaret Edwards 

Sometimes you lean forward with curiosity—and then you step back in awe. A good reason to go see the solo art show at Montpelier’s Pavilion Office Building (5th floor) is the opportunity it gives you to admire, up close, an astonishing expertise in oil painting. Carolyn Egeli’s paintings are in the tradition of portraitists and landscape artists of a bygone time. Imagine brushwork that rivals John Singer Sargent’s and captures Vincent van Gogh’s eye for color.

While most of us grew up content with doodles, cartoons, and slap-on washable primary colors, Egeli was following the path of professional painters—her father and mother—with a formal sketch pad and an early introduction to shading, perspective, and line. What her eye saw, her hand learned to register perfectly.

To watch Egeli at work with her sketchbook or at her easel is to witness how “easy” it seems to translate the visual world into two dimensions. She can capture whatever she chooses, manipulate it, and also bend it to respond to a change in her vision. Her flexibility is well-illustrated by comparing her two versions of a Vermont farmer driving a horse team. In her first painting, the summer road was shadowed by immense, green, fully leafed trees. In her second version, the same scene is reimagined in the white of winter, with stark trees and the team laboring in the cold.

From 2007 to 2012 Egeli lived part-time in Vermont. Then, relatively recently, she gave up the studio where she had grown up, which was the Glebe Farm in Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay, and made a permanent move to a studio she built.Braintree, Vermont had called to her, and paintings of sailboats, ocean views, and fishermen gave way to those of rock-strewn fields, cattle, and big trees. She is a modern-day naturalist; she does not rely solely on photographs.

The paintings in the current show, titled For the Love of Vermont, portray the full range of Egeli’s interests. The show will last until June 28 and is on view from 8 am until 4:30 pm daily. (A photo ID is required by the building’s security officers for admission.)

Carolyn Egeli teaches ongoing art classes in Woodstock and Braintree. If you’re interested, email her at ccegeli802@gmail.com.

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