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The stories behind the paintings: Janet Marie Yeates

November 9, 2012 - Mohawk Currents

The Sacandaga Valley Arts Network invites the community to a Tuesday evening reception for “Journeys III,” an exhibit of 24 oil paintings by Janet Marie Yeates, at the Northville Public Library. The free meet-the-artist gathering will be upstairs in the gallery from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibit runs through Dec. 27 and is open during library hours (call 863-6922 for details).

Janet was kind enough to share the following information about her work, and below she offers previews of three of her paintings — "Grace's Tulip Tree," "May Morning, Huntersland" and "Historic Stone Library on the Mill Pond, Brant Lake." The first two paintings were shown this summer in the 77th annual Cooperstown National Juried Exhibition at the Cooperstown Art Association.

Read on for what Janet has to say, in her own words, about her work and the stories behind these three paintings:

My life is enriched by the time I spend quietly observing and listening to Nature. Yes, there are intense challenges, but the rewards keep me and colleagues working outside at every opportunity. Having the right equipment is essential. Although I studied art and have practiced drawing, calligraphy and graphic design all my life, I needed to learn how to work outdoors. I've been fortunate to have guidance over the last 3 1/2 years. I am very grateful for studies with Ann Larsen, American Women Artists (, and the paint-outs organized by Marilyn Fairman, chair of New York Plein Air Painters ( and founder of the Mohawk Region Chapter. These artists have studied the landscape in many parts of the country and are generous mentors.

When I meet people at the beautiful gallery which is upstairs in Northville Public Library, I get a chance to tell them how I happened to paint a particular canvas. Here are a few stories that reinforce my passion for seizing opportunities when painting outdoors, en plein air.

"Grace's Tulip Tree"

My friend Grace Loucks has lived in Gifford Valley, near Northville, for 90 years. She is keenly aware of seasonal changes, wildlife and the trees and flowers she cherishes. Last year in early May, I drove past her house and caught a glimpse of a flowering tree. I found Grace at home, and after admiring the tulip tree, I set up my easel and quickly painted this 11x14 oil, knowing that warm, late afternoon light is fleeting. Sunlight described her home, so I wanted to paint that as well. Because I had no interest in a shed between the house and the tree, I never saw it! Not intending to "copy" Nature, I simply moved the tree closer to Grace's house. I finished the painting in a concentrated session less than 2 hours. Here's the magic: After that evening, it rained for nine days and the tree shed every blossom. This spring, the weather was erratic and the tree didn't bloom. I'd recorded a moment in time when the tree and I made a lasting connection. That is exciting for me and artistically fulfilling.


"May Morning, Huntersland"

I was in Schoharie County this May, but the weather was windy, wet and raw. Since my painting time is limited by work commitments, I was quite sad. Monday morning arrived warm and sweet, and I made a quick decision to extend my visit. As usual, I had mental notes about painting sites to consider. I didn't have to drive far to see that a lone barn in the valley was an ideal subject. I was intrigued by the light aqua color of the barn door and the transparent yellow-greens of the hills behind the barn. It was only when I finished the painting and started driving up the hill that I could clearly see that the door was an ordinary galvanized grey. The color I saw was created by reflected light from the spring grasses!


"Historic Stone Library on the Mill Pond, Brant Lake."

On this hot summer day, I was looking for shade and a windbreak. I drove for an hour until I found these two buildings. While I was working, the angle of the sun changed and the intriguing shadow appeared on the old stone building. If I had snapped a photo and gone back to the studio to work, I would have missed it!


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