Sheila Connor

I graduated Massachusetts College of Art with BFA in painting and illustration and quickly discovered I needed a job. Luckily I’d spent all four years of work-study in Mass Art’s library and retired three years ago from a fantastic job as Archivist and Librarian at the Arnold Arboretum that I loved, but finally after 42 years wished done and over.  Since then I’ve thrown myself into  doing  all those wonderful things   that existed only in the periphery of my daily life - spending as much time as I wanted outdoors, gardening and exploring, or indoors,writing and painting.  I spent a transition year serving as the first Senior Ambassador for the Department of Conservation and Recreation.  My task was visit, explore, and photograph the State’s parks, forests, beaches, and cultural and historic sites then write about them on the Facebook page created for me.   It was a year rediscovery and remembering how to go out and play.

My primary medium is watercolor which I hope someday to master. I usually begin outdoors doing a comprehensive study of the subject with photographs and multiple sketches. Often the finished product doesn't incorporate any of the drawings or look at all like the photographs but the preparation helps me find the center of what I am trying to capture. Sometimes I paint with grim determination other times with great joy.  I paint fast and furiously then need to step back until I feel in tune with what see in my mind's eye. If I'm lucky the pauses don't show and the piece works itself out in spite of me.

I also work in fabric. I discovered needle felting by taking a class at the Fuller Craft Museum for 9 year olds and up and now make mittens with repurposed wool sweaters, which I needle felt and line with fleece.  It’s the polar opposite of painting; my mind just wanders while my hand hums along finding its own way plus it feeds my hunter-gatherer instincts and my penchant for thrift.