A lifelong love of all things saltwater drew artist Connie Crosby to Hull in 2012 from elsewhere on the south shore. Now with more limited studio space she has returned to painting, infusing her acrylic portrayals of rowers, surfers, and others with techniques from surface design and faux finishing. Her pastel landscapes explore coastal environments and the occasional abstract. Hull provides daily inspiration with its magical light and 28 miles of shoreline and water access. And recently she has begun an intense exploration of digital art-making with the iPad.
“The tactile interface or touch screen affords me an immediate connection between my hands and and what is created on the screen, even if the product is only photons and pixels until printed. More and more I find myself incorporating the iPad into my process. It has become both my sketchbook and a place where I create finished works.”
Growing up on a defunct dairy farm she had learned to refashion wood and other materials while “borrowing” her father’s hand tools. From this background came an ethos for crafting objects from found and upcylced materials.It could be a box made from an old drawer, painted with faux finishes. It could be a small stand or a chair made from the waste wood resulting from cutting logs into lumber and stained with transparent dyes. Or it could be paper mache baskets and bowls fashioned from discarded packaging materials and painted with colorful surface designs. Most recently she began “The Ragged Edge” project, make rag rugs, baskets, and bags from recycled fabrics and clothing.
Nearly 20 years ago she took up rowing at Hull Lifesaving Museum and went on to row in Boston on the Charles River and become a National and World Champion masters rower and a rowing coach. She continues to find great inspiration in that world for her pictorial work. “I strive to depict that part of the rowing experience where the boat, water, light, oar, and rower become one, whether during a leisurely row across the harbor or in the heart of a race. “
When visiting San Francisco in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s, she often worked with her sister Marcia Crosby and Joegh Bullock (both formerly of Climate Theater, Glashaus, and AnonSalon) making decor and props for large party events. In the late 1990s and early 2000s she attended Burningman several times, working on decor and installations for their Center Camp Cafe.
It was an off hand comment from her sister that rekindled Connie’s art making after a long hiatus. “I was one of the art room kids in high school, it helped keep me balanced, happy. I had wonderful teachers who taught me everything from painting and drawing to pottery and printmaking. I didn’t go to art school but I continued to take sculpture in college for the same reasons.”
She gave up her career in archaeology and took up her art studies at Mass Art and the Museum School and continued them at local art societies and museums. Her studies have included:
- Acrylic painting and faux and decorative painting techniques with Paula DeSimone, former head of the Decorative Painting Program at Rhode Island School of Design
- Pastel painting with nationally recognized pastel artist Liz Haywood Sullivan at North River Arts Society
- Graphic design, silkscreen printmaking, figure drawing, and public art at Mass Art and the Museum School in Boston.
“One of my most profound aha moments as an artist resulted from a Mass Art drawing assignment at the Museum of Fine Arts. In that process I no longer saw the museum’s objects for their historical associations but as the product of human creativity and now all equal, all sharing something essentially human, the artist’s vision and eye, a creative spirit that superseded their divergent origins and uses. They were no longer objects of history or archaeology but art speaking directly to me…it opened my eyes.”
Her work can be seen at the Gallery Nantasket, 121 Nantasket Avenue, Hull, MA.
First Place for pastel “Tennessee Valley / Marin Headlands” at Sea and Sky Show, Hull Lifesaving Museum 2013
Honorable Mention for silk screen print “Head of the Charles” at North River Arts Society