New England winter, in the cards

By Dagney C. Ernest | Dec 18, 2013
Courtesy of: Marian Heath “The Way of Winter,” an oil painting by Marieluise Hutchinson, graces holiday cards sent near and far this year.

Marieluise Hutchinson, a seasonal resident of Cushing, likes New England — especially in wintertime. That affection is reflected in her artwork, much of which focuses on the region’s venerable barns and farmhouses, under snow. This holiday season, one of Hutchinson’s oil paintings of the New England winter is being seen all around the world, featured on 10,000 greeting cards sent by the American Red Cross to soldiers and veterans.

“The Way of Winter” also is being sent out from Cape Cod, thanks to Hutchinson’s annual holiday gifting of greeting cards to be sold for benefit. This is the sixth year she has made the donation to benefit A Baby Center Hyannis, which provides support for low-income families.

“My money is earmarked for diapers,” she said. “Last year, we raised about $15,000.”

Hutchinson’s donating use of her work for charitable purposes goes back even further; three times in the last decade, her paintings have been chosen in an invitational by Maine’s Pine Tree Society, and that connection led to the Red Cross distribution.

The cards are printed by Marian Heath, an independent greeting card and calendar company in Wareham, Mass., just off the Cape. Hutchinson lives on Cape Cod and is a Master Artist at the Cape Cod Art Association and a member of the Cape Cod Museum of Art. She also is a Copley Artist at the Copley Society of Boston with work is in the permanent collection of the Cahoon Museum of American Art and the Cape Cod Museum of Art. Not bad for a self-taught artist who first took up her brush as a hobby.

“In the ‘70s … I was going through a divorce and wanted something fun in my home to do. I took an adult education course at the local high school,” she said.

It turns out the teacher wasn’t very good, but Hutchinson learned a lot anyway.

“I would watch people paint, talked with them about what kind of brushes they used; my parents gave me an acrylics set, though I use oils now,” she said.

Hutchinson painted in a cold cellar and kept at it, practicing and trying new approaches. Her diligence paid off.

“I became pretty good and got into a gallery; now I’m in seven and once in a while I do a show,” she said.

She still paints in a cellar, but it’s a warmer one. And when she’s in Maine, generally April through October, she enjoys windows in her basement studio. She said she fell in love with the Pine Tree State when she was 7. In 2006, she fulfilled a dream by raising her own traditional barn-home in Cushing.

During her months here, Hutchinson travels around the state and photographs and sketches barns and farmhouses for possible use in her work. The buildings are often dilapidated, she said, but “I fix them up!” She tries to paint four of five times a week and only works on one painting at a time. Larger paintings such as “The Way of Winter” spend three to four weeks on her easel. When it comes to the Christmas-season paintings, Hutchinson said she can get a little carried away.

“Sometimes I go crazy, with strings of lights on the outside,” she said.

But most of the time, she aims for images that provoke viewers’ imaginations. She likes to paint warm light in the windows, for example, so people will think about how cozy it must be inside.

“Maybe an apple pie is coming out of the oven, you can make it your own story,” she said.

A few years ago, she took a different approach, focusing on a sled she’d bought at an antique shop leaning against a barn door. The “Way” of this year’s image is a narrow path that winds from a man shoveling by the house to two children working on a snowman in the yard.

“The Way of Winter” is Hutchinson’s second holiday card to go national this year. Amica, the Automobile Mutual Insurance Company of America, commissioned an oil painting for its Thanksgiving card; “Harvest Home” also appeared as an e-card on the company’s website.

The holiday card-destined paintings must be done before early spring, as the card companies need to have them in April. And Hutchinson’s Christmas paintings have another destination come autumn: every October for the last nine or 10 years, she has sent the Christmas card painting to sunny California, to a collector who presents it each year to his wife.

“She must know it’s coming at this point,” the artist said.

While people who live in California or Florida have long enjoyed the images of New England’s winter — the intro to the iconic “White Christmas,” written by the equally iconic Irving Berlin, speaks to longing for snow amidst palm trees — Hutchinson has absolutely no desire to become a snowbird. Cape Cod is as far south as she goes from her Midcoast barn.

“I feel sorry for people in this world who have never built a snowman,” she said.

The patriotic Hutchinson is equally passionate about America, and two of this year’s accomplishments give her particular satisfaction. One of her snowy New England landscapes will go on exhibit in the American Embassy in Athens, Greece, for three years as part of the Art in the Embassies program. And she said she is very proud American Red Cross is sending her work to the country’s troops, active and veteran, this holiday season.

“I hope it will bring a lot of peace and solitude,” she said.

To see more of Hutchinson’s work, visit marieluisehutchinson.com.

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Staff Profile

Dagney C. Ernest
A&E editor for Courier Publications, LLC
(207) 594-4401/4407, ext. 115
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Dagney has been providing Courier coverage of the local arts scene since 1985 and has helmed the multi-paper A&E section since it debuted in 2003. She has been a local performing artist, community and professional, for almost 30 years and spent a decade writing, producing and announcing on-air for several Midcoast radio stations. When not in the NewsNest, Dagney likes to be in motion.

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