Channeling the Spirit of the Artist at Weir Farm

In a space steeped in natural beauty and artistic energy, artist Dorothy Lorenze finds inspiration in solitude. Like more than 150 artists before her, Lorenze is taking part in the Artist-in-Residence Program at the Weir Farm National Historic Site, living and working for a month in the historic home of Julien Alden Weir, a founding father of American Impressionism.

As artists, Lorenze and Weir have vastly different styles and subject matters–Lorenze honors traditional realism with a mix of still life and interior space oil paintings, while Weir was a champion of rough, rapid brush-strokes and evocative landscapes. But a thread connects the two painters through time and space:  a shared dedication to capturing the emotion of the everyday, the beauty intrinsic to the ordinary.

The very same natural light that guided Weir’s brush a century ago likewise informs Lorenze’s creation today, as she toils away in the gorgeous studio on Nod Hill Rd..

For Lorenze, the Weir Farm Residency represents another step in an artistic path marked by a desire for creative progress through new experiences. “I’ve always tried to do something that makes me think outside the box,” Lorenze says. “If you are following the same routine all the time, you don’t grow as quickly.”

Incidentally, this is not the first space with an artistic history that Lorenze has painted; she also spent some time painting in the former home of artist George Laurence Nelson in Kent, Connecticut.

“I painted in his historic home which is a museum. That was unbelievable. There’s something about being in the space of an accomplished artist and just breathing in that environment. It was kind of spiritual, and I didn’t know I’d feel that way, so it was pretty exciting.”

Along with the artistic spirit that permeates the Weir Farm National Historical Site, Lorenze emphasizes the rejuvenating quality of the landscape as a guiding force for her work during her residency.

“Being here, nothing is the same. My routine doesn’t have to be anything like it ever was, and it gives me the opportunity to focus on what I want to be doing, rather than what I feel like I am supposed to be doing. So it’s a fresh perspective, and I’ve already established new habits, a lot of which have to do with being outside. I’ve walked every morning, and I have found something interesting when I come into the studio after taking a walk. I feel…different. I feel more alive, more awake, more creatively alert, and I am able to get in tune with the work I’m doing more quickly.”

The solitary nature of the Weir Farm residency lends a certain Thoreauvian air to this experiment in art:  just as Thoreau went to the woods because he “wished to live deliberately,” Lorenze finds the cultivated combination of nature, solitude, and artistic endeavor to be a winning one. But for Lorenze, being alone in creation is just a stepping stone towards her ultimate goal in art–to share it with others, and find meaning in that sharing.

“I feel accomplished when I do something that looks the way I want it to look, has an atmosphere that I want it to have, but then when you see how other people are affected by it, it makes the impact so much greater,” Lorenze says. “And you never know when that’s going to happen, so you can’t count on it, but when it does happen it is pretty special. So you know it kind of keeps you going, makes you realize there is a reason for this.”

There will be a reception and exhibition for Lorenze’s work at the Wilton Library on Monday, June 26, co-sponsored by Weir Farm Art Center and Weir Farm National Historic Site. There is no charge, but online registration is suggested. For more information on Lorenze or to find more of her work, visit her website.