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WAM Updates are short, informal posts that put the spotlight on small, but exciting, Museum-related projects, such as the addition of a new painting or sculpture to a gallery. They also serve as updates on staff, new services or programs, and other WAM news.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Winter Cover Contest Winner: Linda Spencer

Linda Spencer’s luminescent oil painting, Winter Train over Seven-Mile River, East Brookfield, appears on the cover of WAM’s Studio Art 2016/17 winter catalog. Her winning entry was selected from a number of submissions, all by current and former Studio Art students.

Spencer’s painting — a mesmerizing display of muted light and soft colors that aptly captures early New England winter — began with a brisk walk behind the Massasoit Art Guild studios in East Brookfield. The light was exceptional so she took a number of photographs and then headed to the studio to paint.

“People asked me, ‘Where is that stunning location?’ and I told them it was just out back. You don’t have to travel far to find beauty.”

Why would, Spencer, an artist and art teacher, decide to take classes at WAM’s Studio Art program? The answer is not complicated, she says. “If you work and you’re busy, you won’t paint if you don’t take a class.”

Spencer, who coincidentally lives in Spencer, taught art at the Quabbin Regional High School in Barre for 35 years. During those demanding years, she took Studio Art classes to bring fresh ideas to her classroom. At the same time, she developed her own preferences and style as an artist. And it was at WAM that she came into her own as an artist.

“I took my first plein-air painting class with Susan Swinand at WAM. I love plein-air. Now that I’m retired, I paint much more.”

Painting is restorative, engaging, challenging and, yes, even therapeutic.

“I’ve always loved the outdoors,” she says. “It’s the fresh air, the sense of being there. The wonder of looking at everything. To quickly capture what you see is quite a challenge. You have to focus so much on what you’re doing. For the time that you’re working, it’s almost like a vacation, though I’m always exhausted afterward. It’s a lot of work — taking what you see and limiting it to a small canvas.”

In art, Spencer says, “there’s no right or wrong. Art is a safe place to be. My students gained tremendous confidence that carried over into other parts of their lives. You take risks, see some successes there, and then you’re willing to take more risks, try harder, try something else.”

“Be fearless,” she says. “Don’t worry. You can always try again.”

View all of the winter cover contest entries on WAM’s Facebook page

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- Ashley Occhino, Manager of Studio Class Programs

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