Woodsy and Wonderful: Field Fine Art Studio
By Kathi Caldwell-Hopper
The days of summer are fleeting, and when the forecast calls for sun and warm temperatures, one must take advantage and explore unknown areas.
Thus it was that I decided to drive to the Sandwich, New Hampshire area for a hike on a trail that looked like fun. I never explored the trail - I got wonderfully distracted when I instead discovered Kathryn Field Fine Art Studio on a quiet country road in Sandwich. (A sign on the rural road announcing a yard sale or farm stand or shop are like magnets to me. If someone who lives way out in the country has taken the time to create a shop, I am always appreciative enough to stop out of curiosity. But as a lover of art, I certainly could not resist a sign pointing to a side road for an art studio.)
As I traveled through the pretty little village of Sandwich, I drove by the Tappan Chair shop (another great place), and continued on to Taylor Road. This is a beautiful area with rolling fields, old farmhouses and that rural tranquility I so appreciate.
I was looking for a particular hiking trail and didn’t much care if I got a bit lost because the nice, sunny afternoon stretched before me. That is when I spotted a colorful sign in the shape of an artist’s palette with the words “Field Fine Art”. On impulse I made a turn and headed down a side road even deeper into the woods, which led to a wonderful art studio and the multi-talented Kathryn Field, who is the epitome of a busy, working artist.
Kathryn maintains a studio in a building adjacent to the home she shares with her husband in the private setting. If one wanted to get away from it all way out in the woods, this would be how to do it. And yet, Kathryn is anything but a hermit. Her studio is often filled with students taking the variety of workshops she offers to the public.
On the day I visited, Kathryn was busy in her studio preparing for an upcoming exhibit. She met me in the yard with a welcoming smile and an invitation to come to the studio. Admittedly, my visit was a bit unusual in that I just happened upon the place, but it is advisable to call ahead (contact information at the end of this story). Luckily Kathryn had the time on this particular day to show me her artwork and explain about the summer workshops she is gearing up to present.
Kathryn’s studio is a huge, bright space with a tall ceiling where she works on a variety of projects. It is also where students can spread out with supplies to do watercolors, prints and drawings when taking a class.
When I visited, Kathryn was working on a large oil painting of sun filtering through trees. It was a beautiful painting and she said it is for her upcoming exhibit at the Museum of the White Mountains in Plymouth, New Hampshire.
The walls are filled with Kathryn’s paintings and here and there a sculpture is placed, showing the range of her art skills. “I was educated at Temple University's Tyler School of Art, and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin in Madison,” she explained. “I started as a jeweler but switched to sculpture.”
Sculpture was clearly her first love and she taught sculpture and design at Ohio State University, Washington University in St. Louis, the School of the Chicago Art Institute, Western Michigan University and Lake Forest College. After moving to New Hampshire, Kathryn was a lecturer in art at Plymouth State College and taught for many years at the Holderness School.
“I have been painting for 20 years,” she explained. “First I did watercolors and then oils.” For two years, Kathryn lived in Australia, where she was fortunate to study with talented painters. During that time, she also taught and she speaks of her time in Australia with great fondness.
After returning to the United States, Kathryn lived and worked in Sandwich. Teaching has always been part of her life, with a desire to share and pass on the skills she has to others who want to create. “We moved to Sandwich full time in 1999,” she said. “The land is a family property and we built our house and the studio here. I was working on commissions and thought that my studio seemed really big for just me, so I decided to open it up for workshops.”
The studio is indeed perfect for classes, but Kathryn includes use of the beautiful property surrounding her home and studio as well. She invited me to take a walk and I soon saw why this would be a more-than-perfect place for plein air painting. The large flower garden, and the soft green lawns around the home, offer a variety of scenic spots any artist would love. An old stone wall runs along the back of the property, and in the distance more fields seem to roll on to meet the mountains.
“When it’s nice weather my students can set up outside or if it’s rainy, they can paint on the screened porch of my house,” Kathryn told me. I spotted a large sculpture at the edge of the field and asked her about it. “Let’s go take a look,” she invited. Near the stone wall is placed a large sculpture that Kathryn created, titled “Balance”. It is modern and graceful and yet fits well in the wooded setting.
Kathryn works full time as an artist and has crafted a life anyone would envy, but she has achieved it by dedication to her art practice and a willingness to focus solely on art and teaching. “A typical day for me is exercising in early morning and then getting right into the studio for six or seven hours.” It might sound like fun and games, but in reality it is hard work to maintain that focus and skill to complete not just any painting, but rather to create successful, top-notch works of art. Along with painting, Kathryn puts time into marketing her work and creating and publicizing the workshops she offers throughout the year.
The workshops are well-thought-out and geared for areas of art her students wish to explore. “Usually the classes are made up of six to eight people. This gives everyone room to spread out and get lots of individual attention. I have a number of returning students and some are summer people from as far away as New York and North Carolina,” said Kathryn.
This summer, she is offering a variety of classes, including a Watercolor Portraits Workshop on July 2 and 3 and also on July 26 and 27; Landscapes in Watercolor on July 18 or July 6 and 7; an August class will be offered on August 13 and 14. Handmade and Altered Books will take place on July 23; Introduction to Printmaking is scheduled for July 11 or July 21. The nice thing about these classes is that all materials are provided. Students only need to bring their lunch, which is a relaxed meal on Kathryn’s porch or outside if the weather is fine.
With the skills of a true, dedicated teacher, Kathryn has taught students as young as age three and as elderly as age 94. “I like to say I can teach anyone to draw,” she added with a smile.
Off site, she spends a lot of time teaching as well. This summer, she will be at the Sandwich Children’s Center to teach clay and collage classes. At the Center Sandwich Fine Craft Gallery at Sandwich Home Industries she will be offering a Drawing Animals and Nature class on July 28.
Surrounded by the beauty of fall foliage on Kathryn’s property, autumn workshops will offer a wonderful time of year to take a watercolor or other class; Kathryn also offers private classes for those who cannot attend the scheduled workshops.
Along with her busy teaching life, Kathryn works daily on her own art and is represented by Patricia Ladd Carega Gallery in Center Sandwich, and Brothers Gallery in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. She is currently busy with work to be shown in a November 5 to December 13 exhibit at the Museum of the White Mountains, titled “Walking in the Whites: A Poet/Painter Dialogue”. Kathryn’s visual art will be shown with the poetry of Tim Muskat. Visitors will experience a sense of place, through poetry and paintings focused on the experience of the White Mountains. An opening reception will take place on November 5 from 4 to 6 pm.
Upcoming this summer, Kathryn will also be a featured stop on a unique Summer Garden Tour. The July 20 event is presented by Cackleberries Garden & Gift Shop and will run from 9 am to 3 pm. Nine beautiful gardens in Sandwich and Holderness will be on the tour, with proceeds from the admission price going to two local charities. This will be a great chance to see Kathryn’s garden and also to visit her studio. (For tickets, visit www.cackleberriesgardencenter.com.)
The days of summer are indeed fleeting. When a nice summer or fall day is upon us, put aside your chores and just get in the car and drive. You might find yourself on a rural road with someone interesting waiting to share their shop with you. And if you are exceptionally fortunate, you might find yourself in a wooded, wonderful place where creativity is encouraged and the world of art awaits.