In Studio - Laurence Sisson

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  It doesn't matter how many times Laurence Sisson paints the landscape he loves and cherishes. Each observation of the surging tides and rhythmic waves that pound against the Maine coast or the expansive desert floor of northern New Mexico is a fresh and vibrant experience that excites his imagination and fuels his aesthetic drive.

  "My subjects may remain the same, but even after 50 years of painting I'm still fascinated by the ocean and desert landscapes," Sisson explains. "I am always looking for new vocabulary to capture the aesthetic form and design and am continually expanding and refining my work."

   While some of Sisson's contemporaries spend their days in leisure activities, he prefers to be in his Albuquerque studio with brush in hand. Painting is done in a standing position and is a very physical endeavor for him. He loves to engage his entire body, much like a ballet dancer, in the act of creation. Initial ideas are captured quickly and spontaneously, while the beautifully intricate details, a defining characteristic of his work, are executed in a slow and meticulous fashion. He may look at sketches drawn on location before beginning a new painting, but he never works from photos.

   Maine's rocky and wild coast continues to be a favorite scenario for this prolific painter, who is a native New Englander. Sisson visits New England annually to soak in the moist salty air and play in the ever fascinating tide pools that hug the shoreline. He loves studying the unusual textures of coastal pebbles and likes to think people are beach-combing through his paintings and discovering the many shore inhabitants he has uncovered.

   Sisson also loves to immerse himself in the sparse beauty of southwestern landscapes. He's intrigued by the rhythmic shapes of New Mexico and Arizona mesas, hills, valleys, and desert plains and by the movement of cloud shadows crossing the mountains and glistening canyon walls. A resident of New Mexico for more than 20 years, he's begun to observe a similarity between the natural forms indigenous to his New England childhood home and the mesas and vast open spaces surrounding him today.

   "Hills and deserts in New Mexico flow and seem wave-like to me," he comments. "Sometimes New Mexico colors creep into my Maine paintings. When I put a New Mexico painting next to one of Maine, I see they are characteristically similar."

   While the body of Sisson's work is now done in oils, he is a master of watercolors who was inducted into the American Watercolor Society in 1955. During his career he has created hundreds of paintings in this elusive medium. When he moved to the southwest in 1978, he discovered that watercolors didn't work the same way for him in an arid environment as they did in Maine and decided to turn to oils as another venue in which to express his deep love for the natural world around him. When he does work in watercolors, he usually produces a group of paintings for three or four weeks at a time so he can build up a rhythm and follow in the watercolor process.

   "Watercolors are really a series of well-controlled accidents," he declares. "They should be spontaneous. When I start working on a watercolor in the studio, I'll finish it within a half day or a day. It is a punishing process for me, however. While I attach my oil canvases to a wall and work standing up, I create my watercolors bent over a table. It can be exhausting."

   Sisson's artistic journey began during childhood in Newton, Massachusetts. He attended the prestigious Worcester Art Museum School and upon graduation spent a summer at Booth bay Harbor, Maine, where he first fell in love with the ebb and flow of tides against the rocky shore. He's been an artist-in-residence at the Cincinnati Museum and Director of the Portland Museum School. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the National Park Foundation, and Clark, Colby, Dartmouth, Salem State, and Bowdoin Colleges have included his landscapes in their permanent collections.

MEMBER: Watercolor American Society

Studied: Worcester Museum School - Graduated 1949 Yale Summer School - Scholarship 1948-49

Boston University; Berkshire Museum; Bowdoin College; Clark University; Colby College; Columbia Museum of Fine Arts; Boston Museum of Fine Arts; DeCordova Museum; Dartmouth College; New Britain Museum, Connecticut; Portland Museum; Worcester Museum; Salem State College; Albuquerque Museum Mural; Worcester Polytech Murals; Boston Five Cents Savings BankMural; Bangor, Maine Public Building; First National Bank of Boston; National Park Foundation

Vose Galleries, Boston, MA 1951-53, 1955-57
Shore Galleries, Boston, MA 1958-61, 1963-78
Portland Museum, ME 1954, 1967 (retrospective)
Cincinnati Museum, OH 1954
DeCordova Museum, MA 1958
Clark University, MA 1951
Columbia Museum of Fine Arts, SC 1961
Fitchburg Museum, MA 1957
Galerie Irla Kert, Montreal, Canada 1965, 1967
Huntington Hartford Museum, NY - Gallery of Fine Art 1969
Kobe Sound Galleries, FL 1972, 1974, 1975
Brockton Art Center - Fuller Memorial, MA 1972
Payson Weisberg Gallery, NY 1982
Maxwell Galleries, Ltd., San Francisco, CA 1971
Dalzell Hatfield Galleries, Los Angeles, CA 1971, 1974, 1977
O'Brien's Art Emporium, Scottsdale, AZ 1980, 1982, 1984, 1991
Gallery 10, Inc., Aspen, CO 1982
Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, NM 1980
Artists of America Rotary Show, Denver, CO 1908, 1990, 1998, 1999
Wadle Galleries, Ltd., Santa Fe, NM 1984,1985
Midtown Payson Galleries, Inc., Hobe Sound, FL 1996
Vanier & Roberts Ltd., Fine Art, Scottsdale, AZ 1996
Vanier Fine Art Ltd., Scottsdale, AZ 1998
Westbrook College Museum, Westbrook, ME 1993
Thomasville Cultural Center, Thomasville, GA 2000

A Hint of Blue Sky

Afternoon Sail

Autumn Echoes

Chamisa Skies,

New Mexico

Chamisa with

Mirrored Clouds

Cumulus Parade

From Grand View

Monsoon Genesis

October Surprise

Old Gold

Spruce Point

Study for

Autumn Echoes

Study For

Driftwood Cove

Study For

Mauve Mirage

Study For

Moonstone Majesty

Winter Near Santa Fe