About my painting “The Earth is heartbreakingly generous” is a quote from a friend who is wise to all manner of practical and spiritual things. It is true. I like to walk around outside with my Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide and try my hand at identifying what I find. When I return home with a list of names of wildflowers to Google, EACH AND EVERY ONE of the plants I look up has multiple uses for treating ailments from insomnia to repelling insects to treating heart disease.
Why is this the case? Why is the treatment for an ailment found near the problem - as with Poison Ivy and (its treatment) Jewel Weed often growing right beside it? In my view it is because there is an essential nurturing nature to the Earth. Not only are we literally born from this planet, but it (she) cares about us and for us. The things we need to thrive are all around us, if only we know how to see and use them. It is this truth that I want to communicate with my artwork.
Religion, science, and art used to be intertwined in human culture. With my work I seek to reconnect these threads and understand how we humans fit in on this planet which is itself alive and provides for us. I also seek to deepen my own spiritual and practical relationship with the land around me.
I am inspired by the vibrant craziness of the world and magic in everyday life. I’ve always drawn and painted, and I learn through creating. Recently familiar plants have been my avenue to explore my place in the world. I study and paint the plants around me, learning their names, their uses in traditional medicine and magic, and their “personalities.” In the process of making these paintings, I organize the new information in a way that makes sense to me. The process allows me to grow in my connection to the plant, the land, and as an artist.
Painting with oils on canvas, I borrow simplified shapes, bright colors, and collage from folk art. Also in that tradition, I make use of whatever materials are on hand. Often I hand stitch onto the canvas old photos, old text, fabrics, and recently my own notes about the plants I am painting. As part of my research I make medicine from the plant, usually involving creating tinctures and infusing oil. I will then mix the paint with linseed and olive oil infused with the plant in the painting.
I live with my family in an old farmhouse in southern Vermont, surrounded by gardens, woods, a stream, and animals. They feed my drive to learn about and depict in my artwork this spiritual connection to the land.
About my design practice I love helping people organize a jumble of ideas and feelings into designs for advertising, logos, and websites that help spread the word about the work they are doing. It is creative and intuitive work and I am honored to be a small part of many amazing projects.
- Margaret Shipman
Vermont Winter Vacation Guide 2017, Love Where you Live
The Commons, February 24, 2016, Drawing a Crowd, Richard Henke
The Commons, February 10, 2016, Shipman Paintings on Display at Amy's
Southern Vermont Art & Living, Winter 2013 - 2014, The Art/Life Balance, Arlene Distler