Juxtaposition of nature and art

Barbara Lawlor
Nederland

At first you don’t see the people.

The forest is at the edge of a snow covered opening in the trees, a set of cross-country ski tracks heading into the pines. A quick glance reveals a serene scene, the gliding ski tracks, the glistening snow, a feeling of quiet.

If you look long enough, if you move a little to the left or the right, changing the angle of sunlight, the shapes of people frolicking begin to appear.

Also hanging on the Nederland Community Library walls are pictures of granite boulders, some forming the funnel for waterfalls. The rock formations are painted with nature’s colors, the details of lichen and mica flakes vivid, but you don’t see the people.

Not until you look closely, until you walk back and forth in front of the painting, peer into the acrylic layers, do you see the human forms stretching, bending, standing. You can see them one moment, and then, when you take two steps either direction, they disappear, melt into the picture, back into their spirit world.

Artist Judy Fisher says that’s the way it should be. People should blend into nature, become a part of the balance, symbiotic to the world around them. Judy’s work will be on display until the end of January and taking a closer look at the granite series is worth the time.

Judy grew up in Gig Harbor, Washington, spending her days on the water in the Bay, camping on the San Juan Islands, boating, hiking, always in nature.

“I always felt at one with the outdoors, felt comfortable at being a part of it. I had the ability to observe, to understand that a rock was not just a rock, there was more to it. I developed a great respect for nature. I have an exacting, controlling personality and I learned that one can’t control nature. It is huge and it is in control.”

Judy became a leave-no-trace advocate.

During high school, she was the cheerleader, a water and snow skier and avid swimmer. When she entered the University of Washington in Seattle, she took drawing classes, but ended up changing to an English major because she felt that it encompassed everything in life: philosophy, science and how to get underneath the words.

“I figured out what was really being said.”

After college, Judy moved to New York, giving demos for General Electric at the world’s fair. She married, had two children and lived back east for 12 years, designing and building a home on Cape Cod. At this time, she delved into nature, returned to her water roots: fishing, clamming and boating. After her marriage ended, she went back to school, taking art classes at Rhode Island College. She learned classical, exacting, traditional and realistic drawing techniques, and once she earned her degree, Judy immersed herself in art.

“Discovering art brought out everything in me that had been dormant,” says Judy.

She took post graduate classes in print making while living in Vancouver. She then moved to Washington, D.C. where she worked for a small newspaper.

In 1981, Judy moved to an off-the -grid cabin in Ward, Colorado that a friend offered to her. While working with The Grapevine in Boulder, she designed display ads and then started her own marketing business, working with computer graphics. For the next 15 years, she lived in Boulder, moved back to Washington, on the water again, and got back into painting.

“I returned to my roots and got back into painting, this time working in acrylics, which is less toxic than oils, but less bendable. I used a lot of layers with acrylics.”

In 2001, Judy moved back to Colorado, to the Bar K Ranch, and she retired in 2015, planning to paint, enjoy life, wood carve and sculpt using different medias.

She began her granite series in 2015, her rock and soul work, much of which now hangs in the library.

“I am enamored with granite, the colors, the shapes. I wanted to find a way to show the human form blending in with nature. So I took a blank canvas, designed the shapes and adhered them to the canvas, giving them a little relief. Then I painted over them as if they weren’t there. They can be observed but only in certain light. You can see the figures blended into the painting but not always. I believe people should pass through nature almost invisibly.”

Judy liked the fact that she could paint them and they became elusive as the light changed. The figures became vivid in the afternoon.

After living in many places on both coasts, she says it all has to do with being alive and experiencing who we are. Living the renewals of life happening. “This is my time to really express myself, to share my opinions of how people should live on this planet.”

Judy plans to continue visiting Washington and to continue the granite series. She wants to do more wood modeling, taking her time and continuing to work with her hands. Most of all though, she will look for ways to blend her art, to bring human forms into nature, becoming part of the landscape, not changing it.

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.