Teresa Baksa: Middle Years
Provincetown/Landscapes and Figures, 1990-1995
Like many artists who came to Cape Cod before her, Teresa had a natural attraction to the lower Cape and especially to the Provincelands at the very tip. In the quieter seasons on Cape Cod, she would leave Yarmouthport for Provincetown 2-3 days a week to attend morning life drawing sessions at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. Afterwards she would head out into the dunes to paint. She would create small to medium-size watercolor studies out in the dunes to be used later in the studio for reference in painting larger watercolors, and watercolor and pastel paintings.
The Lower Cape landscape has a feeling of open space and grandeur. The land is lit by brilliant light that reflects off the surrounding ocean. Small structures and foot trails are interspersed in this landscape, but otherwise there is relatively little influence of humans. When Teresa would first arrive at a location to paint, all would be quiet and still while she set up. But after a bit, the birds, insects, and other unseen creatures of the dunes would become used to her presence and make themselves known. To paint en plein air is to experience a deep connection with nature, as the artist is processing not just visual information, but sound, touch, smell, and a sense of time. The artist is in the landscape, and the landscape is in the artist.
Teresa often painted landscapes from this favorite location near Herring Cove Beach. Her vertical compositions were inspired by Chinese ink paintings on vertical scrolls that she had studied at Harvard and The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
One of the many treasures of the historic art colony in Provincetown, MA., is the Provincetown Art Association & Museum, an association of professional artists and a collecting museum that is over one hundred years old. In addition to its busy schedule of exhibitions, classes, lectures, and performances, it is the one art institution on Cape Cod that, over the years, has consistently offered drop-in life drawing sessions, twice a week, all year long, to member and non-member artists. Known as PAAM, the association has been a steady beacon of art at the tip of the Cape, drawing a pantheon of renowned, emerging, and unknown artists through its doors under its open membership policy. During the years of 1991-1995, Teresa became completely addicted to life drawing and painting at the PAAM studio. The clear north light cast from the studio window, a group of serious artists, and motivated life models, all combined, was an irresistible mix for a figure painter. And so, it was in the PAAM studio that Teresa met Provincetown artist Salvatore Del Deo.
Salvatore Del Deo is an artist who has mastered the traditional skills of drawing and painting to a level rarely seen today. As a young artist he studied with and absorbed the many influences of Provincetown masters who came before him, including American impressionist Henry Hensche, lyrical symbolist Edwin Dickinson, and abstract /cubist painter Karl Knaths. Salvatore's painting style is a synthesis of these influences resulting in an artistic expression that is rooted in representation but is modern, profound, and richly shaped by his Italian heritage. Teresa realized right away that "this guy was for real". At the PAAM life drawing sessions, he reminded Teresa of the great impressionist painter Pissarro, in that like Pissarro, Salvatore reached out to the younger artists to pass along encouragement and his knowledge of painting. Teresa took a few classes at PAAM with Sal and then continued the student-teacher relationship at the weekly life drawing sessions. He became a mentor and friend.
In his work and in his teaching Salvatore always emphasizes painterly form, and he has a "nuts and bolts", no-nonsense approach to teaching this. He is a gutsy painting instructor who is not afraid to grab a paint brush right out of a student's hand, to demonstrate by doing rather than just explaining, if he deems this appropriate for an advanced student. When this happened to Teresa one day in class, she stepped aside from her figure in progress, and marveled at the master's ability to "pump up the form" of her figure painting by exaggerating contrast to show direction of planes, better indicating bony protrusions, and using directional brushstrokes to accentuate the volume of the forms. By demonstrating in this way, Salvatore could illustrate the importance of painting not just what one sees, but also what one knows.
The collaboration painted in class by Teresa Welch and Salvatore Del Deo is shown below:
Some other figures painted in the PAAM studio:
In 1993, Teresa entered a painting in a self-portrait exhibition at PAAM, which was seen by Ann Start, who was opening a new gallery, called Archipelago Gallery, in Wellfleet. Ann gave Teresa her first gallery exhibition on Cape Cod that summer. During that same time period Teresa was approached by writer Claire Golding who asked if she could write an article about her art for Cape Cod Publishing Company's Antiques & Arts, the monthly magazine supplement to its newspapers The Register, and The Cape Codder.
Click here to read Antiques & Arts article.
Partners In Art
On November 5, 1995, Teresa married Michael Baksa, a Goldsmith who operated a jewelry studio/gallery on Route 6A in Dennis, MA. where he created and showcased his own work. The couple combined their studios into one business at Michael's location in Dennis, and it became Baksa Studio, Goldsmith & Artist.
For the next 20 years Teresa and Michael created their art and showcased it at Baksa Studio. The Studio/Gallery was situated in picturesque Dennis Village, an area that is brimming with artistic activity. Dennis Village is home to Cape Cod Center for the Arts, a campus that includes the historic Cape Cod Playhouse, Cape Cod Cinema, and Cape Cod Museum of Art. Over the years the Baksas participated in the many art-related village events which included evening gallery walks and openings, regional art festivals, and Christmas Strolls. Teresa painted in a small studio in the back, off of Michael's workshop, and the artists split the front gallery space. Baksa Studio was one of many artist studio/galleries in operation on the Cape that offered to those people who sought a personal experience in buying art from its source, a chance to participate in dialogue with the creators. Simultaneously it provided the artists with insight from viewers and purchasers, which in most cases, resulted in an enriched experience for the artists.
In 1995, when Teresa was first married, the new domestic life she was living influenced her work. With Michael, came his beautiful young daughter Erin who became a delightful step-daughter, friend, and artist's model.
Other family members also became inspirations...
...as did Michael's collection of antiques, and especially his Japanese Teapot.
Teresa's oil still life's expanded into the print medium of oil monotypes on paper. She enjoyed the spontaneous effects created by painting with oils on a plexiglass plate and then applying a sheet of dampened rag paper, with pressure, to the plate. Before the print was "pulled", some paint might be removed from the plate with assorted tools by "drawing" into the paint. This left white lines or areas on the print that created highlights, description, and definition. There was always an element of surprise in the reverse image of the pulled print. Teresa created a large series of monotype prints, and during the summer of 2000, and 2001, she taught the technique to children as part of the Explorers of The Art World summer workshop series at Cape Cod Museum of Art.
Summers at Baksa Studio were busy with customers and so Teresa often worked in watercolors because she could quickly wash the paint from her hands on the way to the gallery in front, to wait on people, when the door bell signaled customers had entered the gallery. Additionally, with the abundance of beautiful flowers all summer, Teresa could not resist creating watercolor floral paintings, which had been a reliable genre since Teresa's years in Yarmouth Port, to generate much-needed painting sales.
Continue to Middle Years Continued