Teresa Baksa: A Pictorial Biography
Teresa (Welch) Baksa was raised in the town of Acton, Massachusetts. She is the middle child in a family of five siblings whose father was a business executive in the field of electronics, and whose mother was a homemaker.
Like all artists, Teresa began her career by drawing whenever she could.
At the age of 12, Teresa began oil painting instruction after school in the studio of artist Mary Meyers of Boxborough, MA. Throughout high school, she continued to draw and paint, and she was chosen to attend a Saturday morning program for high school students, at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, MA, where she received her first instruction in life drawing. In 1974, she was awarded the Acton-Boxborough Regional High School Art Award, and a prize, which was the classic art history textbook: H.W.Janson's History of Art. The prize proved fortuitous, as the book became her treasure. It introduced her to the rich tradition of western art which cemented her desire to make painting her life.
A world of color, ideas, and creative challenge opened up for Teresa at Montserrat School of Visual Art, Beverly, MA, (now known as Montserrat College of Art). Joseph Jeswald, the founder and director of Montserrat, modeled the school after the famous Academie Julian in Paris, the studio art school where he studied under the cubist, abstract, and graphic-stlye figurative painter Fernand Leger. Montserrat's four-year studio program, without the demands of academics, was a perfect fit for Teresa. Drawing, painting, printmaking, and clay-modeling everyday was paradise for Teresa, but at the same time, very intense.
The faculty of working artists at Montserrat was top-notch and varied. After the required first-year foundation program in all disciplines of studio art, students gravitated towards those teachers who would become most influential in the formation of the student's style of expression. For Teresa, the strongest influence was Joseph Jeswald, (b.1927-2009). Jeswald was a prolific and driven figure painter, brilliant intellectual, and an enthusiastic teacher who stressed ideas, metaphor, and unique personal expression above all else. He became a mentor to, and a life-long friend of Teresa.
The other most influential teacher in Teresa's life at Montserrat was the profound painter Paul Scott, (b.1910-1982). Scott had been a devout student of, and personal secretary to Hans Hoffman at Hoffman's art schools in New York City and Provincetown, MA in the 1950's. He carried forward the teachings of the great abstract expressionist painter to the students at Montserrat. Scott would set up his "motifs" of folding chairs, paper, cloth, and objects arranged in a mountain of chaos on the studio model stand. The motif was the springboard from which the students would "abstract" forms in space through movement, color relationships, and compositional tension, to create a sense of openness and unity in a realized abstract painting. Paul Scott had a gift for explaining this "plasticity of space" that is fundamental to the success of any genre of painting. He often used examples of plasticity as revealed in nature. His sensitivity to all expressions of art was unsurpassed.
Computers and Watercolors
After graduating from Montserrat in 1979, Teresa headed out into the world with much knowledge about painting, but no real marketable skills, as she had tried her hand at commercial art, but she just did not like it. She moved to Cambridge, MA. and she found an entry- level job at an electronics company in Boston called Teradyne. At Teradyne she learned the new and in-demand skill of computer-aided printed circuit board design, a job which combined logic with creativity, and paid enough money so that she could live, paint and exhibit some, and continue her study in the arts. She began taking classes in art history and the humanities at Harvard University Extension School, Cambridge, MA, and matriculated into the undergraduate liberal arts degree program in 1985. During this busy time, Teresa switched her preferred painting medium from oils to watercolor and she painted the world around her.
Harvard Years/ Art History
In order to earn her degree in a reasonable amount of years, Teresa switched her work schedule to part-time, and became a full-time student. In the evening she would leave the commotion of the working day behind, pass through the gates of Harvard Yard and into the quiet hush of the world of ideas. The rigor of the lecture hall was balanced with trips to art museums in Boston and New York City, and most influential, a class trip to Italy led by art historian, Professor Ivan Galantic.
To be inspired to look, experience, appreciate, and critically compare great works of art was Professor Galantic's gift to his students. To understand the meaning behind art, an artist's intention, despite themselves, and the quality of technique, or "artificiality", is to learn another language, that of art, which enriches one's life experience greatly. The scholars of art history preserve this language, which transcends superficial beauty, and they keep it spoken. Teresa's study at Harvard University was a time for opening windows, and crossing bridges to countless ideas and philosophies in the arts and humanities.
Fenway Studios: A Year of Experimentation
In 1989 Teresa received her Bachelor of Liberal Arts Degree, cum laude from Harvard University Extension School, and she moved from Cambridge to Boston, MA to take a sub-let residence in the turn-of-the-twentieth-century artist studios, the Fenway Studios, on Ipswich Street. In her new studio space Teresa explored color, after having just studied design and color theory with the artist Albert Alcalay at Harvard. She also was inspired by artist friends who were working with body- part casts and other three dimensional elements in their paintings. She combined ideas from both. It was a year of artistic experimentation.
Water & Light/Cape Cod
In the fall of 1990, Teresa quit her job at Teradyne, gathered up her savings, and left Boston to live on Cape Cod, MA., seeking a quieter place to live, paint, and enjoy nature. Her immediate goal was to be able to paint full time, knowing that to do this would require some compromise in her art, but also thinking that time spent working daily at the craft of painting was better than working at an unrelated job. She rented studio space upstairs in a former sea captain's home on The Old King's Highway, (Rt 6A), in Yarmouthport. After spending the first fall and winter there painting, she rented an attached small gallery space and opened T.Welch Studio & Gallery in the spring of 1991.
Click here to read: New This Season in Yarmouth Port- Teresa Welch Studio/Gallery, Claire Golding, Nauset Calendar, Indian Summer, 1991
Between the years 1990-1995, Teresa operated her "open" studio & gallery where she worked everyday and sold watercolors, pastels, oils, drawings, and gave private painting instruction. She developed a technique for creating full-figure portrait paintings--commissions in watercolor, of children mostly, from photographs that she took, usually, but not always. Working from photos was difficult, but she could create the paintings long after the subjects were returned to their homes after vacationing on the Cape. She would first create a charcoal drawing, the same scale as the finished painting, from the photo, in order to work out composition & tonality. Then a contour drawing, or "cartoon outline", of the composition would be traced and transferred to 300lb Arches watercolor paper. She would then create the watercolor using the charcoal drawing and the photo for reference. She applied the paint in washes to previously dampened areas, to be absorbed into the surface of the heavy watercolor paper, not unlike water-based paint being absorbed into freshly applied wet lime plaster in fresco painting technique. Using simplified shapes and gently modeled form in her portrait paintings, Teresa tried to create the feel of fresco paintings that she had seen in Florence, Italy.
The portraits were completed in between the flow of other works in pastel, watercolor and oil.........
...and also between the flow of landscape and figure work.
Continue to Middle Years