The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 10, 2002


Oil painter captures vastness of Carlisle landscape

The smell of fresh paint permeates the entryway to Kathy McDonough's studio on Maple Street in Carlisle. Landscape paintings line the walls, and are stacked up against them. A few enormous landscapes dominate the room. A work-in-progress stands drying on a large easel. All the scenes are from the New England area.

"I love the smell of paint," admits McDonough who completed about 75 oil paintings last year. Her olfactory preference may have contributed to her choice in a spouse, house-painter Scott Batchelder. The two first met while at school in Lexington, Massachusetts, and have lived at the same Maple Street address for 20 years.
Artist Kathleen McDonough
"A Brilliant Sunrise"

You can compare the oil paintings to the local landscapes you know by visiting the "Dawn to Dusk - Light on the Landscape" exhibit at the Gleason Public Library. The show, sixth of the library's Visual Arts Program, runs until June 29. The show includes nineteen oil paintings.

Turning talent into a living

McDonough loved drawing from an early age. She grew up in Lexington in a large family, the second of nine children.

"My mother bought me my first oil painting kit when I was in high school," she recalled. "One of those Step One, Two, Three, Four. I just took right to it. I loved the smell of it!" One of her early paintings and one of her few portraits, shows her mother hanging laundry on the clothesline. Her father supported her interest in art, but cautioned her to find a way to make a living at it.

McDonough began with a practical approach to art, and went to Endicott College to study to become a commercial artist. She quickly showed a talent for painting, and ended up transferring to the more appropriate Montserrat College of Art in Beverly.

When McDonough started out, she soon realized that establishing a name as a painter takes time. To help finance her work in oils, she began doing water color "house portraits" for realtors.

"I'd ride my bike over, take all my gear with me, and paint it right there," she recalled. Eventually this turned into a steady business, and she produced 200 watercolors a year.

McDonough has had solo exhibitions at many local libraries, including Dover, Lincoln, and Newton and galleries in Framingham, Medfield, and Concord. In 1986 she won "Best in Show" in a competition held by the Concord Art Association. She still does house portraits, but takes her camera instead of an easel and does the work in her studio. Her work commands ten times the price when she first started, and she now does only about 75 a year.

Finding art around town

McDonough limits her socialization and outside activities to focus on her work. "I go out, do my errands, and take my camera with me," she said, adding, "That next great painting may be just around the corner."

Her husband has a much more visible Carlisle profile. Trucks for the Batchelder Painting Company crowd the driveway, and are commonly seen about town. Also, he has served for eight years on the Carlisle Board of Appeals.

More often than not, McDonough works in her studio. She tends to paint in 2-hour blocks. She sorts through photos, and selects one for cropping. She is drawn to lighting that reveals the most vibrant shades in natural landscape. Her favorite subjects are porches, benches, and water. She then paints a little study in oils. If she likes the result, she'll expand the picture into a large, finished version. For a change of pace, she'll concentrate on "house portrait" work. She creates a pen-and-ink outline with house details, and then uses watercolor to fill in the color.

"I keep saying that I'll take up pastels," she said of other media. "I haven't yet, but I will." She might, but it's tough to imagine that studio without that delicious odor of fresh paint.

Come meet the Artist

The Gleason Library will hold a reception to launch the McDonough show on Saturday, May 11, from 2-4 p.m.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito