“Wanderlust” is an uncharacteristically dark painting, with Cappaert’s characteristic bright colors appearing only slightly above the top edge. “For me, the color palette is different,” she said of this work, which she painted from memory. “Every once in a while, something moody or mysterious pops into my mind.”
Ginnie Cappaert’s artworks are easily recognizable with their bright, bold colors and natural themes at varying degrees of abstraction. One wonders how she keeps her work and craft fresh with each new season.
In her March blog post, Cappaert wrote, “My work this winter has been focused on exploring what I know more deeply. That meant I didn’t reinvent anything this year, but went deeper into many of the shows I’ve worked on before.”
She lives above her gallery on the cliff edge in Egg Harbor. From her deck, and even more so from her living area, her view is dominated by the sky. And that shows in her painting: cold wax and oil abstractions with clear or only suggested landscapes, water landscapes and skies.
“Having a relationship with my place is important,” Cappaert said. “And my place is here now. Or New Mexico,” she added, referring to Santa Fe, where she paints for a month during the winter.
But here in Door County, she spends her time outside of painting taking weekly horseback rides, biking early mornings when the roads are quiet, hiking the Door County Land Trust trails, practicing yoga and in her driving around a red 1952 Ford pickup, unmistakably marked with the name of their gallery above the rear window.
Cappaert described her work as “Landscape and my surroundings reduced to minimalism, with a focus on color and texture”.
“My mission,” she said, “is to surround myself with beauty and create beauty in my paintings.”
That winter, she put into practice her goal of delving deeper into her art, exploring color, senses of place, and textures, and paying attention to subtle color variations, such as B. all shades of green in spring.
Because she works in layers—often with 40-50 coats of slow-drying oil and wax that she selectively scrapes off or partially dissolves with a citrus-based solution—she typically has five to seven images going at a time. It may take months to complete.
“I’m getting really known for my big plays,” Cappaert said. “It’s physically demanding, but I’m up for the challenge.”
In between, she works on smaller, less strenuous pieces.
The process of painting and scraping also makes a mess. When she moved to Egg Harbor from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, buyers of her Michigan property wanted to convert her studio into a master bedroom suite. Flakes of paint and wax were not part of their decorating plan.
“When I sold this studio, I had a lot of cleaning to do,” Cappaert said. “This is going to be a great master bedroom suite but oh my god did I have to scrub!”
She loves her art and her gallery, which represents 40 artists in addition to her own work.
“What I love about art is when artists have personalized galleries,” Cappaert said. “All artists [whom] I only represent individual artists like [me], do what we love. I never want to carry around art that’s made by a company or mass-produced.”
Being in her gallery and interacting with people is important to her, even if it means putting most paintings on hold for the summer.
“I like the interaction between people because there’s none in the winter,” she said. “I’m just in the studio.”
This leaves Cappaert no time for large paintings in the summer, although she does manage to do some smaller jobs and thinks a lot about what to paint in the winter.
“All these images seep into me,” she said, “so I can go into the studio in November and see what happens with all these thoughts and ideas.”
As winter approaches and her schedule begins, Cappaert focuses on painting larger because it allows her to be more expressive. She also uses more layers and textures.
“I’ve gotten heavier with it than in the past,” she said. “Even the celestial images are simply built up on all these layers. When I talk about going deeper, it’s all about adding layers and textures and getting more interest in the piece.”
But painting large and heavy areas can also be expensive – Cappaert’s paint jobs run to thousands of dollars – which is the price of applying many coats to large panels with the highest quality paints.
In her studio, she drew paper worksheets with different hues on them, along with notes about the ingredients of each brushstroke.
“Check out some of these beautiful, earthy colors with the bright colors,” Cappaert said. “Because even though my work is so colorful, I balance that intense color with that earthiness.”
She shows her work at her Cappaert Contemporary Gallery, 7901 Hwy 42 in Egg Harbor; at the Edgewood Orchard Galleries, 4140 Peninsula Players Road in Fish Creek, where she will perform as an artist this summer; and at Globe Fine Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico.