On a summer day 33 years ago, Page Railsback was in her kitchen, preparing a meal, when she was suddenly mesmerized by sunlight filtering through the flowers outside her window.
“It hit me like a bolt of lightning,” Railsback recalls. “I suddenly thought, what do you do with all this beauty? There must be more I can do.” Her personal call to action was simple: Don’t think, just pick up a paintbrush. So Railsback, a new mother and yoga teacher, began watercolor lessons. During her first year, she was invited to hold a show and sold one painting. Since then, she says, “It’s been a flow, a steady journey.”
Railsback’s deep appreciation of nature’s bounty—flowers, food, and all good things that spring from earth and water—is imbued in her art. Harvest is filled with expressive, deep-hued strokes that form zinnias and snapdragons, with ripe tomatoes tumbling around the vases. The aura is simple yet deeply mystical, nature at its ripest. Her landscapes and seascapes, such as Chairs of Summer, have the same sense of openness and fleeting beauty, qualities that prompt some people to call her work impressionistic. Railsback thinks it may be more expressionistic, or perhaps occupies a territory between the two labels. As she says, “Maybe it’s both. I consider my work expressive and intuitive.”
Railsback, now living in Hingham, has warm memories of summers in East Orleans when she was a teenager, living with her best friend’s family. “This is a familiar, favorite place for me,” she says of the Cape. Today, a member of the Copley Society of Art in Boston, Railsback paints and teaches art, traveling between her Hingham studio and a second studio in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico.
Nurturing art in herself and others seems to be natural for Railsback. “I try to stay in ‘beginner’s mind,’ a Buddhist term,” she says. “I suggest to my students to paint like a kindergartner, to let go of fear and judgment and to dare to have a bad painting.”
She continues to develop her art as a vehicle to express her lifelong study of how body, mind, and spirit work as a whole. “The essence of my creative work is heart centered,” Railsback says, “painting from the heart, authentically, letting the work come alive. My daily mantra is, ‘May I be happy and free, and may my actions contribute to the happiness and sense of freedom in others.’”