Art Without End
Cape Cod Life / September/October 2011 / Art & Entertainment, Nature, People & Businesses
Writer: Mary Grauerholz
Lorraine Trenholm’s paintings transcend time and place.
Lorraine W. Trenholm is as restless as her two horses loping outside, on her 75-acre property perched on a Colorado mesa. Awake since 4:30 a.m., Trenholm’s morning has been chock-a-block with activity: feeding her Saluki hounds, teaching a pastels class in a nearby town, and, not least, talking about her prolific work. Her nature-inspired paintings are impressionistic celebrations—like the places she plants herself, laced with a powerful but subdued energy.
“I’m a restless spirit,” Trenholm says. “I have gotten the impression that I make some galleries crazy because I bounce around in subject matter and style.” She pauses, then adds with an apologetic smile in her voice, “I am my paintings.” She adheres to strict demands on herself. “The best paintings create a compelling image. You can do 25 images and only four will be compelling images.”
Although Trenholm traded the Cape Cod ocean for rural Colorado seven years ago, she still has deep connections to the Cape. She lived here for almost 30 years, studying with Lois Griffel and Henry Hensche of the Cape Cod School of Art in Provincetown. She has been represented by the Rowley Gallery in Orleans for 20 years, and owner Elizabeth Rowley sees only positive things ahead. “Lorraine Trenholm’s expressive paintings of Cape Cod and the light here have captured the interest of my collectors for years,” Rowley says.
This September, Trenholm takes part in the 13th gathering of “21 in Truro,” a group of women who converge every summer in Truro to paint and support each other’s creativity. “It’s an opportunity to rejoin creative women I’ve known for a long time in a positive environment and not have to do the laundry,” Trenholm says. “When you’re home, everything interrupts you.”
Trenholm was living near the Dennis village green in 2004 when she and her partner, native Cape Codder David Donovan, moved to Colorado to find more space. “I wanted to be where you could hear a pin drop, run my dogs, have different inspiration for my paintings,” she says. She and Donovan are living in a small space on their expansive property while they methodically build a larger house.
Although she has found a home that seems a polar opposite of the Cape, the two areas share some uncanny features, at least in artistic interpretation. One of Trenholm’s pastels, The Flow, has brought much speculation concerning its locale. “People on Cape Cod interpreted it as the ocean; people in Colorado interpreted it as a river,” Trenholm says. “I didn’t give them any clues.”
The inspiration for the painting, characterized by bold strokes that suggest a Japanese print, was actually the Arkansas River in Salida, Colorado. A Kansas collector purchased it last year at the juried International Association of Pastel Societies show. The painting’s Japanese aura, Trenholm says, comes from her intention to “make a meaningful brushstroke without editing.” The dynamic, vivid strokes of another painting, Moody Tails, exude the same rumbling energy. Her driving aim is to move gracefully with life’s forces, capturing light, color, or weather in one dynamic moment in time.
Trenholm’s studio is packed with easels, frames, supplies, and an enormous box of collage paper. She works in pastel or oil, painting on three easels at a time. Nearby is a table where she assembles collages and is starting to experiment with encaustic. Full of motion and change, the studio is a constant work in progress, perhaps, like Trenholm, a little restive.
Born in New York City, Trenholm was a painting major at Pratt Institute, but that wasn’t by any means her first dip into the visual arts. “I’ve been doing art probably my whole life,” she says. “I can remember being four or five years old, sitting on a fence, drawing a horse from life, and it looking like a piano.” At age 16, she was doing horse portraits on Long Island, where she rode. After college, she began painting in a horse stall, where people noticed her abstract works and occasionally asked to purchase one.
Trenholm loves Cape Cod and returns several times a year. She and Donovan, a master plumber, have a timeshare in Newport, Rhode Island, and she is always eager to return to the “21 in Truro” retreat in September. She was married previously to Winthrop Trenholm, a teacher at Sandwich High School, who died suddenly of a heart attack at age 56.
Art is her life’s constant. “I’m driven,” Trenholm says. “When you’re a painter, you paint because you have to. Paintings could be not selling, the world could be coming to an end, but I have to paint.”
Lorraine Trenholm’s work may be seen at the Rowley Gallery, 84 Route 6A, Orleans.
Mary Grauerholz is communications manager of the Cape Cod Foundation and a freelance writer.