Artist Profile: Colleen Vandeventer
As an 11-year-old, Colleen Vandeventer often posed as a model for her artist grandmother’s painting class students. “I had the most difficult time trying to sit motionless for 30 minutes!” she recalls. “I’d have to pick a point on the wall and stare at it.”
Her youthful impatience notwithstanding, Vandeventer was invigorated by her grandmother’s art and fascinated to see how she critiqued her students’ work. She loved all the activity in the studio, even the pungent smell of paint.
In her teens, Vandeventer confided her desire to learn to paint to her grandmother, who arranged classes with a teacher, figuring it might be difficult for her to take lessons from a family member. She began with still lifes, and quickly fell in love with oil painting.
Her career as an artist, however, would be put on hold while she joined the work force, first as an executive secretary, then in market research. She enrolled at Stonehill College and earned a bachelor’s degree in business while working full time. When she started a family in the late 1980s and chose to stay at home with her children, she decided to return to art, and enrolled in classes at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
She threw herself into her art studies, participated in workshops and learning from mentors. She told herself if her art career didn’t develop, she could always fall back on marketing. “I gave myself five years,” she says. Then came a turning point: In 1994 a friend asked her to teach an art class a few nights per week. Additional teaching assignments followed, and she also took on framing work for other artists’ creations.
In 2001, Vandeventer opened her own working studio—Studio 5—in an old jewelry factory in North Attleborough. “It was the best thing I ever did for myself,” she says, “being able to do my own thing, and I’ve managed to elevate it into full-time work.” She has since moved her studio to Pawtucket, R.I.
The realistic features of Vandeventer’s landscapes soften as the viewer gets closer to the individual painting, a result of her loose, often feathery, brushstrokes. She gains inspiration, she says, from “the glow of a certain time of day, the mood that the atmosphere creates, or the way the light falls across an object, and the feelings evoked versus the actual subject matter.” She describes her style as “impressionistic realism,” and this also characterizes her still lifes, particularly her richly hued flowers.
Vandeventer enjoys the company of fellow artists. In 2013 she and two other painters, Susan Carey and Kathy Edmonston, opened Gallery Artrio in Hyannis, where they showcase their work as well as that of other artists. She also teaches classes and workshops out of her studio. “We need the constant exposure to others, because that’s how we learn,” Vandeventer says. “The camaraderie, impromptu critiques, and just general art discussions are motivating and a way to keep fresh.” – Marina Davalos
Colleen Vandeventer’s work can be seen at Gallery Artrio, 50 Pearl Street, Hyannis