Artist Profile: Margaret Dunn Furness, oil painter
"Pleasant Bay Boats" - 8" x 10" - oil
For Margaret Dunn Furness, life is an adventure. Sailing off the Indiana shores of Lake Michigan, hitchhiking through Central America, and excursions—on both land and sea—in the Caribbean are all experiences that have shaped the Orleans resident not only as a person but also as an artist. From the unforgettable “color blast” of scenery she observed in the Caribbean to her firsthand experiences of life on the water, Furness’ travels can’t help but permeate her other passion: painting.
“When I paint, I let my inspiration from my travels and experiences lead me to something meaningful and new,” Furness says. “I like doing paintings that make people want to be in the scene and feel as though they were there with me when I was painting.”
Now in her 60s, she has been painting full time since retiring 10 years ago. Largely self-taught, Furness paints in a variety of media, including oil, acrylic, watercolor and pastel. She says her present-day work is both realistic and semiabstract and includes colorful landscapes and seascapes—painted en plein air—and portraits. “When I paint a portrait,” she says, “I feel an emotional attachment to the person I’m painting, and that helps the portrait come to life. When I’m painting outside, it’s like I’m one with nature—it’s total immersion, and I feel the necessity for being a part of that.”
One of her most recent paintings, titled “Red Gloves,” captures a memorable adventure at sea and is based on a photograph Furness took during an excursion more than 40 years ago. “I took a lot of photographs when I was traveling and couldn’t paint,” Furness explains. “Photography taught me a lot about composition and capturing color balance.” The painting depicts two fishermen—wearing vibrant red gloves—on a boat catching an unusually large cod (Furness guesses it was at least 3 feet long). “I was a guest on that fishing boat, a long-liner named Joselyn C., going out of Chatham,” she recalls. “We were out for three days and two nights in Georges Bank. To be onboard with a bunch of fishermen was an interesting experience in and of itself.”
“Red Gloves” is part of a series Furness describes as “men and women at work.” “When people are working,” she says, “they are at their truest selves.”
Margaret Dunn Furness is represented by Cross Rip Gallery, 486 Main Street, Harwich Port; and Knotty Anchor, 2007 Main Street, Brewster. She will also be part of a three-artist exhibit at The Old Firehouse Gallery in Orleans in September. She is available by appointment at her studio, 20 Elisabeth Drive, Eastham. For more information, visit Margaret Dunn Furness on Facebook.