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Editor’s Pick: Artist Profiles

Deidre Tao

The Artist’s Serenade

“I love painting landscapes of Cape Cod and the Islands,” Deidre Tao, a landscape painter from Cambridge, Massachusetts confesses with evident reverence for her favorite destination. “I love it because there is this timeless quality about the Cape that artists throughout history have expressed with their love for the light, the land and the water by creating beautiful compositions that really resonate with people.” Tao’s subject of choice, but more importantly, a subject she has mastered, is the raw, unadulterated beauty that the Cape offers.

“I really like the relationship between the land, the sky and the water.  A lot of different beaches on Cape Cod look so untouched, unlike other places where manmade structures like buildings and boardwalks sit on the natural landscape,” Tao comments. “I’m so glad JKF reserved the Cape Cod National Seashore so the environment is preserved for everyone to enjoy its natural beauty.” For those unable to gaze at the untouched scenes Tao appreciates, one could always acquire one of her large, colorful canvasses and soak it all in.

An Invitation

Tao’s use of color compliments and magnifies the virgin vistas, thus keeping them from being weak and diluted. Her treatment of the sky and how it informs the color of the water and the land emphasizes her passion for the scene with a richly energized palette. “The way that I can use the land, to ground the viewer’s eye on the horizon line allows a dialogue between the sky, the water and the land and holds the composition together,” Tao explains. “That creates a trinity—a trio of a conversation on the canvas.”

Tao’s technique, based in a plein air classic approach, begins with painting and sketching. “I do charcoal and watercolor drawings from life, “ Tao explains. “And then I take the sketch-work back to my studio and work on large-scale paintings.” Tao says of her paintings, often three or four feet in length, “I love to paint big. I like having plenty of room to say what I want.” She uses water-based acrylics for their rich and intense pigments, as well as for their consistency and feel on the brush. “I like to be able to work up layers and use glazing techniques” she says. “I also like the intensity of some of the acrylic pigments. I also like to work as slowly or as quickly as I want when I paint, and acrylics allow me to do that. I feel they give me more control over what and how I create.” That control over timing works in Tao’s favor as she commits to at least one annual solo retreat to a special place like the Vineyard, Nantucket or parts of the Cape. “I will take a few days and stay at a nice inn and just indulge in painting and absorbing the area,” she explains.

Aquinnah Shoreline

Tao, who exhibited artistic qualities from childhood, says her family was very encouraging when it came to pursuing her passion. “I think I have always known that I am a painter,” Tao reveals. A love of art in high school led to acceptance at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth College of Visual and Performing Arts at a time when the school had just merged with the Swain School of Design in New Bedford. The expansion immediately created greater access to studios and professors for the students and Tao says, “It was a good, solid academic training in fine art.” An internship at the Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) led to employment in their Arts Administration department, which Tao credits for connecting her with her first studio space at a young age. 

Today, Tao’s use of color and layers within her landscapes are a vibrant acknowledgement of the coastal environment she so richly celebrates. Beaches across the Cape, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are treated with a sense of wonder as she explores all of the colors available to her. Blues and purples of the beach and ocean melt into crimson and apricot of the sun-streaked sky, making for a visual feast that fills the eyes and feeds the soul. 

Where the Waters Meet

To learn more about Deidre Tao, visit

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