At Tiverton Four Corners Village, in a well-located space surrounded by like-minded artists who support and encourage her, artist Brenda Wrigley Scott cuts through the air with her brush, her freshly painted birds aloft in the light pouring onto the wall. The stream of a soothing Pandora station fills the air, always teeming in the background to either match or create a mood, often pivoting to Motown for energy when lagging; Ry Cooder, Lyle Lovett or Rusted Root for ambiance.
Larger than life-size and with a searing line of sight, the birds are staring back at their creator, a visceral embodiment of the poem “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver:
You don’t have to be good...
you only have to let the
soft animal of your body love what it loves... the world
offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like wild geese, harsh and exciting – over and over announcing your place in the
family of things.
Brenda’s love of animals was early in its onset. “I was a nature lover, so I brought home lots of baby things - raccoons, rabbits, snakes, turtles,” she adds. “As a young child, my parents encouraged my creative expression and enrolled me in art lessons with a local painter. She gave me classical oil painting training: Still life, plein air, et cetera.”
Her primary subjects are animals of the companion and farm variety and, most recently, beach and marsh birds. Her paintings on paper act as large pages of a sketchbook - quick drawings done in the field and embellished in the studio. She also takes time to do personalized portraits of a client’s favorite companion animal.
Brenda confesses that her work is directly influenced by the colors of Wolf Kahn, the seascapes of Helen Nadler, the “outsider” quality in pieces by Bill Traylor and the bird illustrations of John Audubon. “With the bird series I am working on presently, I use painting materials and techniques learned from [my] years in decorative painting and faux finishing, so I prepare my paper with very nuanced textures as fields for my bird images,” she says. “I try to create a setting for the images that is atmospheric rather than realistic and illustrative, capturing some quality of energy and movement or majestic postures.”
The artist currently lives in Little Compton with her two dogs, Bodhi and Fanny, following a four-decade career as a high school art teacher. Born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, she came to the East Bay from Berkley, California, after obtaining art degrees from Temple University and Tyler School of Art. She is an award-winner at the Little Compton Juried Art Show for the last several years, and her recent paintings have lined the walls of galleries in Winnetka and Chicago, Illinois, as well as Providence.
For the last 30 years as a ceramic artist, she sold at national wholesale and retail shows, as well as American craft and fine, handmade kitchen shops around the country, in addition to custom hand-painted tile work in homes throughout the Northeast.
A member of the Tiverton Arts Council, the South Coast Artists and The Foundry Artists, Brenda is eternally grateful to have a tight-knit nexus of the arts in the East Bay, which she counts as “the constant encouragement of my friends, neighbors and artists that I greatly admire,” she adds. “This is my supporting community center. I am so grateful to it.”
Brenda Wrigley Scott