In the summer, Phyllis Dobyn Adams balances her small Boston Whaler, along with a dog or two mid-craft, and navigates the Westport River. She pulls up to a sandbar, sets up her easel, and takes a dip now and then, combining the two favorite activities of her third life, painting and swimming.
One of nine children, native and resident of Westport Phyllis Adams has raised three sons, many pups and seabirds like the enigmatic piping plover to a fantastic level in acrylics and oil.
A former computer software manager, she retired to embark on the rivers, which lead to painting. She gave up software for softer colors, taking art classes and selective seminars.
She shares painting space with three other artists at The Paint Studio and Gallery on Thames Street in Bristol. Phyllis has received a recent commission from Yale University, her art is displayed in two states and her studio will be participating in the annual Bristol-Warren Art Nights for 2013 where she will be a featured artist.
Her art evokes the natural beauty of coastal New England. The ocean, beaches and wildlife are constant motivation. Phyllis pares down the subject to find the essence of its matter by abstracting shapes and exaggerating color. Color and languid form is her language of expression. “To me, straddling the edge of realism and abstraction is the most exciting and challenging aspect of my art,” she says.
On the other hand, she doesn’t take herself too seriously. Her art reflects the humorous side of things. “We all have angst, as they say, but I choose to paint the joy and beauty I see in the world around me,” she adds.
Countless hours on the Westport River, the beach and the dunes is her painter’s version of “Write what you know.” “When I started out, my artwork was realistic. But over time, it has evolved and now reflects my interpretation of the subject matter and not an exact rendering,” she adds. “I want my art to continue to evolve, which is the exciting and challenging aspect of my relationship with art, I’m never sure where it will lead.”When she is in her “zone,” she stops thinking, loses herself in the moment and paints intuitively. This is the state of mind that every artist strives for – a wonderful feeling, followed by a good painting. There is another side to this, however, as she explains, “When you are struggling and overworking a painting, (it) can be very frustrating.
“Painting is like baseball,” she says. You don’t hit it out of the park every time, I guess when that time comes, then I will think I am pretty good.”