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2014 December 3

Learn more about Featured Artist painter Emily Mitchell!CORNY
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The December mayhem has set in, and we’re only 3 days into the month.   And my own art has taken a back seat to other commitments and tasks once again. It seems I can’t every find the time to plot and illustrate and plan and follow through on those plans.  I vow this year will be different.  I’m putting up a real tree (rare in my household), and this month’s artist has inspired me to string popcorn in addition to my well-planned and plotted decorative theme.  And this year, art will happen IN ADDITION TO and inspite of all the holiday mayhem.  AND without all the traditional plotting and planning.  I am excited to see where it goes…

This month’s artist has spent years learning the art of letting go and production through play.   Her work reflects a deep connection to the beauty of nature without hidden agendas–just connection and PLAY.

Learn more about Featured Artist Painter Emily Mitchell! is proud to claim Emily Mitchell as this month’s Featured Artist. This work spotlights home and family and parenting and human connection–life, really.  And, I really needed it.  Please let it sink it and consider it a holiday gift.


Emily Mitchell


For the past 20 years, Emily Mitchell has been working as an art educator, and holds a M.A. Ed. in Art Education.  The joy of teaching artists has allowed her to thrive on inspiration from others including teaching High School Art, including AP Studio Art, at Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburgh, Vermont.  Mitchell had the opportunity to work with John Crowe from Massachusetts College of Art, and with Peter London, Professor Emeritus of Art Education, UMass Dartmouth.  “I am eternally grateful to them both for allowing me to simply play in my work.”

The Village by Featured Artist Painter Emily Mitchell!When not making art or managing family, Mitchell can often be found swimming with the BASS Masters Swim team, riding her bike with the kids,  battling weeds in the garden, GF baking, obsessing about acappella music, reading, or exploring a small corner of Vermont.

How has the teaching art to others informed your own approach? Has years of teaching informed your sense of play?Without question, I love making art with people, and I find that interacting with them, through is invaluable to my own art. My mind works in a very spiral manner – my train of thought will go from a process, to thinking and making connections through art history – helping others grow. Right now I teach adults and do the occasional workshop. But before this, I spent 16 years teaching K-5 in Massachusetts, and then 9-12 here in Vermont. Back in 2000, after reading “The Dot” by Peter Reynolds to my 4th graders, I saved their responses to the story, and often, when I am stuck, or frustrated, I will look at it. Its truly magic, free, full of joy, and THAT feeds me! Plus, kids are hilarious – and I learn so much from what they bring (mainly joy and abandon) to art making!”

My Friends are Leaving Soon by Featured Artist Painter Emily Mitchell!Talk to me about your paint process. For example, which comes first, the title and concept or the work?  “The process I currently use is an amalgamation of three amazing art course I have taken in my life – plus about 40 years of making art. The first was called “Vigorous Play for Artists/Teachers” and it was taught at UMASS by John Crowe.  I took the course in the summer of 1998, and it changed my life–Crowe did not talk for the entire week!  He pushed us through readings, critiques, and playful challenges, which for me, resulted in a wonderful body of artists books, and a show of my work and the work of my elementary students. The second was called “Drawing Closer to Nature” with Peter London – that one was hosted by Kirpalu.”

Garden City by Featured Artist Painter Emily Mitchell!“The third class I took just last year in January of 2013.  Flora Bowley’s e-course, Bloom True, reinvigorated all that I “knew” in terms of process, approach, but had neglected, forgotten and moved away from after 8 years of teaching more “formal” technical drawing.  Most importantly, Flora’s class helped me let go of needing to know what my work was going to look like.

“Now, I literally feel my way through my work…”


“…working in layers, responding to colors, patterns, textures, feelings, a word in a song… the title could come from any of those things, or simply a feeling weeks later (or if I’m hanging a show and I’m like, “Crap! I need a title fast!”).  I find that the final pieces really reflect a mood or idea in my own life, and the visual result is part of the process of understanding.”

You seem to have VISUAL connection to nature?  Is there a deeper underlying meaning or connection for you?  I spent 5 summers working at summer camp in Connecticut.  I found that this place helped me find myself more than college or traveling ever did.  It was a place of deep personal growth and connections–and it happens to be on its own private lake, surrounded by trees.  The light & sounds there are unlike any other.  I still hear them in dreams.  Now, I am lucky enough to live in Vermont (where it gets damn cold!), but there is beauty everywhere here–in the food, in the woods.

While I love the culture of cities,
I need space, air and green to fully breathe and live!


Horizon 2 by Featured Artist Painter Emily Mitchell!

Detail of Horizon 2 by Featured Artist Painter Emily Mitchell!

What are you trying to say with your work? How does it connect to your need to explore human connection?  “Because I do not plan anything at all, I really feel like each piece is a response or story about the paint, my heart, and everyone’s desire to feel connected to others.  While the characters in the work may be realistic (birds, trees) or abstract (bubbles or circles) the connection and harmony within the space is there and somewhat intentional.  Ironically, I need to plan less in my daily life–but that’s hard to do with two busy kids!”

Nebula by Featured Artist Painter Emily Mitchell!What style or school of art do you think work fits into?  “My work is probably Realistic Expressionist, maybe?  Color is certainly predominant in the art, but so is space and depth.”

What is your favorite food addiction?  “Ok, this is going to sound really boring, but I actually LOVE salad with roasted veggies, my own greens, chicken and either goat or feta cheese. I essentially chop up whatever I have in my veggie drawer season with “slacker herbs” (aka Mrs. Dash) and a bit of oil. My husband also makes a mean maple balsamic dressing – I DO live in Vermont so any excuse to use Maple…We also have a pretty large localvore movement here in Vermont with about 10 CSAs (community-supported or shared agriculture) I can think of right around me! I have a garden, where I grow purple carrots, beans, lettuce, etc. and when possible, I do try to purchase as much meat and produce locally.”  You are a woman after my heart.  Veggies rock my world sometimes, and we certainly have goat cheese in common.  But honestly, I’m going to pick chocolate every time.

Roots by Featured Artist Painter Emily Mitchell!What if your favorite snack food obsession?  “Popcorn. I could easily eat about 12 cups of it. We make it old school with Oil in our “Whirly Pop”, and I use an herb salt on it, and when I’m feeling really VT hippy, I also toss a bit of nutritional yeast on it.”   Okay, I edit responses to questions–usually only for length.  So, most readers have NO IDEA how often I hear about nutritional yeast.  Clearly, I am going to have to give in and try it.

On a more personal note , most of my readers know I don’t’ eat gluten due to the ugly presence of Celiac disease in my household–2 of the 3 of us. So,  if you don’t mind my asking, how long have you been GF?  *Editor’s Note:  Published with full permission of the artist.  “I have Thyroid Disease, and it was suggested I try being GF to help my thyroid function. It was also suggested to ditch dairy to be truly on the anti-inflammatory free diet…but man I LIVE IN VERMONT–there is NO WAY I am bailing on cheese!  We have so much amazing cheese!  So I limit cheese and diary but skip the wheat.  Ironically, my asthma went away after eliminating wheat.”  My son’s lactose intolerance completely disappeared, and he is happy to trade gluten for cheese any day.

What’s coming up next for you?  “I have this idea for 20-30 small wood panel paintings to be displayed together – I may do this as part of an upcoming art-a-day event.  I have also been pushing myself to do two portrait drawings per month to keep the ‘classical’ drawing skills fresh!”

Thank you, Emily, for reminding us that
play is productive.

Learn more about Featured Artist Painter Emily Mitchell!

If you’re interested in becoming a Featured Artist,
Click to Learn How!

40 Responses
  1. Jason Bermudez permalink
    December 3, 2014

    This is a wonderful interview and Emily’s art is FANTASTIC!

  2. December 5, 2014

    Beautiful work and an engaging interview. I enjoyed it very much.

  3. Emily permalink
    December 5, 2014

    Thank you Jason and Roopa!

  4. December 6, 2014

    i love hearing about your process and deep connections formed over time. My style has changed SO much from just a few years ago (sometimes even a few days ago), this makes me excited to keep pushing and searching for new paths and meaning in my work! Love seeing how you evlove each year, keep painting!!

  5. December 6, 2014

    Emily, it never occurred to me to ask… Do you offer any of these as paper or digital prints? These would make fantastic commercial fabric prints for home decor. Love these. –R.L. Gibson (Rachel)

  6. Michelle reed permalink
    December 6, 2014

    Congrats, Emily! I love your work and can’t wait to get one for my house. So happy for you!

  7. Aron Haney permalink
    December 7, 2014

    Beautiful work, Emily.

  8. Tunche permalink
    December 7, 2014

    I love your sense of “play”. We could all learn a lesson for that notion.

  9. Bark Cone permalink
    December 7, 2014

    Congratulations on your Feature. Your work is great!

  10. Alen Star permalink
    December 7, 2014

    There seem to be birds in every piece. So peaceful.

  11. Nikole Bryson permalink
    December 7, 2014

    Wow! I am lovin’ all the color.

  12. Tony Closse permalink
    December 7, 2014

    Are you represented by a gallery? Is this work on canvas or canvas board? Any chance it is gallery wrapped. I hate framing. These are gorgeous!

  13. Tom permalink
    December 7, 2014

    Food & Art. Birds & Feta. What more could you ask for?

  14. Shaila Conor permalink
    December 7, 2014

    I can’t wait to see your new “wood panel” painting series.

  15. Paul Mivot permalink
    December 7, 2014

    These pieces are so ethereal. I love them ALL. 🙂

  16. Nataly Last permalink
    December 7, 2014

    I am pinning everyone of these to Pinterest.

  17. Casey permalink
    December 7, 2014

    Beautiful work, Emily!! This interview is great!

  18. December 7, 2014

    Beautiful work! Varied texture, range of colorful hues, and wonderfully achieved depth in each piece!

  19. Emily permalink
    December 11, 2014

    Tony! Thank you! The majority of my work is on gallery warped canvasses or boards and I carry the painting over the sides. I do have a few thinner canvasses for which I have found these great floater frames that I recommebd for clients, which I get at ASW. Or Cheap Joes…

    No gallery rep yet….

  20. Jen permalink
    December 16, 2014

    I feel so lucky to know you as an amazing art teacher. The kids loved you.
    Congrats on the article your art work is beautiful

  21. Amy Tyson permalink
    December 16, 2014

    Your artwork speaks to me, Emily, and I cannot wait to commission a painting for our home. With our decades long connection to your family, it will be wonderful to have a soulful creation of yours to keep and pass on to our grandchildren. The painting that I want is specifically for our small guest room which is largely used for our twin four year-old grandchildren on their frequent visits. It is there (and in our enchanted woodland garden) that we conjure up the most fantastic and whimsical stories on life, nature, art and animals. What better way to stimulate our imaginations than with one of ethereal, texturally rich and colorful paintings?

    AND, who doesn’t love POPCORN?

    XOXO Amy

  22. Karen permalink
    December 16, 2014

    I love the mingling of life, nature and the imagination in Emily’s art. Thanks for sharing this interview.

  23. Jenn permalink
    December 16, 2014

    Congratulations Emily!! I love your work, you are so talented!

  24. KathyE permalink
    December 16, 2014

    Fabulous artist and teacher. (Emily was my son’s AP Art teacher in High School and he is going on to really great things in cinematography.) There is so much joy in Emily’s art – how can you not love it/her.

  25. Nina Cummins permalink
    December 16, 2014

    Emily’s is fantastic and her art is beautiful and thought provoking. Love her talent!

  26. Duncan permalink
    December 16, 2014

    I’m a fan! “The Dot” was also an inspiration to my wife (artist/art teacher) and to our girls. And as a fellow swimmer, I can feel your connection to water in your work. I love the bubbles, the birds and everything you do!

  27. Alicia permalink
    December 16, 2014

    Love this interview! And Emily is very deserving of Artist of the Month. Seeing her work in person is a must!! The colors and layers and imagery are amazing and a jpeg just doesn’t do them justice!! Paint on, Emily!!

  28. Stevie G permalink
    December 16, 2014

    Love Emily’s work!

  29. Katherine permalink
    December 16, 2014

    Great interview really reflecting how natural the artist is with herself and the freedom she expresses in her work.

  30. Shana permalink
    December 16, 2014

    What beautiful work! I’m in love with her style and use of color!

  31. Susan Alves permalink
    December 16, 2014

    I am amazed at Emily Mitchell’s artwork. I recently reconnected with Emily and have been in awe of her artwork. A very special talent, a very special woman.

  32. Kristen Bettencourt permalink
    December 16, 2014

    congratulations Emily! I am impressed with your dedication to the arts. My best Kristen

  33. Karen Golding permalink
    December 16, 2014

    Great interview with a truly wonderful artist! Emily, your paintings have such a feeling of joy and light, looking at them never fails to make me smile!

  34. Aaron Smith permalink
    December 16, 2014

    I have an Emily Mitchell at home. A small one, but lovely and it is enjoyed very much. I find something cheerful and optimistic in her work.

  35. Roger D permalink
    December 16, 2014

    Great insights on a wonderful artist and community treasure

  36. December 17, 2014

    I recently came across Emily’s amazing artwork. I will be turning 64 years old tomorrow and have a new appreciation for her beautiful talent. you see I live my life with a lot of color my dress has always been color my home has always had lots of color and I feel very tasteful and have always received many compliments. top it off I am a bird of lover, I have had 8 birds at one time my oldest now is 22 I have two African Grey’s the oldest is Ziggy my Amazon, the others have all died from old age.

    What my point is is that when I see Emily’s art work it is as though she is painting my life how could I not but love this! I surely hope she gets some type of award for her amazing unique pieces.

  37. Emily permalink
    December 17, 2014

    Cora, that is the greatest compliment! Thank you!!! Xoxo

  38. December 17, 2014

    I’ve often believed that you can’t really know something until you are able to teach it. Emily’s teaching and knowing show clearly in this article. She’s quite a find.

  39. Kate Pietschman permalink
    December 18, 2014

    Great to read a bit about the energy behind your work. I am lucky enough to be able to look up and gaze at it whilst I make lattes. It mesmerizes me to the point where if your lucky, I may add an extra shot of espresso, just kidding, or am I?

    And now, of course, I want to go make a batch of popcorn – I like mine with brewer’s yeast.

    I love your process and the end products!

  40. Kate Lee permalink
    December 20, 2014

    Play, play, play… Love the importance of play and nature expressed in your art, Emily. I also love Detail of Horison 2 above! I hadn’t seen that one of yours before. Great interview!

Comments are closed.