ARTIST & PHOTOGRAPHER
Lucky for me, a whole bunch of years ago a friend recommended artist and photographer, Victoria Duffy, for a gallery assistant position at my store when it was on Bowen's Wharf. Since then I have had the unique pleasure of this delightful woman working with me on the day to day both in the store and in my studio. As the years went by I learned not only is she the most personable woman I have ever met and a very good friend, but Victoria is talented in so many different facets of the arts it was hard to find something she did not excel in when given the opportunity. Photographer, curator, visual merchandiser, book binder, gift wrapper, expert art shipper... there are so many stages of growth my gallery would not have seen without her help. But I have to say, the most inspiring thing I have seen from Victoria by far, is her ability to paint the nature she surrounds herself with from wetlands to the ocean to mountain tops and forests full of stunning trees. I am amazed at her talents and feel truly grateful to have her artwork at the gallery - always the reminder of the wonderful artist, in every sense of the word, behind it.
ONE WHERE DO YOU LIVE AND WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO NEWPORT?
I fell in love with Newport when my husband’s job with the U.S. Coast Guard brought us to New England in 2015. Living nearby in Massachusetts brought me to The City By the Sea where I met the lovely Kristen Coates and got to work in her beautiful & unique gallery. Getting to know Newport and working so closely with Kristen was a hugely special time in my life. Now that I’m living near Baltimore, MD, I find myself missing the atmosphere that can only be found in Newport -- especially in Kristen’s shop during the holidays! I loved stopping by Easton’s Beach to watch a storm roll in while the surfers clad head-to-toe in wetsuits braved the chilly water. Newport was always the first stop when friends would visit with endless food, laughter and things to see!
TWO WHAT ARE THREE THINGS YOU CANNOT TRAVEL WITHOUT?
I’m the girl who travels with a candle in my bag, which has spurred some interesting interactions with TSA when going through security. My artwork is deeply inspired by travel, so having a specific scent that I’m able to bring back to the studio really helps trigger my memory as I paint. Not to be biased, but most of my candles come from Kristen’s hand poured line - they’re just so lovely! Of course an important companion to any artist is a trusty sketchbook, which I always have on hand. My sketchbook is filled with studies and notes, and I just can’t live without it. And finally music!! The music a person listens to is literally the soundtrack of their life, so I always create a playlist to suit the journey. Music is an important layer to my artistic process, and when I listen to the playlist I chose on a trip I’m able to recall the image I’m working on in my mind’s eye much more easily.
THREE WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT THIS YEAR?
This year has presented me with a lot of changes and challenges, but I’m so excited about the large scale paintings I’ve been working on. Over the summer I completed a piece called “Island at Crooked Creek Camp”; a 30”x48” landscape commissioned by a client in Maine. It was challenging to work on such a large scale canvas having not visited the place before, but in chatting with my client I was able to understand their emotional connection to the landscape and channel that into their piece. The final product depicted an early summer day in the woods of Maine with lots of foliage and a churning creek reflecting the bright blue sky, and I just adore the way it turned out.
FOUR TELL ME SOMETHING PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO HEAR ABOUT YOU?
People are usually surprised to hear that I grew up as a farm girl in rural Southern New Jersey in a historic house called Holmeland. It was famously raided & torched by Redcoat soldiers during the Revolutionary war, and growing up in a place like that lends to the development of a vivid imagination! My love of art & studying nature grew there as I had 25 acres of woods and fields to roam. One of my early memories is of my dad teaching a 7 year old me about observing landscape perspective, light and atmosphere while we sat on a blanket in the middle of a field. My parents are both lovers of art, and nurtured that in me once they realized how much I loved art as well. My mom even took glass blowing classes with me when I was 13!
FIVE WHAT IS IT THAT BRINGS YOU THE MOST INSPIRATION?
Oh, definitely travel and nature!! Everyone sees and interprets the world differently, and as an artist I feel this need to represent those places and observations through art. My husband is a wonderful sport and we usually make an effort to visit a gallery or art museum on our trips as, for me, viewing other artists’ work is just as enthralling as it is to create my own artwork.
SIX What is Something positive that came out of Covid lockdown for you as a creative?
I’m sure many creatives feel this way, but being home and having the time to dedicate to solely being in my studio has been truly valuable. I treat studio time as a full time job, so I’m in there for 8+ hours working, 5 days a week. I’ve always had jobs outside of my art studio, and I’m so lucky they’ve all been in a creative field, but dedicating all of my time to being in the studio has been a major turning point in my process.
SEVEN WHAT'S THE PROJECT YOU ARE WORKING ON NOW THAT YOU ARE MOST EXCITED ABOUT?
I’m continuing my Turquoise Dreams series on large canvases. Painting on a large scale has been so invigorating for me! I used to paint on huge canvases frequently in college, but had to adapt to smaller pieces for a while. Painting on a large scale gives me more range of motion with my paint strokes… and since there’s always music playing, I’m not ashamed to admit there’s a fair bit of dancing that occurs while I work!
EIGHT WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO OR WHERE IS A PLACE YOU WANT TO VISIT POT COVID TIMES?
I can’t wait to visit Paris! Usually, my husband and I head for rural destinations like the rugged terrain of the Highlands of Scotland or a road trip through Bavaria… but I’ve neglected to visit the City of Lights!
NINE IS THERE SOMETHING YOU WANT TO PROMOTE?
During this difficult time of covid19, I’ve seen a lot of people I care about struggle with their mental health. Please take care of yourselves and check in on the people you love -- even if they seem alright. Remember, you ARE doing enough, and YOU are enough! Be kind to yourself and others.
TEN WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF CAREER ADVICE?
Be brave, kind and take chances because you never know what doors will open for you if you work hard. I ended up as a professional photographer for 10+ years because of an internship at Studio D/Hearst Magazines in Manhattan. Even though I was a fine art major and had only taken one film photography class, it showed me how many creative career opportunities are available to an artist in addition to creating fine art. Doors were opened that I’m still walking through today, and I’m so grateful to all of the people who have supported me and pushed me to be better. But a hard learned lesson for me has been to listen to my gut! If something truly doesn’t seem like a good fit, don’t be afraid to say it’s not right for you.
Photos: Victoria Duffy