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Looking at a kaleidoscope through the artist's eye

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THESE great draft horses with their arched necks and feather-duster feet; white and black sheep, and sheep dogs; Durham oxen, roan-and-white speckled; gray geese raising their chins and hissing -- all these are there at Common Ground Fair in Windsor, Maine. It is my favorite fair. It has no midway, no horse racing; it is an old-fashioned agricultural fair. I go there to sketch, though I rarely do any sketching. Long ago I trained my visual memory, as Chinese artists do, so that I can see in my mind's eye a nimals in action, not posed stiffly. I have always loved animals, wild ones and tame ones. I particularly love the striped and spotted ones. I create imaginary jungles. I have never traveled outside the United States, not even to Canada. I grew up in New York City, summering in Maine. My parents were both artists. They encouraged me to paint and draw but did not put much value on realism, although their art was not abstract. They valued ``art qualities'' more than realism. I feel the same way.

Just what ``art qualities'' are is hard to say, but they include color, mood, shapes, and meanings, which I feel can best be conveyed through recognizable subject matter. These qualities infuse the work of art with a life of its own.

I have lived here on our farm in Maine since I married at age 18. My husband and I really farmed. We had a small herd of Jersey cows for 20 years and bottled and sold our own milk. But even living year-round in Maine, I was still a part of the New York art scene for at least 15 years.

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