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Amy Kustra

Amy is a painter working in oils, acrylic, gouache and graphite. She has been at RWS since November 2015. Amy describes herself as a seasonal painter, meaning that in summer she paints outside on location (en plein air) and in the colder months she spends more time in the studio. Throughout the year she goes on daily walks with her dog, Rosie, deliberately seeking out new places all over Maine to try to catch the light. In winter she brings her camera along to snap photos before coming to the studio. Painting the scene the same day allows the memory of the place and feeling she had while she was there to inspire the painting. She often paints landscapes and spring-themed images like blooming branches. “As a Mainer, or a person in the North East, you’re so excited to see blooming branches, whatever is blooming–first is usually forsythia. I’ll drive around Freeport looking for quince and ask people if I can cut some of their beautiful sprays. Then I look for magnolia trees.” She has also done a lot of figure drawing and over the past couple of years she has created a series of paintings with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In the series, she connects seasonal symbolism and flora and fauna with "Our Lady" to express the interconnectedness of all life. For Amy, art comes from a space that’s expansive and contemplative. In being so, it gives her a place to hold suffering and tragedy as well as space to see the light. In 2015 Amy left her practice in family-medicine to embrace art. She had been experiencing some medical issues and high stress at her job and had two young children at home. Art had always been a first love for her and she had tried to continue to make art throughout her life, but practicing medicine was all encompassing and there was very little space for creativity. She doesn’t regret being a doctor because the things she’s learned have given her perspective on life. Amy believes having several different stages of your life offers a counterpoint for you to think about what’s working, what’s not, and what’s next. That’s how she ended up at RWS. “Initially it was a rekindling of a major life passion, but also an opportunity to heal and reclaim parts of myself that had been quiescent.” Amy loves how making art is a never ending opportunity to try new techniques and use new tools. She recently took a two-day color workshop and it opened her eyes to how much there was to learn about color. “And just how much you can do with just color and how far it can be pushed. Basically what I learned is that you don’t need a lot of paint to paint, you just need to know how to use it. You can do beautiful things with just two paints if you know how to use them.”

Making art for Amy is about expressing the interconnectedness of all things. This feeling has really crystalized for her over the past two years. Lockdown was the first time that she was around her home every day and she started to notice the birds in a different way; she was able to notice the first buds come out the very first day. “It starts with an awareness...and I think part of that is being on the ground with your feet and walking outside every day.” Conserving wild places is a part of this connection to the Earth and a percentage of her sales is given to conservation trusts. Amy’s work will be shown in a 10”x10” show with other RWS members at Meeting House Arts Gallery in Freeport from March 25 - May 1, 2022. She can be contacted through her website, or Instagram @amy_kustra.


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