Loss of mother inspires 'Pink Chair Project'
By Liz Premo
Hampton Union, August 13, 2013
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Artist Lynne Schulte created “The Pink Chair Project” to chronicle
her personal journey as she worked through the pain of losing her
mother, Carolyn, to heart disease in 2011. (Liz Premo photo)
HAMPTON — Patrons who ventured into the Weston Gallery at Lane Memorial Library last month were welcomed by an exhibit of vibrant paintings in which a bright pink Adirondack chair was featured on every canvas.
"The Pink Chair Project," a collection of watercolors and oils by Georgetown, Mass., artist Lynne Schulte, chronicled the artist's personal journey as she worked through the pain of losing her mother Carolyn to heart disease in 2011.
Schulte's exhibit was facilitated by Lane Library staffer Darrel Eifert, who was first introduced to the artist during a library event in her hometown.
"I was very intrigued," Eifert said, adding the library was pleased to feature the "Pink Chair Project" in the Weston Gallery. "It's got an amazing story behind it."
Patrons who attended the reception found the work amazing as well, using words like "spectacular," awesome" and "wonderful" to describe what they were seeing.
"It's a beautiful show. The colors are vibrant," said Karen Raynes, a member of the Hampton Arts Network. "They all tell a story. Even though it's a personal journey you can put yourself into it."
Schulte, who gave a slideshow presentation during a reception held in her honor in the library's Wheaton Lane Room, told her audience, "It really never was a grief story. Right from the beginning it was about love."
Love, and what seemed to be Carolyn's ever-present influence as Schulte embarked upon an artistic journey that began with the question, "How am I ever going to deal with losing her?"
"It was as if she was saying, 'This is what you will do to deal with it,'" Schulte recalled as her series came into being. "She was there all the time."
The pink chair was, too, although its first appearance (in a work entitled "Sunshine and Shadow") wasn't deliberately planned. Two months after her mother's funeral, Schulte had embarked upon a planned trip to Cushing, Maine. Staying at a cottage in that picturesque coastal town, she had her first encounter with the chair.
Schulte described it best on her blog: "After painting away from the cottage, I decided to paint off of the back deck. But first, I enjoyed the view for a while, sitting in the pink Adirondack chair in the back yard. It matched the shutters of the house. As I rested, I thought of how much Mom would have loved that chair. It was her color, an intense knock-your-socks-off pink.
"Back on the deck, I started painting and decided that the chair looked so good there, I would paint it in. I was not prepared for what happened."
Taking great care to check the composition and value areas through an initial "underpainting," Schulte expertly captured the light and shadow she saw before her on her canvas.
"I was taken at how the chair sat on the line between light and dark in the yard," she wrote. "As I carefully started to paint the pink chair into the work, all of a sudden I sensed the presence of my mother. She was there — in the chair! And she has stayed with me through this adventure in painting."
As that adventure continued (with a pink chair of her own that she kept stashed in her car), Schulte would take the chair to her mother's favorite places or locales she thought Carolyn would enjoy. Prominently at the forefront in some paintings, distinctively smaller in others, the pink chair is a constant, eye-catching presence no matter its size.
In the stories that were featured next to each individual painting while on exhibit, Schulte chronicled how and why she would select different settings. For example, on a visit to the Sedgewick Gardens in Beverly, Mass., she placed the chair next to a little pond next to which lilies and lotuses were in bloom.
"I knew Mom would love it, so I set her chair up close to it so that she could get a good look," she said. She named the painting, with its vibrant greens and pinks, "Meditation (First Lotus)," because she envisioned her mother "meditating quietly behind the blooms."
For another painting, entitled "Daisy Love," Schulte honored her mother's fondness for daisies by capturing the chair surrounded by white, yellow and pink flowers. Accompanying the finished work was "The Daisy," a poem penned by her mother (who had written and published a book entitled "This is Me").
Schulte would often talk to Carolyn while painting, and strongly felt her presence at any given spot. Consistently reflecting upon the bond they shared together, Schulte would even take direction from what she felt was her mother's influence from another realm.
"You start to believe this stuff when it starts happening," said Schulte. "It was so clear she was part of this."
Schulte's "Pink Chair Project" will be featured in several additional exhibits before concluding with a three-month showing at Exeter Hospital next summer. At that point she will be able to sell paintings from the series, including to those who will have waited two years for their art.
In the meantime, Schulte offers greeting cards and prints from the "Pink Chair Project." To see more of her work, and to learn more about the project, visit www.lynneschulte.com.