Boston Home

A Rhode Island Artist Paints Timeless Landscapes From a Lace Mill

Amy Wynne extracts colors, shapes, and words from the natural landscapes she loves, then puts them back together in flat, saturated hues, free of fuss.

Arcs of the Pamet Snake through Lush Green Spartina Peat Mounds Emerging, $1600. / Courtesy photo

“Back at the Academy, you’d never say, ‘I’m going to Italy to paint the landscape,’” Amy Wynne says. “There was total devotion to the figure.” The third-generation artist, who works out of a former lace mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, is referring to the New York Academy of Art, where she earned her MFA in painting and drawing and where Renaissance techniques and anatomy are de rigueur. These days, Wynne unapologetically embraces the landscape, be it Tuscany or the Outer Cape, paint box in hand. “I walk wherever my feet take me, slowing down to witness nature and connect with the places I love,” she says.

Arcs of the Pamet Snake through Lush Green Spartina Peat Mounds Emerging, $1600. / Courtesy photo

When Wynne first strayed from the figure, she would set up an easel and paint the vista. Now, she moves through the landscape, letting it seep into her soul. She is an explorer who interacts with her surroundings, collecting data: snippets of color, shapes, and words. Awed by a particular color, Wynne mixes it in paint and brushes a bit on paper so she can recreate it later. She sketches silhouettes that strike her—maybe negative space between two scrub pines or a curve of coastal trail. A scene might elicit poetic phrases; those go into a notebook. Everything is carefully notated—Pebble, Pamet River, 4:02 p.m., June 28. “These different viewpoints, mediums, and systems of presence help me map my experience in nature,” she says.

Back in the studio, the data goes on a wall that Wynne references in creating the artwork. A single journey yields a grid of 12 colors with three lines of haiku handwritten between the rows, plus a corresponding distilled landscape composed of painted silhouettes that seem collaged onto the paper. “Each piece represents a specific meditative walk that has meaning to me,” Wynne says. “It honors what rose to the surface as magical and beautiful.”

First published in the print edition of Boston Home’s Summer 2024 issue, with the headline “Sense of Place.”