Andover artist finding unplanned meaning in painting

·3 min read

Jun. 16—Dorothy Lorenze is a still life painter. That means she paints inanimate objects put into some sort of arrangement.

She chooses her objects based on what she finds aesthetically pleasing, but it is the significance that these objects can hold that makers her job so rewarding, whether that meaning is intentional or not.

Years ago Lorenze wanted to make a gift for 90-year-old women who had offered use of her barn to Lorenze and other artists for a show.

"I wanted to make a small painting for her as a thank you," Lorenze said.

So as a still-life artist, Lorenze made a painting that included an object she found in the woman's home — a chocolate still wrapped in golden foil.

Lorenze choose the object because it was aesthetically interesting and she wondered why it was there unopened and seemingly forgotten. So she took her reference photos and painted the still life a good while later.

"When I gave her the painting it was extremely emotional," said Lorenze. "In the time that I took all the photos and got around to doing the painting for her, which was about two years, her husband had died."

What Lorenze found out is that the chocolate had been given to the woman's husband by a grandchild.

"He thought it was so precious he didn't want to eat it," Lorenze said. "You can't plan those things."

In another instance of stumbling upon meaning, Lorenze painted the feather of a blue jay.

"I painted it because it was beautiful," said Lorenze.

But the person who bought the feather found something beyond that, said Lorenze.

"This young girl had decided that every time her grandmother died, that every time she saw a blue jay feather it was her grandmother trying to connect with her," said Lorenze. "I didn't know that blue jay feathers represent the dead, I don't even know if that is true."

Besides finding meaning in her paintings, Lorenze has a habit of injecting humor into her work. She has paintings titled anything from "Gourd Meeting"(a group of gourds) to "Chick Please," (a baby chicken and check).

Her paintings also don't always have a deeper meaning, said Lorenze, pointing to a painting of red onions.

"I just loved the coloring and nothing else came to me when I did it," she said.

Lorenze said she is inspired by old buildings and said her own house was built in 1692.

"I just love them, I think they have so much drama and history," said Lorenze.

She feels the same thing about old objects.

"I like to be able to look at a thing and think about where it has been," said Lorenze.

While Lorenze is inspired by the reactions her gets, she also just simply enjoys the act of painting.

"I have been known to do it for ten hours," Lorenze said. "If you are not quite getting something and you want to capture it, it is very hard to stop."

Lorenze spent much of her career as a graphic design artist and it wasn't until she had children that she she started painting.

While she worked for nonprofit organization like the Red Cross, she left that career, in part due to stress.

Now at 71 she is painting and enjoying her work.

But it hasn't all been easy.

Lorenze moved to Andover in the fall of 2019, just a few months before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It wouldn't seem like a short time (ago) if we could have gone anywhere," she said.

When she moved to Andover many of the activities she wanted to participate in were canceled. The move had also taken away from an important part of art for her: community.

However, after going to artist events and even winning an award, Lorenze said she has found a new art community here, while still managing to stay in touch with her old one.

You can view Lorenze's art here: https://www.dorothylorenze.com/archive.html