Pursuits of Happiness, 18 VTBJ, Summer 2018-#8

PositionVol. 44 2 Pg. 8


Vol. 44 No. 2 Pg. 8

Vermont Bar Journal

Summer, 2018

Oil on Canvas: An Interview with Carole Obuchowski

Jennifer Emens-Butler: I am here in the offices of Joe and Carole Obuchowski to interview Carole Obuchowski for our Pursuits of Happiness column. As our readers know, the column focuses on our members’ interests and talents outside of the practice of law, that help keep them balanced in their lives. I chose to interview you because you had submitted a photo of one of your paintings for our 2016 cover contest—it was one of my favorites.

Carole Obuchowski: Thank you. It was an oil painting of two farmers.

JEB: We ended up picking just something that was lovely fall Vermont cover, with a field with hay, where we could still clearly add the title of the journal.

CO: I remember, it was Judge Toor’s photo of the haystacks with great light.

JEB: Yes, that’s right. But I recall really liking that painting and thinking: “I am going to have to interview her.” I have a particular interest because my grandmother was an oil portrait painter, which you don’t see as much of anymore.

CO: Oh, really? Did it pass down?

JEB: No. No talent here. My family thinks so, but they are biased. I do great chicken scratches. So, do you always paint with oil?

CO: I paint with oil, yes.

JEB: Seems like a more traditional or more difficult medium that you don’t see as often.

CO: I find it a lot easier than watercolor.

JEB: Do you use a large pallet to mix all the tubes of colors? I think that looks so cool.

CO: I lay out the oils on the pallet that I think I will be using that session. And then I mix. Very rarely is anything that ends up on the canvas the same that came out of a tube. I can paint on paint. You can’t do that with watercolor; you need to be precise.

JEB: That’s true, you can work it over and keep changing it.

CO: Right. Every time I have used water-color, I have ended up using it like oil paints, which doesn’t work. It just does not suit me as a medium.

JEB: When did you first start painting?

CO: With oils? Probably when I was about 14 or 13 years old. I was doing a lot of drawing and…

JEB: So, you did drawing when you were younger than that?

CO: Yes, I did. I really started probably when I was 10 or 11.

JEB: With the official training or did you just like to do it? I mean did you think you were going to be an artist when you grew up?

CO: I don’t think I ever had any official training. Maybe in High School. I do remember bringing a drawing pad with me and drawing people’s faces when I was on the subway. I didn’t have any feelings about being an artist; I just did it.

JEB: You just did it?

CO: It’s like, remember, like in the 6th grade they would give you book reports and you had to do a drawing for it with crayons?

JEB: Right, and yours were great?

CO: Mine were better, so I knew. I grew up in Queens and my 6th grade class was essentially 36 little geniuses; let’s put it that way. We had a reunion when I was 32 and I think only the failures showed up. The Nuclear Physicists and the MIT Economics Professor didn’t show.

JEB: They all went off and did great things.

CO: Yes, they went on to great things, so being able to paint or draw was probably a way that I differentiated myself because I was surrounded by some really accomplished kids.

JEB: So were you pressured to never even think that art could ever be a career?

CO: No, not at all. But in the environment I grew up in, the girls weren’t really encouraged toward any career choices…the option was to get married and have kids. Maybe teach school if you were really ambitious.

JEB: So you just enjoyed the art and drew and painted for fun, what happened after that? Did you draw in HS or were you in art class?

CO: Yes. I graduated from HS when I was 16, not such a good idea, but I took art and painted in high school which was sort of cool because the art teacher gave us assignments to go into Manhattan -- to go to the Art Galleries and give reports on what we had seen, so that is something that not most kids are exposed to. I was assigned to go to the art galleries on Madison Avenue as opposed to the 2 or 3 major museums, something that most kids hadn’t even heard of.

JEB: Most people don’t go to any of them, anymore, I guess.

CO: Actually, a very wealthy subset of people do buy from art galleries. And they look or hire agents to look for them. In the 6th grade we went to the Museum of Modern Art, where they gave us a separate art room, and...

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