Confidence and vibrant colors on display: Longtime art educator exhibits her work at Wendell Free Library through April

Longtime art educator Karie Neal has some of her watercolor and chalk pastel paintings on display in the Wendell Free Library through April.

Longtime art educator Karie Neal has some of her watercolor and chalk pastel paintings on display in the Wendell Free Library through April. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Longtime art educator Karie Neal has some of her watercolor and chalk pastel paintings on display in the Wendell Free Library through April.

Longtime art educator Karie Neal has some of her watercolor and chalk pastel paintings on display in the Wendell Free Library through April. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Longtime art educator Karie Neal has some of her watercolor and chalk pastel paintings on display in the Wendell Free Library through April.

Longtime art educator Karie Neal has some of her watercolor and chalk pastel paintings on display in the Wendell Free Library through April. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Longtime art educator Karie Neal has some of her watercolor and chalk pastel paintings on display in the Wendell Free Library through April.

Longtime art educator Karie Neal has some of her watercolor and chalk pastel paintings on display in the Wendell Free Library through April. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Longtime art educator Karie Neal has some of her watercolor and chalk pastel paintings on display in the Wendell Free Library through April.

Longtime art educator Karie Neal has some of her watercolor and chalk pastel paintings on display in the Wendell Free Library through April. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Longtime art educator Karie Neal has some of her watercolor and chalk pastel paintings on display in the Wendell Free Library through April.

Longtime art educator Karie Neal has some of her watercolor and chalk pastel paintings on display in the Wendell Free Library through April. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

“When I make art, I share what I see … the colors, shapes and lines that come together and form something special,” says artist and educator Karie Neal. “I would describe my work as realistic views of organic shapes.”

“When I make art, I share what I see … the colors, shapes and lines that come together and form something special,” says artist and educator Karie Neal. “I would describe my work as realistic views of organic shapes.” COURTESY KARIENEALART.COM

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 03-20-2024 4:18 PM

Modified: 03-20-2024 4:27 PM


It turns out that those who teach can also do.

Longtime art educator Karie Neal is “fairly new” at creating her own work and has her first full exhibit on display in the Wendell Free Library through April.

“It’s small, but it’s a good start,” she said with a laugh.

Neal has hung some watercolor and chalk pastel paintings in the Herrick Room for all to see during the library’s open hours.

“The exhibit is art that I’ve been doing over the past few years and it’s heavily inspired by nature, so it’s mostly birds, flowers and landscapes,” she said, adding that she applies chalk pastel last to create more of a depth and to generate vibrant colors.

The Wendell Free Library at 7 Wendell Depot Road is open Tuesdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Fridays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Neal said an art opening, with refreshments and an opportunity to meet the artist, is scheduled for 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on April 6.

“I’ve lacked the confidence for so long to put myself out there in this vulnerable way, but I feel like it’s time now,” the Hatfield resident wrote on her website. “I’ve struggled with self-esteem, self-worth and so, being my own worst critic, I just never thought I was good enough. I was also scared of criticism, but how can I better myself and my practice if I don’t take risks?”

Neal, 51, attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst as an undergraduate and then earned a master’s degree in education with a focus on art integration from Lesley University. She has been an art teacher for 30 years, currently working in New Salem and Leverett after having been in Chesterfield and Deerfield.

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“I think the best thing about it is just seeing kids explore materials and find out about themselves and be able to express themselves in a way that might be difficult in other parts of their day,” Neal said.

She said her some of her students have already seen her exhibit and given her positive feedback. She also said she has started selling her work at craft fairs.

“I see such beauty in the eyes of an animal or the dewdrop on a leaf, the way the sun reflects on the water or how a shadow is cast onto a surface,” she wrote on her website. “When I make art, I share what I see … the colors, shapes and lines that come together and form something special. I would describe my work as realistic views of organic shapes.”

Neal also said she finds inspiration in the work of the late modernist painter Georgia O’Keeffe.

“I’ve always loved the way she captured colors and images, especially her large compositions of flowers and how they were enlarged to the point of partial abstraction,” Neal wrote.

More information about Neal is available at www.karienealart.com.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.