Mattituck’s Patricia Feiler loves living on the North Fork—in particular, the family-owned farm stands in Laurel. “Just good fresh produce, with friendly folks there to help you,” she says. It’s also where she finds inspiration for her art. “For ‘Summer Berries,’ I had just brought home strawberries and blueberries,” she says. “I rinsed them, put them back in the basket and started painting right away. From farm to canvas!”
What is it about the East End that lends itself to plein air painting?
The East End offers exquisite vistas for a plein air painter to capture: farms, vineyards, beaches, and, of course, the water all around us. Painting outdoors is thrilling and exhausting. I wish I could talk with renowned artist William Merrit Chase about his routine of painting out in Shinnecock Hills and carrying all that gear: easels, paint, brushes, oils, paint thinner and canvases! Photos show him wearing a suit out there on the dunes. A gust of wind recently blew my easel over at Shinnecock and now there’s sand mixed in the painting.
What’s one place everyone should visit on the North Fork?
To really savor the feeling of the North Fork, take a detour along some of the side roads running north from Sound Avenue. There’s such a rich sense of history here because many families have worked the land for generations.
If visitors can stay a few days, I would say get up early and head out with your camera to the beaches. Catch the vineyards at sunset.
What’s the strangest or most unusual place your work has appeared?
Several years ago I had a solo art show at the Orient Service Center. I’d been commissioned to do a painting of a scene in Orient Point and got lost trying to find the location. Finally I just turned around and went back to the Center’s coffee shop, known as “Kropnik’s.” Heidi, the shop’s proprietor, gave me directions, then invited me to bring in some of my paintings so she could have a look. We started a friendly business arrangement right then and there! Folks would come in for gas or to have a repair done, and while they were waiting, have a cup of coffee as they checked out my art show.
If you could sit down to coffee with any artist from history, who would it be and what would you talk about?
I’m related to the political cartoonist Thomas Nast (my great grandmother was a Nast). I grew up seeing pictures of his famous jolly Santa Claus drawings, the Republican Party elephant icon, and cartoons exposing Boss Tweed’s Tammany Hall corruption. During the Civil War, he was a war correspondent and I’ve heard that President Lincoln said his drawings from the battlefields made him their “best recruiting agent.”
I think his commitment to his own political and social convictions through his art was so courageous. I would ask him to tell me what it was like to draw President Lincoln from life when he saw him in a train station in New York City. Can you imagine the excitement at seeing Lincoln and capturing his likeness and personality with pen and paper!? I would have lots of questions about that!
Where can readers see more of your work?
I have new paintings featured in Marissa Drago’s Main Road Biscuit Company in Jamesport, and in Cecily’s Love Lane Gallery in Mattituck. On August 11, I will be showing at the Quogue Historical Society Art Show and Sale.
See more of Feiler’s work at patriciafeiler.artspan.com.