Remembering This Week’s Cover Artist: The Late Ellen Postrel

September 16, 2022 Dan's Papers cover art by Ellen Postrel
September 16, 2022 Dan’s Papers cover art (cropped out) by Ellen Postrel

This week’s cover is now our fourth to feature a stunning watercolor by Ellen Postrel, who sadly died on Monday, September 5, 2022. This charming depiction of the Westhampton Beach Village Marina is a snapshot of Postrel’s many summers in the village she had loved since the 1960s.

“I’ve always loved this little village; it has inspired me in so many ways,” she told Dan’s Papers in her 2020 Honoring the Cover Artist interview. “I love my paintings to tell a story — about the landscape and about the people. To quote Norman Rockwell: ‘I’ll never have enough time to paint all the pictures I’d like to. Every painting is a new adventure.’”

Ellen Postrel posing with her art in front of Fitzgerald Gallery, Photo: Barbara Lassen
Ellen Postrel posing with her art in front of Fitzgerald Gallery, Photo: Barbara Lassen

Remembering Ellen Postrel

As a plein air watercolorist, she would sit outside, record the Hamptons beauty and light with her brush and camera, then return home to consult her photos and art books before completing the painting with “reckless abandon.” She described this final step as “letting my heart and soul finish the painting.”

Of her four Dan’s Papers covers, all were tributes to iconic Hamptons locales, the others being the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on August 5, 2005; the Amagansett Beach Hut on September 13, 2013; and Westhampton Beach Main Street on September 25, 2020. In 2010, her 2005 cover was selected as one of the top 50 covers in 50 years of Dan’s Papers.

“I have always tried to capture the charm of this small town in my watercolors,” she added in her 2020 interview. “I especially like to paint scenes from the farmers market on Saturday, the July Fourth parade in Southampton, the radiant sunflowers in bloom, Beach Bakery, the abundant farm stands.”

Ellen Postrel art on the August 5, 2005 cover
Ellen Postrel’s art on the August 5, 2005 cover

Postrel first started her artistic career by training in oil and acrylics, but once she discovered watercolors and an award-winning watercolorist to mentor her, Sue Archer, Postrel knew she had discovered her true artistic passion. Postrel continued to take workshops and hone her watercolor prowess in Florida during her winters in Boca Raton, on the East End and abroad (Paris was one of her favorite destinations). She also trained as a docent at the Parrish Art Museum.

She had been represented by Fitzgerald Gallery in Westhampton Beach for nearly 30 years when she died. Owner Kevin Fitzgerald remembers her determination when she first walked in, portfolio of still-life and florals in hand, to make her case for representation.

“What I will miss the most is her lively personality,” Fitzgerald says. “And as far as her paintings, she was not afraid to use color, always very bold in her approach and almost always incorporated figures into her work, which brought it life. I enjoyed her company and her artwork very much for these many years that I represented her here.”

He adds that the walls of his gallery are still adorned with Postrel’s works — watercolors of lifeguards, croquet players, cyclists, farm scenes, vegetable stands and the now-shuttered Westhampton boutique O’Suzanna. Fitzgerald’s gallery remains the main, and possibly only, place to purchase Postrel’s art.

Ellen Postrel art on the on September 13, 2013 cover
Ellen Postrel’s art on the on September 13, 2013 cover

She also exhibited her watercolors at Florida and New York art shows organized by the International Orchid Society, Palm Beach Watercolor Society, Flowers at the Greenery, Southampton Artists Association and Guild Hall in East Hampton.

Postrel considered art as one piece of her weekly diet — one pillar in her identity. She balanced her time and passion with other joy-filled activities, including golf, bridge, cooking, reading and taking walks. “My decades-long love affair with art has never curtailed my curiosity and ability to delve into other disciplines,” she told Dan’s Papers. “While being an artist is a fundamental pillar of my identity, I’ve always maintained a generalist approach to my life. Art is my transcendent lens in which I can appreciate this world’s natural beauty.”

She is predeceased by her husband, Albert Postrel, who died on January 8, 2010. “Meemee,” as she was lovingly called, is survived by her children Marc, Alice and Rhonda; children-in-law Elizabeth and Brian; seven grandchildren and three great-grandkids. Her family, friends, art fans and the Westhampton Beach community will miss her dearly.

Donations in her honor can be made to Gift of Life, an organization determined to cure blood cancer through cellular therapy, at giftoflife.org.

September 16, 2022 Dan's Papers cover art by Ellen Postrel
September 16, 2022 Dan’s Papers cover art by Ellen Postrel

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