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Quincy Egginton: ‘Giving In to the Art’

Tue, 04/09/2024 - 12:42
Quincy Egginton was captured in the act of painting en plein air.
Courtesy of the Wednesday Group

Sometimes you can ask an artist how long she has loved art, or how old he was when he first felt drawn to learning how to do it, and get an answer that approximates “forever.” Quincy Egginton’s answers to these questions sound a lot like that.

She was always drawing and painting watercolors, ever since she was a young child growing up outside of Boston and later living with her artist mother and military father in a country village in Japan, and right through her time studying art as an undergraduate at Syracuse University and earning her master’s and doctorate of art education degrees at Teachers College at Columbia University.

Even though she attended an English-language school in Japan, “it was very isolating,” Ms. Egginton recalled, noting that “for a lot of reasons,” her time there has influenced her art. To this day, she continues to keep her paints in a wooden box her parents gave her in Japan. “I remember being absorbed in and focused on doing art,” she said. “The environment was very beautiful and my parents and I, particularly my mother, were very appreciative of the culture and the beauty of the land.”

A watercolorist and printmaker who with her husband, Hersey Egginton, has owned a house here for 45 years and came from Westchester to make Wainscott their full-time home three years ago, Ms. Egginton uses art to capture the local environment and natural subjects such as vegetables, flowers, and seashells. A collection of her work titled “Farm Harvest Images” is currently on display at the Milk Pail Farm Market in Water Mill, with a reception planned there on Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m.

For Ms. Egginton, watercolor is a medium that suits these subjects well.

“I love the fluidity of it, the range of expressions. It’s very sensitive,” she said. “The water, the beach, has always been a major draw to me. I do think the watercolor serves really well to interpret the water.”

Beaches feature “the same elements, the sand, the water, the sky, but every time you come, those elements are always different,” she said. “You think about the gust of wind. The earth has moved. The wind has affected the water and the waves, the light has changed the color of the water, and the clouds are constantly changing. It’s really stimulating to me. I never get tired of it.”

She is a recent and well-suited addition to the well-known Wednesday Group of plein-air painters who meet up for outdoor painting sessions at various places on the South Fork. This makes watercolor a communal art for her, whereas printmaking is a more individual experience.

“I’ve been so happy doing watercolors, and I love being out in these locations and being with other artists,” she said. “The printmaking represents spending time by yourself in the studio.”

In between and alongside studying and teaching art, Ms. Egginton also worked as an illustrator. At a recent show at Ashawagh Hall in Springs, in which she had 14 pieces on display, “One person said, ‘Quincy, this looks like an illustration for a children’s book,’ “ she said. “There were a number of people who commented on my painting looking like illustrations, and that was interesting because I was used to doing illustrations when it was an assignment.”

You might also know Ms. Egginton from her coordination of the weekly coffee hour at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in East Hampton, her attendance at local concerts of choral or chamber music, her membership in the Wainscott Sewing Society, or her appearances each month at the meetings of the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee. Community matters to her, but what’s even more important to her is making art and sharing it with others. People can look at her work and know something about her.

“You exhibit because you like to have people see what you do so that they know more about you,” she said. “I like to hear responses to the color, and I like to hear which paintings you respond to when there’s a choice.”

As a self-described “visual thinker,” she carries a sketchbook wherever she goes, filling its pages with drawings of and notes on her travels — from faraway places like Salt Lake City, Vail, Vermont, and Alaska, to the Orient Point ferry, Home, Sweet Home in East Hampton, and even the waiting room at her dog’s veterinary office in Farmingdale.

Her career as an art teacher included roles as a teaching assistant and full-time adjunct and associate professor at Teachers College at Columbia, the College of New Rochelle, and Mercy College. She has also taught adults and children in public and private schools and libraries, and, after relocating here, locally at the Art Barge (Victor D’Amico Institute of Art), the South Fork Natural History Museum, and Project Most. She has also taught at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cooper Hewitt Museum.

She has shown her work at the Romany Kramoris Gallery in Sag Harbor, East End Arts in Riverhead, the Lucore Gallery in Montauk, the Benson Gallery in Bridgehampton, Guild Hall in East Hampton, and LTV Studios in Wainscott. Before that, she exhibited widely in the Westchester and Putnam areas. Her upcoming shows also include ones at the Depot Art Gallery in Montauk in June and the Riverhead Free Library in August.

As a master printmaker she specialized in lithography and apprenticed with professor William Maxwell. Most recently, she assisted Dan Welden at a three-day event called Printaganza at LTV, where some 100 artists converged for a large-scale printmaking collaboration. She studied photography in a summer program at Harvard, and also holds a certificate in computer graphics.

At her house on Hedges Lane, Ms. Egginton — who signs her work simply “Quincy” — displays work that represents many periods in her life, including early abstract works. A copy of Scott Chaskey’s book “Soil and Spirit” sits on her coffee table, and her sketchbook is near her purse, ready to go along for the ride.

“Art is intellectual and physical, and yet when you’re really doing it the most intensely, it’s as if your mind is in another state,” she said. “There’s something about being at this level of doing art where you’re very engrossed and you’re not conscious of what your mind is thinking. That’s kind of the most rewarding part, because it’s giving in to the art.”


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