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After career change, artist gives back

This article was first published in the February edition of Today Magazine, our monthly publication

By Kate Emery — Special to Today Magazine

I came to art late in the game — it wasn’t even on my radar as a kid. My mom was a social worker and experienced the world through her heart. Her creativity was finding ways to help others that often involved starting community organizations (many of which still exist today).

My dad — an engineer, physics teacher and founder of the Farmington Land Trust — devoted his creativity to the solution of more abstract problems.

I inherited a little from each parent. I started a technology firm in my 20s ( and later started a nonprofit ( to support businesses that aim to be a force for good rather than simply profit-making machines.

It wasn’t until I met my husband Steve, a professional photographer who sees the world through a compositional lens, that my eyes were opened to exploring the elements of making good pictures. And when we started gardening together, composing with color and texture became a whole new and exciting challenge!

I started painting at that point, over 30 years ago, but only in my spare time. I tried lots of different media, but it was love at first brushstroke with oil. I haven’t, however, been able to narrow my field of interest in subject matter. I love jumping from abstract to figure to portrait to landscape.

Still, regardless of the subject, I let my heart lead.

Farmington​-based artist ​Kate Emery​ displays her painting "After The Storm"​

Sometimes it’s obvious what draws me to a scene or a subject: the beauty of a sunrise or the heroism of a person. Other times it may not be clear right away. I let the muse direct me and she has never steered me wrong.

Until my retirement three years ago — or, as I call it, my “rewirement” — I wasn’t able to paint full-time. The hardest part (aside from developing routines to get me in the studio daily) was feeling like pursuing this thing I love is OK.

It must be the Puritan in me — if I’m not struggling, I feel a little guilty. I solved that problem by giving half of my painting proceeds to nonprofit organizations that are doing good things in the world. Now I can paint with a passion not just for creating art, but also for the organizations I support.

The thing I love most about painting is the challenge! There is so much to learn. Every day I’m learning and growing. I also love the way painting makes you focus on the little things — light on leaves, the color of mist. It’s very grounding.

Until my retirement three years ago — or, as I call it, my "rewirement” — I wasn’t able to paint full-time. The hardest part ... was feeling like pursuing this thing I love is OK.

As a lifelong Farmington Valley resident, I have memories and connections that stretch back through several generations.

My mom loved walking and my favorite memories with her are tramping through the woods and fields together talking and sharing the beauty of nature in every season.

I believe that life brings out the best in us when we can marry the disparate experiences and things that excite us, and in painting

I have found my happy place. +


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