Dawn Boyer was born in Maine and grew up mostly in North Carolina and New Hampshire. She has an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has drawn or painted in one form or another for her entire life. In addition to being influenced by Joan Mitchell, Joan Eardley, Emily Mason, Brian Rutenberg, and Wolf Kahn, Boyer has studied with Carolyn Caldwell, Gail Sauter, Christopher Volpe, Nella DeLuca Lush, Bess Cutler, and Bernd Haussmann, who have had an immense influence on her work. She continues to seek other artists and colorists whose work she responds to as well.
She is known for her love of vivid color in a style that she refers to as abstract lyricism, the “space between” the realistic and the abstract, the personal and universal, the intellectual and intuitive. “Water, landscapes, and gardens will always pull at me,” she says. “I’m not interested in them as subjects per se. I’m more interested in their energy and the emotional response that energy evokes, the way nature expresses abundance without reservation the way so many people are afraid to in their own. We are connected deeply to nature, and yet in our fast-paced, technologically addicted society, we too easily lose touch with that connection. I will never tire of exploring the mystery of how integral those natural forces are to our well being.”
She works mostly in oils, although she will also turn to pastels, acrylics, and graphite when a painting or circumstance dictates. Her style is bold, with energetic marks and thick paint, applied mostly with palette knife or a combination of palette knife, shaper, and brush. Most paintings are done alla prima; some are revisited and layered with more paint until they convey the emotional resonance Boyer wants to express. She tries not to plan too steadfastly, as she is not as interested in subject depiction as in how a painting communicates with a viewer and creates a response. She concentrates on the interplay between color, harmony, shape, light, and value, and she allows a piece to say what it needs to as she moves knife or brush or shaper or even damp paper towel across canvas or panel or board. Then, she steps back to listen and observe, and approaches again. Music plays a big part in her process (Boyer is a professional singer as well as an artist); listening to it as she paints creates an essential rhythm and flow to each composition. Chopin’s nocturnes, contemporary female jazz composers, French gypsy jazz, New Orleans jazz, blues, roots-based gospel, and Memphis soul are particular favorites.
Dawn has a love for renovated mills. Her studio is in one in Rollinsford, NH, and she lives in one in Somersworth, NH.