Jeanne Coffin

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One of my first memories is of drawing. When I was four, I sat down with a magazine, a piece of paper and crayons to copy the face and hair of a young woman in a shampoo advertisement.

When I was five, my father took us to The Museum of Fine Arts in nearby Boston to see a Modigliani exhibit. Later, we saw Rembrandt and van Gogh exhibitions. My father had a small collection of art books and we had a couple of original paintings. Although I never met them, one of my mother’s uncles was a professional artist and my mother’s father, a landscape architect, was talented in drawing. My parents encouraged my interest in art and provided me with drawing materials. They gave me an adult oil painting set when I was in eighth grade and teachers let me work independently on a still life.

I grew up with a love of landscapes and flowers. My sisters and I could bicycle to Wellesley College and enjoy the spacious campus. It is beautifully landscaped and laced with paved paths. Occasionally, we visited the Arnold Arboretum where my great-grandfather had worked.

In high school and in college, I worked more with still life and people as the subject than I did with the landscape, but enjoyed drawing and painting all of them. As an undergraduate at Yale, I studied with Bernard Chaet, William Bailey and Gabor Peterdi, and found them all to be inspiring. A group of us traveled from Yale to the Maryland Institute and saw a major exhibition of the work of Fairfield Porter; I still return often to the Porter monograph. Between my junior and senior years at Yale, a number of us were encouraged to attend The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, Maine, so that we could immerse ourselves in art. Paul Georges’ instruction and paintings still resonate for me. Prominent visiting artists presented their work in slides. Between the community of artists, the visiting artists and the library, I was introduced to a wide range of ideas.

In graduate school at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, I began to concentrate on the landscape as subject matter. I studied with painters George Wardlaw and Tina Feingold and printmakers John Roy, Bill Patterson and Jack Coughlin. At Amherst College, I worked on figure sculpture with Mark Oxman. History of Modern Art and my own studies exposed me more fully to the work of Matisse and Kandinsky (it is Kandinsky’s work from 1910 to 1917 that I find especially exciting). Work of the California Bay Area Painters, especially the work of James Weeks and the figurative work of Richard Diebenkorn, was inspirational too.

Prior to graduate school, I taught at Darrow School, a small private boarding school in the Berkshires. Following graduate school, I taught at Blair Academy in rural Northwestern New Jersey. I usually had small classes. Most of my students were motivated and creative. That combination gave me the opportunity to pass along much of what I had learned and to develop new projects. When I create a new project, I seek to help students develop both important skills and artwork that they find exciting and reflective of their own ideas. My involvement in my own work helps to energize my teaching and my students’ accomplishments bring me fresh insight and enthusiasm.

While on summer break from Blair Academy in 1981, I had the opportunity to study landscape with Raoul Middleman, who was teaching nearby in The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. We painted on site for a month. Working plein air became my preferred approach to landscape painting.

A couple of years later, I married Don Lusardi, another teacher. I stopped teaching at Blair to teach part-time at Centenary College in Hackettstown, New Jersey and to spend more time painting. I alternately taught, painted and raised children.

Since moving to Western New York in 2000, I have often painted with a plein air group and with the Portrait Group that meets in East Aurora. For several summers, I have enjoyed the creativity and enthusiasm of my students in the Gow School Summer Program studio art classes.

Prior to moving to Western New York, I had exhibited in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New Jersey. I was particularly pleased to have paintings juried into group shows by Nell Blaine (The Bowery Gallery, NYC) and by Wolf Kahn (The Hunterdon Art Center, NJ).

I have been thrilled and grateful for the support and appreciation that I have received while having my work exhibited in the Art Shop at Meibohm Fine Arts.

Artist Statement:

Like many artists, I am inspired by nature. It is not my goal to copy nature, but rather to offer an interpretation that is usually through the medium of paint. An aspect of nature—it could be the way colors appear at that moment, the way light and shadow appear at a particular time, the way a grouping of bushes is somehow satisfying—draws me to paint scene or a glimpse of nature. I want to reinvent the vision in order to experience it more fully and to share it.

It is not just nature that inspires me. Painters have made us more aware of nature, colors, light and shade, shapes, space and atmosphere. They have helped to educate our sense of sight and to connect our visual experiences to our minds and emotions. There is a legacy of how painters have painted nature. They are not just sharing a part of nature. They are sharing nature as viewed through their eyes, processed by their brains and emotions, and expressed through their gestures.

There are too many artists who have inspired me to list them all. They range from Monet, Morisot and Bonnard to Matisse to Wolf Kahn, Nell Blaine and Jane Freilicher.

I love vibrant colors, though often somewhat offset by quieter colors. Colors and color combinations can have a strong effect on the emotions. Visible, sometimes thickly painted, brushstrokes are also appealing to me. Sometimes, I want small, staccato rhythms against a large, strong swath of paint. Other times, I thrill to extended calligraphic brushstrokes.

Although some art has goals other than that of sharing beauty, I am drawn to beauty and want to help fill others’ need to experience the beautiful and to connect with nature. It is a constant challenge, but it can also be exhilarating. One time, the wife of an architect asked to meet with me at the end of an exhibition. She told me how her husband had stood in front of a painting of mine for such a long time that she had to buy it for him. The experience that the architect seems to have had reminded me of times when I had been spellbound in front of others’ paintings. Paintings can refresh you, lift you up and sometimes almost take your breath away.

My hope is to keep improving, to become increasingly authentic and to make paintings that are meaningful, both to others and to myself.


1969-1973- Yale University, B.A. cum laude (1973), New Haven, CT.

1972- Summer, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, ME.

1975-1977- University of Massachusetts, M.F.A. in painting (1977), Amherst, MA.

Teaching Experience:

1973-1975- Art teacher in painting, art history, sculpture and independent studies, Darrow School, Mount Lebanon, NY.

1975-1977- Teaching Assistant for designing and teaching courses in drawing and painting, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA.

1979-1983- Art Teacher in painting, drawing, design, printmaking, art history and basic ceramics, Blair Academy, Blairstown, NJ.

1982-1983- Assistant Professor (adjunct) in color and design, and art history survey, County College of Morris, Randolph, NJ.

1983-1987- Instructor/Assistant Professor in drawing, two-dimensional design, three-dimensional design, art appreciation and Team-Taught Seminar in Fine Arts Criticism, Centenary College, Hackettstown, NJ.

1989-1996- Substitute Instructor, Centenary College, Hackettstown, NJ, and Blair Academy, Blairstown, NJ.

1997-2000-Assistant Professor (adjunct) in illustration (1997), appreciation of art (1997-99) and 3-D design (2000), Centenary College, Hackettstown, NJ.

2001-2003- Instructor in oil painting, East Aurora Continuing Education, East Aurora, NY.

2003- Long-term Substitute in three-dimensional art, The Gow School, South Wales, NY.

2003-2011- Teacher of Studio Art, The Gow School Summer Program, South Wales, NY.

2005- Long-term Substitute in three-dimensional art, The Gow School, South Wales, NY.

2008-2009- Part-time Teacher in art, The Mandala School, East Aurora, NY.

Selected Group Exhibitions:

1976-1977- The Left Bank Gallery, Wellfleet, MA.

1978- Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery, Keene State College, NH.

1979- Boston Visual Artist Union Spring Show, Boston, MA.

1981- The Left Bank Gallery, Wellfleet, MA.

1982-1985- Wyckoff Gallery (now Bengert/McRae), Wyckoff, NJ.

1983- 30th Annual Juried Exhibition, Hunterdon Art Center, Clinton, NJ.

1984- “The Figure in Motion or Repose”, YM & YWHA Gallery, Philadelphia, PA. 31st Annual Juried Exhibition, juried by Wolf Kahn, Hunterdon Art Center, Clinton, NJ.

1985- Berkshire Artisans Gallery, Pittsfield, MA. The Left Bank Gallery, Wellfleet, MA.

1989- 36th Annual Juried Exhibition, Hunterdon Art Center, Clinton, NJ.

1990- Alumnae Arts Festival, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

1991- Centenary College, Hackettstown, NJ. The Bowery Gallery National Competition, NYC.

2002- Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY.

2012- East Aurora Art Society at Enjoy the Journey, West Seneca, NY. Colden Art Festival, 2nd Place Prize in oil painting, Colden, NY. East Aurora Portrait Group, East Aurora, NY.

(Source: The artist’s own biography and resume)