Dotty Hawthorne will be painting new landscapes when she leaves her beloved Central Coast home, for Portland, Ore., this September to be near family. Hawthorne has been creating her plein air work featuring California hillsides and vineyards for a quarter of a century, and she is feeling nostalgic as she packs up her home.
“The Central Coast has been my muse,” Hawthorne said. It’s going to be a big change. I’m going to have to pull out all my greens and my grays for up there.”
Though San Luis Obispo County has been Hawthorne’s home for about 35 years, Portland has a strong pull. It is the home of Hawthorne’s son, daughter-in-law and a couple of grandkids.
Reminiscing about the land that has inspired so much of her art, Hawthorne reflected on the scenes around her.
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“There’s just something about the shapes of the hills here. I come from the Midwest, where it’s very flat,” said Hawthorne, who started painting seriously about 25 years ago. “There’s something about the hills in the distance as they get blue, but also the golds and the greens. I just love the landscape here. There’s something about it I really respond to.”
Hawthorne’s last local show opened June 1 and runs through July 31 at Gallery at the Network in San Luis Obispo, where she is part owner. Art fans have been coming in to say their goodbyes and to purchase her art before she leaves.
“It’s been a great experience at the gallery, so it’s going to be sad,” she said. “A lot of people have come in to purchase something because they know I’m leaving. It’s been rewarding to have people come in and see that they value my work.”
“Living here has been a stage in my life when I’ve been able to concentrate on my painting and to improve my skills,” Hawthorne said. “I’ve gotten to know a lot of artists in the area, and that’s been an inspiration to me too.”
Peggy Turk and Laurel Sherrie will be taking over Hawthorne’s place as part-owner at the gallery, and Julie Dunn and Rosanne Seitz will continue as partners. Asked about her favorite seasons and locations to paint in San Luis Obispo County, Hawthorne paused, deep in thought, then answered.
“Probably, this is one of my favorite times of year because the grasses are that beautiful golden color,” she said. “It makes me sad [now] to see the different places I’ve painted,” Hawthorne said. “I live in Squire Canyon and often go out to Shell Beach; I love the hills at Varian Ranch.”
“Another place I love to paint is Edna Valley with the vineyards,” she added. “The vineyards throughout the seasons are beautiful as they grow — then in the fall, there are the red colors. I’m happy I’ve gotten to paint here where there’s such an inspiring landscape.”