The exhibition that is opening this week at The Arts Club of Washington shows twenty-two of my artworks from a series I painted in response to my first visit to the east coast of America. Born in Australia I, like so many of my countrymen, love to travel. Whilst my husband and I had holidayed in America before, it was usually to ski in Colorado. In 2003 we took a longer vacation, including our first trip to the east coast, which allowed us to see a little of New York, followed by a few days in Washington, before going via Florida to New Mexico to ski. I made the paintings in this exhibit between 2004 and 2007, and at the time I painted them I never dreamed we would end up living and working here. My husband and I moved to the District in September of 2010, sent here by an Australian clean energy company to join their office here.
As a child I had a strong interest in drawing. and elected to study art throughout my secondary school years. After joining the workforce, marrying and having two children, I wanted to express myself by painting, and started with art society classes where we lived. More formal training followed, including six years of tertiary courses which led to a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Fine Arts) from Sydney College of the Arts. After the death of my first husband I used my skills teaching art in high schools for ten years.
Many of my paintings in this exhibition are vignettes of Georgetown scenes and buildings. The area is not what it was the first time I saw it, the way it is in my paintings. It has been gentrified and sanitized. What once inspired me — the creative color schemes of the old buildings along M Street, the “Live Jazz” sign — is no more. The decorative windows and doorway of that bar have been replaced with an aluminum alternative – probably more efficient, but soulless and very brown. I would not paint it today. I am currently working on paintings of Paris scenes as well as a few portraits of family and friends. I tend to work on subjects in hindsight whilst I absorb the place I am living in. I suspect the next Washington series is gestating as I write.
I usually paint for four or five hours a day, five days a week, in natural light, when I am in my home studio in the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney. That is where I painted the scenes of Georgetown — with a view on the Australian bush. I prefer to work at home. Watercolor and acrylics are my preferred mediums. To paint here in Washington I set up in the brightest room in the house making do with a lightweight easel that I can pack away easily when necessary. I have a growing hoard of art materials stashed under beds, in cupboards and in drawers. Unfinished paintings are propped behind furniture and folders of drawings lean discreetly against any spare walls. The longer I am in one place the more my art making spreads over the house. It has taken a little while to begin new projects here. It always does. Picture a cat prowling around its new space, poking and prodding the furniture till it can get comfortable and settle.
I’m honored to be exhibiting alongside talented artists Susanne Eisinger and Ellen Winkler in the upcoming show, and invite you to come enjoy the opening with me, Friday September 6 from 6:30–9 p.m. in the Galleries at The Arts Club of Washington, 2017 I Street, NW, Washington, DC. The exhibit will be on display from September 6 – 28, 2013.
Teri Hiley is an Australian born artist currently residing in Washington, D.C. She has enjoyed a long career as an award winning artist, and her work is represented in public and private collections in Australia and the United States. Formal studies included the completion of the Art Certificate course at Meadowbank College of TAFE, Sydney and a B.A. (Visual Arts) at Sydney College of the Arts. Teri taught art in various high schools for 10 years before retiring to paint full time. She was accepted as an exhibiting member of The Royal Art Society of New South Wales in 1999 and was elevated to Associate Member in 2006. She joined The Arts Club of Washington in 2012.