The artistic philosophy of Dorsey McHugh lies in her favorite quote: “Look to the light and the shadows will fall behind.”
Dorsey McHugh’s bright and reassuring paintings feel like coming home, but the beginning of her life as a painter grew out of a time of loss. Dorsey had just begun taking art lessons when her father, a friend and confidante as well as a parent, passed away. She was 40 and it was a turning point in her life. Her art is an expression of faith that there is always light even in the darkest of situations.
As Dorsey continued to explore painting, she created her own technique. She says, “Pure bright colors can be vibrant and dramatic. They may be beautiful to look at, but tiring to the eye. Complementary colors are restful to the eye. They are easy to live with. Nature mixes complementary colors. For instance, if you look closely, green grass has a lot of red in it.” Dorsey mixes her own colors, adapting her palette to a technique she created intuitively. What will eventually be a blue sky might start out as bright orange. As she layers different shades of paint with her palette knife, her trademark warmth comes out, and the painting is brilliant without being overpowering.
Although her work is imaginative, and invokes memories of fairytales and fabled countrysides, it also reflects her very real beliefs and intuitions. Dorsey paints the language of home. “Love in every culture manifests itself in a simple, easy to observe way – the love of family and friends and the sanctuary of home. When it comes to home and family, we are all so much alike. We all love our children, and our homes on the inside – when the doors are closed – are all very similar.”
Dorsey’s longings for a harmonious world in which nature and mankind are in gentle balance are reflected in her acrylics with colors of joyous yellows, blues, reds and greens. Dorsey’s homes and villages seem to grow in a compliance with nature. She gives us a refuge of peace, calm and the love between man and nature for which so many long.
Even the titles carry inspiration: “Reason to Smile,” “Refuge Found,” “Freedom from Fear” and “Hope.” She combines words, titles, color and light in a whimsical combination of reality and imagination. Through line and color, Dorsey inspires others to remember that there is light even in the darkest times.
A native of the Black Hills of South Dakota, Dorsey McHugh currently resides in Nashville. Her work can be seen in galleries in Hawaii, Washington D.C., Nashville, southern California, Chicago, Park City, and Carmel.