Fine Art

Grace Visits: Artist June Wilson

Our frequent arts contributor and artist herself Grace Graupe-Pillard is making studio calls. This week she shares with us her visit to the studio of the artist June Wilson whose love affair with nature since her childhood days deeply informs her artistic practice.


June Wilson is constantly observing nature with its wavering light and moods, creating paintings that are often minimal in form, but maximal in richness of content. She uncovers hidden secrets buried under layers of veiled diaphanous curtains of paint, revealing glimpses of the mysteries of germinating life. Wilson is sensitive to the natural world; her awareness of our interdependence in the cycle of life is transformed into oil/alkyd on birch plywood paintings and shapes derived from personal examination and time spent on the river kayaking with her beloved golden retriever.  For example, in Sniff Sniffs (2004) looming outline of the dog’s nostrils or in Common Flicker (2004) we see an artwork that gives us a sense of the rhythmic beat of a woodpecker heard in the backyard. Her most recent series focuses on insect pollinators and their importance to the ecosystem.

Sniff Sniff and Common Flicker 2004June Wilson, Sniff Sniff (left), 38” x 45”, oil/acrylic on wood, 2004. Common Flicker (right), 20.5” x 21”, oil/acrylic on wood, 2004. Courtesy of the artist.


Wilson was brought up in rural New Jersey where she and her sister roamed the woods exploring all matter of vegetation, scrutinizing the cylindrical beauty of nature’s design in wasps nests, jack in the pulpit wildflowers, and the myriad configurations of leaves and barks they came across while wandering under the protective canopy of the trees. They poked about the streams filled with snakes and  tadpoles and flittering silvery fish while the sounds of birds in the distance communicated like far off whispers. The poetic magic and complex beauty of Wilson’s natural surroundings have always been a determining component of her art.

In the 1990s, Wilson worked with six-sided birch wood shapes making all the sides equal. She then decided, she says, “ to make the shapes uneven…more like nature that is fracturing and breaking.” She begins with a gestural brush mark on the wood, then pours translucent oil paint  and alkyd medium onto the panel letting it drip and run, creating a laminate of “skins” that often allows the original grain of the wood to be visible. What we perceive through this process is the manipulation of the earth’s strata, alluding to change — those fleeting moments of chance vs. control. These paintings exude light with surfaces that are as seductive and delicate as a hummingbird’s wing grazing your arm. Initially, all we see is the abstraction of form and color, but soon we recognize that the work exudes a narrative — one that reaches deep into her personal history.

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  • Patricia Rosenblad January 14, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    Good for you, Grace, & good for June! The work is really beautiful! I just saw this!

    • Grace Graupe-Pillard February 6, 2017 at 2:28 pm

      Patricia – So glad you did not miss this article on June Wilson’s work. Thanks for posting.

  • Mimi Smith October 26, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    What a wonderful interview article, Grace and June. I have always liked June’s paintings, but did not know the nature and family subject matter behind the recent ones. I also enjoyed seeing the picture of June in her studio.

    • Grace Graupe-Pillard October 27, 2016 at 11:26 am

      Thank you Mimi sir responding

      • Grace Graupe-Pillard October 27, 2016 at 11:27 am

        For responding

  • June Wilson October 24, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    Grace, Your approach to writing is both unique and sensitive. The way you weave the paintings into a story is like following bread crumbs through the woods to get home. So honored that you wrote about me.

    • Grace Graupe-Pillard October 24, 2016 at 4:07 pm

      June – the feeling is reciprocal. Thank you.

  • Grace Graupe-Pillard October 23, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    Suzan – Thanks for your thoughts. I will pass them on to June.

  • Suzan Globus October 23, 2016 at 9:12 am

    Your insightful explanation of the evolution of the format and content of June’s pieces gives me a deeper appreciation of June’s beautiful work.

  • Grace Graupe-Pillard October 22, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Miriam – As always enjoy reading your “take” on my “take” and the work itself. Thanks so much.

  • Grace Graupe-Pillard October 22, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Maria – you have known June’s work for years so I love your response. Thank you.

  • Andrea October 22, 2016 at 8:49 am

    Thank u Grace for sharing your visit to June’s studio with us. Her vibrant rich colors drew me in- I love how she interprets nature and it’s natural beauty.

    • Grace Graupe-Pillard October 22, 2016 at 2:47 pm

      Thank you for reading and sharing your response with us.

  • Maria Mijares October 21, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Wonderful, Grace! I had not seen June’s more recent work. Thank you! Learning how the thread of her early inspiration has moved through her lifetime illuminates the very art process. Great authentic work, June!

  • Grace Graupe-Pillard October 21, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    Miriam- much appreciated

  • Phyllis Rosser October 21, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    Wonderful to see June’s studio and her work in it. I love the size and shape of her canvases as well as the depth and richness of her color. Thought Grace did an excellent job of describing her aesthetic.

    • Grace Graupe-Pillard October 21, 2016 at 2:16 pm

      Thank you Phyllis

  • miriam brumer October 21, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    So effective – the way this article leads us through Wilson’s process and the influence that childhood memories and observations have had upon it and her work in general.
    For instance,I was attracted to the painting “Blown Away” immediately, but learning about its allusion to “milkweed seeds erupting out of a plant and being dispursed by the wind” made it even more intriguing. A really clear and articulate insight into the aesthetic aims and vision of June Wilson.