32 Munson Rd., Chesterfield MA (413) 296-0330
Valerianna Claff is an artist who seeks the solace of wild places and feels a deep reverence for the quiet hemlock forest where she lives and paints. Though inspired by the land around her home, her paintings are imagined, archetypal places, journeys into the primeval forest where the numinous spirit of place is encountered. She works primarily in watercolor, though in a non-traditional style, utilizing the bleeding of wet paint onto wet paper to suggest fog, mist, reflections, light and atmosphere in the landscape. Trees are the main subjects of her work, whether stands of trees creating mysterious forested places or solitary trees in open spaces – linear contrasts to distant ridges and atmosphere.
Her newest body of work, the Trees & Pond series, explores the light and atmosphere of wild, open spaces at different times of day and weather. It began with a swampy area passed regularly, and the fascination with the light, reflections in water and the patterns of dead tree branches against sky. Letting wet color bleed into a damp field creates reflections, and when dry, the more specific trees are painted on top. The new work relates to older bodies of work exploring ridge tops and weather patterns and a desire to celebrate the quiet that these places evoke.
She received her MFA in 1993 from the Rhode Island School of Design and has been teaching studio art at Clark University since 1995, and in her Chesterfield studio since she moved there in 2003.