The idea that man has a relation with nature has been with us all along. What’s new is our understanding of the complexities and subtleties of that relationship and the role we play in that balance. When I observe a landscape subject with my 21st century painter’s eyes, I am aware not only of how nature has shaped us but how we have had a reciprocal impact on nature.
Phil Laughlin was born in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Like most kids, he enjoyed drawing, but you wouldn’t have guessed from his childhood that art would become his passion. At home, the idea of a career in the arts was never discussed. School offered one art course in 12 years of public education. The prevailing attitude was “Okay… We’ve checked the art box on the curriculum form, let’s move on to the real business of life.”
From Engineer to Artist
His academic strengths were math and science so it seemed like engineering would be a good course of study at college. This seemingly straightforward plan collided with the social upheaval of the late 1960’s. In the second year at SUNY Stony Brook he began to question his career path in the counterculture style of the times. Doing something in the creative arts seemed more meaningful than building rockets, so he switched majors to studio arts.
When he graduated from Worcester Museum Art School, Abstract Impressionism was relinquishing the spotlight. Several other art movements emerged in rapid succession. The ones exploring new found notions of realism were of most interest. He moved to New York City and continued to paint. The need for employment pushed him to study applied arts and work as a graphic designer.
Creatively, commercial design work wasn’t very fulfilling, but the opportunities presented by the city itself and the exposure Manhattan offered to new ideas and new standards of artistic professionalism were their own reward. World class galleries and museums were in abundance. He passionately consumed it all.
Life as a Vermont Artist
In 1986, Phil moved his family to the beautiful green mountain state of Vermont. At the same time desktop computers hit the scene. After a period of experimentation, he found himself gravitating towards illustration software, rendering product and technical subjects. Painting time had to share with work time while he raised his family. Children grew, moved out, and he gradually rebalanced his schedule to once again favor landscape painting.
Along the way he discovered the rich tradition of New England painting built by generations of artists. Casting aside the last bit of guilt over leaving the formal concerns of modern abstraction behind, he joined other contemporary artists working with and extending that tradition.
Currently, he paints local scenes from his rural home in Williston, Vermont.
Honors and Awards
Second Place: Land & Light Bryan Memorial Gallery, Jeffersonville, VT 2014
Best in Show: Vermont Pastel Society Members Show 2012
Weekend Artist in Residence: Basin Harbor Club, Vergennes, VT 2011
Second Place: Land & Light Bryan Memorial Gallery, Jeffersonville, VT 2008
Honorable Mention: Land & Light Bryan Memorial Gallery, Jeffersonville, VT 2007
Jerry’s Artarama Award; Connecticut Pastel Exhibition, CN 2006
Jack Richeson Award: PPSC 11th Annual Exhibition, Chatham, MA 2006
Judge’s Choice Award: National Northeast Pastel Exhibition, Old Forge, NW 2006
First Place, Pastel Category: Art Show at the Dog Show, Wichita, KA 2006
Weekend Artist in Residence: Basin Harbor Club, Vergennes, VT 1990
December artist: MCHV calendar 1989
2nd Place: Chaffee Members Show, Rutland, VT 1989
Purchase Award; Art Students League 1987
Ellen B. Stoeckel Fellowship: Yale University, Norfolk, CT 1980
Gruppe Gallery (solo): Jericho, VT 2016
One Arts Center (solo): Burlington, VT 2016
Burlington City Arts Rotation (solo): Various, VT 2012 – 2016
Land & Light Show, Bryan Memorial Gallery: Jeffersonville, VT 2008 – 2016
Bryan Memorial Gallery (solo): Jeffersonville, VT 2015
North End Studio (solo): Burlington, VT 2015
Inside Out: Pelham Art Center, NYC 2014
Impressions of New England: Bennington Arts Center, VT 2014
Burlington City Arts Holiday Invitational: Burlington, VT 2013
IAPS Online Juried Exhibition: IAPS Web Site, 2011
Reflections on Basin Harbor: Basin Harbor Club, VT 2011
Pastel Society of America Signature Show: Bennington Art Center, VT, 2008
Connecticut Pastel Society: West Hartford, CN 2007
Chaffee Art Center Feature Artist: Rutland, VT 2007
Connecticut Pastel Society: Slater Memorial Museum, CN 2006
Pastel Painters of Cape Cod: Chatham Center the Creative Arts, MA 2006
Pastel Painters of Maine: Heartwood College of Art, ME 2006
National Northeast Pastel Exhibition: Old Forge Arts Center, NY 2006
Art Show at the Dog Show: Wichita, Kansas Kennel Club 2006
Pastel Society of America Annual: National Arts Club, NYC 1996
Basin Harbor Club Residence Exhibition: Vergennes, VT1990
Degas Society 3rd Biennial: Lauren Rogers Museum, Laurel, MS 1990
The Magic Mirror – Helen Day Art Center: Stowe, Vermont 1989
TW Wood Gallery, hosted by Norwich U: Montpelier, VT 1989
Chaffee Members Show (solo): Rutland, VT 1989
Envisioned In A Pastoral Setting: Shelburne Farms, Shelburne, VT 1989
Vermont Landscapes (solo): Catamount Art Center, St. Johnsbury, VT 1989
Pastel Society of West Coast 2nd Annual: Carmichael, CA 1988
Kansas Pastel Society Annual Exhibition: Wichita, Kansas 1987
Alice Lloyd College Fourth Annual: Pippa Passes, KY 1983
Art Students League: New York, NY (Student Purchase Award)
Yale University: Summer Fellow at Norfolk , CT (Ellen B. Stoeckel Fellowship)
Worcester Museum School: Worcester, MA ( Best All Around Student Award)