I am a landscape painter of places that to me echo the wild heart of things... Yosemite and the Sierra, the west coast from California to Alaska, and areas I have yet to explore. My family has had a very strong influence on why I paint and what I paint. Our home was Yosemite National Park from the time my great grandparents, Bridgid and John Degnan arrived there from Ireland in the early 1880's. They had come to Coulterville to live and work with John's uncle Patrick Degnan, and heard of this wondrous Valley. John walked there from Coulterville to see the valley for himself. Brigid, John and their young family moved to Yosemite Valley and established a business in 1884. Bridgid ran the bakery and store while John worked building trails, and structures for the government.
My grandfather, Dr. John P. Degnan, and his sister, Mary Ellen Degnan were a large part of our lives as we children were growing up in Yosemite Valley. The stories they told of their youth in Yosemite, and people that populated the valley in those days were compelling. Mary Ellen and her parents John and Bridgid helped raise John Jr.'s 3 girls, Frances, Margaret, and my mother, Nell, after their mother Mae died. We young ones thrived growing up in the same valley as my mother and grandfather, steeped in nature and the goodness of the people around us.
One of the memories I treasure is my sister and I as very young children taking our oil paints out in the meadow where we could see the falls, or down to the river near the footbridge to paint our surroundings. It is and was something we would do almost daily. As we grew we ventured farther afield. The high trails offered new viewpoints to paint and ponder. Childhood haunts did and still do draw us back. They ground us and make us remember who we are. That is why even when I travel far, I will always paint Yosemite.
My BFA in printmaking and masters in painting allowed me to teach at the Community College level for 30 plus years.
Teaching has given me a lot of joy. As a painting workshop instructor for Yosemite Association,(now Yosemite Conservancy), teaching little and big kids through the Artist in the Schools program through the State and local Arts Council, and my own workshops given to small groups over the years taught me a lot. Now I have put teaching on hold for awhile to focus on my own work. It is a little scary but exhilerating and I'm looking forward to the ride.
Preferred Media: mixedmedia, painting