Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Yvonne Dagger, painting narratives with heart and brush

Yvonne Dagger with her dogs
at her studio in Massapequa, NY
On a visit to the painter, Yvonne Dagger's Massapequa studio be prepared to be vigorously sniffed by, politely barked at, and gently licked by one or all of her four dogs: Maggie (her oldest), YaYa, Jimmy, and Tommy. The gang is with her at most times, following the sun on the floor of her studio and, occasionally, consuming the props Yvonne arranges for her still lifes.

Winnie by Yvonne Dagger
Portrait of her "Grand"dog.
Dogs' presence in Yvonne's studio is not limited to her four worthy companions. There are animal portraits hanging on the walls and leaning against the mantelpiece. It is Yvonne's cherished dream to have a room in a serious museum devoted entirely to paintings of shelter animals of whose welfare she is a great supporter. It all started with a visit to her local animal shelter where she was struck by the sadness in the eyes of the animals waiting for love and care. Yvonne's immediate response was to immortalize the animals through painting. She has since adopted dogs, educated the public about shelter conditions, and participated in the assistance dog training programs.

Never Forgotten by Yvonne Dagger
An imaginary museum room filled with paintings of shelter animals
Photo by Yvonne Daggger

Her charitable commitment led to a wholehearted involvement in a Long Island chapter of Canine Companion for Independence and has recently been appointed to CCI's Northeast Board of Directors. Her artistic contribution was recognized by Martha Stewart who posted 13 of Yvonne's paintings on the Shelter Pet Paintings page.

Detail of Allegorical Meditation
by Yvonne Dagger
Yvonne met with a supportive art teacher in junior high school who introduced her to oil painting; she still appreciates the advice she received there. During her early marriage she painted watercolors. Later on acrylics allowed her to paint on outings with her kids. After her children grew up Yvonne decided to go back to school and entered the Art program at Hofstra University. She was extremely happy with having the opportunity to undergo a formal artistic education at a later point in her life. Fully settled and comfortable, she was free to immerse herself in learning how to paint. She appreciated the burst of knowledge of color and techniques, she absorbed everything with eagerness. She made such a quick progress that she was peer teaching while at school. She now accepts one student at the time and teaches the technique from the ground up, including stretching and priming the canvas and shopping for supplies.

Three paintings in the Main Street series by Yvonne Dagger

My Grandmother's Hat
by Yvonne Dagger
Photo by Yvonne Dagger
Oil is Yvonne's medium of choice, but she works with acrylics, as well. Yvonne displayed her work in numerous galleries and offices, her murals grace walls of schools, her paintings appeared on the cover of Dan's Papers, the largest newspaper in the Hamptons, she had exercised various commissions, many pet portraits. Her non-commissioned work is usually narrative in nature. She had painted animals, children, many on the beach and usually from the back, seascapes, still lifes, accessories (her grandmother was the well-known New York milliner behind the Frances Adam's Hats, her mother a seamstress who created dresses for Lucille Ball; Yvonne herself worked at Gimbel's as the Accessories Manager.) She usually works on two different paintings at the same time, devoting no more than two hours to each. She experiences perfect happiness at her easel; the feeling only gets better with time.

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