Carole Böggemann Peirson, chosen as Oxford’s Fine Arts Feature Artist of 2022, had until recently been known for her evocative landscape oil paintings of the Eastern Shore. Then a series of life-altering events shifted her artistic perspective from the traditional to the abstract.
It started with a breast cancer diagnosis in 2019. Then in 2020, as she was undergoing treatments, both she and her husband were diagnosed with COVID. In addition, they were both unable to work; she because of her treatments, and he was in the restaurant sales business, which was closed due to the pandemic. These events turned out to be, she says, one of the best things that happened to her. “I was always a perfectionist and a bit of a control freak. I thought I could control my whole life by working hard and following the rules. Then 2020 came, and there was nothing I had control over anymore. I literally had a let-go-and-let-God moment.” And when she let go, she said, solutions came out of nowhere. She began to sell paintings she had forgotten about or hadn’t yet created. With it came the recognition that she had been worried about the wrong things in her life, and she switched to appreciating all the good.
Böggemann Peirson then committed to healing and took up meditation, which she credits with making a huge difference in her recovery. And as she got better, she started rethinking her artwork. Imitating the newly found ‘textures’ in her life, Böggemann Peirson decided to add textures to her oil paintings and began experimenting with cold wax. “There are techniques in working with oil and cold wax, where you dissolve layers with solvents. And so you’re taking away layers that you’ve applied, and you don’t really know what’s going to appear. That was so much fun to see what happens and not have the full control.”
She was hooked. “I was like a kid in a candy store. I began thinking in more abstracted terms of colors and shapes, and it was liberating because you don’t always know what will happen as you use solvents to dissolve the layers you’ve applied.” The process allowed her to work more spontaneously, and her paintings became a way for her to evoke an emotion rather than express a reality.
Whatever the method, to Böggemann Peirson, the satisfaction had always been about the result, as long as that result was a good painting. But in dealing with the crises in her life, she learned she was enjoying the process of painting rather than just the end result. Being chosen as Oxford’s Fine Arts Featured Artist both surprised her and confirmed that she was on the right path.
Born and raised in the Netherlands, Böggemann Peirson moved to the US in 2000, settling on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, surrounded by nature that became her inspiration. Although initially trained in graphic design, she took up oil painting, training with the painter known as Adamo, who also introduced her to Oxford Fine Arts Show.
Since taking up oil painting, Böggemann Peirson has been juried into various competitions and events, including Plein Air Easton, winning numerous awards for her work. This is her second time being voted as Oxford’s Featured Artist, the first in 2015. When the show debuts on May 20th, it will be the first opportunity for the public to see her new approach to painting, and the style has already captivated the people involved with Oxford Fine Arts.
Juror Stewart White describes the selected featured painting as a “remarkable piece. Carole’s bright splash of color infuses the painting with hope and vitality.” Says event chair Karen Walbridge, “Stewart chose her because it was so different from what we normally choose (landscapes, seascapes, etc.). I thought her painting was provocative and bold. I am not necessarily a lover of modern art, but this piece drew me in, and each time I see it, I love it even more.”
As to the future, Böggemann Peirson says, “I’m not saying that I will never go back to my traditional techniques because maybe the two styles will eventually merge. But right now, I’m really exploring and loving cold wax.” However, it’s important that people know that this transition in my work was not just ‘hey, I found this new technique, and now I’m having fun.’ It’s also a spiritual path where I am figuring things out about life that I didn’t know before.”
Which makes sense if you compare the names for her previous art pieces, which included: Marsh Momentum or Peaceful Pasture, to the ones that are part of her new art collection: Breakthrough (the winning featured painting) , Gratitude, Inkling (the painting which will be raffled off), and Harmony. Böggemann Peirson explains, “The titles of the works are not meant to explain the literal depiction of the paintings, but rather the personal state I was in while creating the work or the feeling I want to convey to the viewer.”
The 38th Oxford Fine Arts Show opens with a ticketed Gala Preview on Friday, May 20 (6-8 pm), featuring a medley of hors d’oeuvres, live entertainment, and cocktails. This will be the first opportunity to see (and purchase) the art and meet the 35 prominent regional artists juried into the 2022 show. (Gala Preview guests may attend the show all weekend) $$80 ($60 is a tax-deductible donation)
For more information on Carole Boggemann Peirson please go here.
Val Cavalheri is a recent transplant to the Eastern Shore, having lived in Northern Virginia for the past 20 years. She’s been a writer, editor and professional photographer for various publications, including the Washington Post.