The artistic philosophy of Dorsey McHugh lies in her favorite quote: “Look to the light and the shadows will fall behind.” With each brushstroke, Dorsey gives attention to technique, color selection and subject matter, all used to create images that bring in the warmer side of life.
Dorsey McHugh infuses her landscapes with a carefree, joyful depth that celebrates the simplicity of life. Mostly simple scenes, her works are successfully designed to pull viewers in through their intrigue: what is inside those quaint houses, or just beyond that gentle hill? And it is this curiosity and calm delight that Dorsey looks for as opposed to amazement or awe. “I want to keep the image simple enough to enable the viewer to bring their own story in with them,” she says, “so they become part of the painting.”
Dorsey McHugh paints with an unrestrained spontaneity, allowing colors to layer over and over to bring out her final expression. Because she revels in subtle texture, her acrylics are almost exclusively applied with a palette knife. “While I am executing the painting, I am playing – playing with color, the palette knife and the shapes. Mostly I am playing with light. Light and color are my vocal chords – there is music in painting for me.” And for those who already enjoy having a painting of hers on their wall, this is understood completely; there is a peaceful hum, a lulling melody that emits from each one of her paintings.
While Dorsey’s paintings bring out lighthearted warmth and tranquility, the initial reason for picking up the paintbrush was to process through her father’s death. Yet the love of family kept the tone and emotion of her artwork from being somber, and instead helped bring out the light and color of life that Dorsey so admires and so perfectly embodies in her paintings. Her upbeat outlook is reflected through the varied poems, quotations or verse that is written on the back of her canvases. Even the titles carry inspiration: “Reason to Smile,” “Refuge Found,” “Freedom from Fear” and “Hope.” In the same way that she combines words, titles, color and light, the very foundation of her art is a whimsical combination of reality and imagination.
A native of the Black Hills of South Dakota, Dorsey McHugh currently resides in Nashville. Her work has been shown at the Huntsville, Alabama Museum of Art, the Spencer Brown-Stone Gallery in New York City, and can be seen in galleries across the U.S. including Washington D.C., Nashville, Atlanta, New Orleans, Sedona, Las Vegas, Carmel, Westlake Village, and Hawaii.