Spontaneity may rule the afternoon and evening hours Ginnie Cappaert spends in her quaint studio overlooking the waters of Egg Harbor, but it is her dedication to a morning routine of meditation and the great outdoors that gets her there.
An abstract landscape painter, those quiet moments practicing yoga, hiking the peninsula’s trails, and biking its rolling country roads are as necessary to Cappaert as the tools she uses to achieve her work.
In fact, that morning routine just may be the most important tool she has.
“I do a lot of things and that’s what keeps my life interesting,” Cappaert explained. “And then I think the quiet moments where I can paint kind of balance out all the other things that I enjoy doing so much.”
Each afternoon, with a clear mind and her intuition as guide, Cappaert makes her way down the garden-flanked stone path leading to her studio to let those inspirational experiences speak through color – a mission achieved through use of oil paint and cold wax medium in a style characterized by intensive use of shape, line work and texture.
It is a style built on a long-held belief that “what surrounds you, inspires you” and for the past quarter-century of Cappaert’s life, that has been a home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with frequent visits to the Door Peninsula, both of which boast stunning skylines, plentiful woods, an abundance of open water, and now, Cappaert’s studios.
All of those features have, in the past eight years, become the focal point of her work in oil, which she came to after successful careers in watercolor and mixed media. But why would a self-taught artist step away from her successes to risk failure of a new and arguably more difficult medium?
For Cappaert, a wife, mother of two, studio and gallery owner, biker, hiker, yogi and horseback rider, it all had to do with life imitating art.
“There was so much going on in my (mixed media) work and so many things and elements, and I think I needed to zone out life a little bit and calm it down,” she said. “Then I started playing around with the oil and cold wax, and that spoke to me. The whole process was much more calming, serene and tranquil.”
So is the result. Since she came to oils, Cappaert has become a master of color in her minimalist abstract landscapes, bridging the gap between the expected greens of a forest landscape and blues of water with bright pops of pink and gold.
She is a keen observer of nature through the seasons, using her abstract leaning to blend the varying colors and textures of the seasons into each piece.
“I like the abstract style because it’s not a full-blown abstract – when you look at my work, you can tell it’s a horizon line or you can tell it’s a forest but it’s not so in your face that you see every branch or every detail in the water,” Cappaert said. “It’s kind of opened up so people can use their own imagination and add to the feel of the piece as well.”
That upbeat, yet laidback approach to creating her stunning visuals is what caught the attention of JR and Nell Jarosh, owners of Edgewood Orchard Galleries, who came face-to-face with Cappaert’s creations six years ago during the gallery’s open submission process.
“She’s the kind of artist we love to have at the gallery because her personality comes through in her work – colorful, interesting, there’s depth to the work and to her,” JR Jarosh said. “She’s just really friendly and I think for Nell and I, we love to show artists that we love … when someone’s looking at Ginnie’s work, [her personality] comes through.”
Their love and support for Cappaert and her work has been steadfast over the years as she’s continued to bolster her artistic reputation on the Door Peninsula, which this spring led her to close her gallery in the U.P. (which still houses her winter studio) and open Cappaert Contemporary Gallery in Egg Harbor.
The gallery, in the 1873 log cabin on Highway 42 that formerly housed Dovetail Gallery, features regional and national artists working in sculpture, painting, glass, copper and jewelry, along with Cappaert’s tranquility-evoking minimalist landscapes.
“I loved the art energy because there are so many artists, writers and musicians who live here,” Cappaert said of making the move. “All the galleries and studios, that creates this vibrant lifestyle that, as we know, is special to Door County. I wanted to be in the thick of that.”