AS LONG AS BEAU WILD can remember, she was an observer. “I love to sit in cafés and people watch. I keep an eye on what others are doing, why they are doing it,” says Wild.
She recalls that while on a trip to France in 2007, she spent most of her time sitting in cafés and observing. “I came home and created almost 100 small café paintings.”
Wild’s childhood was spent in Daytona Beach, Florida, with her twin sister, Bonnie, and older brother, Harry. “My parents pointed me toward the arts. My mother, also an occupational therapist, was extremely creative in many areas of arts and crafts and taught my sister and me,” says Wild.
She fondly recalls their summer home by New Hampshire’s Newfound Lake, where she spent the season warmed by the friendship of a dozen peers. “Sometimes, when others were playing games, I was sitting on a large rock painting Newfound Lake scenes or doing a pen-and-ink drawing of Hebron village,” she recalls. Back at school, she remembers that her elementary school principal hung a framed drawing of a cardinal in her office. All through Wild’s school years, she continued to create during weekends.
Wild went to school for occupational therapy at Tufts University and for painting at the Museum School of the Museum of Fine Arts, both in Boston. Dual roles of therapist and painter spanned decades, and each enhanced the success of the other. “As a therapist, I quickly developed a relationship with the patients to identify how they were functioning and how to move beyond that to improve. It was a skill that enhanced my observational skills, which assisted in creating meaningful paintings,” says Wild.
She spent 22 years in New England, returning to Daytona in 1983. “After I had my family and spent all day taking care of house and home, I would paint every night from midnight to 2 in the morning,” remembers Wild. She established herself as a prolific painter, exhibiting her work in national festivals and winning a variety of awards.
Her most treasured exhibition was a multi-day installation at the Florida Museum for Women Artists. “The first one I did was about friends and how they can be for a season, for a reason or for a lifetime,” says Wild. She constructed numerous 3-foot-tall “paper dolls” to represent friends, which were hung from the ceiling, attached to the walls and lined up on the floor. Each represented people who had been in her life. “What shocked me once this was completed were the shadows of these dolls created by the gallery lighting. The shadows became greater than the actual three-dimensional structures, creating a greater message,” she explains. The second installation at the same museum progressed from a large, blank canvas to the finished painting over a three-day period. The videographer, her son, Doug Frazian, created a time-lapse video documenting three days of painting compressed into just a minute or two.
Today, Wild paints in her studio, a freestanding building next to her home on Rose Bay in Port Orange, Florida. Inside, it is both cluttered and orderly, washed in white light from outside and splashed with vivid colors on canvases stacked against the wall or nailed to the three large walls. Working tables nearby are there for sealing finished paintings.
“Before I begin each day, I take 20 minutes to quietly clear my mind of all the day’s worries. Then I begin by painting marks, globs of paint, lines created by a long stick on the canvas. There is no real plan at all. As I continue to add a line, color and texture on the surface, I step back to see what appears. If a figure appears, I might encourage the image. Artists have said that they recognize my face in some of these paintings, but I don’t quite see that,” she says.
An artist once told her, “There are artists who want to show you their vision of how they see the world, and then there are artists who hold up a mirror to look in.”
“I am the latter,” she muses.
Stacey Marcus is a Boston-based freelance lifestyle, luxury and travel writer. Her works have appeared in Art New England, Boston magazine, Boston Common Magazine, Modern Luxury Chicago, Ocean Home Magazine, Playboy.com, RD.com and many others. A lover of big words and little white dogs, Stacey’s biggest joys are found in life’s simple moments.