From seashell to easel: Artist dives into coastal inspirations

Feb 20, 2024

When inspiration arises, Caryn Phipps pulls out her phone and snaps a quick picture of what has caught her eye — a sunrise or sunset, a colorful scene or a “dramatic” landscape.

Back in her studio, Phipps puts on a pair of headphones and turns on the perfect playlist — signifying it’s time to paint.

Using gouache — a “really opaque watercolor” and Phipps’ medium of choice — she begins her next work, getting lost in time as the activity both relaxes and excites her. 

“Art evokes different things for different people,” Phipps said. For her, art has become an opportunity for reflection, thinking on what it evokes and the process of how it was created. 

Phipps is an artist who was recently featured in the “Art After Hours” showcase, held by the Bernadette Kelly Realty Group in order to highlight artists from around the South Coast. 

With landscape paintings from across the coast, Phipps’ works highlight the “transformative powers of nature,” according to the Bernadette Kelly Group. 

Phipps grew up on the Cape in Yarmouth and moved to Wareham recently to begin her family with her husband, she said. 

She said her art has always been connected to the outdoors, but now that she is living in town, “it's almost like capturing a snapshot of where we are in our lifetime.”

“Landscapes are always changing,” she added. “They're always evolving from erosion or development, and it's just a way of holding on to a memory of a place for me.”

Her favorite from town so far is a landscape painting of Little Harbor. 

When Phipps was a kid, she enjoyed art. Often getting compliments and encouragement, she kept going. Her early inspirations included her grandmother, who was also a painter, as well as her elementary school art teacher, who was her “favorite human at the time.”

Phipps ended up attending MassArt in Boston for art education after bouncing around a few different careers that didn’t stick: “When I finally got to art school, it just felt like the right place to be.”

In college, she said she was able to connect with some “really fantastic” professors — one of which challenged the students’ notions of painting. 

Phipps recalls being unsure if she was doing something “correctly,” and the professor assuring her, “If it speaks to you, you just do it. Do the work you feel completed to make. The world of painting has been blown wide open and you can make it whatever you want it to be”

She said, “It was almost like permission to do what feels good and right in painting and to not worry about other people's perceptions of it.”

After college, Phipps taught art to students along the Cape.

“I just love making art with other people and I love teaching art with students because kids are just so fun,” she said, adding how the younger they art the more excited they are.

“They just have a natural instinct to create and have fun and take risks of materials and that's really exciting,” Phipps said. However, she said she is currently taking a break as she is due to have her baby in May.

Teaching also posed a challenge when it came to making time for her own art, Phipps said. Therefore, she has been using this time to paint.

Phipps said she misses having an art community and is looking forward to connecting with more artists in Wareham. 

Artists who are interested can join Phipps in signing up to be displayed in the “Art After Hours” showcase. For more information, visit: