Portrait of a Vermont Landscape by Norma Rollet


The paintings in Norma’s Portrait of a Vermont Landscape exhibit that are on display September 1 through October 31 are mostly plein air paintings. When Norma was younger, nature and the outdoors was her refuge backpacking throughout the White Mountains and the High Sierras. Whenever life became difficult, she knew she could find peace in both the actual journey into the wilds, as well as, the images she stored in her mind’s eye. This was the same peace that she originally found when she first started painting and drawing in high school.

Fifty years later, it was a natural process for her to start painting again and choose plein air and mostly landscapes as her preferred genre.

We asked Norma to tell us about the pieces that are in the show, she explained “The main image I choose for my large piece for the show “On the Fence” was drawn from my memory and my many trips out to paint hay bales. I saw the imagery as tension between what is contained (held by the wire) and what is free, the pull of the downhill landscape. What holds us down is sometimes very necessary to protect us from, one might say, the fall. Gently over time we can make our way past our roadblocks and traverse the journey we’re meant to take. The path up to the ridge represents the worn paths of the many people in our lives, friends, family and passing acquaintances. (Okay, that is as philosophical as I can get – the painting was great fun to do and I thought about it for close to a year before I painted it.)”

Norma’s favorite spots to paint are anywhere with a view. Norma said “I love painting Lake Champlain, Otter Creek, the Green Mountains, rolling hills and everything in between. My first plein air painting in 2013, I arrived at the 1st Jericho Plein Air event knowing no one and feeling very much out of my element. There were close to 65 artists painting that day and to my knowledge I was the only newbie (at least that was my impression). I made a rule that I would pick a location out of sight and paint whatever was in front of me (no matter what). I positioned myself in the graveyard behind the Gruppe Gallery (host location of the event) and began to paint. I was so focused I only took a 10 minute peanut butter sandwich break all day. The painting I produced that day “Jericho’s Settler’s Field” was a 16” x 20” soft pastel painting (large for plein air – how was I to know) that remains one of my favorites.”

What is your most compelling inspiration. “My most compelling inspiration is God’s great creation. I am in awe every time I go out painting.”

Are their artists who have inspired you.  “Artist that have inspired me would be Albert Handel, Lorenzo Chavez, Richard Schmid, and a fairly new artist on the block T.J. Cunningham.”

Norma explained how she creates her paintings. “I always begin with a simple thumb nail pencil sketches and value studies, I believe it may be the difference between a successful or not so successful painting. Once my 3-5 values are nailed down in black and white, I start my painting. I begin the same for both pastels and oils, covering my surface with an underpainting of colors which define what I established in my thumb nail for values. Sometimes I use complementary colors to add zing to the painting right from the start and other times I use the nature colors which can push my painting forward more quickly. The scene usually dictates which I choose. With my initial road map (value study) I can proceed more confidently with my application of color.


Norma will be teaching at the Middlebury Studio School beginning September see the link for class schedule https://middleburystudioschool.org/adult-art-classes/

This is a class in the methods and materials of painting. Emphasis will be placed on developing an initial road map using compositional skills. The use of hue, value, and intensity will be studied to provide the foundation to create a successful painting giving the artist the freedom to expand personal self-expression and style development. We will work in landscape and still life. Students should bring the materials they want to work with.