In her studio: artist Dorothy Adlington

Artist Dorothy Adlington in her studio
Artist Dorothy Adlington in her studio

IROQUOIS – “My paintings are people, not inanimate objects, not landscapes, but living, breathing beings. I am not a portrait painter. I am a figure painter.”

Artist Dorothy Adlington’s studio is set up in her basement. It’s a world of canvases in progress, unexpected curios, odd and intriguing objects, comic and unusual finds, with paintings, cartoons, sketches and drawings tacked to boards; some hers, some the work of friends.

This is a place where creativity seems to flow naturally.

The Lakeshore Drive artist taps into this creativity in her own unique way.

She describes it as “seeing” her subjects from many angles,  right up until the moment she finally “knows:” then a painting is born.

“The work I do often comes from life models. I walk around the model, take sketches from dozens of angles,” Dorothy said.

“I see something in the model. Perhaps the way she stands. Maybe the tilt of her head, the way she holds her hands, her drapery. Something just hits home and I know this is what I want to capture and express.”

She grabs her canvas and lays out that unique image in pastels, eventually moving into the medium she loves best, acrylics.

“Over that initial sketch I place a light transparent acrylic to define shapes and make connections. I work in thin layers, which build up over time. These layers add depth to my painting. I love the effect acrylics give me.”

She does not create small works.

“I like to work large,” Dorothy laughed.

“I think that the bigger the canvas the more freedom and the more expression it allows me. And the more you draw a person, the more perspectives you gain. I identify with the female figure more, I think, and the connection with the model is an empathic one.”

Her art is often interpretive.

“A lot of my works come together even as I paint them. I imagine the face in my head: the inspirations may come in the classroom for me, but the execution has to take place in my own home and studio.” Experimenting with mirrors, and exploring a more realistic approach to expressions, finding a new form of emotion, is a fairly recent direction for her.

Oddly, given her passion for art, Dorothy would say she has only been “seriously” painting for the last four or five years.

Dorothy was born in Ottawa, and attended the Ottawa High School of Commerce. She was actually in a business program when the art teacher invited her into the art program. She stayed in art for four years. While she could not afford college, from that time on she took courses and workshops when she could.  Eventually, artist Andrea Mossop became a mentor and an inspiration.

“When I was working and raising a family, Andrea’s classes were my escape,” Dorothy laughed. “She pushed me, brought me to new directions, new processes, new visions.”

Dorothy cannot imagine being cut off from art.

“It is a life long passion for me. I can’t go without painting. I make time for my art no matter what.”

She belongs to the Brave Artist Group out of St. Lawrence College and sometimes takes part in juried shows. But she does not really accept commissions.
“My works are one of a kind, unique to me, and not for someone else’s wishes,” Dorothy explained. “I paint for me. This is my freedom. Yet  I have found that people can be strongly attracted to my works, and I often make sales.”

Independence is the hallmark of Dorothy Adlington’s art.

“My work is constantly evolving,” she said. “This is my joy, my self-expression. I don’t want to do what others do. I’ve tried that and I hate it. I am very independent. And I can never see not painting.”