Artist Peter Hussey, MBA’77, is quick to point out he’s a frustrated architect who’s also fascinated with New England architecture and American art. His watercolors bring those interests together through the details and play of light around windows and doors, eaves and roofs, and quintessential New England scenes. “I can paint and paint and paint,” he says. “My studio is at my home in Portsmouth, R.I., over the garage, just 25 feet from where I sleep. The light is great, and I listen to a lot of music while I work.”
Hussey likes to challenge his audience. In particular, he enjoys painting windows because they capture reflections as well as views, such as in Green Window (shown), where the window takes the viewer through the building and beyond.
Some of his images are straightforward, such as an old blue truck piled high with orange pumpkins. Some are subtle, such as a child’s bicycle abandoned against a gate. The latter painting, which he calls Hooky, “invites people to complete the story,” says Hussey. “Where did the little girl go who was riding the bicycle? I like the viewer to use his imagination. As an artist, I want people to look at my work and think.”
If not painting or drawing, Hussey scouts out subjects throughout the New England countryside. “The process of stopping to look has led me to investigate things that originally were meant to move or work,” he says. “Recently, I found an old windmill that once was an active part of commerce on Rhode Island’s Aquidneck Island. I’ve also painted an old station wagon with its hood up, not going anywhere. I like the theme of things that have paused or are frozen in time.”
Some subjects pop out at Hussey and say paint me. When that happens, he knocks on people’s doors, asks permission, and shares his view book. “It’s a hard-bound book of my paintings. I’m about 6 feet 5 inches tall and imposing, so the book is a wonderful icebreaker,” he says. “Meeting people leads to endless possibilities and opportunities.”