Pat Witt, named as Millville’s’ Artist Laureate, is a lifelong native of Millville, Cumberland County, New Jersey. Known as the Wetlands Painter, Pat began her art training at the age of five. She continued her studies at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Arts and Textile Design, now known as the Philadelphia University of the Arts. Additionally, she studied at The Philadelphia Museum of Art and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, as well as studied art education at Glassboro State College.
She has had many one-woman shows and has been part of group shows for more than 40 years at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia Art Alliance, The Noyes Museum, Brian Parent Center and the American Painters in Paris Bicentennial in 1976 in Paris, France. Her work has become part of private and public collections locally and throughout the US, Europe and Asia. She has received numerous awards as an artist and teacher, and has been recognized for her work with the environment.
Pat has been featured in many documentaries over the years. In 2012, founder and Creative Director of ArtC, Bill Horin and videographer Frank Weiss, produced a short film The Art Spirit. This poignant documentary captures the essence of Pat Witt and The Barn Studio of Art and is periodically televised on the NJ Public Television network. Also, it can be viewed at this web address http://watch.njtvonline.org/video/2365022702/
Another notable film was a biographical documentary produced by Camden County Cultural & Heritage Commission and New Jersey Network, Pat Witt: An Artist and her World.
The Barn Studio is considered one of Pat’s biggest works of art. She founded it in 1962 and has taught and inspired thousands of children and adults with her enthusiasm for the arts. Recognized for her many achievements, Pat’s biggest reward comes from observing the growth of her students. This growth can be seen in the development of their artistic skills, the understanding of different art forms, and the student’s appreciation for the environment, as well as the respect they have for their fellow students.
Since 1962, The Barn Studio of Art has been teaching area residents how to create various types of artworks in a non-competitive, relaxed, nurturing atmosphere set amidst an oasis of greenery in Millville, NJ.
The fourth generation of students have begun studying at The Barn. While the studio has continued to grow over the years, Pat Witt, founder, said it was time for the facility to take an important step that will hopefully help to keep it open for many more generations to come.
“It is in pursuit of this goal that we founded The Barn Studio of Art as a New Jersey Nonprofit Corporation. It is more important now than ever to keep the creative and intellectual freedom of The Barn’s programs and its environment alive. The studio, nature trails and gardens need constant maintenance, restoration and tender loving care to keep it going.”
The beauty and the open spaces of Southern New Jersey and in particular the marshland have always inspired me. The marshes are the beginning of the chain of life. Art is a celebration of life and in my paintings; I strive to capture a single moment of truth in paint. I work to capture the essence of the light and how it translates into color! Life here in Southern New Jersey is tied to the land and to the water. The composition, of the paintings, as it relates to the landscape is a challenge. The landscape is ¾ sky with a low horizon line.
I am captivated by the natural Phenomena of light in this environment. I seek to portray Sun pillars, Sundogs and crepuscular rays. I am fascinated by all cloud types and how the different seasons and atmospheric conditions work to produce different kinds of clouds. In turn, I work to capture the play of sunlight on the clouds and how the weather conditions change the color relationships of sky and earth. My favorite time of day is the Gloaming, the magic hour. It is a time when light and color become one. The color comes alive and makes me feel happy. It is the time I feel the spiritual nature of my painting the most. It is the time I feel I am a part of my subject.
In January of 2007, I was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration. My central vision is gone, but I have learned to accept, adjust and to move on. I have learned a technique called eccentric fixation where I use my peripheral vision to see and I’m always searching for the sweet spot.
Having observed the sheer joy of 4 years old painting, I have learned to strive for that in doing my own work. Rather than being limited by my visual impairment and limited mobility, I have found it liberating and have embraced the idea of having fun with my painting.
Presently the continued evolution of my painting involves using more intense color and less detail. I have simplified my composition to exaggerate the horizontal elements of the landscape and to portray a stronger color relationship between the water, the land and the atmosphere. It is the journey of painting that keeps me going.
I will continue to paint no matter what! To quote Alice Neel, “You should keep on painting no matter how difficult it is, because it is all part of experience, and the more experience you have, the better it is…unless it kills you, and then you know you have gone too far.”