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Colette Sexton... The Artist Behind the Cover

by Doris Brandes

Everything is moving along according to her plan in the life of Colette Sexton. Since early childhood she wanted to be an artist. Art was never really part of her family life, but it was there, for her, as a lifetime goal. “I just always drew and pictured myself pretty much the way I am now.”

Dreams do come true! Colette has been winning prizes and awards, receiving grants and fellowships, teaching at a local college and following a path on a sure route to success in her chosen field. The journey has been the result of her determination to follow her own muse.

Colette Sexton is a Bucks County native, although she went to the Art Institute of Chicago for a B.F.A. and to the University of Oregon for an M.F.A. in painting. Clearly, painting is what she loves. She feels that she has a natural ability to draw, which is why people are so attracted to her finished works. It is also very useful that she has a passion for learning.  

Loving to be outdoors is a part of what traditional landscape painting is about. Colette likes to capture the mood of a place where she, “would like to spend an afternoon. Although,” she adds, “it is not always peaceful.” Retelling a favorite story about a painting of a graveyard up the hill from Lambertville, she explained. “It is not as depressing as it sounds. What captivated me were the architectural factors of the hill, the telephone poles, the tombstones and the occasional local person who walked by.” Introspective and analytical about all that she sees, Colette’s goal is to guide the viewer to a space where they can share her enthusiasm for color, light, even temperature. It is a lot about transferring emotions.

The most recent body of work, mostly landscapes, was painted in her new hometown of Lambertville, New Jersey. Colette loves the small-town feeling she found here. In addition, she cares about sharing the images

In the relatively short time that Colette Sexton has been exhibiting her work, she has received an enormous amount of recognition. In addition to two important residencies — at the Vermont Studio Center and the Chautauqua Institute in upstate New York, she was awarded a Graduate Teaching Fellowship and a Johnson Scholarship at the University of Oregon. The years since her earliest exhibitions in the 1990s have been very rewarding. She won awards at the fall Phillips Mill Art Exhibition every year since 1998, except 2001 when she was in Montecastello, Italy completing a residency at the International School of Art. In 2002, Colette won the Patrons Award at Phillips Mill, the show’s highest honor.

Her former places of study have beckoned her back repeatedly to teach and lecture, and she has exhibited widely in national juried exhibitions, and regional exhibitions in the greater Philadelphia area. In less than six months, she shared two two-person shows, the first in December 2002 at the Atelier Gallery in Frenchtown, and the latest, in April 2003, at the Coryell Gallery in Lambertville. Her paintings are in the permanent collections of the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown and the PECO Corporate Collection in Philadelphia. Colette Sexton’s work is currently handled by the Coryell Gallery.

Having just settled into a new studio/home, her personal sense of determination and abiding energy are happily engaged in her chosen occupation. The plein air painting she loves to do shares her time with still life thematic paintings. She feels that these interior scenes of elegant domestic objects deal with issues of sex, class, culture, heritage, ritual, and experiences that are more personal. Added to that, she gratefully acknowledges that the interior paintings engage her on a technical level. She says, in regard to this focus, “I am only beginning to see the countless doors I have not yet opened.” Colette Sexton thoughtfully relates her current state of mind, “My life is how I want it. It is in a good place.”

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