Artist of the Month



The Sense of Wonder: Lee Boynton and Rachel Carson

In this show quotes from Rachel Carson’s book The Sense of Wonder are interspersed with Lee’s artwork. Rachel Carson, scientist and writer, and Lee Boynton, artist and teacher, touched the world in mighty ways through the overflow of their hearts and the works of their hands. They had eyes to see the wonder in the world around them and articulated that wonder with beautiful, heart-felt language — Rachel Carson with her pen and Lee Boynton with his paint brush.

In her book, The Sense of Wonder, Rachel Carson demonstrates from her own life that the sense of wonder is passed to those around us, and particularly the next generation, through love and relationship. She tells of how one stormy autumn night she wrapped her baby nephew Roger in a warm blanket and took him down to the rocky shore below her cottage on Southport. Holding him close to her heart, she introduced him to the wonder and majesty of the turbulent sea and the vast night sky. He is safe in her arms as she imparts to him that sense of awe and wonder she knew so well. She believed this heart connection with nature and one another was the key to saving our fragile, breathtaking world.

Lee kept his inborn sense of wonder alive through his relationship with our living God. His love for God and God’s Word fueled his life as an artist. “I’m a co-creator with God when I paint,” he would say. His art was an expression of his awe and wonder. As for Rachel, his summers on the coast of Maine were a creative well-spring.

Lee yearned to ignite that heart response in his students. His students often said Lee was the best teacher they ever had in any subject. He gave himself fully to the glory of the moment and to sharing the joy of discovery with color and paint. “You can do it!” he would say. “Tap into the wonder of God and that gift He has given you.. Don’t over think it. Be free to paint and sing!” His enthusiasm was infectious.

That sense of wonder was the one underlying gift Lee desired to pass on to our children. They grew up seeing him paint wherever we went. Our daughter Margie painted alongside her father throughout her life. Thanks to him, she understands the true value of her artistic gift, and is finding her own beautiful voice.

The Impressionist Legacy: Seeing the Color of Light

Light has color. The color of light changes hourly throughout the course of the day, and also through the seasons of the year.  Lee Boynton taught his students to "see the light" for thirty three years. He was passionate about stewarding the artistic legacy of Claude Monet, the father of Impressionism.

Monet said, "I want to paint like the bird sings." In his famous haystack series, Monet painted one simple subject at different times of day and in different seasons of the year. Through this exercise, he trained himself to paint the changing effects of light using a palette of colors that corresponded to the natural spectrum of light. He discovered that form is created by color relationships, one color against another. Through his repeated efforts, he became more and more able to paint the subtle complexities of the light on the haystacks, and these paintings sang with the freshness of truth.

  Monet's theories of color and light revolutionized the art world. They spawned an artistic movement in France that quickly spread to England and the United States. Artists were now able to experience the joy of using a full range of scintillating colors to capture a myriad of light effects in their work.

  At the turn of the 20th century, the industrial revolution was gaining momentum in the United States. New inventions and ideas were becoming a reality in every area of life, rapidly changing the face of the world. Artists in the United States, more open to new ideas, embraced the Impressionist movement, and it quickly took hold in Boston and New York. Several early American Impressionists taught, attracting a strong following of students eager to learn this way of seeing and painting light.

  We can follow a clear lineage of teacher to student in this movement as we look back over the history of art in the United States. William Merit Chase, a New York based artist, started the Shinnecock School on Long Island. His student Charles Hawthorne, discovered a unique quality of light in Provincetown, MA, a remote Portuguese fishing village at the tip of Cape Cod. He went there to paint, and artists from Boston and New York followed him out there to study with him.

  In 1899, Hawthorne purchased two old red barns nestled side by side at the end of a quiet street on the south side of town, and established the Cape School of Art.  The school had the sole mission of teaching the Impressionist theories of color and light.

  Henry Hensche, a young man from Chicago, became Hawthorn's teaching assistant in 1928.  When Hawthorne died, Hensche  took over as the director of the school. Hensche upheld the mission of the school until his death in 1992. The school was passed to Lois Griffel, one of Hensche's students, and remained open, continuing the Impressionist mission without a break, until it succumbed to the pressures of development in 2002.

  Lee taught workshops through the Cape School of Art for eight years before it closed, and has also carried the mission of teaching the Impressionist theories of color and light apart from the school, as have other Cape School alumni. The School reopened in 2010, and Lee returned to teach his workshop on painting the Impressionist watercolor.

  Adept at painting in both the watercolor and oil mediums, Lee taught workshops and classes in both for the entire span of his artistic career. In 2004, Watson Guptill, Inc. published Painting the Impressionist Watercolor, an instructional book Lee co-authored with Linda Gottlieb, one of his longtime students. The book is based on the workshops he taught through the Cape School before it closed in 2002. Highest quality archival prints of his paintings and his book Painting the Impressionist Watercolor are available for purchase on