Pattie Eakin: An Artist All Her Life
By Fred Mayo
From Issue 22: Spring 2014
Pattie Eakin, founder of the Bruynswick Studio on Bruynswick Road, has been an artist all her life. Even before grade school, she started to draw and dreamed of being a painter. As a woman who loves color and drawing, she turned, when making a living became a priority, to designing, first as a designer of men’s clothes in the garment district in New York City, then as the successful President of PM Company (men’s wear), then as an international designer and merchandiser. Even then she made time to create at least one painting each year, even if she used vacation time.
More recently she has focused on teaching, which she loves. Having taught over 100 students—in her studio on Bruynswick Road; the Desmond Campus (the Center for Community and Educational Services, Mount Saint Mary College); the cancer department at Benedictine Hospital; and the Lifetime Learning Institute in New Paltz—she finds it challenging and satisfying to open doors for people who want to learn to paint. She likes both large and small classes, especially in the cozy structure of her current studio—which holds only six students—and the attention she can offer when there are only a few. She also paints alongside them. This year, she is teaching six Lifetime Learning students oil painting in the morning and six others watercolor in the afternoon. About her teaching, Pattie said, “I think I have made a difference in a lot of people’s lives.”
Pattie Eakin describes herself as a representational artist who seeks to replicate what she sees. She works in oil, pastel and encaustics, but loves watercolors the best. She finds them challenging and flexible, so long as “you let the watercolors do what they want. When I paint, it just flows,” she says. Hudson Valley Magazine named Pattie the 2012 Best Artist in the Hudson Valley.
Her recent work is moving away from the detailed replication of still lifes, landscapes or people to a more abstract way of painting using blocks of color. For the last seventeen years, she has also applied the creative process to making signs, posters and jewelry; she started by making a lapel pin for a friend, got requests for more and then placed items in local gift shops, including the store at Mohonk Mountain House. When store owners asked for more pins, necklaces and earrings, she expanded her jewelry work into new designs. Her jewelry can currently be found in the Bruynswick Farm Market, operated by her husband Joe, in the space that used to hold her gallery. She also displays and sells paintings and other creative work there.
The Bruynswick Studio has not been open since the floods of Hurricane Irene, but Pattie displays her work at other locations. For Pattie, developing a show is like designing a line of clothes—you need a theme and want each piece to support the theme and add detail and color. It is a creative process that fascinates her. Her next show will be May 18 at the Desmond Campus of Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh.
Pattie wishes she’d had the luxury to paint more when younger but is realistic about what she had to do and thankful for her talent and the many opportunities available to her today. Her painting continues to fill her life as she experiments with the next phase in using her painting talents.