She painted for herself and friends as time would allow; she made her living first as a book editor and then as a graphic designer and writer. (She has an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.)
In 2011, however, her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and everything changed. One summer day, artist and friend Stan Moeller of York, Maine, approached her in the post office parking lot, where he gave her the keys to his studio. “I’m going to Monhegan to teach for two weeks,” he said. “I want you to use my studio as often as you want. Play with my oils, brushes, and canvas. You need the time and space to be creative and do something that keeps your spirit alive. Enjoy.”
So she did. She went every day, for at least three hours per session. In the middle of one session, she heard herself say out loud, “I am so happy right now.” She knew she had to take heed, especially since she and her husband were faced head-on with how short life can be. She scraped together the funds to rent a studio at the Salmon Falls Artists Mills in Rollinsford, NH, and began a journey that has brought more enrichment than she could have imagined.
Within a year of renting that studio, she began to sell her paintings and become known for her love of vivid color, especially in her post-impressionistic-style florals. “Flowers will always ‘pull’ at me,” she says. “I’m not interested in them as flowers per se. It’s more their energy, the way they dance and catch the light and express without reservation during their brief lifespan what so many people are afraid to in their own. I will never tire of exploring that mystery.”
In addition to learning about technique and the business side of art from her friend and mentor Stan Moeller, she began to study with local artists Gail Sauter and Christopher Volpe, as well as Carolyn Caldwell of Deer Isle, Maine. All have had an immense influence on her growth as an oil painter. She sought, and continues to seek, other artists and colorists whose work she responds to as well, including Casey Klahn and Amy Brnger, working with them online as well as at in-person workshops.
She works mostly in oils, although pastels and acrylics are both media she turns to when a painting or circumstance dictates. Her style is bold, with energetic marks and thick paint, applied mostly with palette knife or a combination of palette knife and brush. Most paintings are done alla prima; some are revisited and layered with more thick paint until they convey the emotional resonance Boyer wants to express. She tries not to plan too steadfastly; she is not as interested in subject depiction as in how a painting communicates with a viewer and creates a response through the interplay of color, harmony, shape, light, and value. She allows the painting to say what it needs to as she moves the knife or brush across canvas or panel or board, steps back to listen and observe, then approaches again.
Music plays a big part in her process (Boyer is a professional singer as well as an artist); she always listens to it as she paints, finding it helps to create a rhythm and “flow” as she works. Gypsy jazz, New Orleans-style jazz and pop, blues, Memphis soul, and roots-based gospel are particular favorites.
Dawn lives in Rollinsford, NH, with her husband, who is a gifted, world-class musician, and who remains stable and well after treatment.