Corliss Blakely: A life in art

Elaine Ezerins

By Elaine Ezerins

Staff Writer

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‘I wanted to be an artist to make money so I didn’t have to work and go to a job.’

- Corliss Blakely

ST. ALBANS — Most artists support their creative endeavors with a nine to five job. Not Corliss Blakely.

Blakely, 65, of St. Albans found a way to make a living selling watercolor and oil paintings of realistic landscapes and still lifes for the past 50 years.

The painter said she was one of the “lucky ones” because she knew she wanted to be an artist almost immediately. “I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I was five years old,” Blakely said, and took steps accordingly to make her dreams happen.

Blakely learned to paint from her mother, who encouraged her daughter’s hobby to the point of allowing her to paint on the walls. With her art, Blakely tried to capture the scenes around her. “I grew up on this beautiful farm in Fairfax,” she said, with meadows, fields and a sugarhouse on the property.

“I think even at an early age, I realized I didn’t want to go to work,” she continued. “I just wanted to work at home. I came to the conclusion that being an artist would be an ideal situation.”

With a little bit of finagling, Blakely got permission to take double art courses in high school, in place of physical education. The trick: get a doctor’s note. “That was it,” she said. “Voila. I had two art classes a day.”

Blakely began selling her work to friends, family members and collectors. “Right from the beginning, I realized that there was value in my paintings and that people would buy them,” she said. With her mother’s experience in running an antique shop, Blakely said she felt comfortable handling the business side of selling and marketing art.

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