Candace Whittemore Lovely

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Candace Whittemore Lovely
File:Candace Photo.jpg
Born (1953-03-15)March 15, 1953
Vermont, United States of America
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Vermont
Notable work Arlington Street Showers, Playing with Fire, Good and Plenty Kiss
Style American Impressionism

Candace Whittemore Lovely (born March 15, 1953) is an American impressionist painter known for her non-confrontational views of contemporary American life, including landscapes of treasured locales and people at play in idyllic locations. She lives and works in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Her works have garnered some attention from notable Americans, including Former First Lady Barbara Bush for whom Lovely painted her official White House portrait in 1990, which now hangs in the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum. When they finished the final sitting, Lovely told Mrs. Bush, "You're Lovely and I'm Bushed!".[1] Multiple critics have called Lovely "The Grand Dame of Boston Painters".[2][3][4]

Early life and education

Lovely was born in Vermont, her mother an artist and her father an engineer. She had four siblings, all brothers. Her interest in art began at age four when a toy nursing kit lost its novelty.[5] Her mother did not replace the candy pills that came with the kit, but did replace her crayons. Growing up, there were always craft supplies around the house and a sense that making was better than buying.[4]

Lovely's father attended both Dartmouth and MIT and her grandfathers attended the University of Vermont and Harvard. Despite struggling with dyslexia, she attended college at the University of Vermont, where she was drawn to the world of American Impressionism after a professor discussed Winslow Homer and announced that "no one is taught how to paint anymore". She graduated from the university with a bachelor's degree in art and a fifth-year teaching certificate.[6] Lovely admits to having bulimia in college, "Nobody really knew what eating disorders were back then; there was no communication about it. I think there's a lot of pressure when you're maturing, and all of a sudden you realize you look different from everyone else."[7] In 1980, she began studying at The Boston School with master artists including Robert Cormier and Paul Ingbretson at Fenway Studios.


Among authorities in the art world, Lovely's work is labeled as Contemporary American Impressionism. She claims that learning to combine Neoclassicism with Impressionism at the Boston School forced her to base her work on quality drawing, sensitivity to value, and finally adding the gently abstracted feel of impressionism.[8]


File:Arlington Street Showers.jpg
Arlington Street Showers, September 1983, Oil on Linen, 26x35in

Lovely's work is done on a variety of subject matter including Boston, ballet, beach scenes, the Lowcountry, Kennebunkport, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, Vermont, and much more. Playing with Fire continues to be one of her most popular paintings, depicting a boy lighting sparks on the beach, the ocean just feet away.[5] Arlington Street Showers is one of her best-selling works, which shows a rainy, recognizable Boston streetscape. The colors in Arlington Street Showers are a bit darker than most of Lovely's work, which may account for the painting's standing out from the crowd.

Recent work

Most recently, Lovely has been working on a series using large "pixels" of color to disambiguate her subjects and using a new medium, paint markers, to create quick sketches. While Candace’s earlier works focused on unintentional exhibitions, her marker drawings, while still approached with a voyeur’s eye, capture women whose essence is all about exhibition.[5]


While creating a series of colorful flags in 2009, she was heard saying that flags offer people, "a feeling of security, a chance to say 'I am an American, I believe in God,'". The most controversial of her political pieces is Good and Plenty Kiss, which is Lovely's version of the Confederate flag. The piece can be shocking whether because this flag is viewed as a symbol of slavery or as a symbol of Southern love. When asked if her flags still represent love and joy, like she notes all of her paintings to do, she said, "But it still turned out pink. It's nectar and peaches and sweet honey. It's the good things of the South," and “If we can think of these symbols as hugs and kisses, dress them in candy colors, then they become far gentler."[9]

Other projects

Charitable activity is a regular aspect of Lovely's life, with one of her favorite's being the local Heroes on Horseback. She also works with the Pine Street Inn in Boston to raise money to support the homeless.

Lovely spends a fair amount of time teaching art, saying, "Painting will always be my first passion, but teaching has always brought me a different kind of joy. Each student I work with teaches me something. And having been blessed with great teachers, I feel compelled to pass it on."[5]

Lovely is currently writing a book about her time painting the Official White House Portrait for First Lady Barbara Bush, working title: Companions in the Garden.

Evaluation and influence

Critics tend to look favorably on Lovely, citing her well-established career that seems to stay fresh and current. Christopher A. Faris told the Manchester Journal in 2005, "Candace Whittemore Lovely's oil paintings are exquisitely, touchingly, and masterfully executed and simply should not be missed by any lover of great art." [10]

However, Lovely received strong criticism from locals for displaying publicly a piece depicting a naked woman dancing on a table in front of several men. In a letter to the local paper, a concerned citizen wrote, "Shocked that a public library would blatantly display such pornographic and degrading material, I spoke to a librarian, who ... defended this 'view of society.'" The citizen also noted that by placing this painting in a public library, innocent children are encouraged that it is normal and acceptable.[11]


Lovely has received a number of awards, most notably the Copley Master Award in 1988 from The Copley Society of Boston. Other high recognitions include a Woman in the Arts Recognition Award from the Daughters of the American Revolution in March 2012, a Lifetime Achievement Award from Tri Delta Sorority in 2006, and inclusion in the 1995-96 International Charter Edition of "Who's Who in Creativity" from The World Forum on Creativity in Washington, DC.

Personal life

Lovely lives and works in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.


Since a 1982 solo-show in Vermont, Lovely's work has been widely exhibited in national solo and group exhibitions.


  1. "Arts & Scholars". The Trident (Winter 2013): 19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "The grand dame of Boston art". The Boston Globe. October 11, 2000.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. quote by James Bakker, Fresh Paint Auction, The Copley Society, 2000
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Arts & Scholars". The Trident (Winter 2013): 16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 From the studio of Candace Whittemore Lovely, newsletter, Alex Levin, 2011
  6. "Arts & Scholars". The Trident (Winter 2013): 18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Arts & Scholars". The Trident (Winter 2013): 20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Lovely, Candace. "Venus Visits Vermont Show Description". Retrieved 2014-08-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Levin, Alex (July 2011). "About the Artist: Candace Lovely" (PDF). Pink.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Candace Lovely". Rockport Art Association. Retrieved 16 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Peters, Hannah (2005-03-20). "Display painting wrong for library". The Island Packet (Sunday Opinion Section, p. 13-A).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links