Back Roads of New Hampshire
By Noelani Kirschner
January 29, 2018
When she lived and worked in the Boston area, Kristin Selesnick found that she engaged with nature primarily through the windshield of her car. Inspired, she began painting landscapes of her environment as seen by a car-bound commuter. She has since moved to New Hampshire, but has continued to depict the landscape from the driver’s seat. Here, she discusses her interest in landscape painting, why New England has captured her imagination, and why there are endless possibilities for painting the world from within the confines of a car.
“I was interested in art as a child, and I started painting seriously when I was 14 years old. At school, we had a mentorship program, and I was paired with a local landscape artist. He taught me how to work with watercolors and oils, so that was how I started painting. Ever since then, I’ve been interested in landscapes. I was raised in Camden, Maine, which is this beautiful coastal, rugged town. I’ve always been interested in the beauty of my surroundings, and the idea of experiencing it. I’m an avid hiker and runner, so being in the landscape has always been my way of tuning out and connecting with nature.
I moved to New Hampshire just a couple of years ago with my husband who is from here. As soon as we had kids, we knew that we wanted to raise them in a more rural surrounding. New Hampshire is such a mountainous landscape. There are a lot of wooded, back roads—it’s just a beautiful state. There’s site after site, seemingly around every corner. For a while, I lived in Massachusetts—just outside of Boston—and I found myself into a long commute. I felt like I was trapped and unable to connect with nature. I realized that a lot of my interaction with the landscape was from behind the wheel of my car. It was sad in a way, but also when you’re driving in the car, everything is constantly shifting. Often, you can start at one place and be in such a rush to get to where you’re going that you don’t notice the in-between. And when I was commuting, I would sometimes be struck by a view that I saw from my windshield or my rearview mirror—like a sunset in the background. So I started taking photos with my iPhone, kind of illegally or at stoplights. I ran with it and painted a bunch of different iterations of my travel journeys. I love the way that the windshield can distort the views. If it’s a rainy day, everything looks like it’s melting. Or if it’s a snowy day, and the windshield is dirty from de-icing salt or something. It affects what you’re seeing. I’m going to be stuck on the windshield concept for a while. There are so many possibilities.”
Noelani Kirschner is the assistant editor for the Scholar.
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