Art association president shares story


From her modest beginnings in rural Pennsylvania near Gettysburg and surrounded by battlefields, Lang grew up knowing history. From her early memories, Lang tells of a family ritual, common among past generations, of visiting the graves of loved ones. Her two uncles died in their youth of Spanish fever. But she also recalls the statues all around her in the cemeteries and began sketching them.

“I know that sounds morbid,” she said. “Like so many other artists I have always loved color, drawing, sketching, painting, and creating with whatever materials were at hand. Later on, when I was in my early teens, I received an oil painting set one Christmas and was hooked from then on.”

In the meantime, she married and started a family early. In the first part of her career, she worked her way up from the old cord switchboard at Bell and United Telephone, then moved to the computer boards, and finally satellites. Lang showed promise in her job and recalls the time when her supervisor showed her a bundle of plastic threads; she was holding the first fiber optic material that would revolutionize communications.

After 15 years with the telephone companies, she moved over to the travel industry and worked with AAA Auto Club for another 15 years. During this time Lang educated herself about the travel industry and worked her way up to regional office manager, managing five of their offices located in Pennsylvania and Maryland.  Traveling also opened Lang’s eyes to things she thought she would never see, including standing before the Eiffel Tower and museums that fostered her hunger to learn more about art.

“Some of the artists that have influenced me are Edward Hopper, Singer Sargent, Manet, Monet, Renoir, and all the Russian artists,” she said. “I can’t say I have a favorite, I love them all.  That’s probably why my paintings reflect very different styles depending on the subject.”

The last four years prior to moving to Palmyra, she managed the North America office of a global software company called Curam, headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. But after her marriage ended, she met Fred Lang in 2003. Together they have two sons, three daughters, and seven grandchildren. Four and a half years ago, Lang and her husband retired from their day jobs and moved to Palmyra and built a house in Fox Hollow.

She began painting 10 years ago.

“After moving to D.C. I had the opportunity to spend extensive time in the galleries taking classes from wonderful instructors through the Smithsonian Associate Art program, and classes at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria,” she said.

Her preferred medium has always been oils. She admits she has tried other mediums, including watercolors and pastels, but gravitates back to oils.

“There is something about the texture and richness of color that excites me,” she said. “I also like that finished works do not need to be separated from the viewer by glass as do most watercolors and pastels.”

Artists know that light and shadow, a command of color, and strong compositions are key in successful painting. Understanding these elements gives power and emotion to the subject and attracts the onlooker. This is something Lang learned early and practices daily by first taking her concept and working it through a series of thumbnail sketches.

“This is how I start a painting,” she said, pointing to her sketches. “I begin with values, then lines and shapes, the composition and colors.” Her strength is composition, proven by her award-winning paintings. “If you don’t have a strong composition you won’t have a strong painting.”

Like her life’s journey, Lang continues her art through exploration and discovery, using a sharp eye to build on her strengths and minimize her weaknesses. She has few if any weaknesses – her work appears flawless.

“At times I paint very detailed and that is good if that is the objective, but too much detail in some paintings will kill it,” Lang said. “So I took up plein air painting to help loosen my strokes. Painting outside forces me to complete a painting in a much shorter time than in the studio.”

Currently she is exploring a new color palette of two-thirds transparent oils to one-third opaque oil and a new medium combination of Neo Megilp with Galkyd lite, both by Gamblin, with good results.

She is also presently working on several portrait illustrations for a book by her husband Fred, scheduled soon for publishing.

As president of the FAA, Lang has propelled the group into new areas members had never even considered years ago. Her creative and optimistic spirit and practical approach to managing this growing and diverse group of artists shows in her friendly but firm leadership.

“Serving the local art community as the FAA president the past two years has been such a great joy and honor. I have met so many wonderful people through the association and am amazed at the experience and talent of our members,” said Lang. “Our monthly programs have been diverse and well received, and we are planning an exciting line-up of fresh topics and workshops for the coming year.”

Lang doesn’t rest on her past success because she still feels there is more to be done in life, whether it is her art or the FAA. Her passion for art, her subjects, and her life is embedded in her work.

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