Moss Dance, ©2015 Alicia R Peterson, acrylic on linen, 22 x 28.” Private Collection. Image: Peter Scheer.

Moss Dance, ©2015 Alicia R Peterson, acrylic on linen, 22 x 28.” Private Collection. Image: Peter Scheer.

An Abstract Painter’s Year of Rising from the Ashes

Moss Dance, ©2015 Alicia R Peterson, acrylic on linen, 22 x 28.” Private Collection. Image: Peter Scheer.

Moss Dance, ©2015 Alicia R Peterson, acrylic on linen, 22 x 28.” Private Collection. Image: Peter Scheer.

On February 4, 2018, an electrical fire brought destruction to my home and studio.

The happy ending…no one was hurt. The unhappy ending… the entirety of my life’s work was stored in my studio and home.

Although the fire was contained to two rooms (the parlor, my personal sanctuary) and the room beneath, smoke and soot traveled.

Soon after the fire, I destroyed the thirteen paintings displayed in the room where the fire originated. As this room and the one below were gutted to the studs, I knew I must destroy these paintings. There exposure was too great to contemplate conservation. I felt strongly on this despite the paintings being intact.

I have yet to talk/write much on this feeling of a so disrespectful end to some of my paintings. I will, I must… I still feel raw when I think about this. Yes, I even tossed 3 -dozen dried white roses into the dumpster (I had saved them from the arrangement at my last exhibition). It was a surreal out of the body experience, one I hope never to repeat.

I destroyed countless old friends; paintings that were “in process.” Some I had been working on for a decade. I destroyed blank canvas stored in my studio.


Kiss the Wind, © 2017 Alicia R Peterson, acrylic on linen, 40 x 30.” Private Collection. Image: Peter Scheer

Almost all my work has mild-minimal smoke and soot exposure. This forever alters how I will sell and view these works.

I snagged a few paintings before I lost access in the chaos. They do not smell. Well, one very discerning nose said if he put his snooze right up to the painting and sniffed in a small closed room he could smell the whiff of smoke. The next step, when I can return to my studio, is to consult an art conservator.

But like the Phoenix Rising from the Ashes… I too will create anew.

The day after the fire, I began the Firelight series. Smoke infusing every space, no heat, and no lights did not deter me.

But there was no water so no toilet. This gave me pause. But happily (with an unused bucket) and my neighbor’s toilets, I persevered.

I had to paint. Putting color on canvas gave me the assurance that all is not lost. My creation was steadfast.

Detail from Firelight, ©2018 Alicia R Peterson, acrylic on convex oval form, 18 x 36.” Image: Artist

Heartbroken artist that I am at the moment… I did not know artists’ hearts could be broken.

About one month post fire: after a visit to the zone of destruction and reconstruction in my studio, I uttered words that I never thought I would. “I Never Want to Paint Again.”

But I know this is exhaustion and grief of the body and spirit talking.

My artist’s essence cannot be broken. My visual voice can never be silenced.

My newest works completed just before the fire. For the past three years I have been investigating the circle and oval form. These 36” convex works were a culmination of this process. I destroyed all but the far right circle. This one was my first large convex circle and I could not bear to destroy it. © 2018 Alicia R Peterson. Image: Artist

Why destroy these gems? I did not want my launch of a new path in painting to be with work that had fire exposure.

I had a heart to heart with myself….

“These are the best works you have ever done.” “How can I destroy them?”

“Wait Alicia, are you saying you can’t do better than these? That you can’t create beauty again?”

Well NO! I stand here saying, “I will create again and I will with such glory that it will knock your socks off!”

So what is on my Palette?

I am attended to the urgent task of re-building my studio and home. As of today 6/29/18 we are about one month to completion. I am safe and sound living locally elsewhere.

I have been awash in color with the support coming to me from near and far.

Opportunities have reached out and offered hands of possibilities to me.

Yellow, Purple in Flow, ©2015 Alicia R Peterson, acrylic on linen, 24 x 12.” Collection of Andrew Polan. Image: Peter Scheer.

I give heartfelt thanks to my collectors! This collector displays my work in a different orientation than I intended. And you know what? It rocks! Sometimes an artist needs a fresh pair of eyes.

I will be having a Fire Sale once the “smoke clears.” Paintings will be conserved as needed and offered back to the world, back into the light.

And indeed there will be deep FireLight discounts on paintings.

One of my saddest thought after the fire was that my paintings were not out in the world where they belonged.

One of my happiest thoughts was gratitude for my collectors.

So Can I Buy a Painting Now?

-NO (oh, that hurts to say) but soon.


Yes, in the solace of fresh air, my artist’s juice is slowly returning. Image: Artist

As my studio is still under construction, I am keeping myself limber with watercolors on paper. © 2018 Alicia R Peterson. Image: Artist

You will be the first to hear of my fire sale. Dare I hope to re-kindle my art business early this Fall?

Do you want to touch base? Contact me.

I remain yours in light and shadow,


Square Opening, © 2015 Alicia R Peterson, acrylic on 12” panel. Collection of Alyson B Stanfield. Image: Peter Scheer


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