1922 - 1996
Nell Blaine was born in Richmond, Virginia, and received early art instruction at the Richmond School of Art (now part of Richmond Commonwealth University School of the Arts). In 1942, Blaine went to New York City to study with Abstract Expressionist Hans Hofmann, following him from there to his summer art school in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Under Hofmann’s influence, Blaine’s early representational and realist methods of painting gave way to abstraction and experimentation. While in time she would move back towards realism, Hofmann’s teachings and the circle of artists Blaine met while studying with him strongly influenced the trajectory of her work.
In 1943, Nell Blaine was a founding member of the Jane Street Gallery in New York City. The gallery was one of the first artist’s cooperatives in Greenwich Village, in operation for just six years; its members were mostly young and many had studied with Hofmann. Blaine had her first solo exhibit at the Gallery in 1954.
Nell Blaine made her earliest visit to Gloucester in 1943 just as the Jane Street Gallery was being organized. She returned in 1954 and 1958, renting studio space on Rocky Neck. During these years, Blaine supported herself working as a commercial artist. By 1957, however, her career as a painter had taken off; in a Time magazine article published that same year, she was noted as one of five leading women artists in America. Two years later, Blaine was stricken with polio while traveling in Greece. Although she remained confined to a wheelchair from then on, after a lengthy recuperation she was able to paint again.
In 1974, Nell Blaine purchased a house in East Gloucester which was her summer residence and studio for the next 22 years. She called the cottage “Eudora Cottage,” Eudora meaning “generous gift” in Greek. The paintings Blaine did from her cottage are full of color and fluid lines and brush strokes. They capture her vibrant garden, the rock outcroppings surrounding her studio and views out over Gloucester Harbor.