The Granary Gallery in West Tisbury is showing new and recent work by American Realist painter and longtime Martha’s Vineyard resident Jeanne Staples, including images inspired by her experiences here as the Covid-19 pandemic unfolded.

“I found myself escaping to the Land Bank trails and the Sheriff’s Meadow trails and spending a lot of time hiking around,” Ms. Staples said. “There was something soothing and replenishing about being out in nature, especially in a place that is filled with beauty in so many ways.”

Those afternoon hikes, when she might otherwise have stayed at her easel, led to some of Ms. Staples’ newest work, including a trio of oils depicting the stark limbs of oak trees she observed at Featherstone Center for the Arts in Oak Bluffs.

“One of the things I began noticing was the black oaks,” she said. “The really strong spring shadows and the shapes of the trees (were) so gnarly and sculptural. It was so affecting to me.”

Artist moved the the Vineyard full-time in 1993, — Jeanna Shepard

Another view from Ms. Staples’ wanderings shows a trackless beach along Cape Pogue Bay, with calm water reflecting the blue sky. Representing another side of the pandemic experience is a still life of lilies, set in a curtained window overlooking a harbor peopled with boats, evoking the sense of confinement Ms. Staples felt during the lockdown.

“That was touching on the mood and feeling of things in the spring… reflecting my feeling about being isolated and inside, and looking out through the edge of the drapes with the wistful scene of the boats, a little melancholy in the distance,” she said.

Other new works by Ms. Staples include a double portrait of the historic catboat Vanity, with Chris Murphy at the helm. This painting comes as a particularly welcome sight to those who have missed seeing the 1923 Manuel Swartz Roberts classic under sail in 2020, while it has been cradled on the museum grounds.

To capture photographs of Mr. Murphy sailing Vanity that she could use for reference while painting, Ms. Staples took to the water last season with the help of Edgartown poet laureate and wharf builder Steve Ewing, who arranged a chase boat and pilot.

“I like all of those connections and associations that form a deeper fabric to our Island life here,” said Ms. Staples, whose waterfront portrait of Mr. Ewing — with Vanity in the background — is included in a printed Granary Gallery catalog of her earlier work.

Ms. Staples is also one of the foremost painters of Island town scenes, such as Clam Bar — a pre-pandemic image included in the current show — and the new Midnight in Oak Bluffs, in which a full moon shines on the deserted ferry ticket booth as a solitary car heads away from the viewer with taillights glowing red. More than simply realist, these are luminous portraits of places with as much personality as Ms. Staples’ human subjects.

“Some of what I really appreciate here is that there’s such variety, so many beautiful, interesting places that I have formed attachments to over the years,” she said.

“Sometimes they’re not necessarily what’s most beautiful, in the traditional sense, but they have meaning somehow or there’s a motif there that captures my interest,” Ms. Staples added. “Maybe part of that is being in a place that’s small, that has a sense of community, where you can make connections more richly than other places.”

Classically trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, the first art school and art museum in the United States, Ms. Staples has been painting Island scenes and people full-time since she and her husband moved from upstate New York to Edgartown with their two young sons in 1993. Her most widely-viewed work may be Solitaire, a combination portrait and landscape owned since 2011 by the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, where it hangs in the emergency waiting room.

Ms. Staples’ current show is on display at the Granary Gallery through Sept. 13, along with works by Mary Sipp Green and Lew French. More information is posted at