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Island Expressions: Lucy Portlock

Sept. 7, 2008 — Like many St. John artists, Lucy Portlock didn't set out to paint. With a bachelor's degree in secondary education from Virginia's Old Dominion University, years of teaching science on her resume and a yen to live in the tropics, she and life partner Phil Willes moved to St. John in 1982.
After a couple of years behind the counter at St. John Watersports retail shop and having completed her captain's license credentials, Portlock landed the snorkeling concession at Caneel Bay Resort. She spent the next 22 years taking people to see the undersea sights, including former President Bill Clinton and his family, actor Michael J. Fox, singer Judy Collins, heads of major corporations and just plain folks.
While she sold the concession to Chris Sawyer Diving Center in 2006, she still teaches Caneel guests how to snorkel off the beach. She does it for the love of it, and also because it gets her out of the house and into the water.
After Willes died in 2003, Portlock decided she wanted to do something different. On a trip to visit her mother in Virginia, where Portlock grew up, she took a watercolor class.
"So I just started painting in watercolors," she says. "You can mix and blend it and let it flow."
Her skills rapidly improved, and now she exhibits at the Artist's Association of St. John gallery in the Lumberyard Shopping Complex and at Bajo El Sol in Mongoose Junction shopping center.
"I didn't think anybody would buy it," she says, still amazed at her commercial success.
However, Portlock is quick to point out that she's no stranger to the term "starving artist." Her first success came with the sale of a watercolor depicting the underwater portion of the pilings that hold up Caneel Bay's dock.
She paints what's most familiar.
"I much prefer doing nature," she says.
Portlock paints only on her porch. She doesn't want to haul her paints and painterly paraphernalia to some outdoors location, and she doesn't care to do battle with wind, sun and bugs. Instead she works mainly from photographs she's snapped while outdoors.
Now 65, she's focused on her painting and her hypnosis practice. Portlock is trained in past-life regression, a topic that caught her attention about 13 years ago.
"If it's coming out of your head," she says. "It's a form of therapy."
While she's busy with painting and hypnosis, she also spends time working on her house, planting her garden and taking care of her 10 cats and two dogs, all pets she rescued through the Animal Care Center of St. John.
As for her art?
"Where it will go, I don't know," she says.
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Sept. 7, 2008 -- Like many St. John artists, Lucy Portlock didn't set out to paint. With a bachelor's degree in secondary education from Virginia's Old Dominion University, years of teaching science on her resume and a yen to live in the tropics, she and life partner Phil Willes moved to St. John in 1982.
After a couple of years behind the counter at St. John Watersports retail shop and having completed her captain's license credentials, Portlock landed the snorkeling concession at Caneel Bay Resort. She spent the next 22 years taking people to see the undersea sights, including former President Bill Clinton and his family, actor Michael J. Fox, singer Judy Collins, heads of major corporations and just plain folks.
While she sold the concession to Chris Sawyer Diving Center in 2006, she still teaches Caneel guests how to snorkel off the beach. She does it for the love of it, and also because it gets her out of the house and into the water.
After Willes died in 2003, Portlock decided she wanted to do something different. On a trip to visit her mother in Virginia, where Portlock grew up, she took a watercolor class.
"So I just started painting in watercolors," she says. "You can mix and blend it and let it flow."
Her skills rapidly improved, and now she exhibits at the Artist's Association of St. John gallery in the Lumberyard Shopping Complex and at Bajo El Sol in Mongoose Junction shopping center.
"I didn't think anybody would buy it," she says, still amazed at her commercial success.
However, Portlock is quick to point out that she's no stranger to the term "starving artist." Her first success came with the sale of a watercolor depicting the underwater portion of the pilings that hold up Caneel Bay's dock.
She paints what's most familiar.
"I much prefer doing nature," she says.
Portlock paints only on her porch. She doesn't want to haul her paints and painterly paraphernalia to some outdoors location, and she doesn't care to do battle with wind, sun and bugs. Instead she works mainly from photographs she's snapped while outdoors.
Now 65, she's focused on her painting and her hypnosis practice. Portlock is trained in past-life regression, a topic that caught her attention about 13 years ago.
"If it's coming out of your head," she says. "It's a form of therapy."
While she's busy with painting and hypnosis, she also spends time working on her house, planting her garden and taking care of her 10 cats and two dogs, all pets she rescued through the Animal Care Center of St. John.
As for her art?
"Where it will go, I don't know," she says.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.