Painting it Forward

Theresa Girard uses her art to connect and give back


For artists of all disciplines, art is used as a means of communication – whether it be visual, conceptual, textile, or performing. For Theresa Girard, this concept clicked as early as when she was a child using crayons. “I always knew it was going to be for me,” the Narragansett-based painter explains. “I did something artistic all of my life.”

Coming from a large family, art school was certainly out of the question. For Girard, however, this pull towards art and the role it played in her life only grew stronger. The Providence-native took it upon herself to craft her own education on abstract expressionism and contemporary artists, practicing all different kinds of mediums. Painting, however, took a priority. With a knack for color and composition, Girard fell in love with the “history that was created in the background of the painting.”

“I started off painting realism, and then I just became more interested in what was going on around the actual object.”

Between large marketing jobs and program directing, Girard has always taken the role of educator and exceeded to the top of her career in marketing, education, and training. Still, despite working in a corporate office most of her life, the abstract artist knew that painting was not just a hobby – it was a lifestyle. Today, her work can be viewed in galleries such as Jessica Hagen Gallery in Newport and Louisa Gould Fine Art in Martha’s Vineyard.

Her dedication carried on even in the face of tragedy; her brother suffered a traumatic brain injury when Girard was only 23 years old. “Art gave me the ability to separate and process that,” she explains, adding that once she was able to become a full-time artist, she was able to help provide financial support for her brother’s care. “Because of my art, he is able to survive.”

That same drive of Girard’s combines the painter’s artistic vision of “paying it forward” as well as satisfying her passion for art as a communicating practice.

As a professional artist for the past 25 years, Girard has combined her dedication to both painting and educating; she hosts residencies and workshops throughout the year in studios across Rhode Island. Alongside other professional artists, Girard hosts “Workshops for Creative People,” where artists of all disciplines can have a space to work in a community setting.

“It’s a time to work with other likeminded people and not have to worry about anything else – except for the work and yourself.”