Cordova—Abstractions in Our World, Acrylic Paintings by Regina Tumasella, on View through Nov. 25 at Adkins Arboretum

Before she begins a painting, Regina Tumasella has the feeling of a particular time and place in mind. Although her acrylic paintings are abstract, their layers of bold horizontal strokes of color always speak of landscapes.

On view at the Adkins Arboretum Visitor’s Center through Nov. 25, these paintings, all completed in the past year, show how this Baltimore artist loves to play with the shimmering effects of color over color. There will be a reception to meet the artist on Sat., Oct. 29 from 3 to 5 p.m.

Born in the Catskill Mountains, Tumasella has always felt closely attuned to the natural world, so she looks to nature to find parallels with what might be thought of as the landscape of emotions and experience.

Like many artists from the Abstract Expressionists of the 1950s onward, Tumasella welcomes the unexpected in her paintings. Instead of using brushes, she applies paint with a roller, a tool she first used in a printmaking class she took at Maryland Institute College of Art, where she earned her BFA. Rolling the paint on allows her to experiment continually, sometimes hiding layers of paint under an opaque sheet of color, sometimes barely veiling them with a thin film of cream or green. As the paint on the roller gets thin, the color stutters and breaks up, and other hues leap out through the gaps.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about chance,” she said. “It relates to life and to painting. Interacting with a painting is a lot like how we interact in life. It’s about finding the moments and really appreciating them.”

Tumasella names her paintings for places she has visited, but while a scene in the Adirondacks or on an island in Maine may be her inspiration, she’s not trying to depict those particular landscapes.

“I like to pick places that have names that are repeated,” she said, noting how the same names often crop up in different places, even different countries.

In “Butler Island,” a four-foot -panel, brilliant red-orange sings out against shades of turquoise and streaks of soft pale green, but there are no specific details to be seen. The red-orange could be red Georgia soil glimpsed at the edge of crops in riverside farm fields, or it might be sunset light glinting off ice floes in the Antarctic sea or the water around an island in Maine. You can find the name Butler Island in all of these places and others. Each is a very different landscape, but through her painting, Tumasella seeks to distill what they have in common. Concentrating on color and texture, she homes in on a deeper, more universal experience of landscape, something she sees as parallel with the human experience.

“The human condition is very universal,” she said, “I don’t mean to discount individuality, but I’m seeing the landscape in time and space, like a pure emotion, seeing in a meditative space when everything else falls away.”

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists, sponsored in part by Caroline County Council of Arts. It is on view through Nov. 25 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410-634-2847, ext. 0 or for gallery hours.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. Through its Campaign to Build a Green Legacy, the Arboretum will build a new LEED-certified Arboretum Center and entranceway to broaden educational offerings and research initiatives promoting best practices in conservation and land stewardship. For additional information about Arboretum programs, visit or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.