By Cady Kuzmich
Vischers Ferry — As a young girl, Donna Langley-Peck would help her father, a school superintendent with a love of art, with his paintings. “When I was a child, seven years old or so, I used to help my father paint flowers. Those are fond memories,” she recalled over a cup of coffee at Clifton Park’s Mocha Lisa’s Cafe.
Langley-Peck, who studied elementary education and special education at Empire State College and Russell Sage, retired from her job as teacher at Tamarac five years ago. When the opportunity arose for her to teach sixth, seventh and eighth graders at the Brown School in Schenectady this year, she jumped at the chance.
Though she’s spent most of her adult life as an English teacher and it’s no surprise grading papers and writing lesson plans leave little time for creative endeavors, Langley-Peck has recently rekindled her love of art.
Her acrylic paintings are based on photographs she takes of the world around her. “I’m inspired by travel posters from the early 1900s,” she said. “I always gravitate towards that kind of art,” she said.
‘I painted on and off for years then two and a half years ago someone asked me to do an art show,” said Langley-Peck. The curator told her she would need 10 pieces for a show — she told them she only had five, but in reality only had one. “I painted for three months straight,” she laughed.
Something else that sets Langley-Peck apart from the crowd is her experience as a Fulbright Scholar — not once but three times. She also had the opportunity to photograph the native wildlife which included puffins. “It was absolutely fantastic,” she said.
She studied art and culture as a Fulbright scholar in Australia and Japan as well. “I’ve been very blessed and very humbled by it all,” she said. Langley-Peck’s work is influenced by folk art from all around the globe — especially the aboriginal art of Australia. She’s had the chance to explore museums all over the globe while taking students to China, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, France and Spain on school trips throughout her years as a teacher.
“Monet is one of my favorites.” She also cites Marybeth Baxter, a folk artist, as an inspiration.
Though she’s already travelled far and wide, she said she would still like to see the pyramids in Egypt and visit Africa as well.
Langely-Peck, who has two daughters from her first marriage, married her now-husband Ed Peck, a local author and history teacher who has a daughter of his own, 20 years ago. The two met while teaching at Tamarac.
She hopes to make more time for her art when she “retires for the second time.”