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The Paintings of Rachel Rehfeldt

This gallery is devoted to the artwork of my Grandma.

Rachel Elizabeth Rehfeldt was born to William H. Green and Mabel (Snively) Green on September 24, 1918 in Freeport, Illinois. Her interests in drawing were encouraged in the public schools of Freeport, from which she graduated. In 1938, she married Romiss R. Rehfeldt and they had two sons, Phil and Jerry.

In the mid-1950’s she became employed as a draftsperson at Micro Switch (located in Freeport) and rekindled her latent artistic talents with coursework at Rockford College where she came under the influence of Philip Diedrich. His tutelage was to become her only formal training in art. However, she spent many hours with her fine collection of art books, and when she retired in 1968, her artistic career flourished.

She relocated to Lakeside, Arizona in 1988; to Moscow, Idaho in 1999; and died on April 15, 2000.

In addition to numerous smaller drawings, watercolors and portraits, she enjoyed working with oils on large canvases (e.g., 90 cm x 120 cm; 36 in. x 48 in.), concentrating on her impressions of natural landscapes, scenes and objects. She wanted to paint the “the joy I feel.” “I don’t want to be subjective but would rather draw something that everyone can identify with.” She was interested by light and color and, as a result, was inspired by the paintings of Pierre Bonnard. The writings of Mary Baker Eddy and the Christian Science theology were other major influences. Rachel also collected Shaker furniture and other ’country’ artifacts, many of which appear in her still-life drawings.

With natural landscapes as her primary subject, her work is stylistically divided into an oak-hickory phase of northwestern Illinois and a conifer-desert phase of Arizona’s White Mountains. Subjects in the early phase often were from a bee farm near her home, her Shaker-style house that sat on a bluff overlooking Yellow Creek, and the many woodland wildflowers. Subjects of her Arizona phase tended to be concentrated at the Mogollon Rim Overlook, Paradise Creek-Hawley Lake, and Big Lake-Baldy Mountain. Alligator junipers, particularly their bark, and aspen clones, especially in their autumn coats of yellow, were recurring subjects.

Her known repertoire includes about 185 paintings. The first 44, done in Illinois, were titled and catalogued. Most of her Arizona works, however, were not; several were given without record to friends. Besides participation in showings of the Freeport Historical Society, there was a single showing of her works at Pioneer College in Holbrook, Arizona in 1990.