The name of Jan Dilenschneider's upcoming art exhibit, "Dualities," at Fairfield University is a reference to the works chosen for the show being created in pairs.

The Darien artist often takes inspiration from around her home on the Long Island Sound, from old birch trees, the blue water, and the play of light at different times of day. Often she will paint a subject twice on side-by-side easels, trying out different brushstrokes and color relationships.

"I paint in pairs and paint them at the same time," Dilenschneider said. "I'll paint a couple of strokes on one canvas and then try something different on the second canvas until I come to a point where things are spontaneous and the colors sing together."

When viewed together side by side, a visitor to a gallery might view them as a multiple canvas painting, or diptych, but Dilenschneider said while they may share a similar atmosphere, each canvas is a distinct expression of how she views a specific subject.

"The show is called Dualities because all of the work being shown is in pairs," Dilenschneider said. " But they don't need to be hung together."

After showing her paintings for two consecutive years at a gallery in Paris, France, 24 of Dilenschneider's canvases will be on display closer to home as part of the "Dualities," exhibit from June 4 through September 18 at the Bellarmine Museum of Art at Fairfield University.

In addition, Dilenschneider will again mount a show in Paris starting July 7 at the Galerie Pierre-Alain Challier for a third year, she said.

The Darien resident describes her style as combining the subjective emotional approach of expressionism with an impressionist's more intense approach and calculation towards colors to depict light and shadow.

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"I want the painting to express how you feel about a subject like a tree but the colors I use are the colors impressionists would use," she said. "They are high key, high value with a lot of color but balanced color."

Born in New York City and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Dilenschneider first began painting as a young girl following in the footsteps of her mother, also a painter. While she often works in her home studio, she is also devoted to the Silvermine School of Art in New Canaan, where she sometimes works to be close to other artists.

After having two previous shows at the Galerie Pierre Alain-Challier and being thrilled that she sold nearly half the works on display, Dilenschneider was at a loss to try to explain the growing notice of her work.

In recent years, she said she has dedicated more time to her art, but hadn't expected to gain notoriety for it.

"It was marvelous and wonderful to have the show in Paris and last year we sold nearly 50 percent of the paintings," she said. "It is a thrill."

This year's show in Paris will be built around another passion she shares with her husband Robert to try to preserve freedom of artistic and intellectual expression, particularly for scholars who live in repressive societies.

The show will be titled "Speak Freely," and will focus on what Dilenschneider considers the importance of freedom of expression to a healthy society.

With her husband she has helped endow fellowships for art scholars from the Middle East and culturally restrictive countries through the Institute for International Education, a nonprofit organization that administers the Fulbright scholarship program for the U.S. government.

"I feel if the writers go, so go the artists," Dilenschneider said. "I feel to keep the artists free, we also have to keep the writers free and the whole show is focused on that."

The Bellarmine Museum of Art's hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday now through June, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday in July, and by appointment only in August. The museum is in Bellarmine Hall on the campus of Fairfield University, 1073 North Benson Road, Fairfield.

Jan Dilenschneider: Dualities

At The Bellarmine Museum

June 4 - September 18, 2015