Current Issue / DU Alumni

Patricia Tool McHugh paints her own path

Via Principessa di Genoa, Stresa, Italy (at Lake Maggiore)

“Every artist, from the moment he or she makes the first stroke on canvas, is destined to follow a certain path,” wrote renowned American abstract painter Perle Fine.

Patricia Tool McHugh’s path has led to a lifetime filled with art and travel. She came to DU after spending her freshman year at Stephens College. “My DU years were very good ones,” Tool McHugh recalls. During summers, she studied painting with colorist Henry Hensche at the Cape School of Art in Provincetown, Mass., and with Julio de Diego in Central City, Colo. She went on to get an MA at Oberlin College.

Over the next 50 years, Tool McHugh, BFA ’49, traveled extensively, studying the arts in Europe and Asia. A year spent studying at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, Italy, boosted her confidence as an artist. Her first show—one of many throughout her career—was in a Florentine restaurant. “My marriage to writer Vincent McHugh was instrumental to my interest in the arts of Asia,” says Tool McHugh, who began watercolor painting on location when she retired.

As a member of the art faculty at Sacramento City College from 1961–87, Tool McHugh taught numerous aspiring artists. In November 2003, the college’s Gregory Kondos Gallery hosted a small retrospective of her work, showcasing her talents in the various paint media and print methods. The exhibition represented the variety of life experiences she gained as a student, artist and teacher—experiences that paint a path colored with a passion for art.

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